BHARATMALA , SAGARMALA AND CHABAHAR

According to IMF, India will be the fastest growing major economy next year . This will not only raise our International clout but also make us more vulnerable to the changes taking place in our volatile neighborhood. Our biggest neighbor China is facing the biggest economic crisis since its meteoric rise in the 80s and is expected to slow down to sub 7% levels for the first time next year. Though western experts expect a dystopic future , in reality the Chinese one party system could be stretched to its limits . There could be ruthless oppression in Tibet as the communist party would be needing scape goats to tide over the situation , which could easily spill over into India  .Pakistan on the other hand is fighting a civil war with a hydra headed Taliban , which ironically have sympathizers within the government apparatus. A failing state is more dangerous , as it could do anything to take maximum causalities with it as it sinks , which in Pakistan’s case is us.Hence  The proxy war and a porous border are bound to frustrate us more and more in the coming years . Bangladesh , a regional success story is in midst of a showdown between two women , who are in no way in the mood to relent. Nepal and Myanmar are in transition while Bhutan and Sri Lanka are on a path of self discovery. Being the only “bright spot” in the region we must be prepared to face the worst.

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Bharat mala and Sagar mala are two ambitious projects proposed by the the new central government aimed at enhancing the infrastructure along our land and water boundaries .

The Bharat Mala project plans to build a 14,000 Km long highway along our land border extending from Gujarat to Mizoram on a fast track basis . This is of strategic importance especially along the border with China , which will reduce the chances of a 1962 fiasco from being repeated. It is a known fact that the Chinese are also enhancing the infrastructure along the other side of the border and in many ways this initiative could act as a deterrent for the Chinese. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.

Sagar Mala on the other hand aims at improving the infrastructure along the coast , with ports developed along the modern lines and improved connectivity between them.The modes of communication would include roads, railways, inland waterways and coastal routes. Both these projects aims at garlanding India (Mala) along its peripheries not only acting as arteries for economic growth , but also as a shield to protect us .

CHABAHAR

Yesterday (6 may 2015) Minister for road transport and highways Mr Nithin Gadkari signed an MoU with Iran to develop the southeastern Iranian port of Chabahar for $ 85 million . This project is  expected to increase Indian access to the resource rich central Asia Bye passing Pakistan. Ironically , China is developing the Gwadar port in pakistan , which is 72 km east of chabahar , aimed at turning  it into a naval base in the distant future . With these ports becoming operational in years to come their effect on regional dynamics is something to look forward to.

footnote : With two more ports in its neighborhood it would be interesting to find how Dubai , which is basically the gateway to Iran will fare in years to come.

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INDIA’S OCEAN

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the two Indian ocean island nations of Seychelles and Mauritius may not have got the media buzzing . But strategically speaking , they are by far the most important ones he have undertaken . As our aspirations are expected to grow over the years , a better relation with our Indian ocean neighbors could prove a game changer in the long run . We are the only country in the world to have an ocean named after us , though the nomenclature may be accidental , geography has it that there is not a single landmass of notable size south of kanyakumari , making us the prime care taker and possibly the potential benefactor of its resources . With the rising east , the trade through this route is only set to increase , making us not just a global power but a significant player in the future multipolar world.

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The primary objective  of any nation is self preservation , with hostile neighbors to the north and west , India cannot have its coastline left undefended . unlike the pacific or the atlantic oceans , the level of militarization of the Indian ocean is still low , Though this could facilitate uninterrupted  free trade but in the longer run it could have fatal as seen with the rising piracy over the horn of Africa .T The united states and Britain do have a military base at Diego garcia in the Indian ocean , but the assertion of power over the entire region was limited, china was the first to initiate a long term military cum trade agenda for the region through the “string of pearls ” initiative . India had never shied away from showing its unease at the opening of a potential hostile front in the south , with the conflict over the control  of the south china sea now heating up ,  India  is compelled to assert itself in the region through its own security initiative. The SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative , aimed at greater engagement with the Indian ocean region was initiated by The Prime Minister , under which the Indian government have signed MoUs for the development of assumption island( Seychelles) and agalela island  (Mauritius)  as trade and defense outposts . The Prime Minister’s visit also coincided with Seychelles and India launching a Coastal Surveillance Radar Project and commissioning of Barracuda into the service of the Coast Guard of Mauritius ,  our first steps to ensure maritime security in the region.

Indian ocean could indeed be India’s ocean if we could use its abundant resources to fulfill our growing demands , The blue economy project aimed at harnessing these resources was extended to these countries , so that our interests are met without harming the nations over the ocean’s rim nor the ocean’s ecology. our passive demeanor over the race for arctic resources has already put us in the back foot . A similar situation in the Indian ocean will be unacceptable , hence pioneering the blue economy initiative to explore the bounties of the ocean is the right step towards India’s resource self sufficiency.

