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Nepal Aggravates Anti-India Policies With Another Highly Controversial Cross-Border Marriage Bill

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Nepal is aggravating tensions with India and corroding its clout in such a way that if Delhi were to respond it would risk giving China more power and influence in the country, writes the Nikkei Asian Review.

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Nepal’s latest rebuff comes in the form of a long-dormant bill that would alter its Citizenship Act by mandating foreign women married to Nepali men to wait seven years before becoming naturalized residents. The bill was recently approved by a parliamentary panel and is now expected to pass in the lower and upper houses.

The approval comes only weeks after Nepal amended its border to claim a Himalayan region at Nepal’s northwestern tip as its own. India also asserts sovereignty over this land. Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari validated the map bill on June 18, giving it a legitimate standing.

Sarita Giri, a native of India and a member of parliament belonging to the opposition Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP), may have induced the bill out of its dormancy when she, a naturalized citizen, launched a counter amendment against the new map bill. This was closely scrutinised by Nepalis, who were suddenly questioning whether naturalized citizens should be permitted to be parliamentarians.

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It also gave the pro-China ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) a vital occasion — to take a bill that had been drooping for two years and start moving it toward passage. PM K.P. Sharma Oli is the key guiding force behind the bill. As he does so, the ruling party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to gain more voter support ahead of elections in 2022.

Nepal has two long borders, one with India and the other with China. And most Nepalis are either in a pro-India camp or are grouped in another camp which is pro-China. Most of the pro-India population lives along a southern plane known as the Terai region. Much of the pro-China population lives in the mountainous north.

North-south animosity has been building up for decades now. In 1952, the population of the southern plane made up 35% of Nepal’s total population. But by the time the census was taken in 2011, the number was 50%. As a result, the northern population lost some of its political clout.

Cross-border marriages played a role. By 2011, 120,891 Indians — 57,132 women and 63,759 men — had acquired Nepali citizenship. Their numbers compare to the 2,572 Chinese nationals who gained Nepali citizenship and 15,447 from other nations who did likewise.

Pro-India opposition parties Nepali Congress (NC) and JSP fear that an amended citizenship law would ultimately reduce the population of the Terai region and diminish the southern plane’s political sway.

Ashok Swain told the Nikkei Asian Review that Nepal’s ruling party will use the citizenship amendment “to encourage further anti-Indianism in the country. The citizenship issue is an easy way of stimulating nationalism and further reinforcing the ‘we-they’ divide. … [The NCP is] following the same formula which [India’s ruling party] has followed in India.”

He believes PM Oli has been ideologically closer to China, though Oli has adopted a practical foreign policy in the past. But “in recent months,” “he has come out openly and given statements which are highly critical of India and its policies.”

In 2015, when Nepal promulgated its new constitution, India brazenly meddled, advising against the move. At the time, Nepal’s pro-India parties were voicing concerns on how new borders were established between constituencies which would weaken the south’s political voice. When the constitution was put into effect, India reacted with an economic blockade.

That was “a disaster,” said Bipin Adhikari. “It was an expression of hegemony and fundamentally a wrong strategy against a sovereign country exercising its right to self-determination regarding making a new constitution,” Adhikari said. The blockade “opened up Nepalese eyes.”

This year, Nepal redrew its national boundaries to encompass the disputed territories after India opened a road in a disputed Himalayan border area. Swain said that since PM Modi’s “neighbourhood policies” have been random, another barricade cannot be ruled out.

“If a blockade takes place,” he said, it will destroy any prospect for improved Nepal-India relations in years to come “and will take Nepal-China cooperation to a greater height.”

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Originally Published By Nikkei Asian Review

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South Asia

India-China Tensions: India launches solar power plant to stop China imports

China is a major exporting nation of solar equipment to India. However, border clashes last month which resulted in the killing of 20 Indian troops have triggered a trade war between the two Asian giants.

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As tensions between India and China grow, Indian PM Narendra Modi on Friday launched a solar power plant with the aim to stop reliance on imports from neighbours – China and Pakistan

The 750-megawatt power plant in the central state of Madhya Pradesh is being dubbed as the largest in Asia by local media. The project is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 million tons each year.

“Several steps are being taken to increase domestic manufacturing and it has been decided that government’s departments and institutions will only buy domestically manufactured solar cells and modules,” said Modi, in the wake of recent border tensions with China.

China is a major exporting nation of solar equipment to India. However, border clashes last month which resulted in the killing of 20 Indian troops have triggered a trade war between the two Asian giants.

