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PostPosted: 13 Sep 2006 23:38 
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India : Plasma treated Angora fibres to keep Siachen soldiers warm


[quote]

August 30, 2006

Plasma, a state of matter consisting ions or charged particles like electrons, protons and molecules ‘etched’ angora rabbit fibres will keep soldiers in their battle fatigues warm at high altitudes like Siachen.

Plasma has also entered our homes and daily lives as Plasma TVs and Neon lit sign boards that dot Indian streets.

This fourth state of matter was originally applied to ionized gas by American scientist Dr Irving Langmuir in 1929.

In an exclusive interview with Fibre2fashion, Pradyumansinh Jhala, present incumbent at National Institute of Design’s John Bissell Research Chair (Textile & Apparel Design – Technology) revealed details of this exciting project that will not only be technology enriched, but also prove cost effective and eco-friendly, in the long run from the end user context.

He said, “Properties of plasma at ambient conditions have been exploited to treat angora fibres so that this cottage level industry benefits from hi-technology and the industry as a whole, gets value addition and better market reach.â€


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PostPosted: 13 Sep 2006 23:41 
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New army network may enable real time battlefield data transfer


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By Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) A newly inducted Indian Army communication network could eventually enable the transmission of real time battlefield data to top commanders during hostilities and also enable a qualitative improvement in relief and rescue operations when natural disasters strike.




For the record, all the army would say about 'Mercury Thunder' the third phase of the Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) that Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated here Wednesday is that it would enable troops stationed at the remotest of places like the Siachen Glacier to directly communicate with Army Headquarters here - if the need arises.

'With Mercury Thunder, we have taken a quantum leap forward in our communications capabilities by raising the number of channels on which voice conversations can be simultaneously transmitted from 120 to 10,000,' Lt. Gen. Davinder Kumar, the Indian Army Signals-officer-in-chief, explained.

Since the new system supports a mix of voice, data and video transfer, the number of channels available at any given time would depend on what mix of the three was adopted.

Defence analysts said the true capability of the project would be realised when it was used to transfer video images from, say the Jammu and Kashmir border to Army Headquarters in New Delhi.

'Hitherto, video images captured by an UAV (unarmed aerial vehicle) of movements along the LoC (Line of Control in Kashmir) are downloaded at a ground station in its area of operation and then sent on to the relevant field formations and area headquarters, as also to Army Headquarters,' an analyst explained.

'With the new system, it should be possible to do all this in real time, thereby considerably cutting down the reaction time,' the analyst added.

'Mercury Thunder' builds on 'Mercury Streak' that created an optical fibre cable (OFC) network for the army in 1995 and 'Mercury Flash' that provided a microwave network in 1998. The new system enables the integration of its predecessors with a satellite-based overlay that enables seamless transfers over all three systems.

Noting that 'Mercury Thunder' would become the 'strategic backbone network' of the Indian Army, Mukherjee said it 'will not only create space for a digitised battlefield but also support, facilitate and interconnect other network-centric systems like C3I (command, control, communications, information).

'These entities can now be location independent and simply plug and play into the information infrastructure of 'Mercury Thunder',' he added.



Pointing out that modern warfare 'is not limited in time, space, and boundaries', he said: 'Modern warfare is also asymmetrical. To meet these challenges, it is fundamental that the information infrastructure lends itself to unify national security interests strategically and tactically during war, peace, disasters or otherwise.

'It must help facilitate the objectives of the leaders and commanders. It is encouraging to learn that 'Mercury Thunder' not only synergizes but also extends our over all objectives through its pan-India presence,' the minister added.

And, with the art of 21st century warfare undergoing a paradigm shift and being transformed from platform centric to network centric, Mukherjee stated that with ''Mercury Thunder' we achieve a significant milestone in our march towards being a network centric army'.

'Mercury Thunder' would also be of immense use in times of natural disasters as its three-tier overlap would ensure there was no breakdown of communications when a calamity struck, Mukherjee said.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service


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PostPosted: 13 Sep 2006 23:44 
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India's Occupation of Ladakh

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From Pondicherry, South India, where my partner Krista and our son Desmond have been living, I'd heard that people were taking their Indian-made Royal Enfield motorbikes on tour over the "Himalayan Highway," all the way to Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet." The 300 mile long "world's highest motorable road" runs from the Himalayan foothills at Manali, across four stupendous mountain ranges to Leh, the Ladakhi capital at the far western reaches of Tibet. I had spent several months in Ladakh 25 years ago, prior to the great onslaught of mass jet-setting tourism and before the construction of the new road, and ever since I have yearned to return to this most amazing place. We travelled by motorbike for several reasons: we wanted to see the most magnificent Himalaya together and not be bound by the two-day, express-bus rush through this spectacular region, or to fly in as do the bulk of the tourists today, but we also wished to bear witness to what the punching in of this road has wrought on the region.

Over the past 30 years, I've hiked all over the Himalaya, but I never walk where there's a road. Roads into any remote areas where the lifecycles of the planet continue to function as they have forever, are nothing but vectors for the pollution of modernity, conveyances for the deep rot of nationalism, colonialism, tourism and development. Although I recognize myself as being a part of an increasingly difficult problem, I have been fortunate to have been just ahead of a huge wave of trekkers, who swarm rapidly into newly opened areas of the Himalaya. As such, I have been able to get a glimpse of what sustainable, enduring human civilization looks like. Inexorably, it seems, wherever the trekkers go, a road seems sure to follow. Twenty-five years ago, I spent a month walking across Zanskar, which is the next valley to the west, and during the trek, I only ran into one other foreigner.Today, hundreds of trekkers are passing through Zanskar during the four month season, while the Indian military incessantly builds its newest road through the valley. Thousands of tourists are now swarming into Ladakh via the Himalayan Highway, and even more take the plane to Leh. So it was with great trepidation that I was returning to Ladakh to see what changes the "advance" of modernity brought by the Indian occupation and mass tourism had wrought on this most amazing land and its people.

So we loaded our old 350 cc Enfield Bullet onto the Tamil Nadu Express train at Madras and headed to New Delhi, after which we travelled north by motorbike. Indian Railways (IR) operates one of the largest rail systems in the world and carries more than 14 million passengers daily. Although the service has improved tremedously over the years and now has a completely computerized reservation system, IR has absolutely no garbage management program whatsoever. On all the long-distance lines, IR meals are served on styrofoam trays wrapped in tinfoil and plastic, with drinks served in plastic cups. All garbage is simply tossed out of the windows, where it festoons the rail-side shrubbery and trees across the land. I mention this because India's massive garbage problem manifests itself all along the Himalayan Highway, all the way to its culmination point at the top of the continent. The Siachen Glacier has become an enormous festering garbage dump.

At the time of my first visit, India had taken a resurgence of interest in Ladakh after several Pakistani "cartographic incursions" into the Siachen region, and large convoys of Indian Army trucks had begun to ply back and forth along the original road to Ladakh, which runs over the Zoji La pass from Srinagar in Kashmir. But the Srinagar-Leh road was considered to be vulnerable to Pakistani attack near Kargil, so during the 1980's India constructed a new "Himalayan Highway" between Manali and Leh, Ladakh. This was an ambitious undertaking as the highway crosses several passes of more than 17,000 ft. and can only remain open for 4 months each year, after which it is socked in with snow (by comparison, Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada, is 19,550 ft. and the Rocky Mountain peaks around Banff are about 10,000 ft.). But after the 1962 Chinese annexation of the plains of Aksai Chin, Indian nationalist pride was once again at stake, so mobilize it must, and mobilize it did.

The road, for the most part, is a painstakingly handmade affair built and maintained by Nepalese and Jharkhandi labourers who are subjected to excrutiating and extremely dangerous working conditions. The Jharkhandi labourers, known as Dumkas, the namesake of a Gangetic plains village about 150 kms northwest of Calcutta, are used for cheap labour all over India, while the Nepalese can be found slaving along roadsides throughout the Himalaya and are just plain tough. For their labours, the Indian army pays their way up to the jobsite and supplies them with army rations during their four month stint. All along the way, one encounters crews of sun-blackened men, women and children hacking away at the rock-face, stacking boulders into hand-woven chainlink terraced shoring cages, shovelling snow, filling potholes or sweeping off the rock-fall which cascades off the ever-exfoliating mountainsides. The workers are woefully ill-equipped and under-dressed and although the army purports to lend them winter clothing suitable for the extremity of the weather at these altitudes, many of the workers were visibly suffering from the cold. People are seen operating jack-hammers in bare-feet, chiselling off shattered overhanging rock, and there's an ever-present Indian Army supervisor hulking over their every move. At night they're crammed into crudely built road-side hovels, constructed from cast-off tar barrels overthrown with ragged blown-out tarps.

Road-building is much the same over in the Pakistani-controlled regions of this part of the world, -that is the areas on the other side of the "Line of Control" which delineates the contested de facto border between northern India and Pakistan. The "Karakoram Highway" which was completed in 1982, leads up over the 15,400 ft Khunjerab Pass to Chinese-occupied Sinjiang, and is also a military road, hand-built with considerable help from the Chinese army. Its construction, which took 20 years, cost the lives of 810 Pakistani and 82 Chinese road workers. In Pakistan the deaths of the road workers are acknowledged by several large roadside cairns along the way. Although the workers who built India's Himalayan Highway are nowhere acknowledged, it can be assumed that a great many of them have also been maimed and killed and continue to die on the job. The Indian Army is very proud of its Ladakh occupation, and considers its road-building efforts to be an exercise in "nation building". Here's the India Independence Day 2006 message from Lt. General KS Rao, the Director General of the military-run Border Roads Organization (BRO):

The BRO has made immense and incalculable contribution to the national integration and nation building during the last four decades. We were (sic) the torchbearers of development in the extremely remote, hostile and inhospitable terrain of our northern and north-eastern borders of the country. Our predecessors have brought fame and laurels to BRO by their dedication, hard work and supreme sacrifice and made BRO the premier road construction agency of the country. While we would be fully justified in trumpeting our success story, we can not afford to rest on our laurels. We need to recognize and keep pace with the tremendous changes that are taking place all around us ­ advancement in the field of construction technology, new opportunities provided by revolution in Information and communication technologies and in Military Affairs, to name a few. It is high time for BRO to change in consonance with the environment and maintain the pace if we have to continue to remain as a leader in road construction and contribute to nation building.

