Dalai Lama at the Namami Brahmaputra River Festival in Assam: Mixed Signals for India-China Relations

Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Assam

His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the Namami Brahmaputra River Festival[1] in Guwahati as chief guest, on 2 April 2017, as part of a 14-day visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and several state cabinet ministers received him at the banks of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati. The Assam Government and the New Delhi-based research think-tank India Foundation, jointly organized this particular event hosting the Dalai Lama.[2] This visit combined with the Dalai Lama’s subsequent itinerary covering Tawang and Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh lends itself to some questions about India’s China policy and in particular, the link between the boundary dispute and aspects of river-management and -sharing between India and China. Continue reading “Dalai Lama at the Namami Brahmaputra River Festival in Assam: Mixed Signals for India-China Relations”

Indian Parliamentarians in the 16th Lok Sabha on China: 7 July 2014 -11 May 2016

Rajesh Ghosh is a Research Intern at ICS and is pursuing Masters in Diplomacy, Law and Business at OP Jindal Global University, Sonepat

One way to understand Indian perspectives on China is to examine the nature of questions asked by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the respective answers by concerned Ministries. This piece highlights some critical issues related to China that Indian MPs have raised in the 16th Lok Sabha (LS) thus far. In total, there have been 81 China-related questions from 7 July 2014 to 11May 2016.  Out of these more than 70 per cent were directed to three ministries – Ministry External Affairs (MEA), Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and Ministry of Defence (MoD). In addition, this report will also examine the party and the geographical affiliations of the MPs raising questions and assess whether these connections have any bearing on the nature of questions asked.

Continue reading “Indian Parliamentarians in the 16th Lok Sabha on China: 7 July 2014 -11 May 2016”

For Sub-regional Cooperation on the Yarlung Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River Basin

Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman, is a PhD candidate at Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati, Assam and Panchali Saikia is Scientific Officer-Social Science, International Water Management Institute, New Delhi at the International Water Management Institute, New Delhi. Both were part of ICS delegations of scholars to China in December 2015 and April 2016 respectively.

China’s engagement with India on Yarlung Tsangpo/ Yaluzangbu-Brahmaputra water cooperation has been limited to mere Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) – mostly related to hydrological information (limited to water level, discharge and rainfall in flood seasons) on the river by China to India. These MoUs fall short of the objective of ‘Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-Border Rivers’ or of the obligations of a bilateral treaty.  Beijing has time and again spurned India’s proposal of having any water treaty or establishing institutionalized cooperation towards having mutual rights and responsibilities on management of the shared rivers. It is often seen that Chinese officials and academics are either reluctant to address or ambiguous in their responses to questions concerning YarlungTsangpo-Brahmaputra River. This strongly supports the general impression that China stresses on the full sovereignty of the riparian state over the water within its boundary and may use it according to its needs, even in the case of transboundary rivers. As an upper riparian, China’s approach towards engaging with the lower riparian countries, be it on the Mekong or the Brahmaputra, has been strategically placed rather than establishing commitments or acknowledging any regional concerns of the river basins.

Continue reading “For Sub-regional Cooperation on the Yarlung Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River Basin”

China and River Water Arrangements with Neighbors*

Ambassador (retd.) Kishan S RanaHonorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.

*This text has been amended on the basis of a comment sent in very kindly by a reader.

By a quirk of geography, China is virtually not a river water lower riparian to any country. Thanks to the abundance of rivers that originate in its territory, especially the Himalayan plateau, it is an upper riparian in relation to many of Asia’s great trans-border river systems, including the Brahmaputra and the Mekong. In the North-East of the country, it does have the Amur river as the boundary with Russia, but not the status of a lower riparian.

Continue reading “China and River Water Arrangements with Neighbors*”