REGIONAL CONCERNS

First India-China border talks under Modi likely to make progress on Line of Actual Control

With strongmen leading both countries, discussions that begin on Monday could get a fresh impetus.

With two political strongmen, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the helm of their billion-plus nations, prospects of the two countries finally getting down to working towards settling their vexed boundary dispute have increased.


National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, as India’s special representative, sits across the table from China’s state councillor, Yang Jiechi at the imposing Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Monday for the 18th round of boundary talks. The Chinese leader will also be calling on PM Modi on March 24 morning.


The importance of this round lies in the fact that it will be the first one to be held by the Modi government, which is working towards an even tighter strategic clinch with the US than the previous Manmohan Singh regime. As New Delhi and Washington move closer, a sense of uneasiness prevails over this in Beijing.

Even as it bitterly jostles with its neighbours in the contentious South China Sea, China is getting increasingly worried about the ongoing American rebalancing of forces towards the Asia-Pacific region. It will need to keep its borders with India calm and peaceful.

Modi, who is slated to visit China in May, would of course like to brandish a breakthrough with China to top off his continuing focus on foreign policy since he took charge last year. Equally, Xi Jinping, who is now two years into his presidency, too can play an important role in moving a step forward on the boundary issue.

Testing waters

But we should not expect miracles.

The long-standing dispute over the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control is too complex to be resolved in the near future, even if Modi and Xi show extraordinary political will. A resolution would require both the Indian Elephant and the Chinese Dragon to be ready for concessions and compromises.

This is easier said than done when it involves the competing claims over thousands of square kilometres of territory form two Asian giants who are geo-strategic rivals in the region and beyond. For instance, If China claims the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, spread over 90,000 sq km, India wants to reclaim the Aksai Chin area in Jammu spread over 38,000 sq km.

The two sides will primarily use the opportunity to test the waters and gauge each other, especially in the backdrop of China dealing with a new, stronger, right-wing Indian government this time. It will also have to reckon with a new SR in Doval, who unlike his predecessor Shiv Shankar Menon is no China expert.

The two sides could then work to give it final shape for it to be a substantive outcome when Modi visits Beijing in May. Modi stressed this need for clarification of the LAC to ensure “peace and tranquillity on the border” to “realise the potential of our relations” when Xi visited India in September last year.

Stuck at the second step

After the SRs kicked off their first round of talks in October 2004, India and China did manage to ink the ‘Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for Settlement of the Boundary Question’ the very next year.

This was the step one of the three-stage roadmap drawn up by the two sides. However, in the decade since, the two have not been able to work out step two, which entails a framework agreement for a boundary settlement.

They have not even been able to exchange maps for the western sector (Ladakh) and eastern sector (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh) of the LAC, with Beijing dragging its feet on this critical step. The only exchange of maps that has taken place is for the least contentious middle sector (Uttarakhand, Himachal) over a decade ago.

The third and final step of the SR mechanism would be to provide the basis for the delineation and demarcation of the India-China boundary.

As the discussions to resolve the dispute have proceeded at a snail’s place, China has assiduously built and upgraded its military infrastructure all along the LAC over the past decade. Jolted out of its stupor, India is only now trying to play catch up.

In the absence of a clearly demarcated boundary, soldiers from both sides repeatedly cross the LAC to strengthen claims to disputed areas leading to frequent troop face-offs and confrontations.

Chinese incursions

In April-May 2013, for instance, the 19-km deep incursion by the People’s Liberation Army into the Depsang Valley in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of eastern Ladakh led to a 21-day stand-off between the two armies. It even threatened to derail then PM Manmohan Singh’s impending China visit but was eventually resolved in time for him to go ahead as planned.

The episode led the two countries to finalise the ‘Border Defence Co-operation Agreement’ to defuse troop face-offs. The story, however, was repeated, with another prolonged confrontation in the Chumar sector of eastern Ladakh last September, which coincided with Xi’s visit to India.

But in both the incidents, as in other confrontations over the years, not a bullet was fired from either side.  This augurs well for the management of the border dispute. But what is now needed is its resolution to rid the two countries of the continuing problem bedeviling their bilateral ties.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.

Play

To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.