Sunday, September 26, 2010




I have been writing for nearly two years that the so-called community of strategic analysts in Delhi has come to be dominated by a group of wishful-thinkers totally cut off from ground reality and that they have been creating an illusion in our minds about the emergence of India as a major power. My mind goes back to 1962 when a small group of officials, including B.N.Mallick. the then head of the IB, created illusions of our capabilities in the minds of our leaders and people. We paid a heavy price. The current events show we have not learnt the appropriate lessons.I shudder to think what could be the real state of our infrastructure in the North-East. I hope illusions of our strength are not being created there too. The PLA must be closely watching.Moments of humiliation are moments of weakness in the history of a nation.One has to closely watch what the PLA does.

Why India cannot be an Asian power like China ( ARTICLE WRITTEN BY ME IN REDIFF.COM ON NOVEMBER 20,2009)
November 20, 2009 14:39 IST

Power and influence are not given. They are taken. China knows how to take it, India does not, says strategic expert B Raman.

A few observations on the eve of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh visit to the United States from November 23 to 26.

No thinking has been ever done in India as to what it expects out of a long-term strategic relationship with the US. It is always the US which decides what it will give to India and it is New Delhi which accepts.

It was so with the nuclear deal which was offered by then US President George W Bush in July 2005. Manmohan Singh was pleasantly surprised when Bush offered it and then we followed it up. India's expectations from the US in the past were limited to US pressure on Pakistan to stop using terrorism against India, removal of restrictions on the supply of modern dual-use technology to India and US support for India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.

They remain the same. Any strategic relationship has to be a quid pro quo relationship. Since the US has hardly any dependence on India in any matter, there is no scope for any quid pro quo.

India visualises itself as an Asian power on par with China. Beijing does not see it this way. China views India as a sub-regional Asian power and wants to keep its influence restricted to its immediate neighbourhood. US president Barack Obama's visit to China has uncomfortably brought out to India that there is a convergence of perceptions between China and the Obama Administration on the limited regional role of India.

China's pre-eminence has been recognised by Obama. Obama has re-hyphenated India-Pakistan relations and quietly relegated India to the role of a sub-regional power whose aspirations of having a status on par with China are unrealistic.

In geopolitical matters, there is no futuristic thinking in India. The quality of Indian thinking and analysis -- strategic and tactical -- is poor. What passes for analysis in India is just wishful-thinking.

Nobody in India has realised and brought out that for the first time the US, Japan and Australia have a leadership which does not rate highly India's potential as an emerging power. There is less and less talk of Chindia. Even today, many in India are not aware that the new Japanese government is not as enthusiastic about India as the previous government was. There has been no exercise in India to analyse future scenarios in US-Japan relationship.

Someone once said that power and influence are not given. They are taken. China has shown how to take it. India does not have the political will and courage to fight for it and take it. It is hoping that the US will give it. Bush and Condoleezza Rice seemed inclined to bestow on India the status of an Asian power on par with China. The Obama Administration does not seem to be so inclined.
B Raman



The Chinese authorities have been highlighting two path-breaking aspects of their assistance for flood relief to Pakistan, which started on August 1,2010, and continues since then.

2. The first is the value of the assistance, which has already reached US $ 250 million (pledges plus actuals). This includes a sum of US $ 200 million pledged by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York on September 22. According to Chinese officials, this is the largest humanitarian relief commitment overseas ever made by China.

3. The second is the deployment of humanitarian relief teams by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for assisting the Pakistani army in its aid efforts. According to Chinese officials, this is the first time that the PLA’s specially-trained disaster relief teams have been deployed abroad in large numbers. The PLA has deployed three teams----two in Sindh and one in Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr. Huang Xilian, Deputy Chief of the Chinese mission in Islamabad, told a media briefing in Islamabad on September 23 as follows: “ It is for the first time in history that China has sent so many rescue and medical teams across its borders. The Chinese government sent a 55-member international search and rescue team, including 36 doctors and 19 technical support personnel, to the worst-hit region of Thatta in Sindh province late last month (August), which was the first international team to reach flood-hit areas of Thatta region. They brought with them 25 tons of high-tech medical equipment and medicine worth RMB 8 million. The second medical team of PLA, comprising 68 members along with relief goods including medicines weighing 80 tonnes, came to Pakistan and were deployed around the Sehwan area of Sindh province. Twenty members of this team are female, providing medical care to women and children. This is a record high in the history of PLA’s foreign medical aid. The fact that China has sent some 200 doctors and paramedics in three medical rescue teams by now is a record high in China ‘s foreign medical rescue history.”

4.The third disaster relief team has been deployed in the Hunza area of Gilgit-Baltistan since January when large areas were flooded following a burst of a large artificial lake created by a huge landslide.

5. The PLA command in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang despatched four military helicopters to carry out rescue and relief missions around the Hyderabad area of Sindh. A press release by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said: “It is the first time Chinese military helicopters carry out an overseas mission. The four military helicopters from China’s Xinjiang military area command took off from a military airfield in the western region along with ground support and relief supplies. They were previously engaged in transportation and search and rescue operations in the wake of several major natural disasters in China.” The helicopters are being flown by Chinese crew with one or two observers from the Pakistani army traveling in each flight.

6. The Chinese have mentioned the total PLA disaster relief personnel deputed to Sindh as about 200. They have not mentioned the total number sent to Gilgit-Baltistan, which includes disaster relief teams as well as engineering teams for repairing the badly damaged Karakoram Highway. Independent sources say that the total number of PLA personnel in the Gilgit-Baltistan area would be about 500.

7.The Chinese have been emphasizing that the assistance given by them till now is in the way of emergency relief and that they will be giving separate assistance later for the reconstruction of the damaged economy.

8. It is noticed that security considerations have played an important role in deciding the deployment of the deputed Chinese personnel. They have been deployed mostly in Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan where, in the perception of the Chinese, there are unlikely to be any serious threats to the Chinese personnel. In the rest of the country (Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas ) their assistance has been in kind. They seem to have avoided deputing any Chinese personnel for participating in ground operations . In the past there had been attacks on Chinese engineers in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa and FATA. In Punjab, there are pockets of Uighurs from the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang studying in madrasas or working. Many of them are suspected to have links with the so-called Punjabi Taliban organizations. Hence, the absence of Chinese relief teams in Punjab.

9. Despite the damages suffered by the Karakoram Highway due to the landslide of January and the floods of August, the Chinese engineers from the PLA have managed to keep the traffic moving. While the initial assistance in the beginning of August was airlifted to Islamabad from Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, the subsequent assistance has been coming by road along the Karakoram Highway. 101 Chinese trucks reached the Sust Dry Port via the Khunjerab Pass on Sept. 1, carrying flour and cooking oil. In fact, since the landslide and floods of January, the people living in the Hunza area are being kept largely sustained by the PLA in the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang region since the Pakistan Army is not able to reach them. ( 26-9-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )