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Daily Editorials

An inflection point in Indo – China Relations

1. CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

The long drawn Sino-Indian border dispute reached its inflection point on Monday with the unfortunate death of 20 soldiers of the Indian Army. This is the first deadly clash in the border area between the two nations over the 45-year long dispute.

1.1 News in Detail

  • The deadly clash took place in Galwan Valley in the disputed Eastern Ladakh Region.
  • There is no official report on causalities on the Chinese side.
  • China accused Indian troop of crossing the border twice, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel".
  • Later, Military officials from both the side met to diffuse the situation.

2. INDIA – CHINA BORDER DISPUTE

2.1 History of the dispute

  • India – China cultural relations go back to ancient times. The traditional Silk Route and spread of Buddhism to South East Asia via China are testimony to it.
  • Today, India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary, which it disputed in its entirety. 
  • The India – China border is demarcated by the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon, a British negotiator. The line was agreed upon during a tripartite conference in Shimla between India, China and Tibet and led to delimitation of Indo-Tibetan boundary.
  • Initially all the three parties agreed but later china refused to accept the boundary line calling it illegal.
  • In 1950s china built a 1200 km road which ran through the Aksai Chin Region of Ladakh claimed by India. This coupled with other boundary skirmished led to the 1962 border war between the nations. The boundary established after the war is called as Line of Actual Control (LAC).

2.2 Boundary Skirmishes between the two nations

  • After establishment of the LAC, the border peace between India and China has been hanging by a thread.The border line is marred by many skirmishes, most highlighted being:
    • 1967 -Nathu La and Cho La clashes
    • 1987 -Sino-Indian skirmish in Sumdorong Chu Valley
    • 2017 -China–India border standoff in Doklam - In June 2017, the Chinese began constructing a road in the disputed area of Doklam, near the Doka La pass.

2.3 Attempts to resolve the India – China Border dispute.

  • Harmony was established between India and China in 1976 and High Level border talks were initiated in 1981 to find a permanent solution. The talks proved unfruitful and broke after eight rounds in 1987.
  • 1988 - Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visited China and consequently the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to resolve the dispute.
  • 1993 - Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Indo – China Border areas was signed.
  • 1996 - Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed.
  • 2003 - One special representatives each from India and China were appointed to solve the border dispute politically but this too did not yield much

2.4 Bilateral treaties between India and China to address border disputes

  1. 1993: Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  2. 1996: Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC
  3. 2005: Protocol on the Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  4. 2012: Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
  5. 2013: Border Defence Cooperation Agreement between India and China

3. WHY ARE TENSIONS AT A ALL TIME HIGH

At the heart of it is competing and conflicting strategic goals of both the nations. Following developments shed more light on the underlying issue:

3.1 The Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie(DSDBO) Road

  • The construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) all-weather road is probably the most important reason for the recent conflict between India and China.
  • The DSDBO Road is at an elevation of 13,000 https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/06/graph-4.jpg- 16,000 ft. It took almost 20 years for the India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to build it.
  • The road connects Leh to DBO, which is the northernmost part on Indian territory in Ladakh.
  • DBO lies at base of Karakoram pass, which separates Xinjiang Autonomous Region from Ladakh.
  • The Galwan River has traditionally been a peaceful location. Recently China revamped military infrastructure constructions along the Galwan River, posing a direct threat to DSDBO Road.
  • The Global Times, a Chinese state-run media outlet held that the Galwan Valley region is a Chinese territory and according to the Chinese military, India has forced its way into the valley changing the status quo along the LAC.

3.2 The Union Territory of Ladakh

  • Last year India ended the limited autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh became a Union Territory on 31st of October 2019.
  • The federally administered area of Ladakh includes Aksai Chin, an area claimed by India but administered by China.

3.4 China – Pakistan Economic CorridorThe China – Pakistan Economic Corridor: India's Dual Dilemma ...

The Karakoram Highway passes through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, connecting Pakistan to its all-time ally China.

The highway connects China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar and provides China a foothold in the Arabian Sea.

China has invested $60 Billion in China Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC) under its Belt and Road Initiative. It has been pushing aggressively for its Belt and Road Initiative and the recent strategic and geo-political developments in India have marred the Chinese ambitions.