Ten years ago I travelled from Rawalpindi on the flats of Pakistan, up the length of the Karakoram highway, which winds along cliffs above the Indus River for most of the way. Just as I reached the Chinese border at Khunjerab Top, a large monsoon typhoon blew a vicious storm right up the pass and it started snowing heavily. I hurried back down to the last Pakistani village at the foot of the pass, and spent three days there, huddled under the leaking flat mud roof of a house that had not seen rain for 100 years. Rain in the Karakoram has been so rare that virtually all of the houses have mud roofs. Even the slightest drizzle brings the stones crashing down onto the roads. This prolonged downpour completely destroyed the road, and I spent the next week picking my way on foot down the ancient Silk Road, back through the Hunza valley to Gilgit. Every kilometer or so, the road was blocked by rock fall. As is the case throughout the Great Himalaya, particulary huge landslides occasionally block entire rivers. A lake then immediately begins forming behind the dam. Such lakes have been known to completely submerge upstream villages along the river, and ultimately, when the weight of water piling in blows out the obstruction, the resultant tsunami takes out the riverside villages downstream. As I walked, giant boulders the size of Volkswagons were continuously dislodging from the shattered Karakoram landscape above and smashing down onto the pavement, shearing off great chunks of road that went crashing into the river.

From Gilgit, I travelled up the Indus valley to Baltistan, which was part of Ladakh until the subdivision of the subcontinent into Pakistan and India in 1947. I passed through Skardu, which was once Ladakh's winter capital and then on through Khapallu to the end of the road at the highest Baltistani village of Hushe. From there I hiked for a week on boulder-strewn glaciers up to a 16,000 ft. pass which overlooks the massive junction of glaciers at Concordia, at the foot of the world's second highest mountain, K-2. I went on to the K-6 and K-7 base camps where I climbed another pass near the base of the Karakoram massif of Chogolisa which overlooks the Siachen Glacier. While I sat marvelling at the pristine mountain scenery, I was shocked out of my reverie by a squadron of Pakistani military helicopters, clattering their way towards the world's highest battlefield.

Although people have been travelling up and down the Himalayan valleys forever on foot, roads are a new and very tenuous phenomena. While much of India's single-lane Himalayan Highway is paved, the vagaries of extreme weather, and the constant motion of ice, snow and the mountains themselves have rendered the higher stretches an obstacle course of broken boulders, mud-wallows, and with no ditching whatsoever, mountain streams are left to run right down the road. We frequently submerged our motorbike's exhaust pipe, and bouncing between the potholes and the frostheaves for most of the trip, we rarely made it out of second gear. The construction of roads along steep mountainsides alters the natural hydrology and are always a serious ecological incursion. When mountain roads are ditched, infinite seepage courselets are routed along the roadside, and then channeled through culverts spaced at intervals along the road. At each culvert, the waters are unnaturally concentrated into gulleys, where they artificially and inexorably erode new watercourses into the mountainside. Without ditching, the whole road becomes the new watercourse, and the constant moisture-loading and lubrication will inevitably cause sections of the road to slip. Every slippage has consequences both above and below the road.

Descending from the third major pass along the highway (the first part of the trip is described in Part 1 of this article), the 16,600 ft. Lachlung La, the Himalayan Highway is compressed into a narrowing gorge, with the final leg before the river having been manually chiselled right out of a sheer cliff face. This stretch of road is basically a tunnel with one open side, and a stomach-churning sense of vertigo accompanies any glance down the cliff-face into the chasm below. Having passed through the canyon, the traveller emerges into a hauntingly empty convoluted river valley. High above, a line of Hoodoos dominates the scenery, providing a vertical counterpoint to the flowing curves of scree which decend to the river. Here, due to a total paucity of vegetation, there are none of the endless cross-hatched striations laid down by the meanderings of grazing animals which adorn less arid regions of the high Himalaya.

In the evening, Desmond and I walked out beyond the little camp at Pang, and passing by the fluttering toilet-paper-festooned patch of tiny bushes that serves as the toilet area for the thousands of travellers passing through, we entered into a most desolate and silent desert landscape. Distance in the Himalayan desert is difficult to judge for lowlanders who are used to moving in vehicles, and to the visual distortions of rising water-vapours and the structural visual blockage of trees, walls or buildings. We have no visual concept of how far a human can walk in an hour, much less a day's march, because one's starting point is immediately obscured by obstacles as one carries along. But here, the clarity of vision is astounding and every detail is intricately defined even at a great distance. In a few minutes of walking, we were entirely alone in the valley, and after half an hour of climbing, the camp at Pang, although invisible in its riverside depression, seemed inconceivably distant. As far as the eye could see in any direction, there was no visible living thing, no movement, no human construction of any sort. As we continued, what had at first glance appeared as an immeasureable vastness of empty space became much more intimate as we began to understand the scale of the vista. A thin, compacted track led upwards to an apparently distant pass but we understood that it was perhaps only two hours away. While trekking in the Himalaya, oftentimes at the end of a long day's hike, one can look back down a valley, seemingly to the very edge of the Earth, and be astonished to see one's starting point so immensely far away.

The next morning, we wound up the switchbacks above Pang and arrived onto the Moray Plains of the Rupshu plateau, which features a surprisingly flat expanse surrounded by gently rolling mountains. Rupshu is the farthest western extremity of the Tibetan plateau and aside from small villages on the shores of the salt lakes of Tso Kar and Tso Moriri, it is too high for cultivation. This is a vast unfenced grassland commons dotted with sparse clumps of hardy grasses. At these altitudes, the landscape reaches upwards to scrape the final vestiges of moisture out of the few clouds which have managed to blow over the southern ranges into this vast Himalayan rainshadow. The rare sprinkles provide the green tinge of vegetation which sustains large herds of yaks, goats and sheep that are tended by Changpa nomads. The finest and softest wool called pashm is shorn from these Changpa goats and for centuries pashm wool was traded widely throughout the Himalaya. To this day, the wool makes its way to Kashmir to be woven into exquisite Pashmina shawls that are sold around the world.

The Changpa nomads we met on the Rupshu plain still camp out in their wool tents in the same spots that have been used since time immemorial, and from there, they set off to graze their herds up into the lonely highland realms at more than 20,000 ft. Among the tents are rock enclosures into which baby sheep and goats are herded at night to protect them from the wolves and snow leopards. Outside the tents, people can be seen at their back-strap looms weaving beautifully coloured horse blankets, woolen tent panels and rugs. The weaving and spinning of the wool shorn from their flocks is a constant communal activity for these tough and cheerful herdspeople. In contrast to the garbage-strewn squalor of the Indian army garrisons, police check-posts and parachute tent encampments, here was a total lack of garbage. As non-participants in the globalized consumer economy, the Changpa do not have anything to throw away. This is certainly not because they are impoverished; it's because they are virtually self-sufficient and everything they own is in continuous use. Their survival has depended on an intrinsic social order which has allowed a continual usage of the available resources, but without any catastrophic depletion or degradation of the grasslands. In spite of the new road, they still manage to exist as did their ancestors, in an ancient peaceful symbiosis, -cleanly living with a minimal ecological footprint as participants in the ecological processes of their environment.

The historic self-sufficiency of the Ladakhi people and their current plight has been best documented by Helena Norberg-Hodge in her marvellous book "Ancient Futures." Her books are essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the marvels of truly advanced human civilization, where humans live peacefully and happily together in balance and within the means of the giving Earth. My own experience of this pre-monetized, non-wheeled and non-electrified civilization was gained during my previous visit and especially while on my long hike through the Zanskar Valley when I was 21 years old. This solitary experience has left an indelible, deeply rooted impression and opened my eyes to what was once within the human capability -that humans could and did actually live well and happily within the carrying capacity of their environment. It was amazing that here, on this earthly moonscape, people not only lived well from the land, but their activities were the source of all greeness, vibrant colour, and every tree. But while Norberg-Hodge has focussed on the clash of civilizations that has resulted from the arrival of mass-tourism to Ladakh, for valid reasons, she has avoided discussion of the effects of the far more insidious invasion of the Indian military occupation. Had she done so, it would have been impossible for her to carry on with her essential work in Ladakh.

In the Zanskari villages I passed through, wealth was not measured by money and there was no poverty. Every house was busily inhabited, they wove and dyed their clothing, they grew their food, there was no garbage, no pollution, whether visual, aural, or the physical soiling of water, air and earth. The arability of the land was not determined by any natural availability of organic earth. Instead, the placement of villages depended on where aqueducts could be engineered to irrigate the barren, sterile mineral soil, and all organic soil nutrient was carefully added with a clear understanding of the processes of composting. The size of a village was intrinsic to the extent of the irrigable area of its fields, which in turn depended on the people-power to cultivate it, and the supply of water from the glaciers above. The village grew to a size that balanced what it was able to produce, and the population stabilized at that point, regulated in part by the practice of polyandry and the celibacy of the lama and chomo who renounced the householder's life to live in the Buddhist gompas, which overlook every village in the land. At the bottoms of the farthest fields, one could see the browning off of the barley crops, as the water supply dwindled off to exhaustion.

After passing through Rupshu, the road ascends to the top of the 17,500 ft. Taglang La pass. Looking down from the pass, one can see the recently-abandoned ancient trail switchbacking directly down the mountainside to the desolate plain below. At the foot of the pass, a line of crumbling chortens and rings of wolf-proof stone fences marks an ancient campsite where traders and their caravans and flocks once rested as they plied their way across the mountains. Beyond the campsite, the trail is demarked by a continuous line of mani walls, topped with thousands of stones, each one carved with the ubiquitous mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum," and placed, one-by-one, over centuries by the passers-by.

Clearing the top, we dropped down into the narrow Gya River valley, where one finally enters Ladakh. Rounding the corner above the highest village at Rumtse, the splash of green barley fields set against startling purple mountains, featuring sedimentary strata pushed vertical by tectonic forces, demarcates the environmental limitation at which crops can be grown. Although there are higher agrarian villages in Ladakh, Nepal and Tibet, they are only found where certain geographical features, -a southern exposure, a particularly sheltered valley- can allow this limit to be pushed even higher. As we descended down alongside the Gya, we passed through numerous villages with well-built and white-washed houses individually interspersed throughout tree-ringed fields, and people along the road broke into huge smiles and sang out "Juley," to us, the Ladakhi greeting, as we went by. Finally, at Upshi, we reached the Indus.

