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3 February 2017 Question Bank


3rd FEBRUARY 2017


(2 Questions)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.


1.     Chinese Ambassador recently suggested measures that need to be undertaken to improve bilateral ties between China and India. Critically evaluate these and discuss how India China relations can be taken forward.


Thorns in India-China relations:

1. China’s obduracy on India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) bid,

2. its incomprehensible stand on the listing of known terrorist-progenitor Masood Azhar under the U.N. Security Council’s 1267 Committee,

3. the deployment of Chinese military and engineering assets in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and

4. the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). On the CPEC, the Prime Minister himself, speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, implicitly criticised the Chinese actions saying, “Connectivity in itself cannot override or undermine the sovereignty of other nations.

5. While the border areas between the two countries have remained conflict-free, the Line of Actual Control continues to be subject to conflicting interpretations by both India and China and the scene of intermittent transgression.

6. India’s Tibet policy and the Dalai Lama’s projected visit to Arunachal Pradesh have been condemned by the nationalist Chinese media.

Chinese Ambassador recently suggested :

            I.  a ‘friendship and cooperation treaty’  

         II.   a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost bilateral relations and

      III.    joining of hands on China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative,

      IV.     reap some ‘early harvest’ outcomes (based on negotiations held so far) on the unresolved boundary question.

Thorns in China-US relations:

  • Could the Ambassador’s statement be part of an effort within the Chinese establishment to review relations with neighbours like India, given the strategic uncertainties generated by the advent of Donald Trump’s administration in the U.S. and his unabashed negativity towards ChinaRs.

1. Mr. Trump’s phone call with the Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen, before he took office;

2. his proclaimed intention to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese goods; and

3. the new U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s thinly disguised threats against China’s building of artificial islands in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

I.   Boundary dispute resolution:

  • Sectors of the boundary, like Sikkim and the middle sector (Uttarakhand/Himachal Pradesh), are by and large free of the disputes that one sees in the western (Jammu and Kashmir) and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.
  • But ‘solutions’ that segment the border instead of ensuring an overall comprehensive settlement of the boundary may be difficult to accept, especially for India.
  • The border problem, by virtue of its complexity and size, will take its time to resolve.

II.   A treaty of friendship and cooperation:

  • A treaty of friendship and cooperation between the India and China recalls the 1954 “Panchsheel” Agreement which essentially tied up the status of Tibet but also outlined the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence — principles that became empty words over the ensuing years as the relationship slid into conflict and then took years to revive.
  • The 1993 and 1996 agreements on peace and tranquility and confidence-building in the India-China border areas reiterated the five principles and also spoke of the non-use of force and the concept of mutual and equal security.
  • Given the state of bilateral relations, and the extent of unresolved political and security issues that bedevil the relationship, not to mention the disparity in economic strength, a treaty of friendship and cooperation may only be an inventory of good intentions but not a transformative document.

III. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

  • Trade between India and China has grown to an annual volume of $70 billion (2015-16).
  • India has made a strong pitch for Chinese investments under Make in India in infrastructure development, solar energy and smart cities.
  • An FTA that is goods-centred will obviously not benefit India given the huge trade in goods imbalance that favours China.
  • An FTA that is comprehensive, covering goods and services, cross-border investment, R&D, standards and dispute resolution would be worth exploring.

IV. One Belt, One Road (OBOR)

  • India is a part of the frontline membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that is bolstering OBOR.
  • India’s reaction to China’s OBOR has been hedging and tentative, mainly because of the CPEC through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
  • The Chinese have today chosen to disregard the sovereignty issues surrounding the dispute between India and Pakistan over the State of J&K, despite the provisions of the 1963 China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement which conceded the disputed nature of the territory (in what Pakistan now calls Gilgit-Baltistan but what India claims as part of Jammu and Kashmir) covered under the agreement.
  • The Chinese are seen by India to have acted in disregard of Indian sensitivities on this matter, which is a cause for legitimate concern.

Connectivity between Tibet in China and India

  • The question however is, whether despite this, India should as a test of the Chinese approach, and with reference to OBOR, explore the development of connectivity between Tibet and India, especially through the Sikkim sector into Bengal.
  • The old route between Lhasa and Kolkata via Nathu La was the most easily traversed route — and may still be, despite the road networks constructed by the Chinese in Tibet — between Tibet and mainland China, via land and sea, up until the mid-20th century. This is a road that provided for the transport of goods and services between Tibet and the outside world through India.
  • Nathu La is already the crossing point for border trade between India and the Tibet Autonomous Region. A true indicator of Chinese positivity would also be approval for India to open a Trade Office in Lhasa in place of the old Consulate General that operated there until 1962.