3.3 The 2020 Border Skirmish

  • The first standoff in 2020 took place on 5 May which soldiers clashing at PangongTsowhich is a lake that extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. The LAC passes through the Pangong Tso.
  • Later again in May, the soldiers clashed again in Sikkim.
  • The third skirmish took place in Eastern Ladakh when Chinese troops had entered the Indian territory in the Galwan River valley objecting the construction of a road branching off from the Darbuk–Shyok–DBO Road into Galwan valley.
  • There are reports of huge development in Chinese military infrastructure including military-style bunkers, military trucks, and road-building equipment.
  • Diplomatic talks for de-escalation were underway when the 15 June incident took place in Galwan Valley leading to the killing of 20 India Soldiers.

4. ESCALATING CHINESE BORDER CONFLICTS WITH OTHER NATIONS

  • Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general, strategist, writer and philosopher held that, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.
  • China seems to be using this dictum to act while leaders around the world are distraught and engaged in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Recently China intercepted and detained Vietnamese fishing boats near the Paracel archipelago
    • Declared two new municipal districts to control the disputed islands.
    • Published Chinese names of 80 geographic and underwater features in South China Sea.
    • Imposed a fishing moratorium on other countries.
    • Intruded into Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
    • Crossed themedianlineintheTaiwan Strait.
    • Harassed commercial vessels from the Philippines.

5. GOING FORWARD

5.1 Importance of the region for India

  • Ladakh is strategically very important to India. It has the Siachen glacier where Kargil conflict took place. “Operation Meghdoot” was launched in 1984 to capture the Siachen Glacier and it has since, played a central role in India's security spectrum.
  • West of the Glacier lies Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan, East of it lies China-occupied Aksai Chin.
  • The Indian Army has maintained a strong presence in the Glacier to ensure peace in the region.

5.2 Pakistan and Chinese Ideology

  • Pakistan constantly pursues the policy of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts”.
  • China has been tactically nibbling away land, by taking recourse to the deceptive rubric of “perception of claimlines”.
  • Mao Zedong had said that Tibet (Xizang) is China’s right-hand palm which is detached from its five fingers of Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA (Arunachal).
  • The Chinese establishment aim to reclaim theso called “MiddleKingdom”, which according to the Chinese was taken away by the foreign powers when China was at its weakest in the 1950s.

5.3 The way forward for India

  • India cannot propagate peace at the cost of its territorial integrity. Indian hospitality and call for peace under Wuhan spirit and Mahabalipuram meeting has not been reciprocated by China which continues with its old aggressive and expansionist ways.
  • The government should call for an all party meet including the opposition to foster a unanimous stand on the current escalation and a united Indian response.
  • The severed diplomatic ties with Nepal on Indo-Nepal border issue need to be amicably resolved.
  • India should continue to form amicable relations with its neighbours and democracies around the world.
  • The tragic deaths of our brave and courageous soldiers cannot and should not go invain. We the people of India should firmly resolve to maintain communal harmony in our societies and promote prosperity with equality and aid out bit in defence preparedness of the country.
  • Determined and united we can protect the integrity of our country and its people and show the Chinese establishment that fear can only get you so far.

An inflection point in Indo – China Relations

1. CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

The long drawn Sino-Indian border dispute reached its inflection point on Monday with the unfortunate death of 20 soldiers of the Indian Army. This is the first deadly clash in the border area between the two nations over the 45-year long dispute.

1.1 News in Detail

  • The deadly clash took place in Galwan Valley in the disputed Eastern Ladakh Region.
  • There is no official report on causalities on the Chinese side.
  • China accused Indian troop of crossing the border twice, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel".
  • Later, Military officials from both the side met to diffuse the situation.

2. INDIA – CHINA BORDER DISPUTE

2.1 History of the dispute

  • India – China cultural relations go back to ancient times. The traditional Silk Route and spread of Buddhism to South East Asia via China are testimony to it.
  • Today, India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary, which it disputed in its entirety. 
  • The India – China border is demarcated by the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon, a British negotiator. The line was agreed upon during a tripartite conference in Shimla between India, China and Tibet and led to delimitation of Indo-Tibetan boundary.
  • Initially all the three parties agreed but later china refused to accept the boundary line calling it illegal.
  • In 1950s china built a 1200 km road which ran through the Aksai Chin Region of Ladakh claimed by India. This coupled with other boundary skirmished led to the 1962 border war between the nations. The boundary established after the war is called as Line of Actual Control (LAC).