For the remaining 30 miles to Leh, the ancient capital city of Ladakh, situated at 11,500 ft, the road, on the north bank of the River Indus, passes by a series of dusty, sprawling military garrisons, that contrast with the lush greenbelt of Ladakhi villages on the southern side. The road here, the best in Ladakh, is flat, and mostly several lanes wide to accomodate the heavy military traffic. The villages it passes through have long lost their charm and cleanliness, and the once beautiful Tibetan-style houses are falling into disrepair and are being rapidly replaced with the same dreary reinforced concrete boxes and garish billboards that have buried so much of India's architectural heritage. The village of Choglamsar, which I remember from 25 years ago as a gorgeous green centre of Ladakhi culture, has been reduced to a typical Indian strip mall of dust, clamour, garbage and squalor. Leh itself is surrounded by hideous military garrisons and a sprawling, shoddily-built concrete suburb, but the old part of the city with its surrounding fields still retains its beauty.

India claims that the road to the Nubra Valley over the 18,600 ft Khardung La Pass is the "highest motorable road" in the world, although China claims to have bested this achievement in Tibet. The road starts climbing the Ladakh Range directly behind Leh, and as one switches back and forth endlessly up the barren slopes, Leh's barley fields and the verdure along the River Indus dwindles gradually to a glittering emerald speck in the distance. We picked a gorgeous, sunny cloud-free day for our ascent, but as we climbed, the cold and fuzzy numbness of very high altitude slowly enveloped us. Nearing the top of the pass, several of the switchbacks proved too much for our heavily loaded old Enfield, and Krista had to get off to walk the last 1/2 mile, which is no easy feat for those who've spent the past year living at sea level on the coast of South India. Above 18,000 feet, any exertion results in gasping and a racing heartbeat, and there's an aural sensation similar to that buzzing tinitus which is experienced when diving into deep water. At the top of the pass the view was especially breathtaking, with range upon range of snowclad peaks against a black-blue sky stretching off to a convex horizon in every direction. Looking out across the Great Himalaya from such height exemplifies the thin tenuosity of the human-created lifestreams of Ladakh, with thin green veins extending in deeply incised desert valleys through the far more extensive whited snow and ice fields. The Khardung La was once the crux of a major trade conduit between Ladakh (now occupied by India), Baltistan (now occupied by Pakistan) and Sinjiang (now occupied by China). In spite of its great height, this was a comparatively easy pass, with the rest-stop of the village of Khardung near the top on one side, and Leh nearby on the other.

In the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal, the Sherpa villages of Pangboche and Dingboche near the foot of Mt. Chomolungma, or Sagarmatha as the Nepalese call it, or Everest as the Brits called it, are said to be the highest year-round inhabited villages in the world, at 14,000 ft. The Ladakhi village of Khardung is at 15,000 ft. and somehow, at this altitude, in the thin rarified air at the edge of the atmosphere, people are still growing barley, which they grind and roast into tsampa flour that is eaten uncooked, mixed with soldja, or butter tea. Far above Khardung, right up to the receding snow line, we could see tiny black dots of yak moving across the green and wine-stained stoney landscape.

Below Khardung, we entered into the Shyok Valley, and in contrast to virtually all other Ladakhi rivers which are opaque with silt and mud, the Shyok River runs a clear glacial blue. As we descended, the confluence of the Shyok and Nubra rivers came into view to the northeast, a scene of unparrelled beauty: barren desert sand dunes, interspersed with brilliant green fields of villages against the pale blue waters, and the snow-clad Saltoro Range of the Karakoram mountains towering overhead. The Shyok River drains off from the Karakoram Pass at the very apex of India's claim over the region. This historic pass, over which trading caravans have passed between Ladakh and Sinjiang since ancient times, now overlooks the highest battlefield in the world, where India and Pakistan carry on the hidden, futile, stalemated and potentially the most dangerous war on the planet. The battlefield itself is the massive Siachen Glacier, the source of the Nubra river. At more than 50 miles long at more than 22,000 ft, Siachen is the largest glacier in the Himalaya and is known as the "third pole."

The Nubra Valley is in the remotest, northernmost area that is permissable to visit in India. The village of Panamik is the end of the tourist trail, although the military road continues to the foot of the glacier several miles beyond. Siachen means "place of wild roses," and along every watercourse and seepage, they were in full bloom providing a muted pink contrast to the greenery. Just like everywhere in Ladakh, everything has its use, and along with sea buckthorn, the wild roses of the Nubra provide impenetrable barriers which protect the precious fields from marauding livestock. Meticulously built freestone walls surround each field and thickets of thorny rose stems crown the walls along their entire length. Above Panamik village, natural hotsprings seep out of the mountainsides and a series of pipes delivers 24-hour hot running water to many of the households. The Indian army has 'developed' the hotsprings by installing several crude concrete tanks for the use of its soldiers, and now the facility is strewn with festering garbage.

The Nubra is at the altitude limit where apricots can be grown, although the really good ones are found further downstream at Khappalu in Baltistan, now on the Pakistan side. The arbitrary slashing of the LOC across the Shyok River between the Buddhist villages of Diskit and Hunder and the Islamic communities of Skardu and Khappalu, just downstream, has completely disrupted local cultural interactions, and a growing rift now festers between Ladakh's Muslim and Buddhist communites. Baltistan, which has always been part of Ladakh in spite of converting to Islam centuries ago and which shares the same language, used to supply apricots to all of Ladakh and on to Tibet. In return they got pashm and other wool products, tsampa (roasted barley), Tibetan tea, copperware and turquoise that comprised the bulk of the goods that constantly traversed back and forth across the ranges. Charas (black hash) was carried up from the Kulu/Manali region and silk goods came down from Sinjiang. Here at the Nubra/Shyok confluence, a remnant herd of about 200 double-humped Bactrian camels are a living testament to this now-extinct historic caravan trade that once knit together so many Himalayan communities. These shaggy camels have all gone feral now, and continue to thrive in this remote wilderness. Several of them have been domesticated to provide camel rides among the desert dunes for tourists.

A little further up the valley lies the snout of the Siachen glacier. This is the culmination point for the bulk of the military traffic which travels the Himalayan and Karakoram Highways. These massive and fantastic road construction projects are for the most part, built with an vicious singlemindedness to prosecute their ongoing Siachen war. India and Pakistan's imperialist war in Ladakh is a filthy business, which utterly defiles this most spectacular sanctuary of pristine mountain wilderness. Teru Kuwayama, a New York based photojournalist who visited the battlefield on assignment for Outside Magazine in 2002 was shocked by the mountains of garbage he saw surrounding the remote military outposts. "To see these incredibly pristine mountains and the glacier ," he writes, "and then to look down at your feet and for kilometers around you and just see nothing but this completely apocalyptic wasteland, it is really shocking, it's really surreal, and sad, mostly. Thousands of tons of garbage, -spent ammo, rotten food and discarded weaponry- has accumulated on the ice for 20 years, and whatever goes up doesn't go back." Kevin Fedarko, Kuwayama's co-writer for the Outside article writes:

When I got back down to the Corps Command Headquarters in Leh, I found out that the Indian army has, in fact, made an attempt to calculate the amount of garbage on the glacier, and the figures they've come up with are staggering. To sustain its troops, the army airdrops about 13,000 tons of supplies onto the glacier each year. Out of this, nearly 2,200 tons are left as waste: 1,400 tons of packing materials, 330 tons of empty ammunition cases, 7.6 tons of canned food, and 55 tons of miscellaneous items, including dead batteries, discarded clothing, and used signal cables. On top of all that come the periodic kerosene spills, which can disgorge up to 1,850 gallons in a day if undetected, and 372 tons a year of human feces, which has the potential of spreading jaundice, cholera, typhoid, and amoebic dysentery into the water flowing from the glacier and into the Nubra River. All told, that makes at least 41,000 tons of trash on the glacier. But that figure does not include the 43,000 artillery shells that India says are fired over the Saltoro Ridge onto the Siachen by the Pakistanis every year. Nor does it figure in the bodies of dead soldiers that cannot be recovered from the bottoms of crevasses and the middle of avalanche debris fields. By comparison, the South Col of Mount Everest, the most highly publicized high-altitude trash dump in the world, is polluted by only ten tons of garbage, most of it discarded oxygen cylinders.

The Indian military occupation is an insidious cultural, environmental and economic calamity of the worst order for the people of Ladakh and should be as widely condemned as the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Pakistani occupation of the Karakoram. The associated war-mongering, which has cost the New Delhi government a million dollars a day since 1988, has simultaneously become an immense burden for all the peoples of the subcontinent. It has brought the belligerents to the very brink of nuclear war on numerous occasions and has continued to breed hatred and resentment across the land. While the rest of India struggles to uplift itself out of the humiliation of centuries of British colonial subjugation, India is perpetuating the very same Imperialist designs of its once British masters. While India rushes headlong into massive military development, space programs, missile programs, nuclear weapons programs, nuclear submarine programs and civil nuclear programs to maintain an aggressive hegemony over the subcontinent, hundreds of millions of people all over India continue to struggle in abject poverty. India should redirect this massive military largesse into developing a comprehensive, mutually respectful peace process with its neighbours, and celebrate and encourage the increasing independence efforts of its vast diversity of cultures. Instead of foisting an incessant cultural and political homogenization, this enormous and complex land would do far better to work respectfully to promote cultural and political autonomy in its regions, which is the only way forward towards a lasting peace in Asia.

It seems that the only hope for the survival of Ladakh's traditional culture and precious ecology will be the imminent collapse of fossil-fuel-fed expansionist, capitalist economies like India's. The bulk of the traffic on the Himalayan Highway is an endless convoys of fuel trucks, and a simple inevitable doubling of fuel prices will render it impossible to continue with this remote and ridiculous war. Perhaps then, the roads will become obsolete, and will gradually disintegrate over time, to allow the amazingly resilient and patient Himalayan peoples to reclaim their beautiful mountains and rebuild their damaged civilization.

