Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Srinagar 2nd train and international airport

Refer to my first article

Update on train link in Srinagar.

Now, Srinagar - Baramullah train link is complete..which means now the only stretch remaining is 148 km Katra Qazigund which is a technical challenge because of the Himalayan terrain. This marks the completion of 119+55 km rail link. This link (18 km) opened now is the HIGHEST BROAD GAUGE RAILWAY STATION AT 5166 ft above sea level. It has 113 major and minor bridges and 435 m Jhelum river bridge. Takes abt 2 hrs by train as against 4 hrs by car.

However, here is the complete picture of the railway map of Kashmir that connects north to south. So, you can travek from Jammu - Udhampur and then Qazigund to Baramullah. The speed of the train is 100 kmph. The Qazigund Banihal tunnel when completed by 2010 will be 11km and an engineering marvel because it will be made through Pir Panjal range which is one the toughest terrains in India.

Now, to the International Airport:

International airport was opened on Feb 14th 2009 (too late to post, but definitely worth it). It is important because Srinagar was known for militancy and for the past decade there is a steep decline in violence. Peace is everywhere in Kashmir. Here's the picture gallery of Kashmir airport(Srinagar airport) SXR is the code and the name is Sheikh Ul Alam (greatest saint of Kashmir).

Personally, looking at the pictures, it appears more beautiful than Bangalore International Airport. (Pic courtesy: skyscraper and google).

All this was the hardwork and constant government support from both NDA in 2003 and UPA in 2004 that have ensured this project a grand success and has transformed the lives of Kashmiris.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Special Series - Indo China border Dispute - II

As promised earlier, here is the second in the series of articles that discusses the Indo China Border dispute. The first part discussed about Aksai Chin - The northern border problem with China. This article talks about the Eastern border issue - Arunachal Pradesh (formerly known as North East Frontier Agency - NEFA).


Where is Arunachal?
In the map below is the eastern most state of India - Arunachal(marked in red), bordering Bhutan on one end and Burma on the other.

This end of the dispute is as complex as the western one.

let's go back in time

The first Burmese war and Great Britain got Assam as per Treaty of Yandaboo. The map below shows the eastern end of Indian boundaries at this time. The Ahoms - who were ruling that region came under British rule. You can see in the map, there was no Arunachal in the picture yet. The British for the first time called areas north of Assam as North East Frontier Tract(NEFT- called by this time till Nehru renamed as NEFA).

Later, the British agen Jenkins discovered that the western end of NEFA known as Tawang (now part of India) was ruled by a king/raja and was feudatory of Tibet.

Keen to delineate borders, the British signed an agreement with Tibet agreeing that Tawang was Tibet's and it was a bilateral agreement. Note: TIBET COULD SIGN THIS AND WAS DEEMED LEGAL. Borne this point in mind because this will serve as an evidence for the later part of the flow.
Britain passed Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation by which they created an Inner Line - purely for administrative purposes and Outer Line that marked the official boundary of India. Basically, Britian did not want to deal with the tribes who were staying beyond Inner line and strict instructions were given to officials not to cross this border.
The dawn of 20th century brought Britain and Russia into the great game of ASIA. At this time, China and Tibet which existed as neighbors became areas of conflict for the 2 powers. Britain used to always consider that in order to check Russian influence or attack on India, it is necessary to make Tibet come under Britain i.e. a protectorate or sub-ordinate.

With this intention, Colonel Younghusband set on an expedition to conquer Tibet. China claims (till today) that Tibet neglected its advice else Britian would not have conquered Tibet. However, Tibetans don't agree. Younghusband without facing any resistance conquered Tibet and signed a treaty with it. Note: China didn't object to this nor questioned Tibet's independence.
Britain and China sign a bilateral treaty confirming 1904 treaty and declaring Chinese suzeraintiy over Tibet. TIBET's SIGNATURE/ACCEPTANCE was not taken.
According to the treaty, 1904 treaty was cancelled and it was agreed that Britian will not annex Tibet and China would not allow any foreign interference in Tibet's foreign affairs or administration.