2.2 Boundary Skirmishes between the two nations

  • After establishment of the LAC, the border peace between India and China has been hanging by a thread.The border line is marred by many skirmishes, most highlighted being:
    • 1967 -Nathu La and Cho La clashes
    • 1987 -Sino-Indian skirmish in Sumdorong Chu Valley
    • 2017 -China–India border standoff in Doklam - In June 2017, the Chinese began constructing a road in the disputed area of Doklam, near the Doka La pass.

2.3 Attempts to resolve the India – China Border dispute.

  • Harmony was established between India and China in 1976 and High Level border talks were initiated in 1981 to find a permanent solution. The talks proved unfruitful and broke after eight rounds in 1987.
  • 1988 - Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visited China and consequently the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to resolve the dispute.
  • 1993 - Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Indo – China Border areas was signed.
  • 1996 - Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed.
  • 2003 - One special representatives each from India and China were appointed to solve the border dispute politically but this too did not yield much

2.4 Bilateral treaties between India and China to address border disputes

  1. 1993: Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  2. 1996: Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC
  3. 2005: Protocol on the Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
  4. 2012: Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs
  5. 2013: Border Defence Cooperation Agreement between India and China

3. WHY ARE TENSIONS AT A ALL TIME HIGH

At the heart of it is competing and conflicting strategic goals of both the nations. Following developments shed more light on the underlying issue:

3.1 The Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie(DSDBO) Road

  • The construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) all-weather road is probably the most important reason for the recent conflict between India and China.
  • The DSDBO Road is at an elevation of 13,000 https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/06/graph-4.jpg- 16,000 ft. It took almost 20 years for the India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to build it.
  • The road connects Leh to DBO, which is the northernmost part on Indian territory in Ladakh.
  • DBO lies at base of Karakoram pass, which separates Xinjiang Autonomous Region from Ladakh.
  • The Galwan River has traditionally been a peaceful location. Recently China revamped military infrastructure constructions along the Galwan River, posing a direct threat to DSDBO Road.
  • The Global Times, a Chinese state-run media outlet held that the Galwan Valley region is a Chinese territory and according to the Chinese military, India has forced its way into the valley changing the status quo along the LAC.

3.2 The Union Territory of Ladakh

  • Last year India ended the limited autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh became a Union Territory on 31st of October 2019.
  • The federally administered area of Ladakh includes Aksai Chin, an area claimed by India but administered by China.

3.4 China – Pakistan Economic CorridorThe China – Pakistan Economic Corridor: India's Dual Dilemma ...

The Karakoram Highway passes through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, connecting Pakistan to its all-time ally China.

The highway connects China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar and provides China a foothold in the Arabian Sea.

China has invested $60 Billion in China Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC) under its Belt and Road Initiative. It has been pushing aggressively for its Belt and Road Initiative and the recent strategic and geo-political developments in India have marred the Chinese ambitions.

3.3 The 2020 Border Skirmish

  • The first standoff in 2020 took place on 5 May which soldiers clashing at PangongTsowhich is a lake that extends from India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. The LAC passes through the Pangong Tso.
  • Later again in May, the soldiers clashed again in Sikkim.
  • The third skirmish took place in Eastern Ladakh when Chinese troops had entered the Indian territory in the Galwan River valley objecting the construction of a road branching off from the Darbuk–Shyok–DBO Road into Galwan valley.
  • There are reports of huge development in Chinese military infrastructure including military-style bunkers, military trucks, and road-building equipment.
  • Diplomatic talks for de-escalation were underway when the 15 June incident took place in Galwan Valley leading to the killing of 20 India Soldiers.

4. ESCALATING CHINESE BORDER CONFLICTS WITH OTHER NATIONS

  • Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general, strategist, writer and philosopher held that, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.
  • China seems to be using this dictum to act while leaders around the world are distraught and engaged in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Recently China intercepted and detained Vietnamese fishing boats near the Paracel archipelago
    • Declared two new municipal districts to control the disputed islands.
    • Published Chinese names of 80 geographic and underwater features in South China Sea.
    • Imposed a fishing moratorium on other countries.
    • Intruded into Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
    • Crossed themedianlineintheTaiwan Strait.
    • Harassed commercial vessels from the Philippines.

