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Chinese president XI
Jinping visited India in September 2014, being the first visit of state in eight years, by a Chinese President in India. He maintained that the boundary question is ‘left over from history’, and both sides are fully capable to resolve the issues through border related mechanism. The ‘Five Year Trade and Economic Development Plan’ commits China to $20 billion investment in India, over the next five years. China has agreed to provide greater market access to Indian products in farm, pharmaceuticals, and gems and jewellery. The agreements aim to reduce the large foreign trade gap between China and India, which stands at $36.86 billion in 2013. To facilitate trade between the two countries, Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank Corporation signed various agreements with State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. Two Chinese industrial parks will be installed in India. India has been invited to become full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization dealing with Central Asia, dominated by Russia and China. With several SAARC countries insisting for China’s inclusion in SAARC, China will acquire a larger role in SAARC.
Alarming Chinese incursions across the Line of Actual Contral (LAC) took place while Mr XI and India’s premier Mr Modi were negotiating other issues. Eastern Ladakh’s Chumar face off has been continuing since 10 September 2014. Indian troops stopped PLA troops from building a road upto Chepzi on the LAC. Around 1000 PLA troops were deployed in eight ‘tactical positions’, against equal number of Indian soldiers. Indian civil workers were stopped building irrigation channel at Demchok. At the high altitude site, several Chinese shepherds have pitched tents. India has withdrawn clearance for leading journalists from China to visit India, forcing the cancellation of an exchange promoted by an Indian media house.
Animals Crossing Borders
Over the last one year, wild herds of more than 100 elephants from the Royal Bardia National Park in Nepal, have taken residence in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh. About five Rhinos from Nepal, have settled in Katerniaghat Wild Life Sanctuary. The Katerniaghat and Dudhwa sanctuaries are not connected to each other on Indian soil. But the animals were earlier residents of Bardia (Nepal). The population of elephants is healthy and breeding. There are also eight young elephants, between one year to six years of age. The migration of animals has been possible through the numerous corridors of Basanta to Dudhwa and Khata, connecting Bardia to Katerniaghat. The migration of animals is enriching the genetic diversity of wildlife. Nepalese elephants prefer Indian forests because of better protection, and grassland and water hole management. The Gerua River is a perennial source of water. Villages are being hit by elephant crop raids.
More than 130,000 people have died in road traffic accidents in India, during 2013. About half of those killed were cyclists or pedestrians. New Delhi is a traffic clogged capital. Jogging, cycling and even crossing the road, can be risky. Homeless people, sleeping on the pavement, are frequently run over by drunk drivers. Since August 2014, people in New Delhi are literally taking back the streets. The initiative called Raahgiri, slang in hindi, for being ‘loss of the road’, is a new campaign that bans automobiles in the heart of the city, Connaught Place for a few hours every Sunday. Thousands of residents pour into Connaught Place on Sundays to walk, jog, dance, skip, cycle, roller-skate, lift weights, do yoga and acrobatics outdoors, play cricket, badminton and volleyball. They tell jokes, sing and enact street plays, and give women self-defence tips. There are no worries about rush traffic. The rebellious claim to the streets, is set to expand to other Indian cities in 2015.
Myanmar Gas to China
Two Indian state run firms have been helping China for a secure route to ferry gas and oil supplies home, bypassing the troubled strait of Malacca and South China Sea. An onshore pipeline project has been undertaken by joint venture company South-East Asia Gas Pipeline Company Limited, of which ONGC Videsh and GAIL India are partners. China energy major CNPC has 50.9% stake in the joint venture. Other partners include Daewoo International, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, International, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and Korea Gas Corporation. 1.87 billion cubic metres of natural gas has been carried from Shwe offshore gas fields in Myanmar to Kunming in Southwest China province, Yunnan, in the first year of the commissioning of the 800-km overland gas pipeline. The pipeline will carry 10 to 13 billion cubic metres of gas every year, when fully operational. Expected to be commissioned soon, a parallel pipeline will transport 22 million tons of crude in a year. Starting from Kyaukphyu in the Rakhine state, the two pipe lines run overland via Mandalay, to enter China at Ruili in Yunnan. The gas pipelines run across Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongging and Guangxi. ONGC Videsh has 17% participating interest in the A1 and A3 blocks of the Shwe gas fields. Daewoo has 51% stake, MOGE 15%, GAIL and KOGAS 8.5% each. Oil storage tanks in Myanmmar and the overland pipelines are key to China’s energy strategy.
Vol. 47, No. 21, Nov 30 - Dec 6, 2014