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India-China Attack: We Should Use Soft Power To Maintain Peace

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The India-China-LAC has witnessed several skirmishes in the past weeks but according to Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) D.S. Hooda, former Northern Army Commander, “…some kind of planning has gone through before these multiple face-offs…this time, there have been multiple face-offs and geographically spaced out, in Sikkim, Pangong Tso and Galwan. The kind of numbers we see is also not what we saw earlier and the aggression has been more than normal.”

The Galwan valley has not witnessed any such activity in past 15-20 years and therefore, the difference in perception of LAC can not be the reason for these escalations. Also, there is no denying to the fact that China has been working towards the ‛Five Fingers of Tibet’ strategy since the days of Mao Zedong and that we are confronted by a diplomatic front of Nepal as well. There are other reasons as well that are being stated by the intelligentsia. First, the bilateral relations between the two countries have been on the decline.

What Are The Reasons For The LAC Escalations?

According to M.K.Narayanan, former National Security Advisor, “…relations between the two countries have been steadily deteriorating. India is almost the last holdout in Asia against China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI). India also loses no opportunity to declaim against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China further views India’s assertions regarding Gilgit-Baltistan, as an implicit attack on the CPEC, China’s flagship programme. More recently, India was one of the earliest countries to put curbs and restrictions on Chinese foreign direct investment.”

The airstrike carried out by India in Balakot, which is just 30km away from one of the Chinese projects in PoK, along with infrastructural development on India’s side of LAC, has heightened the concerns of China.

The Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi Road and upgradation of defence logistics by India are examples of such development. In the words of Prof. Happymon Jacob, who teaches disarmament studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, “New Delhi’s terse statements about Aksai Chin following the Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation in August last year had not gone down well with Beijing.”

Additionally, India’s presence in groupings like the Quad and the JAI has been of considerable concern to China. This is because the People’s Republic considers them to be platforms for arresting China’s growth and development. This is evident in an article published by CGTN, a Chinese media outlet, which states, “The U.S. wants to exploit India as a proxy for containing China. Furthermore, India must do all that it can to ensure that it maintains independent control of its foreign and military policies instead of being exploited as any other country’s proxy against China. The world is anxiously watching to see whether India does the right thing or not.”

Second, this may be a part of a larger Chinese plan of action in order to become the next superpower. China is now reaping the early bird advantage to achieve its ‛China Dream’. There is a lot of discontent among the people on account of US-China trade war and consequent rising unemployment. The Communist party has probably resorted to diversion politics in the face of unemployment and domestic as well as worldwide criticism – an obstacle in the achievement of its dream, of its poor handling of Covid-19.

Assertion on LAC along with suppression of Hong Kong protests and continued assertion in South China sea is a part of this action plan. Prof. Jacob suggests “China’s China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connectivity to Pakistan through the Karakoram and New Delhi’s criticism of it, the reported presence of PLA troops in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), India’s new-found activism on Aksai Chin, and the PLA’s incursions into areas in eastern Ladakh must be viewed in the broader context of a long-term geopolitical world view China has for the region.”

Can India Afford A War With China?

india china attack
India-China attack.

The general populace in India is in favour of the tit-for-tat military campaign. But going on war is definitely not an option as, “India advocates the policy of constructive engagement over aggression. It believes that violent retaliation and confrontation can only complicate matters. War is no solution; after every war, the conflicting Parties ultimately come to negotiating table by which time much damage has already been done…The policy of engagement is not allowed, however, to be misunderstood as India’s weakness. Strong and loud messages emanate from India each and every time our patience is tested.”

Another popularly stated solution is to sanction Chinese trade. But here too, India being a member of WTO cannot impose sanctions on China for reasons like these. Even if it does by making use of loopholes in WTO guidelines, China won’t be affected as much as India would be.

India can economically counter China only if it brings up structural reforms in its manufacturing sector and this will undoubtedly take time to bear fruits. As of now, China dominates the Indian market in many different ways especially in the fields of renewable energy and electronics.

The most suitable way to maintain peace on the border, in my opinion, is through the use of soft power accompanied by pressure in the Indian ocean. It is not unknown that strait of Malacca is the lifeline of the Chinese economy and none of its alternative routes is as efficient as the strait itself. At the same time, India needs to firmly stands its ground of maintaining territorial sovereignty and not overlook the current developments. Apart from this, India should try and reinvigorate its relationship with Nepal, Bhutan and other neighbouring countries.

As has been said by former National Security Adviser, Mr Shivshankar Menon, “The key to arriving at a successful outcome was keeping public rhetoric calm and steady, displaying strength, and giving the adversary a way out, which was our preferred solution.” Therefore, the need of the hour is to allow media to only broadcast the factual information on the issue rather than forming opinions.

The opposition parties should also be taken into confidence by the Indian government.

With the above short term strategy, India must adopt a long term strategy to upgrade its defence system and equip it with the latest technology in order to safely steer out of any future confrontation. While doing so, it should be kept in mind that the Indian Navy and the Indian Airforce are treated at par with the Indian Army. The architect of ‛offensive realism theory’, John. J Mearsheimer, writes, “In international politics, a state’s power is ultimately a function of its military forces and how they compare with the military forces of rival states.”

Whatever course the Indian government may take, for the time being, the main focus should be on resolving the border issue with China and even Pakistan as well as possible.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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