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Border blues

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

News comes today of a new railway station being built by Pakistan with Chinese help, which the Indian government thinks is likely another spy outpost of China in reality. It is not surprising that China wants to spy on India, nor that they have plans to dominate the entire region. what is surprising is that India have been sleeping over the years.  Irrespective of the disputes with China about demarcation, India has woken up only today about the need to develop proper road and rail access to the Chinese borders.

And we seem to have learnt little from our experience. China built the Karakoram highway jointly with Pakistan over twenty years, while we managed to build only the Srinagar-Leh highway, which remains closed for up to six months every year dues to snow, and the Leh-Manali highway, which remains closed for up to nine months in a year for the same reason. So our troops take a while to visit the border when the Chinese troops come calling, and the Indian response is limited to showing anger in a closed room.

Ladakh and Arunachal are only the best known places with the border problem. Many other parts of the border has seen incursions by Chinese troops in recent times. The Indian government is certainly not doing enough to improve access to the border, or trade along or across the border. India is dominated by flatlanders, and thus thinks of the people of hills and mountains as different, out of the mainstream. There has been no effort to improve the infrastructure in the mountainous, or even hilly, regions of the country. The border villages are pictures of desolation.

Roads and rail will improve access to the border (although more places will have to be connected by rail, not just Itanagar), and there will be more tourists to the border areas as a result. Perhaps that will be enough of a catalyst to improve the lot of the mountain peoples of India. We will see.

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