Yun Sun, Co-director of East Asia Program at the Stimson Centre. (Photo: Toda Peace Institute)

Three years ago when Indian soldiers stopped their Chinese counterparts from constructing a road near the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction at Doklam, China was taken by surprise as it never expected India would challenge it, said Yun Sun, a China expert and co-director of East Asia Program at the Stimson Centre in the US.

Yun Sun said this during an interview with India Today TV on Tuesday.

Speaking about the 2017 Doklam standoff between India and China, Yun Sun said, “During the Doklam standoff in 2017, China was surprised because it was not expecting India to stand up to it and to stage a 72-73-day long standoff over a piece of barren land near Bhutan.”

This, Yun Sun, said was one of the major developments that made China revisit its strategy and focus regarding engaging with India.

Asked about the motivation behind the ongoing Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Yun Sun said Chinese officials seem to be of the view that there was a need to respond to India’s activities near the border.

“If you ask a Chinese government official, their reply would be that China was responding to what India had been doing along the Line of Actual Control,” Yun Sun said.

She said it is well known that there is a historical dispute over the perception of the exact locations through which the LAC passes.

“So, when the Chinese identified that India is building roads and other infrastructural projects in their region, their concern was how should they (China) respond. They felt India is stabbing China on the back…that India is putting China in an impossible position where either China responds aggressively and be seen as attacking India, or does nothing and actually end up losing territory,” Yun Sun said, adding that understanding the Chinese motivation behind the recent moves is not very hard.

She said while the English media in China may not have sufficient text to give an idea of the Chinese thinking over the present situation, but there is an abundance of information on China’s strategy and motivation that is available in the Chinese language media.

Asked about the timing of the recent aggression, Yun Sun said while border disputes between the two countries have been on for years, the year 2020 is of special importance for China because of the internal pressures and the perceived external attacks on it over the coronavirus pandemic.

“The power competition between India and China in Asia gives rise to conflicts and affects regional power balance,” she said.

SOURCE OF BORDER CONFLICTS

Speaking about the nature of border conflicts between India and China, Yun Sun said the situation at present is that both the countries are trying to address their security concerns by deploying forces into the region and building infrastructure.

“Both sides think what they are doing is to protect their national security and their national interest. But in effect, what they are undertaking as their respective exercises in capacity enhancement, is perceived as an aggression by the other side. This is because enhancement of security on one side automatically translates into decrease of security on the other side,” Yun Sun said.

In terms of military activities, both sides react to “what they believe” the other side is doing, she said.

‘China’s biggest threat is US; India’s is China’

Responding to the theory that China is intentionally becoming aggressive during the time of a global pandemic to assert itself at the international stage by attacking India (its main competitor in Asia), Yun Sun said people who forward this theory must realise that for China, the threat is on its Eastern border (East and South China Sea) and not on the Western Border (with India).

“From the Chinese perspective, its main security concern is not in the West, but in the East. The US is identified as China’s greatest military threat. Why would China then want to start a two-front war with India in the west and US in the east? That is not something in China’s national interest in any sense,” Yun Sun said.

She added that while India is not China’s biggest security threat, “for India, China is its biggest threat”.

“China would like to have friendly relations with India, especially in context of the US trying to come closer to India and persuade it to get involved in the South China Sea. But if the Chinese perceive that India is trying to leverage its alliance with US to force China to abandon its territorial claims, then that is not something that it would ever entertain,” Yun Sun said.

Adding further, she said that while China would want to have good relations with India, it will not be at the cost of sacrificing its territorial integrity.

“Good bilateral relation with India is a means to an end i.e. to defend its national interest. Good bilateral relations in itself is not an end. If China has to sacrifice its territorial integrity for the sake of good relations with India, then having good relations fails the purpose,” she said.

WHAT NEXT?

Asked about where the present situation is heading towards and if there is a possible way out, Yun Sun said at the moment it is clear that both sides are imitating each other in terms of enhancing border infrastructure and defence capabilities.

“If India is building a road in Daulat Beg Oldie, then China sees it as a security vulnerability and would want to build a road in its area. Similarly, when China builds up something in the area, then India will perceive it as a strategic weakness and would want to build something similar.”

Advocating for a diplomatic solution to the present situation, Yun Sun said, “What is happening at Pangong Tso Lake has happened in the past too. I think diplomats of both sides are negotiating on a path for de-escalation. But the top leaderships of the two countries will have to come forward so that the troops on ground act in line with the diplomatic talks.”