Ingmar Lee is a Canadian freelance writer currently living in Pondicherry. He has travelled extensively throughout India since his first trip, overland from Europe in 1977. He has a deep and abiding love for India but is concerned about its current direction. Ingmar can be reached at ingmarz(at)gmail.com



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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2006 00:49 
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I had a spat with this Chameleon Ingmar Lee. He lives in Pondicherry for now but writes against India on the web. he is another Allaister maunk in a different avatar. Poses as a environmentalist with special concern for the environmental damage done by India in Tibet.

His website is http://www.ingmarlee.com/

I have a posted a few rejoinders to his articles on "India's occupation of Ladakh"


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 Post subject: Siachen
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2006 23:02 
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Hi everyone this would be my first post. I would like to discuss and talk about the merits on using the two below approaches for Siachen.

First is the Terra nullius approach for Siachen. For those who do not know what is Terra Nullius it relates to Res nullis. It has to do with International Law whereby a nation can assert control of an unclaimed territory, and gain control when one of its citizens (often an exploratory and/or military expedition) enters the territory. Has this happened for Siachen?

Notwithstanding the above International Law has also determined that certain conditions can be fulfilled to enable possession by a State to mature into a prescriptive title. This is where possession of the states must be exercised a titre de souverain, must be peaceful and uninterrupted, must be public, and must endure for a certain length of time. Has this happened for Siachen?

Finally – Is Siachen part of Kashmir resolution?

I don’t personally like the word resolution. Because the only part that needs resolved is PoK.
:)


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Fresh shot at Siachen agreement

Quote:
New Delhi, Oct. 8: India is considering making a fresh offer to Pakistan and will push for a disengagement of the armies at Siachen.

This offer could be made as early as this week even as the Prime Minister visits London and Helsinki.

The offer will go beyond the conventional stalemate on the authentication of troop positions on the Saltoro Heights but will necessitate that also, a highly-placed source said.


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Kakkaji wrote:
Fresh shot at Siachen agreement

Quote:
New Delhi, Oct. 8: India is considering making a fresh offer to Pakistan and will push for a disengagement of the armies at Siachen.

This offer could be made as early as this week even as the Prime Minister visits London and Helsinki.

The offer will go beyond the conventional stalemate on the authentication of troop positions on the Saltoro Heights but will necessitate that also, a highly-placed source said.


Has our entire MEA gone bonkers? There's a limit to appeasing the pukes. The agreement signed by the pukes wont be worth the paper written on. The only iron clad way is to link it to the IWT. MEA CULPA.


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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2006 19:47 
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JAWANS IN SIACHEN TO GET SPECIAL SHOES

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The Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee has said that there will be no delay in the procurement of essential equipment and clothing items, especially those required for the Jawans in the extreme weather conditions of Siachen. Addressing the Jawans at the Base Camp at Zingrulwa today, Shri Mukherjee who was on a day’s visit to Siachen, said that special shoes which could be effective in very low temperatures upto minus 50 degrees Celsius would soon be provided to the armed forces personnel deployed in the highest battle field of the world. At present, the shoes worn by the Jawans are not very effective at temperatures less than minus 20 degree Celsius.

He also announced that order for a newly introduced item Avalung is underway which will go a long way in saving the lives of Jawans trapped in avalanches. Keeping in view the harsh conditions of Siachen, Government has decided to rush full stock of clothing authorization to these areas before the onset of winter, he said. Shri Mukherjee commended the soldiers for their hardwork in the difficult terrain of Siachen for protecting the borders and ‘bringing about improvement in the situation in J&K’.

Accompanied by the Chief of Army Staff General J J Singh and GOC of 14 Corps Lt. General J K Mohanty, Shri Mukherjee made an aerial survey of the border areas and thereafter interacted with the Jawans and officers at the Forward Logistic Base, Kumar and had a cup of tea with them. He enquired about their well being and conveyed Diwali greetings to them and their families. There was considerable enthusiasm among the Jawans as they spoke to the Defence Minister, the Chief of Army Staff and GOC of the Area.

Earlier before proceeding for the aerial survey Shri Mukherjee and General J J Singh planted a sapling each at the Base Camp. Brigade Commander Brig. Om Prakash informed the Defence Minister that the arboculture and waste management drives have been launched by the Army with the objective of cleaning the environment. He informed the Minister that as a part of the programme 1.2 lakh saplings have been planted so far.

The Defence Minister has since returned to New Delhi.


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ManojM wrote:
Kakkaji wrote:
Fresh shot at Siachen agreement

Quote:
New Delhi, Oct. 8: India is considering making a fresh offer to Pakistan and will push for a disengagement of the armies at Siachen.

This offer could be made as early as this week even as the Prime Minister visits London and Helsinki.

The offer will go beyond the conventional stalemate on the authentication of troop positions on the Saltoro Heights but will necessitate that also, a highly-placed source said.


Has our entire MEA gone bonkers? There's a limit to appeasing the pukes. The agreement signed by the pukes wont be worth the paper written on. The only iron clad way is to link it to the IWT. MEA CULPA.


Screw the country, i want the Nobel Peace Prize- MMS.


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Reminds of the Nobel peace prize rumours for ABV during Kargil war.. History repeats itself, but do we learn anything at all?


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did someone once post an article on biogas projects on siachen, i.e. something to do with waste reprocessing?


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PostPosted: 15 Oct 2006 23:40 
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Nayak wrote:
India's Occupation of Ladakh

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From Pondicherry, South India, where my partner Krista and our son Desmond have been living, I'd heard that people were taking their Indian-made Royal Enfield motorbikes on tour over the "Himalayan Highway," all the way to Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet." The 300 mile long "world's highest motorable road" runs from the Himalayan foothills at Manali, across four stupendous mountain ranges to Leh, the Ladakhi capital at the far western reaches of Tibet. I had spent several months in Ladakh 25 years ago, prior to the great onslaught of mass jet-setting tourism and before the construction of the new road, and ever since I have yearned to return to this most amazing place. We travelled by motorbike for several reasons: we wanted to see the most magnificent Himalaya together and not be bound by the two-day, express-bus rush through this spectacular region, or to fly in as do the bulk of the tourists today, but we also wished to bear witness to what the punching in of this road has wrought on the region.

Over the past 30 years, I've hiked all over the Himalaya, but I never walk where there's a road. Roads into any remote areas where the lifecycles of the planet continue to function as they have forever, are nothing but vectors for the pollution of modernity, conveyances for the deep rot of nationalism, colonialism, tourism and development. Although I recognize myself as being a part of an increasingly difficult problem, I have been fortunate to have been just ahead of a huge wave of trekkers, who swarm rapidly into newly opened areas of the Himalaya. As such, I have been able to get a glimpse of what sustainable, enduring human civilization looks like. Inexorably, it seems, wherever the trekkers go, a road seems sure to follow. Twenty-five years ago, I spent a month walking across Zanskar, which is the next valley to the west, and during the trek, I only ran into one other foreigner.Today, hundreds of trekkers are passing through Zanskar during the four month season, while the Indian military incessantly builds its newest road through the valley. Thousands of tourists are now swarming into Ladakh via the Himalayan Highway, and even more take the plane to Leh. So it was with great trepidation that I was returning to Ladakh to see what changes the "advance" of modernity brought by the Indian occupation and mass tourism had wrought on this most amazing land and its people.

So we loaded our old 350 cc Enfield Bullet onto the Tamil Nadu Express train at Madras and headed to New Delhi, after which we travelled north by motorbike. Indian Railways (IR) operates one of the largest rail systems in the world and carries more than 14 million passengers daily. Although the service has improved tremedously over the years and now has a completely computerized reservation system, IR has absolutely no garbage management program whatsoever. On all the long-distance lines, IR meals are served on styrofoam trays wrapped in tinfoil and plastic, with drinks served in plastic cups. All garbage is simply tossed out of the windows, where it festoons the rail-side shrubbery and trees across the land. I mention this because India's massive garbage problem manifests itself all along the Himalayan Highway, all the way to its culmination point at the top of the continent. The Siachen Glacier has become an enormous festering garbage dump.

At the time of my first visit, India had taken a resurgence of interest in Ladakh after several Pakistani "cartographic incursions" into the Siachen region, and large convoys of Indian Army trucks had begun to ply back and forth along the original road to Ladakh, which runs over the Zoji La pass from Srinagar in Kashmir. But the Srinagar-Leh road was considered to be vulnerable to Pakistani attack near Kargil, so during the 1980's India constructed a new "Himalayan Highway" between Manali and Leh, Ladakh. This was an ambitious undertaking as the highway crosses several passes of more than 17,000 ft. and can only remain open for 4 months each year, after which it is socked in with snow (by comparison, Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada, is 19,550 ft. and the Rocky Mountain peaks around Banff are about 10,000 ft.). But after the 1962 Chinese annexation of the plains of Aksai Chin, Indian nationalist pride was once again at stake, so mobilize it must, and mobilize it did.

The road, for the most part, is a painstakingly handmade affair built and maintained by Nepalese and Jharkhandi labourers who are subjected to excrutiating and extremely dangerous working conditions. The Jharkhandi labourers, known as Dumkas, the namesake of a Gangetic plains village about 150 kms northwest of Calcutta, are used for cheap labour all over India, while the Nepalese can be found slaving along roadsides throughout the Himalaya and are just plain tough. For their labours, the Indian army pays their way up to the jobsite and supplies them with army rations during their four month stint. All along the way, one encounters crews of sun-blackened men, women and children hacking away at the rock-face, stacking boulders into hand-woven chainlink terraced shoring cages, shovelling snow, filling potholes or sweeping off the rock-fall which cascades off the ever-exfoliating mountainsides. The workers are woefully ill-equipped and under-dressed and although the army purports to lend them winter clothing suitable for the extremity of the weather at these altitudes, many of the workers were visibly suffering from the cold. People are seen operating jack-hammers in bare-feet, chiselling off shattered overhanging rock, and there's an ever-present Indian Army supervisor hulking over their every move. At night they're crammed into crudely built road-side hovels, constructed from cast-off tar barrels overthrown with ragged blown-out tarps.