The prime minister’s previous foreign visits were more hyped than the one discussed above , yet his subtle initiatives this time are going to reap huge dividends in the future for India as a nation.

INDIA vs CHINA

the economic expansion of Asia have been giving jitters to the west especially grand old Europe who finds its future global role in jeopardy ,challenged by two Asian giants INDIA AND CHINA. this led to the high phoning and the introduction of whole new word – chindia in the western media. they are seen as super powers in the making ,which will make this unipolar world a multipolar one.

Indian media have been abuzz with  India vs china debates for the last few years.but is this comparison justifiable ?.i don’t think so.both the countries are completely different from one another . at this stage Chinese are far ahead of us in economic terms.it is like comparing Mexico with Germany or china with the united states.

we have just embarked on a trajectory of growth while china was a decade in front in implementing reforms.they had growth rates of over 10% for the past two decades while our growth have never gone beyond 9% and is averaged at 7%.its economy is thrice ours and expanding at a much faster rate.

china is an export driven economy while ours is an inward looking one.this have its pros and cons – we were not  much affected by the global crisis of the past year but china was severely battered.the advantage for china being an export driven economy is the importance that it gets in world affairs.china is the largest trading partner for countries from united states to congo.so  no one can ignore its power.

china is more urban than India.urbanization of china was rapid  mostly in the last decade ,its urban population is over 50% of the population but in India over 70% is rural.Chinese urban populace is expected to grow further to around 70% while India is expected to remain rural in the coming decades.i personally believe in Gandhian principle that villages are the heart of a country but growth is more rapid in an urban set up,while villages grow in a different pattern.its true that the growth of  villages makes the country self-sufficient ,still it takes time much more than an urban area.

Indian economy is service driven while china is basically industrial.so in this front there can never be a comparison.but it is essential that India develop its industrial base because its motto of self-reliance is possible only in that case.china on the other hand must develop its services sector so that it can grow further.

china is a dictatorship while India as we proudly say is democratic though democratic machinery here can be worse than dictatorship.but freedom people enjoy here is unmatched anywhere in the world.we can speak our mind out,gossip about anything and moreover can fight for our rights.though this freedom has not reached to its full extend in the deeper strata of the society still peoples power is enormous. in china cpc is the final word,no one can fight against it,it can take away your property and compensate in the rates it like.this centralization of power have helped the growth .the implementation stage of any project runs into trouble in India due to the people’s power while in china no one dares to question whether it be useful to the community or not.

India is a union of 28 different countries each with its own language,culture and traditions.the only link is the religion but this is also diverse.people belonging to one cultural grouping have zero interaction with others.china on the other hand is a homogeneous society of Han Chinese(though minorities are suppressed),they act and think as one single entity.

therefore the comparison between the two countries is worthless ,though it is a fact that both these countries will be forces to reckon with in the future.china in the immediate while india in a distant one.

CAN WE AFFORD WAR WITH CHINA

the new age media trying to win maximum eyeballs sensationalize issues and give it unnecessary importance.while on my way home from college a few days back i heard two old gentlemen taking about politics.they were talking about all sorts of things from PINARAYI VIJAYAN to  ACHUTANANDAN.talking about COMMUNISM their talk turned to CHINA and its impending war with INDIA.one of those gentle men were sure about india’s military might and the victory to come.

lets ask ourselves – can we ever win a war with a neighbor whose economy is 4times ours and a military  which had defeated us once.through the hype around the DALAI LAMA visit to TAWANG the whole media  frenzy have peaked .they misinterpret dalai lama’s comments trying to inflame the situation.it is common knowledge that our previous enemy no 1 have been disintegrating and the media is trying its best to replace it with a new one so as t to get more and more of those nationalist TRPS

its true that china wants India to disintegrate into 30 odd states and is trying hard to do this by supplying arms to north-eastern separatists and the MAOISTS. India on the other hand have been a base for anti china activity for the last half century mainly through the Tibetan lobby.i believe that this year’s riot in XINJIANG will  someway or the other have an  indian involvement.

but an all out confrontation will cost both the countries dearly.the economic and human cost will be too enormous that it will pull whole of this world into economic stagnation for years to come.the NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST that follows can only be visualised in superlatives.

so it is not only the responsibility of the two countries to act responsibly but also the international community to supervise the situation.lets hope that the media’s thirst for china’s blood slowly subside and peace will reign over the region

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