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Using the element of surprise PM Narendra Modi fired a pro-poor move with an electoral spin on a day the opposition was busy attempting to corner him on the border stand-off with China and plight of the masses due to Covid-19 and economic distress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his 16-minute speech, one day before Unlock 2.0 guidelines would kick in, by asking people not to go easy on social distancing and hygiene measures as lockdown restrictions are being eased across the country.

He next asked authorities to emulate Bulgaria where PM Boyko Borissov was fined Rs 13,000 for failing to wear a mask during a church visit on June 23.

Then came the main announcement of PM Modi’s address — he said that the government has decided to extend the free ration scheme for 80 crore people for five more months till the end of November.

The PM’s shortest address since lockdown 1.0 was on air exactly when a meeting of core commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies was on and Congress ex-president Rahul Gandhi was on Twitter posting couplets and video statements asking the prime minister to explain his failures, advising him to deposit Rs 7,500 in every poor man’s account and check fuel prices.

SPEECH ANNOUNCEMENT CAUSES RIPPLE OF SPECULATION

Since last night when the PMO declared PM Modi was going to address the nation at 4 pm on Tuesday, speculation was rife — will he take on China with a rousing speech or announce a tightening of screws against Chinese business interests in India or even announce a coronavirus-related measure.

Respecting the delicate nature of negotiations-cum-coercive diplomatic and military policy, PM Modi didn’t touch upon China or the high on visibility news of blocking 59 Chinese apps in India. While he mentioned the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, there was no Sabre rattling.

PM MODI EXTENDS FREE RATION SCHEME

Announcing the extension of the free foodgrain scheme for the needy till November, PM Modi said, “July marks the beginning of the festive season which increases necessities as well as expenditure. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja i.e. till November-end.”

He added,” The government will provide free ration to 80 crore poor brothers and sisters for five months. Every member of the family will get five kilograms of wheat or rice. Also, every family will get one-kilogram whole chana dal per month, free of cost. Rs 90,000 crore will be spent on this extension. If we add expenditure of the past three months on this scheme, then it comes to around Rs 1.5 lakh crore.”

The move according to the government will add a layer of economic security for jobless migrants and the poor who are enlisting under the MGNREGA scheme or those migrants who are heading back to economic centres but are yet to get a job.

The free foodgrain under the PMGKAY will be over and above the five kilograms of grain per month under the NFSA scheme. PM Modi emphasised that the number of people who would benefit from the announcements is over 2.5 times the population of the United States and 12 times the population of the United Kingdom.

To keep the large middle-class segment and farmers engaged he also said, “If the government is able to provide free ration to the needy and poor, then credit for it goes to two categories. One, the hard-working farmers of our country. Second, the honest taxpayers of our country.”

OPPOSITION SAYS ADDRESS HAD NO SUBSTANCE

On the other hand, the opposition wanted the prime minister to put on record facts on the stand-off with China. “The prime minister is too afraid to talk about China in his national address,” charged the Congress after the speech.

Targeting PM Modi, the Congress on Tuesday said his address lacked substance and could just “have been another government notification”.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at the prime minister with an Urdu couplet — “Tu idhar udhar ki na baat kar, ye bataa ki kaafila kaise lutaa” — for not mentioning China in his address.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate accused PM Modi of doing headline management and said Modi did not look the “enemy” in the eye, which was expected of him after a bloody standoff with China in Ladakh on June 15.

“Our biggest expectation was that the PM will gather the courage and the will to look at China in the eye and reply to the enemy. Take the enemy head-on and make a very strong statement against what China is doing. But the PM once again shied away,” she said.

Bowing to people’s protests, the Modi government has extended the provision of 5 kg grains free for 80 crore people for the next five months. This falls far short of the required 10 kg per month for 6 months to all needy to prevent hunger deaths,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

West Bengal MP and All India Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 16-minute long speech, saying that he ‘walked around the Panda in the room’ and did not talk about anything useful.

PM MODI DANGLES BIHAR ELECTIONS BAIT

But the prime minister did offer a political bait. He in his speech listed the festivals that fall between July and November. He said, ”July 5 is Guru Purnima, then the month of Saawan is starting. Then August 15 is coming, Raksha Bandhan, Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam will follow. Further, Kati Bihu, Navratri, Durga Puja is coming, then Dussera, Diwali and Chhath Puja.”

The introduction of Chhath festival was a deliberate subtle addition that underlined that the extension of the free foodgrain scheme was a signal to over 50 lakh migrant workers, who pushed by the lack of jobs and Covid-19 fears, had undertaken long and arduous journeys back to their native places in Bihar.