Road-building is much the same over in the Pakistani-controlled regions of this part of the world, -that is the areas on the other side of the "Line of Control" which delineates the contested de facto border between northern India and Pakistan. The "Karakoram Highway" which was completed in 1982, leads up over the 15,400 ft Khunjerab Pass to Chinese-occupied Sinjiang, and is also a military road, hand-built with considerable help from the Chinese army. Its construction, which took 20 years, cost the lives of 810 Pakistani and 82 Chinese road workers. In Pakistan the deaths of the road workers are acknowledged by several large roadside cairns along the way. Although the workers who built India's Himalayan Highway are nowhere acknowledged, it can be assumed that a great many of them have also been maimed and killed and continue to die on the job. The Indian Army is very proud of its Ladakh occupation, and considers its road-building efforts to be an exercise in "nation building". Here's the India Independence Day 2006 message from Lt. General KS Rao, the Director General of the military-run Border Roads Organization (BRO):

The BRO has made immense and incalculable contribution to the national integration and nation building during the last four decades. We were (sic) the torchbearers of development in the extremely remote, hostile and inhospitable terrain of our northern and north-eastern borders of the country. Our predecessors have brought fame and laurels to BRO by their dedication, hard work and supreme sacrifice and made BRO the premier road construction agency of the country. While we would be fully justified in trumpeting our success story, we can not afford to rest on our laurels. We need to recognize and keep pace with the tremendous changes that are taking place all around us ­ advancement in the field of construction technology, new opportunities provided by revolution in Information and communication technologies and in Military Affairs, to name a few. It is high time for BRO to change in consonance with the environment and maintain the pace if we have to continue to remain as a leader in road construction and contribute to nation building.

Ten years ago I travelled from Rawalpindi on the flats of Pakistan, up the length of the Karakoram highway, which winds along cliffs above the Indus River for most of the way. Just as I reached the Chinese border at Khunjerab Top, a large monsoon typhoon blew a vicious storm right up the pass and it started snowing heavily. I hurried back down to the last Pakistani village at the foot of the pass, and spent three days there, huddled under the leaking flat mud roof of a house that had not seen rain for 100 years. Rain in the Karakoram has been so rare that virtually all of the houses have mud roofs. Even the slightest drizzle brings the stones crashing down onto the roads. This prolonged downpour completely destroyed the road, and I spent the next week picking my way on foot down the ancient Silk Road, back through the Hunza valley to Gilgit. Every kilometer or so, the road was blocked by rock fall. As is the case throughout the Great Himalaya, particulary huge landslides occasionally block entire rivers. A lake then immediately begins forming behind the dam. Such lakes have been known to completely submerge upstream villages along the river, and ultimately, when the weight of water piling in blows out the obstruction, the resultant tsunami takes out the riverside villages downstream. As I walked, giant boulders the size of Volkswagons were continuously dislodging from the shattered Karakoram landscape above and smashing down onto the pavement, shearing off great chunks of road that went crashing into the river.

From Gilgit, I travelled up the Indus valley to Baltistan, which was part of Ladakh until the subdivision of the subcontinent into Pakistan and India in 1947. I passed through Skardu, which was once Ladakh's winter capital and then on through Khapallu to the end of the road at the highest Baltistani village of Hushe. From there I hiked for a week on boulder-strewn glaciers up to a 16,000 ft. pass which overlooks the massive junction of glaciers at Concordia, at the foot of the world's second highest mountain, K-2. I went on to the K-6 and K-7 base camps where I climbed another pass near the base of the Karakoram massif of Chogolisa which overlooks the Siachen Glacier. While I sat marvelling at the pristine mountain scenery, I was shocked out of my reverie by a squadron of Pakistani military helicopters, clattering their way towards the world's highest battlefield.

Although people have been travelling up and down the Himalayan valleys forever on foot, roads are a new and very tenuous phenomena. While much of India's single-lane Himalayan Highway is paved, the vagaries of extreme weather, and the constant motion of ice, snow and the mountains themselves have rendered the higher stretches an obstacle course of broken boulders, mud-wallows, and with no ditching whatsoever, mountain streams are left to run right down the road. We frequently submerged our motorbike's exhaust pipe, and bouncing between the potholes and the frostheaves for most of the trip, we rarely made it out of second gear. The construction of roads along steep mountainsides alters the natural hydrology and are always a serious ecological incursion. When mountain roads are ditched, infinite seepage courselets are routed along the roadside, and then channeled through culverts spaced at intervals along the road. At each culvert, the waters are unnaturally concentrated into gulleys, where they artificially and inexorably erode new watercourses into the mountainside. Without ditching, the whole road becomes the new watercourse, and the constant moisture-loading and lubrication will inevitably cause sections of the road to slip. Every slippage has consequences both above and below the road.

Descending from the third major pass along the highway (the first part of the trip is described in Part 1 of this article), the 16,600 ft. Lachlung La, the Himalayan Highway is compressed into a narrowing gorge, with the final leg before the river having been manually chiselled right out of a sheer cliff face. This stretch of road is basically a tunnel with one open side, and a stomach-churning sense of vertigo accompanies any glance down the cliff-face into the chasm below. Having passed through the canyon, the traveller emerges into a hauntingly empty convoluted river valley. High above, a line of Hoodoos dominates the scenery, providing a vertical counterpoint to the flowing curves of scree which decend to the river. Here, due to a total paucity of vegetation, there are none of the endless cross-hatched striations laid down by the meanderings of grazing animals which adorn less arid regions of the high Himalaya.

In the evening, Desmond and I walked out beyond the little camp at Pang, and passing by the fluttering toilet-paper-festooned patch of tiny bushes that serves as the toilet area for the thousands of travellers passing through, we entered into a most desolate and silent desert landscape. Distance in the Himalayan desert is difficult to judge for lowlanders who are used to moving in vehicles, and to the visual distortions of rising water-vapours and the structural visual blockage of trees, walls or buildings. We have no visual concept of how far a human can walk in an hour, much less a day's march, because one's starting point is immediately obscured by obstacles as one carries along. But here, the clarity of vision is astounding and every detail is intricately defined even at a great distance. In a few minutes of walking, we were entirely alone in the valley, and after half an hour of climbing, the camp at Pang, although invisible in its riverside depression, seemed inconceivably distant. As far as the eye could see in any direction, there was no visible living thing, no movement, no human construction of any sort. As we continued, what had at first glance appeared as an immeasureable vastness of empty space became much more intimate as we began to understand the scale of the vista. A thin, compacted track led upwards to an apparently distant pass but we understood that it was perhaps only two hours away. While trekking in the Himalaya, oftentimes at the end of a long day's hike, one can look back down a valley, seemingly to the very edge of the Earth, and be astonished to see one's starting point so immensely far away.

The next morning, we wound up the switchbacks above Pang and arrived onto the Moray Plains of the Rupshu plateau, which features a surprisingly flat expanse surrounded by gently rolling mountains. Rupshu is the farthest western extremity of the Tibetan plateau and aside from small villages on the shores of the salt lakes of Tso Kar and Tso Moriri, it is too high for cultivation. This is a vast unfenced grassland commons dotted with sparse clumps of hardy grasses. At these altitudes, the landscape reaches upwards to scrape the final vestiges of moisture out of the few clouds which have managed to blow over the southern ranges into this vast Himalayan rainshadow. The rare sprinkles provide the green tinge of vegetation which sustains large herds of yaks, goats and sheep that are tended by Changpa nomads. The finest and softest wool called pashm is shorn from these Changpa goats and for centuries pashm wool was traded widely throughout the Himalaya. To this day, the wool makes its way to Kashmir to be woven into exquisite Pashmina shawls that are sold around the world.

The Changpa nomads we met on the Rupshu plain still camp out in their wool tents in the same spots that have been used since time immemorial, and from there, they set off to graze their herds up into the lonely highland realms at more than 20,000 ft. Among the tents are rock enclosures into which baby sheep and goats are herded at night to protect them from the wolves and snow leopards. Outside the tents, people can be seen at their back-strap looms weaving beautifully coloured horse blankets, woolen tent panels and rugs. The weaving and spinning of the wool shorn from their flocks is a constant communal activity for these tough and cheerful herdspeople. In contrast to the garbage-strewn squalor of the Indian army garrisons, police check-posts and parachute tent encampments, here was a total lack of garbage. As non-participants in the globalized consumer economy, the Changpa do not have anything to throw away. This is certainly not because they are impoverished; it's because they are virtually self-sufficient and everything they own is in continuous use. Their survival has depended on an intrinsic social order which has allowed a continual usage of the available resources, but without any catastrophic depletion or degradation of the grasslands. In spite of the new road, they still manage to exist as did their ancestors, in an ancient peaceful symbiosis, -cleanly living with a minimal ecological footprint as participants in the ecological processes of their environment.

The historic self-sufficiency of the Ladakhi people and their current plight has been best documented by Helena Norberg-Hodge in her marvellous book "Ancient Futures." Her books are essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the marvels of truly advanced human civilization, where humans live peacefully and happily together in balance and within the means of the giving Earth. My own experience of this pre-monetized, non-wheeled and non-electrified civilization was gained during my previous visit and especially while on my long hike through the Zanskar Valley when I was 21 years old. This solitary experience has left an indelible, deeply rooted impression and opened my eyes to what was once within the human capability -that humans could and did actually live well and happily within the carrying capacity of their environment. It was amazing that here, on this earthly moonscape, people not only lived well from the land, but their activities were the source of all greeness, vibrant colour, and every tree. But while Norberg-Hodge has focussed on the clash of civilizations that has resulted from the arrival of mass-tourism to Ladakh, for valid reasons, she has avoided discussion of the effects of the far more insidious invasion of the Indian military occupation. Had she done so, it would have been impossible for her to carry on with her essential work in Ladakh.