Could China do this? Without getting the consent of Tibet, how could China decide this? For centuries, Tibet was treated as an independent state. And Tibet never sent any approval or signature or seal to China allowing it to control it. This is confirmed by the letter sent by Tibetan government to Mc Mohan (British general) in 1914. Pasted below is excerpt from that letter (taken from "History of Modern Tibet" by Goldstein)

Russia sign treaty with Britain agreeing to the fact that any issue of Tibet would have to be discussed only through China. This was done to ensure neither Russia nor Britian would influence Tibet.

First of all, 1907 was an extension of 1906. If 1906 itself has no validity because Tibet was not consulted how could this treaty be legitimate? China till today claims 1907 treaty as the basis on which Tibet could not be declared independent and hence could not sign any treaty with anyone without its consent.

An Indian map is published showing Tawang as a part of Tibet and Indian border extended from bhtuan to baroi River (32 miles) eastward and the whole of NEFA. Observe the map and see TIBET is named as a different territory and not as a province of China. The Outer line was the boundary and till now China never claimed this area nor ever occupied(Refer to map on wiki on sino-Indian War).

Repeatedly, the British officers tried to cross Outer line despite the warnings got from London.
The situation in Tibet has been best described by Swedish explorer Sven Hedin -(wiki on History of Tibet)

Currently, Tibet is in the cramp-like hands of China´s government. The Chinese realize that if they leave Tibet for the Europeans, it will end its isolation in the East. That is why the Chinese prevent those who wish to enter Tibet. Dala Lama in is currently also in the hands of the Chinese Government"..."Mongols are fanatics. They adore Dala Lama and obey him blindly. If he tomorrow ordering them go to war against the Chinese, if he urges them to a bloody revolution, will all like one man follow him as their ruler. China's government, which fear the Mongols, hooks on to Dala Lama."..."There is calm in Tibet. No fermentation of any kind is perceptible."(translated from Swedish) Sven Hedin had as a European in parts of his travels in Tibet been forced to camouflage himself to a Tibetan shepherd and he also visited the 9th Panchen Lama

Chinese for the first time cross NEFA and post flags around Walong (eastern Arunachal). Walong is the eastern most town in India and is where the bloodiest battle took place in 1962.

For the first time in centuries, China sent troops to Tibet to capture. All the goodwill that existed ceased now (as narrated in The Cambridge History of Tibet). This clearly indicated that China had not direct control over Tibet till then.

The British General Major Hamilton led an expedition trying to cross Outer Line was killed by Abhor tribes in NEFA. The British Government wanted to avenge the murder and hence started an expedition. As they proceeded they saw Chinese markers at Walong and placed British markers (flag) there.

Now, simultaneously, Chinese Xinhai Revolution - that ended Ching/Qing dynasty rule - erupted in China and China weakened. Its influence over Tibet, Assam etc, all weakened making several provinces independent.

China for the first time became REPUBLIC OF CHINA. The new king sent troops to annex Tibet.

For the time, Tibetans felt they were bretrayed, cheated by the Chinese. Now, the 13th Dalai Lama along with all Tibetan soldiers threw the Chinese out and proclaimed independence. Even Mongolia at that time was an independent province.

The sending of troops was against the previous king Sun Yat-sen orders who stated that "All non-han (non-chinese) provinces would be free to join China or if not be independent". This was backtracked by the new king Yuan-shik-hai who proclaimed

in January 1912: "The foundation of the state lies in the people's power to incorporate the areas inhabited by the Hans, Manchus, Mongolians, Huis and Tibetans into one country and to unite the Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Hui and Tibetan nationalities into one nation. That is called the national unification." (As taken from Chinese embassy website).
In Jan 1913, Tibet under the 13th Dalai Lama passed the proclamation of independence which stated amongst many things that

"Relationship between China and Tibet had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other. We are a small, religious and independent nation."
This was sealed and signed and distributed to every office in Tibet and to every resident of Tibet. Tibet also signed a mutual agreement with Mongolia. The text can be found here or here

The signing of this raised the suspicion in the eyes of the British that Russia might be influencing Tibet (because of Russian presence in the treaty). Thus, The British Government began to now involve Tibet with China over boundary issue and most importantly to ensure formally that China becomes suzerain of Tibet. This was Britain's game plan to check Russian influence.

