China holds meeting with 19 countries including Pakistan in Indian Ocean region; India not invited

News Network
November 26, 2022

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Beijing, Nov 26: China held a meeting this week with 19 countries from the Indian Ocean region in which India was conspicuously absent.

The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), an organisation connected with the Chinese Foreign Ministry held a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation on November 21, in which 19 countries took part, according to a press release issued by the organisation.

The meeting was held in a hybrid manner under the theme of "Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy" in Kunming, Yunnan Province, it said.

Representatives of 19 countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Australia and representatives of 3 international organisations were present, it said.

India was reportedly not invited, according to informed sources here.

Last year, China held a meeting with some South Asian countries on Covid-19 vaccine cooperation without the participation of India.

CIDCA is headed by Luo Zhaohui, the former Vice Foreign Minister and Ambassador to India.

According to the official website of the organisation, he is the Secretary of the CPC (the ruling Communist Party of China) Leadership Group of CIDCA.

CIDCA’s official website said the aims of the organisation is to formulate strategic guidelines, plans and policies for foreign aid, coordinate and offer advice on major foreign aid issues, advance the country's reforms in matters involving foreign aid, and identify major programmes, supervise and evaluate their implementation.

During his tour of Sri Lanka in January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed to establish a “forum on the development of Indian Ocean Island Countries.”

When asked whether the CIDCA meeting is the same that is proposed by Wang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry here has clarified to the media that the November 21 meeting was not part of it.

At the November 21 meeting, China has proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region, the CIDCA press release said.

China is ready to provide necessary financial, material, and technical support to countries in need, it said.

China is vying for influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure investments in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

While China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country, Beijing has acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease besides building the port at Pakistan’s Gwadar in the Arabian Sea opposite India’s western coast besides infrastructure investments in the Maldives.

The Chinese forum apparently is aimed at countering India’s strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association, (IORA), which has a membership of 23 countries have taken strong roots.

China is a dialogue partner in the IORA formed in 1997.

IORA became an observer to the UN General Assembly and the African Union in 2015.

Besides the IORA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) in 2015 for active cooperation among the littoral countries of the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy-backed ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the region.

Since the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian armies, bilateral ties have been severely hit.

India has consistently maintained that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are important for the overall development of bilateral relations with China.

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News Network
January 25,2023

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India, as of the moment, does not have access to 26 out of 65 patrolling points in Eastern Ladakh. The situation is worthy of mention considering India-China stand-off along the 3500 km border.

“Presently there are 65 PPs (Patrolling Points) starting from Karakoram pass to Chumur which are to be patrolled regularly by the ISFs (Indian Security Forces). Out of 65 PPs, our presence is lost in 26 PPs (i.e. PP no. 5-17, 24-32, 37, due to restrictive or no patrolling by the ISFs,” wrote PD Nitya, the Superintendent of Police of Leh, Ladakh’s main city, in a research paper accessed by media. 

The report was filed at last week's annual conference of the country's top police officers in Delhi, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

"Later on, China forces us to accept the fact that as such areas have not seen the presence of ISFs or civilians since long, the Chinese were present in these areas. This leads to a shift in the border under control of ISFs towards Indian side and a "buffer zone" is created in all such pockets which ultimately leads to loss of control over these areas by India. This tactic of PLA (China's People's Liberation Army) to grab land inch-by-inch is known as 'Salami slicing'," it said.

"PLA has taken advantage of the buffer areas in the de-escalation talks by placing their best of cameras on the highest peaks and monitoring the movement of our forces... they object our movement even in the buffer zone, claiming it to be 'their' area of operation and then further ask us to move back to create more 'buffer' areas," the officer wrote.

She said this Chinese strategy was seen in Galwan Valley, the site of a deadly clash in 2020 when 20 Indian troops and at least four Chinese soldiers died in hand-to-hand fighting.

