The present Indian Government has distinguished itself in terms of shirking from hard decisions and taking refuge in appeasement policies against those who show scant respect for India’s strategic sensitivities or respect for India’s rights under international conventions. If appeasing Pakistan was not enough, the Indian Government has been in a state of denial over China’s unilateral decision to go ahead with the construction of a massive dam on the River Brahmaputra, shortly before it enters Indian Territory. The ostensible stated purpose of this massive dam is for generating hydroelectricity but in actual fact China is diverting the waters of the mighty River Brahmaputra to water systems earmarked for its exclusive use.
|International conventions and obligations dictate that where River Systems traverse the national boundaries of a number of States, the nation from where the River originates has an international obligation to consult the lower riparian States before it embarks on any dam constructions which could affect the flow of adequate quantities of water downstream.
The Government would have continued in a state of denial had Arnab Goswami, the indefatigable Times Now Anchor of the program Newshour not relentlessly pursued the expose of the Government’s inactivity on not taking up the matter forcefully with the Chinese Government. The last few days have witnessed the Prime Minister continuing in a Sphinx-like silence on a critical issue as is his wont, the External Affairs Minister not fully forthcoming as to why the Indian Government has virtually adopted a low profile on an issue of grave national importance and the former Water Resources Minister making lame excuses as that he was still awaiting credible inputs.
It is now apparent that the issue was within the knowledge of the Indian Government for a number of years and the Indian Government with the resources of the National Remote Sensing Organization and other technical means would have obtained satellite imagery of the Chinese construction activities. Despite having such credible evidence the Indian Government instead of taking up the matter forcefully with the Chinese Government kept advancing the argument that it had spoken to the Chinese Government at appropriate levels and that China had assured that it was not undertaking any such construction activities.
What does such a pattern of Governmental behavior indicate? It indicates that for reasons unexplained to the India public the Prime Minister and his policy establishment have been shirking from confronting China with credible facts on the issue. Either the Indian policy establishment has been sleeping on the issue or therefore incompetent or worse the Indian Government is timid in its approaches to China, making China even more insensitive to India’s strategic sensitivities.
International conventions and obligations dictate that where River Systems traverse the national boundaries of a number of States, the nation from where the River originates has an international obligation to consult the lower riparian States before it embarks on any dam constructions which could affect the flow of adequate quantities of water downstream.
China does not seem to have cared for her international obligations and gone ahead with the construction of a gigantic dam unmindful of the requirement for consultations with not only India but also Bangladesh which is also a lower riparian state in the River Brahmaputra system
India should have woken upto this alarming Chinese construction project as it threatens not only the livelihood of millions of its people which are dependant on this River System. Further, there are major ecological impacts and not to forget that sudden release of large quantities of water as the Chinese have done both in the West and East of India caused massive floods.
Unlike other Rivers in India, the River Brahmaputra is an important artery for inland water transportation both in India and Bangladesh. Construction of the Chinese Dam would reduce water inflow making the River unfit for inland water transportation.
China’s construction of a massive dam on the River Brahmaputra in any case was not a bilateral issue between China and India prompting Indian Government’s timidity and appeasement. This is an international issue which involves India and Bangladesh and also the international community for restraining China’s such proclivities on other international rivers like the River Mekong.
India should have been vociferous on this issue besides having enlisted Bangladesh’s support in an international campaign on the issue.
Indian Government’s appeasement policies has reached absurd limits and the media it is hoped would continue to highlight such lack of timely and forceful responses by the Indian Government which have an impact on India’s national interests.