Impact Measurement on India-China Conflict in Northeast Region of India

Margaret Gangte *

 India-China Conflict in Northeast Region of India

The Twang Monastery of Arunachal Pradesh and the Tibetan Monastery traditionally existed on the political and spiritual relationships shared between the two monasteries. This relationship constitutes the primary basis for China's claim over Twang after its occupation of Tibet from the 1950s. According to the Chinese, Arunachal Pradesh logically and legally comes under China (Twang Monastery being under Tibet Monastery) after Tibet annexation.

China often highlighted the extent of the British Administrative control of India to substantiate its claim that the British administration inherited by Indian administration was limited only to Indian border management under the North Eastern Frontier Administration (NEFA). The people of Arunachal Pradesh joined India in 1958 (after India's independence in 1947) from fear of Chinese communism. The northeast frontier became part of the Indian Union Territory only in 1972. This was upgraded to statehood status on 20th February, 1987.

The supposed validity of China's claim disappeared when the people of Arunachal Pradesh voluntarily joined the Indian Union, which legally is however disputable under the monastic tradition of homage between Twang and Tibet. China challenged the Indian border map also on the ground of wrong inheritance from the British rulers.

The insistence for the correction thereof has been the most difficult issue to deal with in the relationship between China and India. Any bilateral cooperation, howsoever successful it may appear has not eased the controversial McMahon line.

China's protest against India's administrative control over this state surfaced every now and then mainly in the form of denying visas to any person/ official in the Indian delegation slated to visit China. In recent months during 2011-2012, China strongly protested the visit of Indian political leaders to Arunachal Pradesh.

On 20th February, 2012, China expressed resentment on the silver jubilee statehood day celebration of Arunachal Pradesh under India's Defense Minister. China has increased its military forces on the border areas and India retaliated with increased militarization of the region.

The installation of the AGNI missile launching station in Assam to counter any Chinese attacks confirms India's readiness to battle China. India is diplomatically attempting to cover up the internal contradiction by highlighting its relationship with China under BRIC, which realistically is a Chinese leadership block. The success of the diplomacy can only be verified from the realistic assessment on the border issue.

In the eastern border conflict between India and China, the state in controversy stands to benefit maximally by receiving the most favored treatment and pampered state in India. The most favored treatment surfaced again in the recent launching of missile station in Assam and not in Arunachal Pradesh.

It is felt that the plan is meant to shield Arunachal Pradesh from war ravages at the cost of local people of Assam who will bear the effects. The locals suspected the missile installation in Assam as a strategy to wipe out ULFA of Assam, the most formidable terrorist organization in the region.

The most adverse impact expected from a war zone in northeast India will be halting the process of development from the little benefit it receives in the last few years and the retarded condition in an already retarded region is bound to be a heavy toll.

To save the region from war ravages, it may be a secret desire if China could back-off from the ongoing conflict. This wishful thinking, if it materializes at all, may lead to unexpected negative fallout. In the event that China withdraws its interest in Twang and Arunachal Pradesh, India’s corresponding response will be discontinuing the pampered treatment and appeasement policy.

In that scenario, the pampered group left unwanted later may easily succumbed to the demoralizing condition perpetuated under the age-old social principle of inequality. In this connection, it may be pertinent to refer to the various methods applied to crush the spirit of north easterners in every arenas of life, particularly in professional aspects and most visibly discern in the ongoing application of the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Should China abandoned their interest in Twang, the abandonment potentially could also lead to a major political upheaval causing a massive desire to merged with a region that can share its sentiment, cultural and racial affinities. This assumption is drawn from the hypothesis that India withdraws its interest in the region in line with Chinese withdrawal of interest in Twang.

India's withdrawal of interest from the region is speculated further on past trend of India's usual negligence of the region during the last several decades until the re- emergence of the Chinese threat now. The withdrawal of interest from both sides implies hefty reduction of financial assistance and special packages from Indian Government (to woo the region).

The reduced packages will lead to absolute paucity in the already impoverished region. In this circuit of impoverishment and under development, the future of the region endowed with envied potential looks brazenly bleak whether the conflict continues or the conflict is withdrawn.

Besides, racial and cultural affinity of peoples cannot be ignored. India's political map represents the physical appearance; the internal constitution of the northeast people is however woven closer to the mongoloid stock of South East Asia. In that sense, northeast region of India as a melting point of two major Asian races with distinct cultures of their own, the Brown and Yellow contradictions will remain an interesting but difficult dilemma.

Ms Margaret Gangte belongs to northeast region of India and has contributed to published articles on development agenda of the region during 2010-2011. The articles are: Incentives for Northeast India: Does it Help?; My Tryst with Northeast India: The leadership question; The Paradise Unexplored; Moral Education for Sustainable Future; Guardian Angels Knocked Down From Heaven; The Dilemma of Finding an Alternative.

* Margaret Gangte (Director, Ministry of Defence) wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at mg-nn(at)hotmail(dot)com
This article was posted on March 29, 2012.

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