Ms Nitya also said that marking areas as out of bounds and keeping them barren affects troop morale as well. "During an interaction with one senior officer whose unit is based right on forward area, he shared that, if by retreating 400 metres back, we can buy peace with PLA for 4 years, then it's worth it," the report said.

The report was released after a mere few weeks of India accusing China of “unilaterally changing the status-quo” on the Line of Actual Control (LOC).

The encounter in the Galwan Valley in 2020, which sparked a major uptick in tensions between the two nations, was considered to be the most serious confrontation since the December 9 incident in Arunachal Pradesh. Since then, there have been a number of military negotiations that have resulted in a cautious withdrawal of forces on both sides.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi accused PM Modi of being the weakest PM India has had for “ceding land to China”.

Delhi chief minister (CM) and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal also accused the Centre of continuing and increasing trade with Beijing despite Chinese aggression.

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News Network
January 16,2023

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One of five Indians who died in the plane crash in Nepal's Pokhara Sunday was a 35-year-old liquor store owner from Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur district, who had gone to pray at the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu.
 
Sonu Jaiswal - whom police believe shot a Facebook Live video moments before the crash - was going to offer thanks for the birth of his son.

"Sonu, along with his three friends, had gone to Nepal on January 10. His main purpose was to pay obeisance... as his wish to have a son - now six months old - has been fulfilled. But fate had something else in store for him," Vijay Jaiswal, a relative and head of his village, told news agency PTI.

Sonu Jaiswal already had two daughters and he had taken a vow to visit the Pashupatinath Temple if he had a son, Vijay Jaiswal said.

The three friends were Abhishek Kushwaha, 25; Vishal Sharma, 22; and Anil Kumar Rajbhar, 27. Villagers said Rajbhar operated a public service centre, Kushwaha worked with computers and Sharma at a motorbike showroom.

All four were to return Tuesday after paragliding in Pokhara.

The fifth Indian was 26-year-old Sanjay Jaiswal from Bihar's Sitamarhi. He had gone to visit his sister’s house in Nepal’s Pokhara as she had recently given birth to a daughter. It was his first trip to Nepal. 

The Facebook Live video believed to have been shot by Sonu Jaiswal is a 97-second clip in which a man can be seen filming the plane's attempt to land.

Nepal prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has set up a panel to investigate the accident - reported as the country's worst aviation disaster in 30 years.

A report is expected in 45 days.

There were 72 people on board the twin-engine ATR operated by Yeti Airlines when it crashed while landing at Pokhara's newly-opened airport, officials said.

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News Network
January 19,2023

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sought to woo voters in north Karnataka by showcasing the development and social welfare programmes thereby giving the ruling BJP a launchpad in the run-up to the Assembly elections due in about three months. This is Modi's second visit to Karnataka in less than 10 days after his trip to Hubballi on January 12 where he inaugurated a national youth festival and staged a massive road show.

The visit gains significance, as the ruling BJP prepares for Assembly polls and has set a target of winning a minimum of 150 out of total 224 seats. Though today's events were government programmes, Modi's push for BJP's developmental agenda in his speeches, while targeting the opposition parties, without naming any, and accusing them of vote bank politics, had political connotations attached to this visit.

Modi's visit and BJP government's string of developmental projects and schemes in the two districts of the Kalyana Karnataka region, earlier Hyderabad Karnataka region which is considered to be the backyard of Congress's national president Mallikarjun Kharge (with Kalaburagi his home town and former constituency), are seen with political significance. The BJP aims to improve its tally in the region, where the Congress is a force to reckon with.

In the 2013 polls, Congress bagged 22 seats and BJP shared second place with JD(S) with just 5 seats. While B S Yediyurappa's KJP (Karnataka Janata Paksha), which he later merged with BJP, got 3 and others won 5. In the 2008 Assembly polls too, when "resourceful" mining barons- Reddy brothers- of Ballari held sway, Congress managed to bag 19 seats, leaving 15 for the BJP and 5 for the JD(S), and others 1.

