Fifty years ago this month, China defeated India in a short war in the Eastern Himalayan region, including South Tibet/Arunachal Pradesh and near Assam.
Today, both have almost half a million soldiers in the area and are upgrading their capabilities.
With Myanmar “open for business” and the US egging on India to “contain” China, this backwater is set to become a flashpoint this decade.
To complicate matters, a quarter of a billion Bengalis (in Bangladesh and West Bengal) are next door and will increasingly have a say in what happens in this region.
What should be a New Economic Frontier of peace, prosperity and progress could easily turn into a US-induced arena of conflict between two still poor countries (billing themselves as superpowers).
Let us never forget there are more poor people in India than in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The West of China especially rural areas still has grinding poverty. i.e. a poor population the size of Europe..
If Mao and Zhou en Lai had wanted, they could have sent their troops into the Ganges-Brahmaputra valleys and cut off eastern India & (then)East Pakistan.
History would have re-written. Nehru’s administration was a shambles and would not have put up a fight.
Today, the region needs to think ahead and look at Kashmir and Tibet through the same lens.
Delhi needs to admit it has misruled Assam and the rest of North East and must very quickly come up with a new Settlement and allow economic, social and environmental progress.
It won’t, of course.
So the scene is set for a short burst of ‘investment’ proposals to capture the fossil fuel reserves, build infrastructure into Myanmar and then watch as social and political turmoil put those aspirations on hold.
Very soon, this region will become the centre of the world’s attention, for all the wrong reasons
Farid Erkizia Bakht
Click below for an article from the Asia Times for reference (though with a health warning that it is skewed towards Delhi and thereby Washington)