In the virtual launch of the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power Project, Modi highlighted that India’s progress in the field of solar energy will garner international interest.

“Hopefully very soon India will be a major exporter of power. The International Solar Alliance was launched with the motive to unite the entire world in terms of solar energy.” The project is a step toward India’s ambitious target of installing 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022.

Cheena Kapoor

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Asia Pacific

Indian Rafale Jets Would Have Been Useless Against Chinese Airforce – Russia Experts

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Rafale jets would have been useless against the Chinese Airforce (PLAAF) – Russian aviation experts have claimed. Rafale fighter jets belong to the 4 ++ generation would not have been of much use had an aerial conflict broken out in Ladakh again the PLAAF.

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As reported by EurAsian Times, India and China had been engaged in a brutal conflict in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Troops of both countries have exchanged blows and even lost soldiers in the conflict that began more than a month ago.

Keeping in mind the situation in Ladakh, France said that it would accelerate the delivery of Rafale fighter jets to India. Aviation experts believe that the arrival of Rafale fighter jets will significantly boost the combat capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF). However, according to Russian experts, who did not wish to be named, the French fighter would not help India much incase the conflict turns hot.

The astronomical cost of Rafale fighter jets is one of the reasons the French 4++ fighter jet would not help India. In the deal struck with Paris, New Delhi agreed to purchase 36 Rafale Jets. The total cost of the deal was an estimated Rs 59,000 crore with each jet costing around Rs 1,646 crore.

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The cost of a Rafale is about three times higher than the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jets. In other words, for 36 French-made Rafale fighters that will appear in the Indian Air Force, China can respond with three times as many of its fifth-generation J-20 fighters – for the same money.

Even if, in some ways, the characteristics of the Chinese combat aircraft lag behind the French 4 ++ fighter jet, then the Indian air force could get overwhelmed by what is called “capable of crushing by quantity”.

And the cost is not the only reason why Rafale jets would not help India much. Compared to another Chinese jet – J-16 (an analogue of the Russian Su-35) which Beijing is also using in its airforce, the Rafale jets will find it extremely challenging to outgun the Russian Su-35s operated by the Chinese.

The maximum speed of the Rafale jet is about Mach 1.8 and the J-16 is Mach 2.2. The Rafale’s practical ceiling is also lower than the J-16s. Even in engine thrust, the Chinese J-16s aka Russian Su-35s are far superior to the French combat aircraft.

Even if the IAF was to deploy all 36 of its newly acquired jets, the technical superiority would still be on the side of China, claims the Russian expert.

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The IAF has been on high alert in Ladakh and is closely monitoring all Chinese activity near the Line of Control.  As reported by EurAsian Times, New Delhi has inked a deal with Moscow to buy 33 new fighter aircraft including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with up-gradation of 59 MiG-29s. The addition and up-gradation of jets have been approved to strengthen India’s air power.

The air defence systems of both the Indian Army and the IAF have been deployed in Ladakh to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People’s Liberation Army choppers there.

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EurAsian Region

Russian Technicians Keeping INS Vikramaditya Battle Ready Amid Flaring Regional Tensions

INS Vikramaditya has a total of 22 decks and it has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft including MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.

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Russian technicians continue to provide maintenance to Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, despite the all the regional tensions and COVID-18 pandemic, Russian news agency TASS quoted a leading defence portal. 

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A group of Russian technicians who are supporting the Indian navy in providing timely maintenance for the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya have not left the country.

Despite the delays with the carrier’s acceptance for service, INS Vikramaditya offers ample opportunities for India’s Navy and allows New Delhi to keep its domination in the Indian Ocean, the news portal said in its article.

INS Vikramaditya is a heavy upgrade of the Russian aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov. The work on the ship’s heavy upgrade was carried out at the Sevmash Shipyard and the flattop was handed-over the Indian Navy on November 16, 2013.

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Under an inter-governmental agreement signed in 2004, India received the Admiral Gorshkov’s hull for free but on condition of its upgrade at the Sevmash Shipyard and its outfitting with Russian-made aircraft.

After its upgrade, INS Vikramaditya displaces 45,000 tonnes and possess a state-of-art flight deck and a ski-jump for aircraft take-offs, navigation and radar systems, communications and aircraft control technology and also other special equipment and assemblies.

Rafale vs Chengdu J-20: How Will Indian Rafale Jets Compete Against Chinese ‘Stealth’ J-20s?

INS Vikramaditya has a total of 22 decks and it has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft including MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.

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