Fourteen thousand feet above the sea level, at the Nathu La Pass on the India-China border, morbid danger signs warn visitors of dated land mines that might have remained from the war of 1962. Reflective of artful diplomacy from both sides, India and China have managed to metaphorically avoid stepping on another such land mine in the Doklam plateau, at the trijunction of India, Bhutan and China. Come September 3, another opportunity for the two Asian giants to take a step in the right direction will come up, when prime minister Narendra Modi meets Chinese president Xi Jinping, along with other leaders from Brazil, Russia and South Africa at the 9th annual BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China.
What began as an acronym coined by investment bankers at Goldman Sachs in 2001 to symbolise the engines of economic growth in the twenty first century, BRICS has evolved into something much bigger — a representation of the changing geo-political and geo-economic world order. India and China lie at the helm of this new order and they realise the importance of it.
The fact that the two countries released statements indicating disengagement at Doklam just a few days before the summit shows a realisation on both sides that the opportunities in cooperation for a greater say on the world stage far outweigh individual territorial ambitions that either of them might have. It can be argued that in intensive political disequilibria such as this, economics tend to be a stabilising force – which is the raison d’etre for BRICS.
If world history is anything to go by, there comes a major world event every few decades that shapes the next few. The global financial crisis of 2008 was one. The informal bloc of BRIC(S) nations was established as a response to the cracks that had begun to form in the global financial system lead by the Bretton Woods institutions and dominated by the west.
Much has changed in the years since. The rise and rise of China is not only the singular biggest challenge to US supremacy as well as western financial and political hegemony since the end of the Second World War, it has paved the way for the existence of a multi-polar world order. The BRICS nations have together promoted their exports, coordinated responses in international legal disputes, successfully negotiated for an increase in voting shares at the World Bank and in an increasingly overpopulated topography of multi-lateral institutions, have consolidated their reserves to become creditors of foreign aid rather than just borrowers of the same.
As the first decade of the existence of BRICS comes to a close, the bloc has achieved much economically – of course, there is much left to be desired politically.
Today, another major world phenomenon presents itself to the bloc – the increasing inwardness of the west. As the last decade presented an opportunity to make the world institutions more equitable economically, the next decade presents the opportunity to do so politically. For the success of that, India and China need to find common ground before the economic momentum that is behind them begins to fade.
The cry about the lack of coherence among BRICS nations, especially India and China, has often been over emphasized in western media outlets. The EU and the US were themselves at odds in several political and economic transatlantic agreements during the first five years of the GATT
(which then evolved into the WTO). In fact, some of the issues still remain. But that did not stop them from coming together to establish a world order as primary engines of economic growth.
Similarly it is true, for India and China, that there exist multiple points of divergence between the two countries, but that is also exactly why sitting on the same table is important.
It would be prudent for China to stop treating India as an economic laggard to itself that can be coerced into submission and realise that such actions only push India, against its will, towards the west. India on the other hand must continue to advocate for an increased joint collaboration with China in multi-lateral institutions, even if it’s voting shares in such institutions is second to China.
Russia, Brazil and South Africa will surely count on India and China to speak in one voice in the upcoming summit and showcase the points of convergences among the BRICS nations to the world. In line with the theme of the summit, which is “Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”, India and China must use BRICS to build a house, not a wall.
‘RTI shows Farooq applying for leaves from Parl’
Srinagar, Feb 21: A Right to Information request filed by India Today has led to replies by the Lok Sabha which point to the fact that MP Farooq Abdullah – who has been under detention since August 5, 2019 – has been applying for leaves from the Lower House in order to ostensibly remain arrested.
Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir has been detained since the Centre announced its decision to read down Article 370 in Kashmir. On September 16, he was charged under the Public Safety Act, which allows for detention for up to two years without trial.
During this time, the Lok Sabha has been in session thrice. First, from June 17 to August 6. Then, from November 18 to December 13. And finally, from January 31 to February 11.
Naturally, Abdullah, who is placed under the most stringent of restrictions has not attending the second and third sessions and the final two days of the first sessions.
Rules dictate that members who do not sign the attendance register apply for leave. Which is exactly what the Lok Sabha secretariat claims Abdullah did – so that his arrest could seemingly continue. In a reply which chiefly redirects the journalist who requested for the information to the official Lok Sabha portal of www.loksabha.nic.in, the house also refused to furnish copies of Abdullah’s leave application.