In the Zanskari villages I passed through, wealth was not measured by money and there was no poverty. Every house was busily inhabited, they wove and dyed their clothing, they grew their food, there was no garbage, no pollution, whether visual, aural, or the physical soiling of water, air and earth. The arability of the land was not determined by any natural availability of organic earth. Instead, the placement of villages depended on where aqueducts could be engineered to irrigate the barren, sterile mineral soil, and all organic soil nutrient was carefully added with a clear understanding of the processes of composting. The size of a village was intrinsic to the extent of the irrigable area of its fields, which in turn depended on the people-power to cultivate it, and the supply of water from the glaciers above. The village grew to a size that balanced what it was able to produce, and the population stabilized at that point, regulated in part by the practice of polyandry and the celibacy of the lama and chomo who renounced the householder's life to live in the Buddhist gompas, which overlook every village in the land. At the bottoms of the farthest fields, one could see the browning off of the barley crops, as the water supply dwindled off to exhaustion.

After passing through Rupshu, the road ascends to the top of the 17,500 ft. Taglang La pass. Looking down from the pass, one can see the recently-abandoned ancient trail switchbacking directly down the mountainside to the desolate plain below. At the foot of the pass, a line of crumbling chortens and rings of wolf-proof stone fences marks an ancient campsite where traders and their caravans and flocks once rested as they plied their way across the mountains. Beyond the campsite, the trail is demarked by a continuous line of mani walls, topped with thousands of stones, each one carved with the ubiquitous mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum," and placed, one-by-one, over centuries by the passers-by.

Clearing the top, we dropped down into the narrow Gya River valley, where one finally enters Ladakh. Rounding the corner above the highest village at Rumtse, the splash of green barley fields set against startling purple mountains, featuring sedimentary strata pushed vertical by tectonic forces, demarcates the environmental limitation at which crops can be grown. Although there are higher agrarian villages in Ladakh, Nepal and Tibet, they are only found where certain geographical features, -a southern exposure, a particularly sheltered valley- can allow this limit to be pushed even higher. As we descended down alongside the Gya, we passed through numerous villages with well-built and white-washed houses individually interspersed throughout tree-ringed fields, and people along the road broke into huge smiles and sang out "Juley," to us, the Ladakhi greeting, as we went by. Finally, at Upshi, we reached the Indus.

For the remaining 30 miles to Leh, the ancient capital city of Ladakh, situated at 11,500 ft, the road, on the north bank of the River Indus, passes by a series of dusty, sprawling military garrisons, that contrast with the lush greenbelt of Ladakhi villages on the southern side. The road here, the best in Ladakh, is flat, and mostly several lanes wide to accomodate the heavy military traffic. The villages it passes through have long lost their charm and cleanliness, and the once beautiful Tibetan-style houses are falling into disrepair and are being rapidly replaced with the same dreary reinforced concrete boxes and garish billboards that have buried so much of India's architectural heritage. The village of Choglamsar, which I remember from 25 years ago as a gorgeous green centre of Ladakhi culture, has been reduced to a typical Indian strip mall of dust, clamour, garbage and squalor. Leh itself is surrounded by hideous military garrisons and a sprawling, shoddily-built concrete suburb, but the old part of the city with its surrounding fields still retains its beauty.

India claims that the road to the Nubra Valley over the 18,600 ft Khardung La Pass is the "highest motorable road" in the world, although China claims to have bested this achievement in Tibet. The road starts climbing the Ladakh Range directly behind Leh, and as one switches back and forth endlessly up the barren slopes, Leh's barley fields and the verdure along the River Indus dwindles gradually to a glittering emerald speck in the distance. We picked a gorgeous, sunny cloud-free day for our ascent, but as we climbed, the cold and fuzzy numbness of very high altitude slowly enveloped us. Nearing the top of the pass, several of the switchbacks proved too much for our heavily loaded old Enfield, and Krista had to get off to walk the last 1/2 mile, which is no easy feat for those who've spent the past year living at sea level on the coast of South India. Above 18,000 feet, any exertion results in gasping and a racing heartbeat, and there's an aural sensation similar to that buzzing tinitus which is experienced when diving into deep water. At the top of the pass the view was especially breathtaking, with range upon range of snowclad peaks against a black-blue sky stretching off to a convex horizon in every direction. Looking out across the Great Himalaya from such height exemplifies the thin tenuosity of the human-created lifestreams of Ladakh, with thin green veins extending in deeply incised desert valleys through the far more extensive whited snow and ice fields. The Khardung La was once the crux of a major trade conduit between Ladakh (now occupied by India), Baltistan (now occupied by Pakistan) and Sinjiang (now occupied by China). In spite of its great height, this was a comparatively easy pass, with the rest-stop of the village of Khardung near the top on one side, and Leh nearby on the other.

In the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal, the Sherpa villages of Pangboche and Dingboche near the foot of Mt. Chomolungma, or Sagarmatha as the Nepalese call it, or Everest as the Brits called it, are said to be the highest year-round inhabited villages in the world, at 14,000 ft. The Ladakhi village of Khardung is at 15,000 ft. and somehow, at this altitude, in the thin rarified air at the edge of the atmosphere, people are still growing barley, which they grind and roast into tsampa flour that is eaten uncooked, mixed with soldja, or butter tea. Far above Khardung, right up to the receding snow line, we could see tiny black dots of yak moving across the green and wine-stained stoney landscape.

Below Khardung, we entered into the Shyok Valley, and in contrast to virtually all other Ladakhi rivers which are opaque with silt and mud, the Shyok River runs a clear glacial blue. As we descended, the confluence of the Shyok and Nubra rivers came into view to the northeast, a scene of unparrelled beauty: barren desert sand dunes, interspersed with brilliant green fields of villages against the pale blue waters, and the snow-clad Saltoro Range of the Karakoram mountains towering overhead. The Shyok River drains off from the Karakoram Pass at the very apex of India's claim over the region. This historic pass, over which trading caravans have passed between Ladakh and Sinjiang since ancient times, now overlooks the highest battlefield in the world, where India and Pakistan carry on the hidden, futile, stalemated and potentially the most dangerous war on the planet. The battlefield itself is the massive Siachen Glacier, the source of the Nubra river. At more than 50 miles long at more than 22,000 ft, Siachen is the largest glacier in the Himalaya and is known as the "third pole."

The Nubra Valley is in the remotest, northernmost area that is permissable to visit in India. The village of Panamik is the end of the tourist trail, although the military road continues to the foot of the glacier several miles beyond. Siachen means "place of wild roses," and along every watercourse and seepage, they were in full bloom providing a muted pink contrast to the greenery. Just like everywhere in Ladakh, everything has its use, and along with sea buckthorn, the wild roses of the Nubra provide impenetrable barriers which protect the precious fields from marauding livestock. Meticulously built freestone walls surround each field and thickets of thorny rose stems crown the walls along their entire length. Above Panamik village, natural hotsprings seep out of the mountainsides and a series of pipes delivers 24-hour hot running water to many of the households. The Indian army has 'developed' the hotsprings by installing several crude concrete tanks for the use of its soldiers, and now the facility is strewn with festering garbage.

The Nubra is at the altitude limit where apricots can be grown, although the really good ones are found further downstream at Khappalu in Baltistan, now on the Pakistan side. The arbitrary slashing of the LOC across the Shyok River between the Buddhist villages of Diskit and Hunder and the Islamic communities of Skardu and Khappalu, just downstream, has completely disrupted local cultural interactions, and a growing rift now festers between Ladakh's Muslim and Buddhist communites. Baltistan, which has always been part of Ladakh in spite of converting to Islam centuries ago and which shares the same language, used to supply apricots to all of Ladakh and on to Tibet. In return they got pashm and other wool products, tsampa (roasted barley), Tibetan tea, copperware and turquoise that comprised the bulk of the goods that constantly traversed back and forth across the ranges. Charas (black hash) was carried up from the Kulu/Manali region and silk goods came down from Sinjiang. Here at the Nubra/Shyok confluence, a remnant herd of about 200 double-humped Bactrian camels are a living testament to this now-extinct historic caravan trade that once knit together so many Himalayan communities. These shaggy camels have all gone feral now, and continue to thrive in this remote wilderness. Several of them have been domesticated to provide camel rides among the desert dunes for tourists.

A little further up the valley lies the snout of the Siachen glacier. This is the culmination point for the bulk of the military traffic which travels the Himalayan and Karakoram Highways. These massive and fantastic road construction projects are for the most part, built with an vicious singlemindedness to prosecute their ongoing Siachen war. India and Pakistan's imperialist war in Ladakh is a filthy business, which utterly defiles this most spectacular sanctuary of pristine mountain wilderness. Teru Kuwayama, a New York based photojournalist who visited the battlefield on assignment for Outside Magazine in 2002 was shocked by the mountains of garbage he saw surrounding the remote military outposts. "To see these incredibly pristine mountains and the glacier ," he writes, "and then to look down at your feet and for kilometers around you and just see nothing but this completely apocalyptic wasteland, it is really shocking, it's really surreal, and sad, mostly. Thousands of tons of garbage, -spent ammo, rotten food and discarded weaponry- has accumulated on the ice for 20 years, and whatever goes up doesn't go back." Kevin Fedarko, Kuwayama's co-writer for the Outside article writes:

When I got back down to the Corps Command Headquarters in Leh, I found out that the Indian army has, in fact, made an attempt to calculate the amount of garbage on the glacier, and the figures they've come up with are staggering. To sustain its troops, the army airdrops about 13,000 tons of supplies onto the glacier each year. Out of this, nearly 2,200 tons are left as waste: 1,400 tons of packing materials, 330 tons of empty ammunition cases, 7.6 tons of canned food, and 55 tons of miscellaneous items, including dead batteries, discarded clothing, and used signal cables. On top of all that come the periodic kerosene spills, which can disgorge up to 1,850 gallons in a day if undetected, and 372 tons a year of human feces, which has the potential of spreading jaundice, cholera, typhoid, and amoebic dysentery into the water flowing from the glacier and into the Nubra River. All told, that makes at least 41,000 tons of trash on the glacier. But that figure does not include the 43,000 artillery shells that India says are fired over the Saltoro Ridge onto the Siachen by the Pakistanis every year. Nor does it figure in the bodies of dead soldiers that cannot be recovered from the bottoms of crevasses and the middle of avalanche debris fields. By comparison, the South Col of Mount Everest, the most highly publicized high-altitude trash dump in the world, is polluted by only ten tons of garbage, most of it discarded oxygen cylinders.

