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  • The New Year Saga: China Dampens Tibetan’s Celebration

    The Chinese New Year celebrations formally began on Monday, January 23. China has become 4710 years old as per its lunar calendar. This year will be known as the Year of the Dragon, which symbolises strength and prosperity. The New Year celebration is one of the longest and the principal festive season for the Chinese: the official holiday itself extends over a week or two. Tibet and Tibetans, however, have to wait a little longer for their New Year celebrations.

    January 24, 2012

    Anil asked: Why India does not support democratic movements in China, Tibet, Pakistan, etc? Isn’t it in India’s long-term interest?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: India's establishment as a liberal democracy was the third great moment in the history of liberalism, the first two being the American and French Revolutions. There is no doubt that India favours democracy taking root among its neighbours as well as the spread of democracy throughout the world. However, India does not believe in imposing democracy on any country at the point of a bayonet. Instead, it prefers to serve as an example that other countries can emulate for their own benefit. India's past experience in promoting greater democracy within the sub-continent clearly demonstrates the limits of what can be achieved. India helped in the liberation of Bangladesh and its establishment as a democratic state; but democracy there was soon overthrown. Indeed, the latest attempt at a coup in Bangladesh partly stems from forces that do not favour better or closer India-Bangladesh relations. Similarly, through the 1980s, India attempted to convince Sri Lanka of the imperative of evolving a federal democratic polity (as opposed to Sri Lanka's preference for a unitary polity) that would address the grievances of its minority Tamils in particular, but failed to move Colombo. Even today, Sri Lanka refuses to see the merits of the Indian democratic model and is seeking to evolve a 'Sri Lankan' model in the wake of its 'victory' over the LTTE.

    The limits of what India can achieve in this regard are even starker when it comes to countries that are adversaries or rivals. Overtly promoting democracy and democratic movements especially in countries that are adversaries or rivals is not a prudent policy for two main reasons. Firstly, the very fact of extending such support will delegitimise or help to delegitimise these movements because of perceived support from the Indian adversary/rival; thus, detracting from the long-term goal of enabling these countries to become democracies. Secondly, a policy of overtly promoting democratic movements in countries that are adversaries or rivals will simply add another point of conflict to an already troubled relationship and further vitiate bilateral relations, something that needs to be avoided especially when India's principal focus continues to be on internal socio-political-economic development.

    Contours of a Possible Indian Riposte to Chinese Aggressiveness

    After assessing the weaknesses and gaps in Chinese capabilities and highlighting the positions of advantage that India enjoys, this essay proposes a strategy for a strong riposte against any Chinese adventurism.

    January 17, 2012

    Examining China's Hydro-Behaviour: Peaceful or Assertive?

    China is a thirsty country desperately in need of water—a lot of it. In order to meet its water and energy requirements in the densely populated and fertile northern plains, it is successively making interventions in the Tibetan rivers in the southern part through dams and diversions. While China is well within its riparian rights to do so, a set of externalities involving the principles of water-sharing and lower riparian needs—stretching from Afghanistan to Vietnam—raise concerns.

    January 2012

    China's Growing Economic Presence in Ukraine and Belarus

    China is gradually increasing its economic and commercial presence in Eastern Europe by signing bilateral agreements with countries that are still in transition, some of which are members of the European Union (EU).

    January 2012

    China’s Pipelines in Myanmar

    In order to meet its energy demands, China is constructing oil and gas pipelines in Myanmar, almost reaching to the seashores of Bay of Bengal.

    January 10, 2012

    The Poor Prospects of the CTBT Entering Into Force

    While Indonesia’s ratification has given a boost to the CTBT, the positions of the other hold-out countries do not show any promise of forward movement.

    January 09, 2012

    2011: A Strategic Survey

    The year 2011 will stand out in history as the year of the Arab Spring, when people in Northern Africa and West Asia rose up against tyranny and revolted for political emancipation.

    January 04, 2012

    China’s new great firewall and publicity offensive

    After ensuring that its people are only able to access ‘filtered’ news, the Chinese leadership has also decided to refurbish its image abroad through a major public relations effort.

    December 19, 2011

    Islandic Hop Scotch in the Indian Ocean Region

    The island hopping game being played out is an indication of China’s strategy for gaining access to the IOR by developing the capabilities of “reach”, “presence” and “sustainability”.

    December 15, 2011