Connectivity between Xinjiang region of China and India

  • An opening of ties between India and the Xinjiang region of China is also worth examining. Providing for air connectivity between Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, and New Delhi as one of the OBOR linkages, for instance, would help the promotion of people-to-people ties and trade and commercial contact and could also help open a new chapter in counter-terrorism cooperation between India and China.
  • The two countries have a common interest in curbing religious radicalism and terrorism. Kashmir and Xinjiang, both contiguous neighbours, have similar challenges posed by terrorism and separatist movements.

Way ahead:

  • China’s approach on NSG, Masood Azhar, the activities in PoK, to name a few, have cast long shadows on the relationship.
  • China cannot expect India not to pursue her legitimate interests in ensuring the security of its periphery.
  • Competitive coexistence, with a clear delineation of areas of difference and how to manage them, the promotion of business and people-centred connectivity, and mutual confidence-building with tension-reduction measures cannot do any harm.
  • Maturity of approach, and strategic patience while each country is preoccupied with the demands of internal and external equilibrium and balancing, offers a constructive way forward.


2.    The Culture Ministry has recently proposed that construction should be allowed in the “prohibited area” around archaeological monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, if it is “public works” and funded by the central government. Comment on the proposal.



Recent proposal :

  • The Culture Ministry has proposed that construction should be allowed in the “prohibited area” around archaeological monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, if it is “public works” and funded by the central government
  • It lists a few examples citing difficulties:

1. An elevated road in front of Akbar’s tomb in Agra, proposed by the National Highways Authority of India, cannot be permitted due to an “absolute embargo on any construction whatsoever”.

2. Construction of a railway line near Rani-Ki-Vav, a World Heritage Site in Patan, Gujarat, was not allowed. The alignment of the line had to be shifted away from the site, says the note.

3. Extension of a hospital building near Tipu Sultan’s palace in Bengaluru, a centrally protected monument, has “also run into similar difficulty since it was hit by the prohibitory provisions of the Act”.

Colonial rulers:

  • When the British occupied Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi), they remodelled the city and the Mughal Red Fort to suit their convenience.
  • Around 80% of the buildings inside the Red Fort were demolished to make way for military barracks. Mansions and havelis were brought down to make way for broader, new roads so that the British had easy access for defence purposes, in case the people decided to ‘rebel’ against them again.
  • Perhaps everything would have got demolished but for a horrified Charles Canning who tried to preserve our heritage.

Provisions in place:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was formed in 1861 by a statute passed into law by Canning, with Alexander Cunningham as its first Archaeological Surveyor, to excavate and conserve India’s ancient built heritage.
  • The job of the ASI, under the Ministry of Culture, is to protect the cultural heritage of our nation.
  • The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 (modified on September 1, 1949)was formulated
  • The aim of the Act was to preserve monuments as archaeological ruin on an “as is where is” basis.
  • John Marshall also drew up a conservation manual in 1922, which combined the best conservation practices from around the world and adapted them to the Indian context.
  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 was passed with provisions to protect ancient monuments and antiquities and regulate all construction activity around them.
  • It specified a ‘prohibited area’, which meant that no construction activity (erection or a building, including any addition or extension thereto either vertically or horizontally) could take place within 100 m in all directions of a monument.
  • There was another regulated area, which was 200 m beyond the prohibited area where persons may undertake construction, reconstruction, repairs and renovation, but only after obtaining permission from the competent authority on the recommendation of the National Monuments Authority.

Monuments suffering:

  • World heritage sites are listed as category A monuments while other ticketed monuments are category B. The most vulnerable are those marked category C, around which dense habitation has taken place. In many cases, a monument is all but stifled as it’s surrounded by unchecked construction.
  • Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra has monumental importance as it was here that we see the first example of a minaret in north India in the gateway built by Jahangir. This was later successfully copied by Shah Jahan.
  • Not only will the proposed elevated road hide the tomb’s gateway but it will also damage the structure during construction, and later because of traffic within the 100 m prohibited zone.
  • Do development and our future have to be at the cost of our pastRs.





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