The Indian military occupation is an insidious cultural, environmental and economic calamity of the worst order for the people of Ladakh and should be as widely condemned as the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Pakistani occupation of the Karakoram. The associated war-mongering, which has cost the New Delhi government a million dollars a day since 1988, has simultaneously become an immense burden for all the peoples of the subcontinent. It has brought the belligerents to the very brink of nuclear war on numerous occasions and has continued to breed hatred and resentment across the land. While the rest of India struggles to uplift itself out of the humiliation of centuries of British colonial subjugation, India is perpetuating the very same Imperialist designs of its once British masters. While India rushes headlong into massive military development, space programs, missile programs, nuclear weapons programs, nuclear submarine programs and civil nuclear programs to maintain an aggressive hegemony over the subcontinent, hundreds of millions of people all over India continue to struggle in abject poverty. India should redirect this massive military largesse into developing a comprehensive, mutually respectful peace process with its neighbours, and celebrate and encourage the increasing independence efforts of its vast diversity of cultures. Instead of foisting an incessant cultural and political homogenization, this enormous and complex land would do far better to work respectfully to promote cultural and political autonomy in its regions, which is the only way forward towards a lasting peace in Asia.

It seems that the only hope for the survival of Ladakh's traditional culture and precious ecology will be the imminent collapse of fossil-fuel-fed expansionist, capitalist economies like India's. The bulk of the traffic on the Himalayan Highway is an endless convoys of fuel trucks, and a simple inevitable doubling of fuel prices will render it impossible to continue with this remote and ridiculous war. Perhaps then, the roads will become obsolete, and will gradually disintegrate over time, to allow the amazingly resilient and patient Himalayan peoples to reclaim their beautiful mountains and rebuild their damaged civilization.

Ingmar Lee is a Canadian freelance writer currently living in Pondicherry. He has travelled extensively throughout India since his first trip, overland from Europe in 1977. He has a deep and abiding love for India but is concerned about its current direction. Ingmar can be reached at ingmarz(at)gmail.com



If this monkey has any concerns for ancient cultures and environment then he should be on the forefront of battle to evict himself and his ilk from Canada and return that land to the Native Indians, Inuits and other indigenous folks.

Look at his contradictions. He laments the demise of the Silk Route trade that once sustained this land but worries over the contemporary incursions. Dumb idiot should realize that the very same silk route caravan trade would have had same effect eventually.

That being said, if the garbage problem is indeed true I think something serious must be done to control/overcome it. Doesn't anyone know that there is money to be made in recycling garbage? I guess only Mr. Ambanis could do something about it. Seems like only he could move things in India.
AS


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PostPosted: 16 Oct 2006 00:38 
asprinzl wrote:
Nayak wrote:
India's Occupation of Ladakh


That being said, if the garbage problem is indeed true I think something serious must be done to control/overcome it. Doesn't anyone know that there is money to be made in recycling garbage? I guess only Mr. Ambanis could do something about it. Seems like only he could move things in India.
AS


mr avram,

i don't know how much you know about indian diaspora, but it seems very inadvertnely (or by amazing intuition) you have reached a conclusion that i agree with.

"a visionery to solve india's problem has to come from gujarat"

i am not a gujarati, but it seems that the sea-faring community of traders have provided disproportionate number of leaders to solve india's problems in many parts of the country. be it political leaders or industries. many of them from parsee community that settled in gujarat and then mumbai, not to mention gandhi, patel, modi, desai, ambani, tata, godrej, bhabha, sarabhai, and so on and so forth....

i know this kind of conclusion will not go down well with the south indian community who dominate these BR forums, and no offense is intended on them but gujaratis do deserve some recognition for the service they have provided to the whole country.

(i can't wait for mr modi to be the next prime minister and make a difference)


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wowow, brites, in chorus with me.. G U J J U gujju gujju.. we are gujju.. lolz :D :lol:


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Location: Hamari chai bahut kadvi hoti hai..
Let us not regionalise things in BR. :)


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Somebody tell shri bhavesh/ brijlal that! :)

Most of the people he mentioned are BRs chosen heros.


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Location: Hamari chai bahut kadvi hoti hai..
Including Gandhi ?????????????? :oops:


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A European documentary on Siachen
http://www.siachen.ch

Trailer:
http://www.siachen.ch/upload/trailers/T ... eam001.wmv


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PostPosted: 27 Oct 2006 23:17 
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Punjab CM honours Siachen hero Capt Bana Singh

Quote:
Punjab Newsline Network
Thursday, 26 October 2006

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh Thursday honoured the Hony Capt (Retd) Bana Singh, PVC, the Hero of Bana Post Siachen (J&K) and 45 other families/NOK of Martyrs of Punjab who made the Supreme Sacrifice for the motherland organized here at a function organized at Punjab Bhawan.



Capt. Singh presented a cheque of Rs.10 lakh a Shawl and Sword to Capt. Bana Singh as recognition of Bravery and Valour of this ' Living Legend '.

Addressing ex-servicemen on this occasion, Chief Minister announced that state Government would soon convene a massive rally of ex-servicemen to implement the remaining welfare measures for the well being of the ex-servicemen and serving defence personnel who had brought glory to the State through their unparalleled valour.

Capt. Singh recounted the deeds of Valour and Bravery of Hony Capt (Retd) Bana Singh who had led his men at a height of 21000 feet and displaying raw courage and bravery killed five Pakistanis single handedly in a hand to hand fight. He urged the youth of Punjab to emulate his example of exceptional courage, selfless devotion to duty to maintain the honour and Integrity of the country.

He informed that his Government was totally committed to ameliorate the hardships of ex-servicemen and their families and had made concerted efforts to the rehabilitate families/NOK of Martyrs/War Heroes. "Nobody could ever repay for the selfless sacrifices made by the great soldiers, however our Government has made a humble effort to wipe out the tears of the families of ex-servicemen and their wives through initiating few welfare measures as we are ever indebted to them" said Capt. Singh in an emotionally surcharged tone.

In his address Lt.General A.N.Aul, UYSM, Chief of Staff, Western command said that the unprecedented gallantry deeds of the soldiers in various army operations in combating the internal insurgency and external aggression would ever act as a beacon light to imbibe the spirit of nationalism and patriotism amongst the younger generation of recruits in the Army. He narrated the saga of bravery of Hony Capt. Bana Singh as he was posted as the brigade commander during the Siachen operation.

Referring to the grant of jobs under Honour & gratitude policy, Principal Secretary Defence Service Welfare Geetika Kalha said that a total of 357 NOK/ families of Martyrs and disabled soldiers were granted jobs in Punjab Govt. to include 9 PCS , 21 class I & II, 185 class III and 142 class IV as per their educational qualification.

In his address Director Sainik Welfare Brig.(Retd) J.S.Jaswal appreciated the Chief Minister for taking personal initiatives for the welfare of the ex-servicemen.


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MMS and the kangressi Goons to lay waste the Army scarifices next month.


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India denies Kasuri's Siachen remarks

[url]NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday dismissed Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri's remarks that the two countries were close to an agreement on the demilitarisation of Siachen.

"The terms on which an agreement can be reached (on Siachen), are well known to Pakistan," 8) external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna replied in response to a question. [/url]


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Whatever happened to the rumoured purchase of six Murena air cushion vehicles by the navy? Is the LCAC now on the agenda instead?


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i hope the peace loving kangressis dont give up a tactical high-ground like siachen just to win the ongoing gandhigiri competition


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‘Trust is key to Siachen demilitarisation’


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India bullish on disputed glacier 8)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6140346.stm

India's army has ruled out a compromise with Pakistan over the disputed Siachen glacier, days before a new round of talks between the two countries.
A spokesman said India was in a position of strength on the glacier.

Indian and Pakistani officials are to discuss Siachen, among other issues, at talks in Delhi next week.

The two countries agreed a ceasefire deal over the Siachen glacier in 2003 but have yet to agree on how to withdraw troops.

Siachen borders Pakistani and Indian-administered portions of Kashmir and is regarded as the world's highest battlefield.

Many casualties at the glacier are the result of the extreme cold.

The Indian army's top officer at the glacier said Siachen is of vital, strategic and diplomatic value.

He said India holds a military advantage over Pakistan and will not back down.

"Pakistan is talking of demilitarising Siachen, while it is so far away from here that it can't even see it," the officer said.

India holds a substantial portion of the glacier and wants both sides to formally mark their current troop positions before any withdrawal.

Pakistan rejects the idea as it believes that would be tantamount to accepting India's control over the glacier.


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Resolution of Siachen issue is a "matter of days": Pak


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The Pakistan foreign minister said: "I have certain statements coming from India, from certain sections, which has surprised me. I thought those sections do not speak publicly in India but they do."

My response is military dictators have been running Pakistan directly or indirectly for decades. Free public speaking in Pakistan has been largely absent for the last 50 years. Therefore, I am amazed at the foreign minister (who represents the military dictators of Pakistan) when he sounds judgemental about the Indian army chief voicing apprehensions about Siachen in public - which is a very minor breach of tradition or protocol - which in my view was also higly justified.

He is trying to crudely manipulate Indian opinion - taking advantage of India's free press since there is no such thing in his country. I hope India's free press thrashes him for manipulating Indian opinion especially on a matter of Indian security.

On the same subject recapturing 20,000 foot mountains is IMPOSSIBLE as Pakistani generals will themselves testify. Further the present leadership of Pakistan was responsible for Kargil. Pakistan has to earn India's trust through displaying good behavior for a PROLONGED amount of time. Aernatively, there has to a fundamental change in their society such as accepting democracy including free press, speech and periodic fair elections. Otherwise, this will be another of the countless blunders India has made (for centuries) through history.

Raj


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By no means we should give away Sicahen.
thats a vital point.

heard chinese foreign ministers comment "arunachal pradesh belongs to china"

The basic thing that we can do if we leave siachen is make a SAM site like guns of neveda type of, hgh surveillance kits then only leave, not other wise.
also IAF shud be ready to bomb the fuk out in any violation, i've a bad feeling pakistan/china both wants to press us.


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India does not appear to share Pak view on Siachen resolution

Quote:
New Delhi, Nov 14 (PTI) India today did not appear to share Pakistan's view that a resolution to Siachen issue was a "matter of days" as it said the talks on the subject are going on.
"Our position has been stated earlier," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here responding to claim by Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri yesterday about possibility of settlement on Siachen in the near future.

