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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Edition3: News

President Obama's Visit To China

The joint statement by the U.S. and China on 17th Nov said: The two sides are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace and development in that region. President Obama's advisers realize that India and China are bitter competitors who nevertheless sometimes manage to do a little mutually beneficial trading. Trade aside, they have an adversarial relationship along the northern border of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and in Kashmir. Mere weeks before Barack Obama set foot in Beijing, China was once again claiming territory that China had invaded in 1962. Surely Obama's advisors also know that Pakistan became an India-threatening nuclear power with the assistance of China. It worked like this: India needed the bomb because China had the bomb, so China helped Pakistan to the bomb in order to retilt the balance in favor of China. In fact, China has pursued a relentless policy of isolating and undermining India for decades, as I'll detail below. How, then, could President Barack Obama have invited China to join the U.S. in “promoting peace” in South Asia? You don't ask a partisan to mediate. As for asking China to “promote development” in South Asia, surely India could be expected to take that as an insult, pure and simple. Should India trade the democratic model for one party rule? Should India trade freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, a free press, true ethnic and minority rights for Beijing's totally authoritarian model? As the old saying went, Hitler and Mussolini made the trains run on time, but were they models for the good society? Sadly, the U.S. chooses convenience over democracy again and again. We expected better of Obama. Now let's look at China's India policy. For decades, China has been contriving, in its usual relentless long term way, to neutralize India, its only real Asian competitor in terms of political and economic power. Turning a blind eye to human rights abuses, China gained access to natural resources and influence in Burma aka Myanmar, on India's Eastern border. To the North, in Nepal, China supports the Maoist insurgents who have grown strong enough to claim a role in governance. A decade ago China completed an engineering miracle of a road through the mountains between Pakistan and China, resulting in a massive increase in trade via the port of Karachi. But products from Western China will have an even more efficient trade route in the near future. The Chinese-funded deep water port of Gwador in Baluchistan will bypass Karachi and connect China to the Arabian Sea near Iran. Result: India is nearly encircled north, east and west. As for the South, China's growing blue water navy is turning up in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. This does not sit well with India. All this being the case, how could Obama's foreign policy advisers (and Obama) not have realized that the least support for China's inserting itself into South Asian affairs would be provocative in the extreme? India's under-standably huffy response boils down to this: India's issues with Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally. So much for another Obama fantasy: solving the Kashmir standoff. Meanwhile the suggestion by one analyst that India should respond, during the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to Washington, by demanding an equivalent pledge: “a line in the joint statement on Tibet and the Dalai Lama.” This would truly be “meaning-ful.” Especially since Obama dodged the Dalai Lama before his visit to China. But, President Obama had constraints in financial matters which might have resulted in appeasing china.
Hope Dr Manmohan Singh accomplishes to restore normalcy and helps strengthening of Indo US ties as expected during President Bush's regime during his US visit.

Discussions on sugarcane pricing remained "inconclusive" even on 23rd Nov at an all-party meeting, which was called to ensure smooth functioning of
Parliament after both Houses remained paralyzed for the first two days of the winter session over the issue. The recently-promulgated Ordinance providing for a “fair and remunerative price” (FRP) for sugarcane became a rallying point for the Opposition to close ranks and launch a full-scale attack on the Centre. On 19th Nov 09 that saw thousands of farmers pour into the national Capital in protest against the Ordinance, a virtually united Opposition forced an adjournment of the Lok Sabha at the start of Parliament's winter session.
The assault from within Parliament as well as from the streets of Lutyen's Delhi made led the Congress-headed United Progressive Alliance (UPA) into backfoot. The new FRP regime replaces the existing system, wherein the Centre only announced a Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) for sugarcane. But more contentiously, it discourages State Governments from fixing cane prices independently, as they have been doing.
The Ordinance (which needs Parliament assent for it to become law) basically renders State Advised Prices (SAP) toothless by obliging sugar mills to pay only the FRP.
The onus for meeting the difference between the higher SAP and the lower FRP would henceforth vest with the State Government concerned.
For the 2009-10 season (October-September), the Centre has fixed the FRP at Rs 129.84 a quintal (linked to 9.5 per cent sugar recovery). This is way below the SAPs of Rs 162.5-170 by Uttar Pradesh, Rs 170-180 by Punjab and Rs 175-185 by Haryana. The big question now is: Will the current impasse ultimately force the Centre to withdraw the Ordinance and roll back a significant reform measure that seeks to de-politicise cane price fixing by circumscribing the role of States

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