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18th June – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. A prescription of equitable and effective care
  2. History, the standoff, and policy worth rereading
  3. Why Ladakh matters to India and China?
  4. China’s growing threat via debt trap diplomacy


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

A neglect of the primary task

Until now, the focus of the government has been on prevention of the epidemic through testing of suspects, isolation of cases and institutional quarantine of contacts. Hospitals have focused their efforts on prevention by admitting asymptomatic contacts and mild infections.

Good Supportive care can reduce the scare

  • The majority of COVID-19 infections are mild and resolve on their own.
  • Serious illness occurs in the elderly and those with multiple co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory problems.
  • The primary cause of death in COVID-19 pneumonia is respiratory failure.
  • The mainstay of treatment in moderate and severe illness is clinical monitoring, oxygen therapy to correct hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood), and good supportive care.
  • Even in those above the age of 80 years, the mortality rate is only 15%.
  • Patients who require ventilator treatment have a mortality rate of over 50%.

Combating fear

  • Because of the labelling and stigmatisation of those diagnosed with COVID-19, the public are reluctant to come to hospital and may come late or die at home.
  • We need to send out a clear message that hospitals will provide good quality care for COVID-19, at affordable cost and ensuring confidentiality.

Way Forward

  • There is a need to pull together the resources of the public and private sectors into a functioning partnership, to provide good clinical care, ameliorate suffering and prevent deaths.
  • The government can work with the private sector to make care accessible and affordable.
  • The government can financially assist the private sector by reimbursing basic patient care costs for providing COVID-19 care.
  • Medical staff involved in COVID-19 care should be adequately protected with appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE, and should be trained in infection control and clinical care protocols.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-I History, GS-II International Relations

Geography: ‘Five Fingers’ Explained

According to the construct attributed to Mao, considering that Xizang (Tibet) was China’s right palm, then, Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, or Arunachal Pradesh) become what the Chinese strategy refers to these areas as the “five fingers of the Tibetan palm”

India’ strategy is all about ensuring that all five fingers were more closely attached to India, not China. And the Chinese line of thought was that it is China’s responsibility to “liberate” the five fingers.

History: China’s moves

  • In the 1950s, even after India and China signed the Panchsheel agreement in 1954 and before the 1962 China-India war, the Nehru government had begun to worry about some of China’s proclamations.
  • Especially after the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959, China began to demand “self-determination in Kashmir”.
  • Chinese government allowed Naga and Mizo dissidents into China for refuge and training.
  • More importantly, school textbooks there began to depict the “five fingers” as a part of China.

India’s Countermove: Managing the borders

Three-pronged foreign policy that India set in to motion during that time:

  1. Push for building border infrastructure and governance: In the mid-1950s the government piloted a project to build the Indian Frontier Administrative Services (IFAS) for overseeing NEFA (Arunachal Pradesh) and other areas along the India-China frontier.
  2. Series of treaties that were signed with neighbours such as Nepal and Bhutan: The second prong were a series of treaties that were signed around that time with neighbours and the consolidation of control, militarily and administratively, of other territories that acceded to India, including Ladakh as a part of Jammu and Kashmir (1947), and NEFA (1951).
  3. Decision to shelter the Dalai Lama and lakhs of his followers since 1959.

How is China making progress with the 5 fingers?

  • One of the reasons that China has been able to make inroads into Nepal and not with Bhutan, is that the government renegotiated its 1949 Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship between the Government of India and the Government of Bhutan of 1949 – including an article that had committed Bhutan “to be guided” by India on its external affairs policy.
  • Despite years of requests from Kathmandu, New Delhi has dragged its feet on reviewing its 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal.

Reaction of China to Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir

Beijing issued a statement decrying the impact on Jammu and Kashmir, and another one specifically on Ladakh, calling it an attempt to “undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law” and warning that the move was “unacceptable and will not come into force”.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

History of Ladakh territory

  1. The importance of Ladakh to both India and China is rooted in complicated historical processes that led to the territory becoming part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and China’s interest in it post the occupation of Tibet in 1950.
  2. Ladakh was part of the Tibetan empire which broke up after the assassination of King Langdarma in 742 CE, after which it became an independent kingdom.
  3. As the Sikhs acquired Kashmir in 1819, Emperor Ranjit Singh turned his ambition towards Ladakh. But it was Gulab Singh, the Dogra feudatory of the Sikhs in Jammu, who went ahead with the task of integrating Ladakh into Jammu and Kashmir.
  4. In 1834, Gulab Singh sent his ablest general, Zarowar Singh Kahluria, with 4,000 infantrymen to conquer the territory.
  5. Up until the Dogra invasion of 1834, Ladakh was an independent Himalayan state, much the same way as Bhutan and Sikkim.
  6. In May 1841, Tibet under the Qing dynasty of China invaded Ladakh with the hope of adding it to the imperial Chinese dominions, leading to the Sino-Sikh war. However, the Sino-Tibetan army was defeated, and the Treaty of Chushul was signed that agreed on no further transgressions or interference in the other country’s frontiers.
  7. After the first Anglo-Sikh war of 1845-46, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh, was taken out of the Sikh empire and brought under British suzerainty.
  8. Historically and culturally, however, the state was intrinsically linked to neighbouring Tibet by Language and religion.

Ladakh: The claims

  • Economically, the importance of the region stemmed from the fact that it was a ‘trading post’ between central Asia and Kashmir.
  • The British legacy of the map of the territory though continued to remain the ground upon which India laid its claim on the area.
  • Chinese argued it had never really been delimited. The claims of both governments rested in part on the legacy of imperialism; British imperialism (for India), and Chinese imperialism (over Tibet) for China.
  • The annexation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China in 1950 sparked newfound interest in Ladakh, and particularly so after the 1959 Tibetan uprising that erupted in Lhasa when the Dalai Lama fled into exile and was granted political asylum in India.

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-II International Relations

How does China’s debt trap diplomacy work?

  • In a push to gain rapid political and economic ascendency across the globe, China is dispensing billions of dollars in the form of concessional loans to developing countries, mostly for their large-scale infrastructure projects.
  • Often, developing nations are lured by China’s offer of cheap loans for transformative infra projects, which involve a substantial investment.
  • These developing nations, which are primarily low- or middle-income countries, are unable to keep up with the repayments, and Beijing then gets a chance to demand concessions or advantages in exchange for debt relief.

What concessions are demanded by China?

  • Sri Lanka, for instance, was forced to hand over control of the Hambantota port project to China for 99 years, after it found itself under massive debt owed to Beijing. This allowed China control over a key port positioned at the doorstep of its regional rival India, and a strategic foothold along a key commercial and military waterway.
  • Similarly, in exchange for relief, China constructed its first military base in Djibouti.
  • Whereas Angola is replaying multibillion-dollar debt to China with crude oil, creating major problems for its economy.

Has India taken any loans from China?

  • India has not entered into any loan agreement directly with China.
  • However, it has been the top borrower of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral bank wherein China is the largest shareholder (26.6% voting rights) and India the second (7.6% voting rights) among other countries. 
  • China’s vote share allows it veto power over decisions requiring super-majority.
  • Loans provided to India could also pave the way for Chinese firms to enter and gain experience in the promising Indian infra market.

How is the debt trap affecting India, then?

  • Most of India’s neighbours have fallen prey to China’s debt trap, and ceded to China’s $8 trillion project – One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) which seeks to improve connectivity among countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.
  • The initiative requires India to accept that the Kashmir-controlled Pakistan region, is Pakistan, because that’s where some of the projects are.
  • China through OBOR can hence increase India’s political cost of dealing with its neighbours.

-Source: Livemint

December 2023