Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has described the face-off between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh on Dec 9 as a minor incident in which a few Indian soldiers received minor injuries. He also said the Chinese army had gone back to its position after local commanders took de-escalation measures as stipulated in the rule book. In other words, there is nothing to worry. Nonetheless, it does not inspire confidence that skirmishes of the kind the minister described happen on the border from time to time. Far more serious was the clash that happened in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in August 2020. It was the first time in several decades that combat occurred. One hoped the two sides had learnt their lessons.
The latest incident suggests a lot needs to be done to forestall face-offs. India and China are not just two neighbours. Both have armies that are among the world’s largest. They also have all kinds of nuclear weapons and the capability to deploy them. In other words, no Chinese or Indian territory is beyond reach for either side. Those who know the history of wars know only too well that they are always provoked by small incidents which escalate. Between them, India and China have a third of the world’s population. If anything, this shows how dangerous it is to allow any standoff to occur on the border that stretches nearly 3,500km.
There can be no denying that a border dispute exists between the countries which led to a war in 1962. Over the past 60 years, they have also established institutional mechanisms to discuss and settle part by part the border which was just a line drawn by a British cartographer. That they have made considerable headway in this regard is borne out by the peaceful state of the border since the short war. Rightly or wrongly, India thought safety lay in keeping the border areas undeveloped, but that did not prevent China from building roads and other infrastructure right up to the border. When India started matching development for development, it antagonised China. What happened in the Galwan Valley earlier and now in the Yangtse area can be explained in this manner, though this does not minimise the people’s concern.
Inflation dip: Too early to rejoice
Price rise is what scares the common man. Nothing pleases him better than news that inflation is under control. Of course, it is too early to party as he will have to wait for a few more months to know if the price curve slants up or down or just straightens. However, this does not detract from the little happiness that the latest National Statistical Office (NSO) figures have brought forth. The Consumer Price Index-based inflation declined for the second consecutive month to 5.88% in November from 6.77% in October. Why the figure brings cheer is because the Reserve Bank considers 6% as the threshold for it to make changes in the repo rate, which stands at 6.25% as per the Dec 7, 2022, update, when the bank raised the rate by 35 basis points.
In the common man’s language, inflation below 6% is considered normal. Now, the question is whether the fall in inflation rate will taper off in the coming months or continue to 4.91%, as was the case in November 2021. An analysis of the NSO figures shows that one of the reasons for the fall in inflation is the sudden flooding of the market with seasonal vegetables and fruits. Certain products like clothes and footwear also became cheaper, but the growing prices of grains and pulses are a matter of concern. Much also depends on if the Ukraine war takes a turn for the better or the worse. Needless to say, it is one of the primary causes of global inflation today. It’s a different matter that a certain level of inflation acts as a booster for industry and commerce. All the same, it is too early to party.
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