Nepal Army Speaks Of ‘Realignment’; Govt Makes Rare Admission of China Danger

Parliament to see tractor rallies, Akhilesh launches ‘Scent Of Socialism’ in Ittar Pradesh, NHRC debates rights v terrorism, Canada urged to declare SFJ terrorist, Penguin wobbles on Varavara Rao book

A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal

Snapshot of the day
November 10, 2021

Pratik Kanjilal

The National Human Rights Commission has organised an annual debate competition for the Central Armed Police Forces in collaboration with Assam Rifles, on the topic, “Are human rights a stumbling block in fighting evils like terrorism & naxalism?” Apart from Chairman Justice Arun Mishra, member Justice MM Kumar and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta were present. Tempting though it may be to blame Mishra for the choice of topic, the subject seems to be a staple at the NHRC. In 2012, the jousting was over "Human Rights can be observed by para military forces only by endangering national security". In 2019, though, the question was at least phrased more positively: "Terrorism & militancy can be tackled effectively while observing human rights."

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Defence Ministry has said “that as on date, the security of the state itself is in jeopardy especially in the background of today’s sensitive situation existing at the Chinese border.” However, this unusual admission of clear and present danger was apparently made only to help the Centre waive its own environmental guidelines on road width for the Chardham Corridor. “There has been tremendous build-up on the other side of the border. They (China) have ramped up infrastructure and built airstrips, helipads, roads, railway line ― assumption that they are going to be there permanently,” added the Attorney General, arguing that the Army needs better roads too. The government has said more about the border crisis here than in Parliament, in the all-party meeting, or to the press. 

While pliant sections of the media tried to pass off recent evidence of Chinese construction on the Indian side of the border as very old, others have strongly challenged it. They drew attention to a village of 100 houses, the “construction of which qualitatively changes the status quo in the region”, and which was rapidly built. Satellite images from August 2019 show no village. The denial of Chinese intrusions has become incredible.

The PM remains unswerving in his belief that “no one has entered India’s borders, nor is anyone there”, but Army Chief General MM Naravane is candid about the two-front challenge. Yesterday, he said that capability development of the armed forces remains a national imperative given “active and disputed borders with two neighbours”, and observed that disruptive technologies are fast transforming the character of the modern world.

 China’s military have conducted high-altitude exercises near the frontier, according to state broadcaster CCTV. They involved the People’s Liberation Army’s Xinjiang and Tibet military districts, and the Western Theatre Command’s air force. China has delivered its largest and most advanced warship of its class to Pakistan. The Type 054A/P frigate was named PNS Tughril, reports The Global Times. Tughril founded the Seljuk dynasty, which ruled over most of Turkey, Iran and parts of Central Asia in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Pakistan has urged India to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor, closed during the pandemic, for Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday celebrations. India “is yet to open the corridor from its side and allow pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib,” said the Pakistan Foreign Office. 

A Nepal Army spokesperson writes in The Kathmandu Post, “Nepal is struggling against the headwind created by growing fissures in the India-China relationship, opening the way for a realignment of the traditional strategic orientation.”

Justice AM Khanwilkar of the Supreme Court yesterday asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta why the Home Ministry must keep an eye on the flow of foreign funds to NGOs under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, “and not the finance department?” His bench was hearing petitions challenging amendments made to FCRA in 2020.

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CMIE data shows that in October, employment declined by 5.5 million in India to 400.8 million, from 406.2 million in September. It dashes hopes raised ahead of the festive season, when weekly estimates showed growing employment.

The New York Times reports that as India celebrates the delivery of its billionth dose, public health experts warn that the process is losing steam, leaving only a quarter of the population fully inoculated. People are crowding again for religious festivals, and the government is unrealistically optimistic.

Journalist Shyam Meera Singh and other activists have moved the Supreme Court to quash the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) charges filed against them by the Tripura Police for his tweet #Tripura_Is_Burning, following majoritarian violence in the state. 

The Congress has accused the Modi government of trying to “cover-up” corruption in the Rafale fighter deal and demanded a JPC probe. French investigative portal Mediapart has discovered that bogus invoices enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least €7.5 million in secret commissions to a middleman. The government knew this. Oddly, the BJP is citing the revelations to accuse the Congress of corruption but is unwilling to answer the obvious question: Why hasn’t the ED or CBI opened a probe into Dassault?

In a meeting of national security advisors on Afghanistan where Pakistan and China stayed away, seven countries joined India in reaffirming “their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalisation, to ensure Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism."

Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, will be the next Chief of Naval Staff from the afternoon of November 30, after Admiral Karambir Singh sails into retirement.

A Tamil Nadu BJP leader tweeted a picture of flood-ravaged Chennai, saying that it has turned into a swimming pool. But the picture was traced to the Gujarat floods of 2017.

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