1st meeting - Oct 13, 1913 - Shimla conference called in and Tibet accepts, China rejects to come but forced to come under 1907 treaty. Tibet sends a letter to the British Govt about the fact that it is still independent.

On October 30, 1913, China presented its “counter-proposals”. Its seventh point read: “The frontier boundary between China Proper and Tibet is now roughly indicated in the accompanying map.” That line ran far to the north of Tawang

2nd meeting - Nov 18, 1913 - Inner and Outer tibet was drawn and maps given to China and Tibet. China outrightly rejected it.

3rd meeting - Maps are exchanged between Tibet and China for consulation. Tibet's opinion was expected and Chinese too.

------------------1914 - Shima -Trouble began---------------------------------------

In the 4th meeting on Feb 17, 1914 -

Mc Mohan presents a draft to the Chinese and Tibetan representatives Ivan Chen and Lonchen Shatra respectively. For the first time, the correct borders of Outer and Inner Tibet are mentioned. Inner Tibet constituted Qinghai, Ganshu, Sichuan and Yunnan while Outer tibet consitute the present Tibet Autonomous Region. Inner Tibet was to be completely under Chinese while Outer Tibet would come under Chinese suzerainity but would be autonomous. (i.e Foreign policy, defence would be under the Chinese and everything else independent). There was a blue line demarcating Inner and Outer Tibet while RED LINE became the boundary of entire Tibet. The RED LINE ON THE EAST CAME TO BE LATER KNOWN AS MC MOHAN LINE.

March 11 -
Britain's governor general Mc Mohan formally gives the draft after approval from Britain Govt in London.
March 24-25th
Tibet agrees and Lonchen Shatra sent in a written response agreeing to it -

"As it was feared that there might be friction in future, unless the boundary between Tibet and India is clearly defined, I submitted the map, which you sent to me in February last, to the Tibetan government in Lhasa and I accordingly agreed to the boundary as marked in red in the two copies of the maps signed by you, subject to the conditions mentioned in your letter dated March 24, sent to me through Mr. Bell. I have signed and sealed the two copies of the maps. I have kept one copy here and return herewith the other. Sent on the 29th day of the 1st month of the Wood-Tiger year (March 25, 1914) by Lonchen Shatra, the Tibetan Plenipotentiary"

On April 3, 1914, China presented a five-point proposal (The McMahon Line and After, Parshotam Mehra; page 216; a masterly work). There was no reference to the border with India.

A telegram of April 20, 1914, from the Waichiapu (the Chinese Foreign Office) to Ivan Chen (intercepted by the British) mentioned seven points “on which we will never give in”. Again, the same omission of the external boundary. Its telegram of April 25 hinted that except for the internal boundary the rest was acceptable

APRIL 25, 1914 - China’s Memorandum of April 25, 1914, handed to the British Ambassador also ignored Tibet’s (external) boundary with India.


On this day, all 3 representatives put their initials. Ivan Chen was not too keen but put his initials. Tibet and Britain had no issues. Remember, INITIALS and NOT SIGNATURE. If initials are put, then that particular country's seal must be there for the initials to be valid. However, this was a draft and the initials were put without seals of the respective governments. Hence, the deal was invalid. Chinese and Tibetans reply was waited.

During the same time, China formally issued the Constitution declaring Tibet as one of those which will be unified and brought into Chinese Republic.

MAY 1, 1914 - The President of China sent a Secretary to meet the British Ambassador Sir John Jordan on May 1, 1914. He said after and a propos disavowal of Ivan Chen’s initialling that “the question of boundary was the only article not generally acceptable”.

