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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

India sells its soul to devil to deal with China and Pakistan....

India’s hegemonic ambitions have caused poverty not only in India but in the entire South Asian region. As India raises its defense budget, some millions of hapless souls find themselves pushed southwards on the wrong side of the poverty line. And as a result of this, there are some people who join the billionaires’ club too. India has raised its defense budgets at the cost of those 50% of its citizens who could have been better off if India had decided to stay peaceful. It is amazing that none of the neighbors of the so-called largest democracy is happy and not skeptic about India’s evil designs. India is boasting a lot about its economic growth but fact the matter is that with nearly $1,100 per capita GDP, India can hardly be called prosperous and can hardly support its defense spending. It is going to sink not only itself but the entire region due to the rat race of military build-up which is unsustainable.

India’s defense spending in 2008 was $23 billion. It has increased to $30 billion for fiscal 2009-10 which means a 34% increase. This is a colossal waste of money for a country half of whose population lives below the poverty line. Defense expenditure at the cost of more than half a billion poor souls apart, India is even prepared to sacrifice core values of morality and is prepared to sell its soul to the devil to pursue its evil objectives. It is trying to build up partnership with Burma, the eternal military regime condemn by the whole civilized world. The IRRAWADDY has reported that as China rises, the US is engaging more in the region, aligning behind ASEAN and allies such as South Korea where it can on issues like control of the South China Sea and on various military training exercises.

India's nuclear and strategic relationship with the US fits into this, with Washington perhaps hoping to build up India as a hedge against China's rise, in an act of old-school balance-of-power politics. This has its limits, however, with the US also giving billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan. The big picture is, that, despite India's growth and dynamism, Chinese military spending is bigger, and has been for some time, meaning that India is falling farther behind year by year, with China set to launch its first aircraft carrier in coming years, significantly boosting its ability to project power into the Indian Ocean and beyond. India, therefore, sees itself as needing to engage with Burma to counter China, economically and strategically.

China's new port and pipeline facility on Burma's west coast will not only allow it to pipe gas from the Shwe field into China, but also involves Beijing's building of a terminal to allow it to pipe oil and gas shipments from the Middle East and Africa into China, avoiding the need to send tankers through heavy traffic through the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, where US naval power is likely to be dominant for a long time to come.  Indian energy companies are investing in the Shwe field nonetheless, which is expected to bring almost US 1billion a year in additional revenues for the Burmese regime, once it comes on stream.

Burma is a lynchpin for the Look East policy as it is the land bridge between India and ASEAN, with the two countries sharing a porous 1,640 km border across which rebel groups have crossed at will. Burma's junta previously supported ethnic and leftist rebel militias in retaliation for India's pro-democracy, pro- Aung San Suu Kyi stance up to 1993. This was ironic given that the Burmese junta had spent years fighting Communist militias inside Burma. In New Delhi on Wednesday, Burmese junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe held talks with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, before they later signed agreements to combat the smuggling of arms, drugs and ammunition across their common frontier and cooperate in the fields of information, science and technology—where India and its formidable IT sector promises a significant advancement for IT infrastructure and capabilities in Burma.

At least five major militant groups from India's northeast, where numerous tribal and ethnic groups are fighting for greater autonomy or independence, have at one time or another had training camps in the dense jungles of Sagaing in northern Burma, while ethnic militias in Burma have in turn used India's remote northeast as a retreat and staging post into Burma.
As well as Indian support for his plan to coerce Burmese ethnic militias into joining the border guard force, Than Shwe will also, presumably, acquire much-craved international legitimization for the 2010 election, signing agreements with the world's largest democracy almost simultaneous to US President Obama renewing American sanctions on the Burmese regime. Than Shwe's four-day visit to India notably takes place just a few weeks after he hosted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, thereby reassuring New Delhi that it remains central to his thinking.

It is doubtful if India's leaders were rattled by pro-democracy protests marking Than Shwe's visit, or by the US's attempt at exhorting New Delhi to put more pressure on Than Shwe to ensure a free and fair election or work toward national reconciliation in Burma. Growing mutual links—in the context of India's growing regional clout, needed to improve regional trade links and counter China—mean that, as K. Yhome told The Irrawaddy, “It is unlikely both countries would want to rock their hard-earned relationship in the near future.”

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