Bihar goes to elections later this year and the BJP has received reports from the ground about migrant workers’ displeasure over the Centre and Bihar government’s failure to mitigate the crisis they faced.

Then his list of festivals also pushed leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM to charge that the prime minister deliberately didn’t mention Eid-ul-Adha, a Muslim festival in late July.

The prime minister’s mention of the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme which will make a ration card eligible anywhere in the country also came under fire.

Congress spokesperson Adil Singh Boparai told India Today TV, “The government has announced this scheme four times in the last three months. What’s the point of the PM mentioning a scheme which is not ready in his address to the nation?”

WHY DID THE GOVT EXTEND THE FREE RATION SCHEME?

While the government hopes that the free food grain scheme may make good politics, it does also make good economic sense.

India currently is sitting on top of a huge stockpile of foodgrains.
The nation’s granaries on the first day of June this year had about 100 million tonnes of food grain. With the Kharif crop flowing in large quantities, the government is short of space to store the essentials.

Only 40 million tonnes need to be kept as buffer stock as per government guidelines, so the redistribution of foodgrains to the needy allows the produce to be utilised optimally.



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Team India’s wicketkeeper-batsman KL Rahul shared a picture in which he was drinking coffee and his skipper Virat Kohli came up with hilarious response to the post.

PTI Photo

HIGHLIGHTS

  • KL Rahul shared a picture drinking coffee on his social media handles
  • Skipper Virat Kohli trolled KL Rahul over his latest coffee post
  • KL Rahul has been away from the game since March due to coronavirus suspension

India opener KL Rahul engaged in a funny banter with skipper Virat Kohli after he posted a picture on social media platforms having a cup of coffee.

Rahul took to social media and shared a very simple picture wherein he could be seen enjoying a cup of coffee. Rahul’s ‘coffee’ post invited quite a few reactions by fans on Twitter, with Virat Kohli also poking fun at KL in his quirky manner.

India skipper Kohli was quick to notice Rahul’s latest picture with the coffee mug and wrote, “Cup ganda hai”.

Twitter users were quick to remind the flamboyant right-hander of his appearance in filmmaker Karan Johar’s talk show ‘Koffee With Karan’ in January 2019, which led to fines and a suspension for Rahul and all-rounder Hardik Pandya for their sexist comments.

Screen grab from Rahul’s Insta post

Meanwhile, KL Rahul has been away from the game since March due to coronavirus suspension after playing the role of India’s wicketkeeper-batsman in the last 2 limited over series for the country and impressed one and all with his dual responsibility.

An opener by instinct, KL Rahul came down the order in ODI format and scored quick-fire runs to put India in comfortable positions. The debate on whether he should play the same role In Test cricket or not started from there.

Rahul is yet to return to action as BCCI hasn’t taken a call regarding it yet. During his time away from the game, Rahul has been quite active on social media.

India’s next series which has been scheduled is against Australia in Down Under. The two nations will face each other in three T20Is, four Tests and three ODIs.

IndiaToday.in has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.
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The Left parties on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending the PMGKAY scheme to provide 5 kg free ration to the needy is not enough as 10 kg per month is required to prevent hunger deaths.

They said extension of the scheme’s period had been their demand throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a televised address this evening, Modi announced extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) by five months till November end. Under the programme over 80 crore people, mostly poor, will be provided 5 kg of wheat or rice and one kg of pulses.

The scheme was rolled out for three months from April, soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Bowing to people’s protests Modi government has extended the provision of 5 kg grains free for 80 crore people for next 5 months. This falls far short of the required 10 kg per month for 6 months to all needy to prevent hunger deaths,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

“After this announcement extra food grains allocation was only 26 (lakh tonnes) in April & 29 lakh tonnes in May… Modi must release money from the thousands of crores of rupees collected in the private trust fund to combat Covid for free provision of 10 kg grains per month for 6 months to all needy,” he said.

CPI general secretary D Raja asked the government why they were not addressing the issue of universalising the Public Distribution System (PDS), especially when the godowns have stocks far exceeding the buffer stock range.

He said it took a long time for the PM to understand the devastating effects of coronavirus in the country.

“The PM for the first time has admitted to huge devastation of livelihood of people, growing hunger crisis and mass unemployment. At such a time, the least he could have done is double the quantity of food grains for each household.

“He didn’t say a word about the cash transfers or even extending the scope of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,” he said.

According to Modi, over Rs 90,000 crore will be spent on PMGKAY’s extension, and if the last three months’ expenditure on account of the scheme is added, the total budget will be about Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

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