MAY 11, 1914 - The President objected to “the inclusion in Outer Tibet of Chiamdo and of complete portion of Kokonor territory”. A memo of May 11, 1914, proposed further negotiations.

JUNE 13, 1914 - A Memorandum of June 13, 1914, with a map annexed, centred again on the Inner-Outer Tibet boundary.

JUNE 29, 1914 - So did another of June 29, 1914. D.P. Choudhury points out that the line drawn in the map of June 13 “lay far away from the north-east frontier of India” (The North-East Frontier of India 1865-1914; page 157).

JULY 3, 1914

When China never responded and rejected the proposal, India signed a bilateral treaty with Tibet and finalized the boundaries. The boundaries included NEFA (not Tawang) as part of India. The initials and the seal of the govt was taken from both parties. Further,

Now, China even today says 1907 treaty and states without Chinese approval the treaty between Tibet and India is invalid. So, now any reader must question - Why didnt Tibet signature/intials taken when Tibet was to be declared a suzerain of China? Secondly, Tibet declared independence. There was no formal agreement anytime between Tibet and China to prove China controlled Tibet and hence when Tibet declared itself independent did not require Chinese ratification.

The complete agreement is here. Article 9 mentions BLUE AND RED LINE. Articles 2, 3 and 4 clearly indicate that Tibet accepts Outer and Inner Tibet partition and that China should not send any troops to Outer Tibet nor attempt to convert Tibet into a Chinese province. The Treaty cancelled 1893, 1906 treaties.

Tibet was fully legitamately independent when it signed the treaty. Note in the map below - attached to the Shimla conference even during April meeting when initials were put by all 3 parties. Observe the BLUE LINE AND RED LINE.

Note: In the map, NEFA is a part of India, but not TAWANG.

Further developments post 1914:

C. U. Atchison's Collection of Treaties was published later indicating that the treaty was not binding as it was incompatible with 1907 agreement with China.

Britain and Russia sign another treaty cancelled 1907 agreement.
Olaf Core (British officer) decides to publish Mc Mohan Line map officially as it was a binding agreement.
Britain finds out that Tawang which is being controlled by Tibet (quite naturally). In 1938, Britian occupies Tawang and Tibet protested.


It is to be noted that TAWANG is an illegal occupation of INDIA.

An official map is published by Survey of India and this was the map India published in 1947 too.


TIBET was independent enough to sign a treaty with India. And therefore Tibet that gave up NEFA to India is India's. So, no question of dispute over Arunachal except TAWANG. Se La PASS (picture below) is the last point before Tawang where a bloody battle took place in 1962.

Also, for all the above reasons mentioned, also read what International Jurists concluded about status of Tibet. they concluded that TIBET WAS INDEPENDENT between 1913- 49. It had every qualification to be declared as an Independent nation until China forcibly occupied it and signed an agreement with Tibet in 1951.

Why did China sign formally in 1951 if all the while it treated Tibet as its part?

This article stops here. The next and the last series will cover events post 1947 that led to the war.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How prepared is India along China border?

For the last two weeks or so, Google maps, particularly, google earth, showed Arunachal Pradesh as a part of China. This was shocking. It showed it as not part of India. When Indian govt questioned, google rectified and now shows Aksai chin as disputed border in addition to Arunachal. Now, why should chinese version show up in Google maps and not the Indian version? This is THE SECOND TIME GOOGLE HAS DONE THIS BLUNDER AND IT CAN'T BE A MISTAKE...Earlier, in 2000 it did the same and then the NDA govt asked Google to quickly rectify it and so it did.

Version before Google accepted apology:
Version after google accepted the goof-up:

How can a private company like google do it twice? Any country's borders are a very sensitive issue and maps published serve a great deal of information and they should be free of such blunders.