As noted by India Today, the reason cited was: “Since the matter [his application for leave of absence] is under the consideration of the Committee on the Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House, the copy of his leave application cannot be provided to the applicant at this stage.”
The department also evaded the question as to whether the government has informed the Lower House about the reason behind Abdullah’s absence.
The India Today report also notes the news portal’s experience at the official website’s attendance page, to which it was directed by the RTI’s response.
As noted by India Today, the page merely attests to the fact that Abdullah has been ‘absent’ on days it is known he missed parliament on. For the second and third sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha, Abdullah’s attendance sheet says ‘no records found’.
For the first session, in which the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019, was moved and passed, Abdullah’s attendance is noted for 27 of the 37 days the parliament was in session.
In addition, India Today notes that there were five MPs in the list of leave applicants whose request has been granted. “Farooq Abdullah’s name is not one of them. One of the names is that of Atul Kumar Singh alias Atul Rai who applied for leave because of his detention in jail,” the news portal says.
In response to their question on how long a member may remain absent from the house, the Lok Sabha secretariat cited the constitution to say:
“If for a period of sixty days a member of either House of Parliament is without permission of the House absent from all meetings thereof, the House may declare his seat vacant. Provided that in computing the said period of sixty days no account shall be taken of any period during which the House is prorogued or is adjourned for more than four consecutive days.”
Abdullah, meanwhile, was named member of the Standing Committee on Railways and Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Defence, in September, 2019. He was then, as he is now, under detention.
His prolonged absence from the parliament is often brought up by opposition during debates.
India’s Union home minister Amit Shah, when the Speaker had been asked as to where Abdullah was in August of 2019, had claimed that he had “neither been detained nor arrested”. He had said Abdullah was at his home by his own will.
Coronavirus scare:Ladakh police registers FIR
Srinagar, Feb 21: Police in Ladakh UT have registered an FIR against persons involved in leaking a letter of Medical Superintendent in which two patients with alleged coronavirus symptoms were discussed.
On Thursday, the letter addressed to CMO office Leh discussing two patients’ admission in ICU isolation and death of another patient who died of similar symptoms went viral on the internet in Kashmir.
The letter created panic and scare among the general public wary about the viral coronavirus that has taken the world, particularly China, by storm.
“Into this effect Case FIR No. 11/2020 U/S 505 (2), 188 IPC has been lodged in Police station Leh, Ladakh and the investigation has been set into motion,” said a police spokesperson.
He added that the search for the person/persons involved in leaking and circulating the letter on social media has been started and they will be brought to book.
“It is also to inform the general public that this police station has contacted the health department Leh from where it has been cleared and confirmed that there is no such Coronavirus like case in SNM Hospital till date, so there is no need to panic,” the spokesperson said.
Cyber Police registers case against online fraudsters for duping a Srinagar woman of Rs 22 lakhs
SRINAGAR: Cyber Police has registered a case against unidentified online fraudsters for extracting Rs 22 lakh from a 35 year old woman after declaring her winner for the lottery she never bought or played.
The case was registered after the woman reported the matter to Cyber Police Station Srinagar.
Police said the complainant had received an email/SMS informing her that she had won a lottery and the prize money will be transferred to her in foreign currency denominations.
Police said she was asked to pay for various charges like registration fee, processing fee, tax etc before the lottery prize money could be transferred .
Unmindful of fraud, the woman transferred of Rs 22 lakhs to various bank accounts. Later her efforts to contact the fraudsters failed as they had either deactivated their numbers or changed their mobiles.
Police said it was then the woman realized that she has been cheated by the online fraudsters and no lottery amount was going to come through. She accordingly approached the Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone which registered a case under relevant sections of law .
Police later issued an advisory cautioning people against falling into the trap of online fraudsters .
“Victims of such online frauds usually receive emails, SMS and calls from unknown sources whereby they are informed that they have won a lottery worth millions. The victims are trapped in a phased manner and generally made to transfer huge amount on different pretexts ”, said a police spokesman.
Police said the victims generally respond to the spam and end up paying money to unknown persons. “Such crimes are generally carried out from faraway locations using different cyber masks”, he said.