Friday, September 25, 2009

Virtual war, hard reality

An expanded version of my earlier post on this blog "Breaking News" has been published in the Financial Express. In it I also suggest a possible way to look at the border dispute in a broader light.

The media warriors have, of course, attempted to wrap their rhetoric in tricolour. In the heat of battle, they may have missed one small point. Much of the China-India border is disputed by one side or the other, which is why we have the Line of Actual Control. And in some areas, even the LAC is not clearly accepted by both sides. There can hardly be anything but ‘incursions’ by one or the other, if there is no mutually recognised border cast in stone, in the first place.

On the other hand, if we are to accept the LAC as the de facto border, then it would basically mean that we surrender claims on the western sector in Aksai Chin, and China give up its claim in the eastern sector in Arunachal Pradesh. A lot of scholars think that it is precisely this kind of across-the-board settlement which is desirable, possible and doable. But it is the sector by sector, section by section, mile by mile negotiation between China and India that has perpetuated the talks, and held up settlement of the border dispute all these years.

One hopes that from this fog of battle in the media, a little light would shine through, giving impetus to the border negotiations. If the border is settled, the media warriors, of course, will lose one of their favourite punching bags. But that is one casualty from friendly fire that would be worth paying for.

Postscript: While the media goes to battle the dragon, the reality of Sino-Indian relationship goes on. China is India’s largest trading partner. Indian investment in China is growing. Many Indian students are studying at Chinese universities. China and India are working together at G-20, at WTO and other forums. The two sides recently acknowledged their identical positions on climate change. If these are a few of the highs, then as in any relationship, there are many low points too. The war drums in the virtual media cannot overshadow the realities.

You may like to read the article, "Breaking News: TV war on China", Financial Express, 25 Sept 2009. Comments welcome. Would appreciate any out of the box ideas to resolve the border issue between China and India.

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