5. GOING FORWARD

5.1 Importance of the region for India

  • Ladakh is strategically very important to India. It has the Siachen glacier where Kargil conflict took place. “Operation Meghdoot” was launched in 1984 to capture the Siachen Glacier and it has since, played a central role in India's security spectrum.
  • West of the Glacier lies Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan, East of it lies China-occupied Aksai Chin.
  • The Indian Army has maintained a strong presence in the Glacier to ensure peace in the region.

5.2 Pakistan and Chinese Ideology

  • Pakistan constantly pursues the policy of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts”.
  • China has been tactically nibbling away land, by taking recourse to the deceptive rubric of “perception of claimlines”.
  • Mao Zedong had said that Tibet (Xizang) is China’s right-hand palm which is detached from its five fingers of Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA (Arunachal).
  • The Chinese establishment aim to reclaim theso called “MiddleKingdom”, which according to the Chinese was taken away by the foreign powers when China was at its weakest in the 1950s.

5.3 The way forward for India

  • India cannot propagate peace at the cost of its territorial integrity. Indian hospitality and call for peace under Wuhan spirit and Mahabalipuram meeting has not been reciprocated by China which continues with its old aggressive and expansionist ways.
  • The government should call for an all party meet including the opposition to foster a unanimous stand on the current escalation and a united Indian response.
  • The severed diplomatic ties with Nepal on Indo-Nepal border issue need to be amicably resolved.
  • India should continue to form amicable relations with its neighbours and democracies around the world.
  • The tragic deaths of our brave and courageous soldiers cannot and should not go invain. We the people of India should firmly resolve to maintain communal harmony in our societies and promote prosperity with equality and aid out bit in defence preparedness of the country.
  • Determined and united we can protect the integrity of our country and its people and show the Chinese establishment that fear can only get you so far.

The Climate Curve

1. Context of the editorial

  • In epidemiology (the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health), the concept of slowing down the spread of a virus, so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time is known as "flattening the curve."
  • Preventing infections through a series of measures, to reduce the number of cases at any given point of time is known as "flattening the curve”. It reduces the burden on the healthcare system and allows healthcare services to better manage the same volume of patients as the patients come over an extended period of time and do not create a clog in the healthcare system which will be the case when the number of patients reach peak values in a very short span of time.

                  Flattening the curve refers to community isolation measures that keep the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers.

2. Understanding the Climate Crisis

Contemporary Climate Crisis can be understood by two interrelated curves.

  1. The curve of Global Greenhouse (or Carbon dioxide) Emissions.
  2. The curve of Global average temperature.

Let us look at these curves one by one:

2.1 The curve of Global Greenhouse (or Carbon dioxide) Emissions.

  • The phenomenon of Greenhouse Effect - The Sun warms up the Earth's surface during the day. During the night, the Earth cools and releases the heat back in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) present in the atmosphere trap some of this heat. This phenomenon is a necessity for sustaining life as it keeps the Earth warm at an average of 15 degree Celsius which otherwise would have been at very low levels, nonconductive to life. Gases contributing most to Earth’s Greenhouse Effect in decreasing order are water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3).
  • The contribution of an individual Greenhouse Gas depends on two factors:
  1. The amount of heat the gas absorbs and radiates back which is called as Global Warming Potential or GWP.
  2. The amount of gas present in the atmosphere.
  • This is important to understand because while the GWP of methane is 23 time of carbon dioxide and Pie chart that shows different types of gases. 81% from carbon dioxide fossil fuel use, deforestation, decay of biomass, etc., 9% from methane, 7% from nitrous oxide and 3% from fluorinated gases.that of nitrous oxide is 296 times of CO2 yetCO2is most dangerous of all GHGs because of its sheer volume in the atmosphere comprising 81% of all GHG emissions.

Hence, Greenhouse Gases are often used interchangeably with CO2. Concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (ppm) which is a commonly used unit of concentration for small values.1 ppm = 1 part of solute per 1 million parts solvent or (10-6).