It was very funny and embarrassing when Congress spokesperson said on NDTV's Big Fight-"I dont think the Govt is ignorant about this and would have conveyed it to the concerned people". He is not even informed of it despite the fact he works in the Govt. This is the height of ignorance. And why is the govt wanting to say that these border talks must go on. Is it serving any purpose? Is govt doing enough to solve the problem or just do the meetings? The spokesperson also said - "This must go on" and when asked why aren't 60 years enough he remarked - "They must go on"

Look at what China is doing? The picture below explains clearly(Courtesy: Telegraph).

China has well gone inside LAC - Line of Actual Control because it doesn't recognize this. The fact is Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India and there is no doubt about it. But if China is so much interested in claiming that India is the agressor then why can't it build infrastructure within LAC? Why should it violate LAC? Is China not the agressor?

India continues to neglect Arunachal and yet there are not motorable roads. If a war emerges, China would take minutes to deploy its troops while India would take days. This brings us back to 1962 war situation. Let's see what PM Manmohan Singh promised (for the first time in 60 years and I am happy, but not satisfied till completed)

Target: 2013
Things to execute:

1)1500 km Trans-Arunachal Highway running through the middle of the state - The Trans Arunachal Highway will start from Tawang on the Sino-Indian border and pass through Seppa, Sagalee, Hoj, Ziro, Daporizo, Aalo, Pasighat, Roing, Khongsa and Changlang with a link with Saikhowaghat in Assam
2) Rs.156 crore rail link connecting Itanagar (capital) to Harbuti in Assam
3)3000 MW Dibang project for electrcity (forget dams, let's consider roads first)

Of these, the best part is Border Roads Organization is incharge of most of the roads. They have been doing a good job despite extreme weather - the same extreme weather which made the Chinese withdraw in 1962. Below is the picture of a road(LOHIT bridge over Parasuram river) inaugurated in 2006 which connects China and it has changed the lives of people in that area and their earnings have never been so good in the last 50 years.

The impact of this single road: more than 300 shops from 30, with many of them selling luxury goods. A population of about 100,000 has 5,000 cellphones and schools. A journalist from The HINDU newspaper further reports -
There are professional coaching institutes, automated teller machines (ATMs), Internet cafes and many restaurants.

"Subsistence agriculture has been replaced by orange and apple orchards and cardamom plantations. There is electricity round the clock at Dirak, where one enters the district from Assam, and all the way beyond Walong, until the border with Tibet 280 km away. The long road that connects sparsely populated villages is always busy with taxis, trucks, buses and motorcycles plying up and down. The road is being improved with several concrete bridges. And along the river many mini hydroelectric projects are coming up."

There are 8 strategic roads along the border which are critical and 4 of them are complete - All by Border Roads Organization (BRO). The PM has declared the project as "The Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for North-East (SARDP-NE) " - divided into two phases: The first phase involving 1,300 km of roads primarily in the North-East State to be completed by this year-end and the second phase involved 5,700 km with the 2013 deadline.

In addition, there are various roads under construction in HP, Uttarakhand, sikkim and J&K.

India has to build roads, secure those conflicting points. It is not enough that we strengthen our navy, army and air force. We have to build roads along the border. There are no people like the Chinese when it comes to strategy and planning. They carefully plan, silently execute and loudly speak only after preparation. It is this tactical planning that always ensured China is ahead of India in every aspect. The Chinese have built 6 lane highways in Tibetian border and connected Lhasa with Bejing through a high speed link.

As far as Congress govt is concerned, it was only Narasimha Rao who tactfully followed the policy of Look East by which he started contacting other countries in East Asia who are not friendly with China to ensure diplocatic pressure on China remained always. On the other a significant breakthrough was acheived when Vajpayee visited China. This meeting settled the Sikkim and Tibet issue once for all. For almost 55 years, China claimed Sikkim and theirs, but Vajpayee's dilpomacy ensured Sikkim be accepted as India's. However, Chinese as shrewd as no one can be, backtracked a year ago on claiming Sikkim too. Now, they stopped Sikkim and restarted the claim of Arunachal.

What is needed: Speedy completion of roads and enhancing air fields along Ladakh border (already many are opened last year)