At Kodekal village in Yadgiri district, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone and inaugurated various developmental projects for irrigation, drinking water, and a national highway Later in the afternoon, he launched the 'Hakku Patra' (land title deed) distribution drive to over 52,000 nomadic Lambani (Banjara) tribes at Malkhed in Kalaburagi district. Without naming the Congress, he blamed the party's "vote bank" politics for the backwardness of certain regions of the State. "Earlier governments had declared several districts, including Yadgiri as backward, and had shirked their responsibilities. The reason for this region lagging behind in development is the previous governments here did not spare time on thinking about how to get rid of backwardness from here, leave aside putting in efforts towards it (development)," he said.

Yadagiri is part of the 'Kalyana Karnataka' or the Hyderabad Karnataka region as it was earlier known. These districts that were under the erstwhile rule of Nizams of Hyderabad are among the backward regions of the State. The region, comprising Bidar, Ballari, Vijayanagara, Kalaburagi, Koppal, Raichur, and Yadgir, enjoys special status under the Constitution (Article 371J) owing to its backwardness.

Referring to the positive aspect of having a BJP government at both the State and Centre, he said double engine government means double benefit, double welfare and double fast-paced development, and Karnataka is the best example for this. He complimented the Basavaraj Bommai government for the fast-paced development of the north Karnataka region At Malkhed, once the capital city of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, he said, "It's a big day for the people of Banjara (Lambani nomadic) community as over 50,000 people will get their own roof by way of Hakku Patra," as he distributed five 'Hakku Patra' to five nomadic couples on the occasion. This Hakku Patra would secure the future of thousands of people living in the "Thandas" (Lambani habitats) in Kalaburagi, Bidar, Yadgiri, Raichur and Vijayapura districts, he said, adding that it's big step taken by the State government towards social justice.

It is said Karnataka has the second highest population of Lambanis (Banjaras) in the country, who are considered among 101 sub-castes that have been recognised as Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the State. The community, earlier by and large with the Congress, now seems to have veered towards the BJP, which the party wants to keep intact and wants to build upon, party sources said. The community has a considerable presence in Kalyana Karnataka region.

Kharge lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, his first-ever electoral defeat in his long political career, to Umesh Jadhav, a Banjara community leader, fielded by the BJP. In 1993, it was recommended to give 'Thandas' revenue village status, but the political party that remained in power for the longest period used the Lambanis as a vote bank and never tried to improve the living condition of these backward families, Modi said in a dig at the Congress. "Those living in Thandas had to wage a long struggle for their rights and face many difficulties. They had to wait for long," the Prime Minister said. "But, now, the depressing atmosphere is changing. I want to assure the Banjara mothers that their son (Modi) is sitting in Delhi."

As Modi distributed title deeds to nomadic Lambani (Banjara) tribes in Kalaburagi district, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah charged the ruling BJP in Karnataka with "feasting on the meals" prepared by the previous Congress government he headed. The senior Congress leader said the BJP was trying to project as if they were giving revenue village status to ‘Thandas’ (this community's habitations), which was "misleading".

According to the State government, the move to distribute these deeds would benefit 52,072 nomads in five districts of north Karnataka, providing them a "permanent roof", and said these 'Thandas' have already been declared as revenue villages by the State government. The fact, according to Siddaramaiah, was that the process to make Thandas revenue villages was initiated during his government from 2013 to 2018. “The then revenue minister Kagodu Thimmappa in my government brought amendments to the Forest Act and the Land Revenue Act with a slogan ‘Those who till the land should own it’. Those were historic amendments,” the opposition leader in the State Asembly, told reporters. The Congress could not give the ‘Hakku Patras’ to the beneficiaries as it lost power later, he said. “The BJP without doing anything in the last four years has suddenly started claiming that they did everything. The BJP is feasting on the meals prepared by us because of impending elections,” Siddaramaiah alleged. 

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