2.2 Rising trend of CO2 Curve.

  • 18,000 years agoCO2 concentration in the atmosphere was close to 200 parts per million (ppm) and the Earth was much cooler. The CO2 levels have been rising since.
  • By 11,500 years ago, the CO2 levels reached 270 ppm and remained steady at around 280 ppm for the nest 10,000 years until the beginning of industrialisation 150 years ago.
  • A point worth mentioning here is that CO2 levels rise and fall in cyclic fashion, but for the last million years, they never exceeded 280-300 ppm before falling back to 200 ppm.
  • In the beginning of the mid-19th century, with the rise of in burning of coal and oil to fuel the industrial revolution and clearing forests to expand agriculture and settlements, CO2 levels began to rise sharply. While there was a mere 0.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 1850, annual emissions increased to 36 billion tonnes by 2018.
  • These are life-threatening levels and human life would have been altered beyond recognition if all this emitted CO2 had accumulated in the atmosphere but for the regenerative capacity of the Earth. About half of CO2 emissions have been removed from the atmosphere by nature (growth of vegetation and absorption by the oceans).
  • The CO2 levels in 2018 reached 407 ppm in 2018. It was three million years ago when Earth previously had this level of CO2concentration.

2.3 The curve of Average Global Temperature.

  • The average global temperature began rising up 1850 onwards but there was nothing alarming about the rate. The curve began rising sharply 1975 onwards and by 2015 the Earth was whole 1 degree Celsius warmer than a century ago.
  • With current trends of emissions, Climate Modellers unequivocally predict that Earth will be warmer by 4°C by the end of the century.

3.Impact of Climate Change.

  • Apart from rising global temperature, Climate change also involves other component of weather including rainfall, humidity and wind speed. There are also indirect effects of Climate Change as rise in sea levels from melting glaciers.
  • Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, heat waves and droughts, which have become a common global phenomenon in the recent times though, cannot be directly attributed to climate change but the collective trends are consistent with climate change predictions. Some devastating effects of climate change on human life seen recently are:
    • The 2003 European heat killing over 70,000 people.
    • 2015-19 have globally been the warmest years on record.
    • The Amazon fire of 2019, the bush fires of 2019-20 in Australia were unprecedented in both scale and level of devastation.
  • Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a less underlined news was that March 2020 has been the second warmest March on record.

3.1 Impact of Climate Change on India:

  • The Climate Impact Lab at the University of Chicago predicts an average rise of 4°C in average summer temperatures in most States in India at current trend of global CO2 emissions.
  • A rise in extremely hot days (days above 35°C), to 15 days by 2050 and to 42 days by 2100 on average across all districts. There were only 5 extremely hot days in 2010.

4.Efforts to fight Climate Change:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates a sustained annual investment of $2.4 trillion in more efficient energy systems is needed until 2035 in order to keep warming below the more ambitious 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels. This amount is about 2.5% of the global GDP.
  • The wealthy nations are spending over $500 billion each year internally on projects aimed at reducing emissions.

4.1 Climate financing agreements in UN

  • Therefore, at the UN Climate Conference in 2009, the richest nations had pledged to provide $100 billion in aid each year by 2020 to the poorer countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

4.2 Progress so far

  • As per data available only $71 billion had been provided in 2017. Most of the money is going towards mitigation and less than 20% towards climate adaptation.
  • Such numbers had been challenged prior to the 2015 Paris Summit by many countries, including India.
  • It is unlikely that rich countries will deliver $100 billion in tangible climate finance during 2020.

5.COVID-19 and the curves:

  • COVID-19 has unintentionally given humanity a brief respite from the climate change curve. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels have certainly reduced in recent weeks.
  • However, how long this respite will last depends on the standstill created by the lockdowns.
  • Experts are already talking about a paradigm shift in the structure and functioning of societies once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
  • This is also a make-or-break moment for the climate trajectory, which has to be flattened within a few years if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.

6.Conclusion:

  • It needs to be realized that there is no substitute for reducing GHG emissions.
  • Technologists, economists, and social scientists must plan for a sustainable planet based on the principles of equity and climate justice within and across nations.
  • It is the responsibility of leaders to alter their mindset and act on the looming climate crisis with the same alacrity they have shown on COVID-19.
  • Leaders all around the world have shown exemplary commitment and willingness to contribute, cooperate and immediately act over the COVID-19 pandemic’ in their own capacity. While this is praiseworthy action, the editorial comments on the desperate need for the world leaders to the show same level of commitment and alacrity towards the climate crisis.