Private Investigations VII

India, China and the North East
A common man's thought on media reports during the end of 2009
By Kapil Arambam

The 21st century belongs to India and China -- the two superpowers in the making, while it has prompted a contest for space between democracy and communism in the vulnerable North-East region. This is an observation of the mainstream media, amidst signs of high GDP growths in the two neighbouring countries.

In one recent case following the spat over the Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang, opinion leaders view India should stick to its stand on internal security, declaring China is not only a threat but a challenge. Indeed, the bone of contention between the two future superpowers lies in border issues and the Chinese don't even need a Dalai Lama to add to its tirade.

At times, the tension has unsurprisingly exceeded the comfort zone, when the Defence Ministry reported the number of commies's incursion along the frontiers between 2007 and 2008 increased from 140 to 270. In October this year, the national media were up in arms, 24x7 as they would say in their parlance, against real or imagined nuisance from across the McMahon Line.

Of course, China has been fuming over India's Tibet policy and the dragon wants to dominate the balance of power in Asia. 

In this state of affairs, there are some deep implications that are affecting many lives in the anthropological paradise (read the North East). The issue has nothing to do with India, nor with China. Rather the story is about the future of the trouble-torn region and its natives. 

It is an open secret that the mainland consciousness felt the importance of this region for the first time after the 1962 war. Since then, year in and year out, the Centre has been putting up a play of being a good samaritan, but the masked intentions never move beyond a sarkari table.

How do you define a frontier region? Is it a land of the army, strategically so important to the union that the law makers and policy experts cannot do without, but which means little in its socio-economical essence? It reflects in the news like it has shown in recent times that China is a threat that must be countered, while the real aspiration of the people -- to live in a welfare state -- are reported as mere fillers.    

In modern history, the region was marked in colonial cartography as significant with the discovery of oil, timber, tea and other natural resources. The British saw it as a gateway to the South East Asian empire and made its frontier to safeguard their interests.

However, it is now in a complex web of underdevelopment, insurgency and ethnic confrontation. Any Sino-Indian altercation might create a big front-page story, fuelling the chance to bash at each other. But it seldom made any difference. It may be unpatriotic, disloyal or whatever, but the moot point is there are also several movements going on unbated - to define nationalism - in this region, affected with chicken-neck syndrome. 

Ultimately, it is the future of the region, which is at stake. Leave alone Arunachal, there are stories filing in from the Demchok region in eastern Ladakh and the Sumdho area of Himachal Pradesh. It hardly makes any news for the unpaved roads, lack of electricity, transport system, health care and schools plus the growing environmental concerns along the border areas. No one cares about the political ideologies followed in India, nor China.

So is it really news worthy, such as, these reports of increasing troops deployment at the border posts or Barrack Obama slamming China for protesting against the Dalai Lama? Oh, it's only agenda setting and they make a great front-page story. It's elementary, Mr Watson -- but could you afford to keep on neglecting the issues that matter most?�



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