Mukherjee said the two countries are having "several rounds of talks on Siachen" and "it is not necessary for me on every occasion to respond to observations made by some foreign dignitary." New Delhi has made it clear that the vexed issue can be settled promptly if Islamabad agrees to its terms, particularly proper authentication of present troop positions of the two countries at the world's highest battlefield.

There are no indications yet regarding Pakistan's acceptance of the terms, External Affairs Ministry sources said.

India wants "iron-clad" authentication of the troop positions as it is wary of a repeat of Kargil when Pakistani forces occupied mountain heights in 1999.

Kasuri said yesterday that "given the political will, we have narrowed down our differences enough for us to have a decision within a matter of days, not even weeks." The two countries had agreed to demilitarise Siachen but have failed to reach a common position on how to do it. PTI


On a sidenote..

Arunachal is ours, not China's: Pranab


Quote:
New Delhi, Nov 14 (PTI) India today rejected China's claim that Arunachal Pradesh was Chinese territory.

"Arunachal is an integral part of India," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here, a day after Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi claimed that the east Indian state was "Chinese territory".

The Chinese Ambassador had told CNN-IBN, "In our position, the whole of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory and Tawang is only one place in it...We are claiming whole of that (Arunachal Pradesh). That is our position." The two countries are currently engaged in talks to resolve the boundary question. Last year, they signed the 'Political Parameters and Guiding Principles' to resolve the border issue. PTI


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Siachen no longer hurts the Indian Army.


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 Post subject: why only siachen?
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2006 17:08 
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Hi,

Here is a question? Maybe sombody can throw some light. Why talk of withdrawing soldiers from Siachen, only? Why not Kargil? Why not de-militarize the entire the Indo-Pak border, including J&K?

In the entire Indo-Pak border Siachen will be the most difficult to re-capture - more than even Kargil and the rest of J&K due to more difficult terrain, altitude, weather etc.

Elsewhere, in Gujrat, Rajastan and Punjab, India will have a greater chance of recapturing relatively flat terrain, warmer temperatures, if after de-militarizing, some chunk of territory gets occupied by Pak.

Should India talk about withdrawing from the entire border but not J&K?

Further, with Indian troop casualities diminishing rapidly due to better clothing, technology, resources etc. Siachen then boils down to money spent every year primarily. In calculating the NET cost, one should also subtract out the cost of maintaining the same forces somewhere else in India - after all the same soldiers have to be trained, fed, clothed, and given salaries etc. as well as the same equipement will also have to be procured and stored/located elsewhere. Thus it is the NET cost of Siachen that should be calculated. With India's economy booming along at 8% a year should this be of immediate concern?

Another point is that as Indian mountain forces are rotated through Siachen, I suspect most Indian mountain soldiers will get posted there at some point in their careers with the Indian army. Then what a superb training for them, in preparation for confrontations elsewhere on the Himalayas. Isn't it good to train at 18.000 to 21,000 feet, to face battle at lesser heights.

Siachen will also catalyze the advancement of Indian cold weather and high altitude war technologies - from clothing to trajectories of guns to trajectories of bombs from aircraft?

Thus, Siachen will be a "laboratory" to develop advanced high altitude technologies and train soldiers.

Therefore, my contention is - de-militarizing J&K including Kargil & Siachen should not happen. One might even discuss removing troops from the rest of the border prior to that - especially if there is an "itch" to discuss something along such lines.

Cheers

Raj


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Siachen glacier a disputed area, says Pak Army
By K J M Varma in Islamabad |
Friday, 24 November , 2006, 17:53

Quote:
Giving a new twist to the Siachen issue, Pakistan Army has claimed the glacier is a disputed area as it is part of Kashmir and thus India has no justification to ask Islamabad to authenticate troop positions there.

Read: China for constructive role in Indo-Pak peace

"Siachen is also part of Kashmir. We think the Indian army went there when there was no military presence and it (the take over) was not justified," Pakistan Army's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq said in an interview to Geo TV on Thursday.

Reacting to the Indian Army officials' statement expressing reservations over pulling out troops from Siachan without the authentication of troop positions by Pakistan, Haq said such stand may have been taken on presumption that questions may be asked why the army marched into Siachen in 1984 and the criticism that why they have "occupied" it.

"That could be at the back of their mind. To ask Pakistan to authenticate, (positions held by Indians) it is not justified because the full area is disputed and to insist for such things, I do not think it is correct," he said.

India, while favouring demilitarisation of Siachen, has maintained that it cannot take place till Pakistan agrees to "iron-clad" authentication of present deployment of troops of the two countries. New Delhi is insisting on authentication because of the experience in Kargil in 1999.

As part of the Indo-Pak dialogue process, both sides have been treating Siachen and Kashmir as separate issues.


Paki's playing their li'l game behind, Chinese backs.


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Pakistan gives new twist to Siachen issue, says disputed

Quote:
ISLAMABAD: Giving a new twist to the Siachen issue, Pakistan army has claimed the glacier is a disputed area as it is part of Kashmir and thus India has no justification to ask Islamabad to authenticate troop positions there.

"Siachen is also part of Kashmir. We think the Indian army went there when there was no military presence and it (take over) was not justified," Pakistan army's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq said in an interview to TV channel on Thursday night.

Reacting to the Indian Army officials' statement expressing reservations over pulling out troops from Siachan without the authentication of troop positions by Pakistan, Haq said such stand may have been taken on presumption that questions may be asked why the army marched into Siachen in 1984 and the criticism that why they have "occupied" it.

"That could be at the back of their mind. To ask Pakistan to authenticate, (positions held by Indians) it is not justified because the full area is disputed and to insist for such things, I do not think it is correct," he said.

India, while favouring demilitarisation of Siachen, has maintained that it cannot take place till Pakistan agrees to "iron-clad" authentication of present deployment of troops of the two countries. New Delhi is insisting on authentication because of the experience in Kargil in 1999.

As part of the Indo-Pak dialogue process, both sides have been treating Siachen and Kashmir as separate issues.


Now, did we ask pakis to resolve the dispute.. we are fine with status quo.


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PostPosted: 25 Nov 2006 03:46 
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milindc wrote:
Now, did we ask pakis to resolve the dispute.. we are fine with status quo.


Well, the PM MMS did ask them how to turn Siachen into a 'mountain of peace', so that it is not an ecological disaster anymore, and so that he could have something substantive to give them during his next visit to Pakistan.


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This whole siachen se army hatao drama is too damn funny..... the pukes after getting their asses handed out on a platter are now literally begging in front of GOI to withdraw troops....... btw its nice to see MMS/Sonia party listening to the military establishment and deliver a jab to the as*holes


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PostPosted: 25 Nov 2006 23:25 
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This goes beyond just TSP. If Siachen is vacated without the gurantees that the IA is asking and TSP being TSP doesn't keep their word (sure their word means a lot to the world :roll: ), the implication of TSP taking over Siachen when we are not looking, closing the gap with China on the North Western front and China making a noises in AP and trying to surge both in the Aksai Chin and Tawang, IA will be really hard pressed. It means we will lose lot of land ... again with no way of regaining it without a clear war.

Kauri's recent remark "Political will can lead to settlement of Siachen: Kasuri" clearly is telling the Congress government to not pay heed to IA's warnings about not vacating the Siachen. I just don't understand when such things are obvious, what gurantees are we putting in place and what that gurantee is worth in real terms whether that is coming from TSP or China.

The other major problem I have is the framework agreed with China. We have agreed not to mention Tibet and Taiwan as separate from China but at the same time we are saying we have a disagreement with China on our border and we will not do anything that is not agreeable to both sides. This is clearly a handout to China whichever way we look at it. This means that whatever compromise for border comes up, China can veto it down if its not in their favour while we won't have an option of separating Tibet and Taiwan as an issue with China. How the hell did we agree to such a framework of agreement is beyond me :evil:


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No change in Indian position on Siachen: Antony

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Ruling out any change of position on the Siachen issue, India on Sunday said Pakistan should authenticate troops positions on the strategic glacier so that it could be demilitarised.

"There is no change in our position (on Siachen)," Defence Minister AK Antony said on Sunday.


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Differences on Siachen down to 'minor details': Kasuri

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Islamabad, Dec. 15 (PTI): Pakistan on Thursday claimed its differences with India on the Siachen issue had been boiled down to "minor details" that the two countries were trying to sort out.

"The two sides are talking to each other. We understand each other's positions and we both feel demilitarisation will be good and we both feel it is a question of minor details," Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said in an interview.

"If there are suspicions on each other's minds, it can be satisfied," he said.

Answering a question, Kasuri said he was surprised at the Indian Army airing reservations over pulling out troops from Siachen, the world's highest battlefield, without proper guarantees.

"I was surprised when I read that. I thought the military in India does not speak on political issues. That is not for me," he said.

The differences between the two countries on Siachen boiled down to Pakistan's refusal to accept India's demand to authenticate positions currently held by the two sides on the glacier, where Indian troops control the heights.

After recent Foreign Secretary-level talks, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan said Islamabad would consider to "indicate" the ground positions but would not endorse any "territorial claims".


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To push talks, India, Pak envoys do a quiet meeting

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Although official sources maintained that no immediate breakthrough is expected in the Indo-Pak dialogue, the fact is that both sides are pushing for withdrawal of troops from the Saltoro ridge overlooking the Siachen Glacier.

However, New Delhi wants Islamabad to recognize, even through technical means, the Indian Army’s positions on the ridge and the glacier in the overall agreement. The back-channel parleys are focused on that and this has even been acknowledged by Pakistan Foreign Minister Kurshid Kasuri during his recent trip to Delhi.


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PostPosted: 26 Dec 2006 20:02 
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India denies report on back channel Siachen talks

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Dec 26, 2006 - 9:31:23 PM
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan, during his visit here last month, had spoken about Islamabad's willingness to consider this provided authentication of actual position of troops did not endorse New Delhi's claims on the glacier.

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By IANS, New Delhi, Dec 26 - The government Tuesday denied a newspaper report saying that Prime Minister's Special Envoy Satinder Lambah flew to Lahore last week to hold back channel talks on resolution of the Siachen dispute and new Pakistani 'ideas' on Kashmir.

'The report is factually incorrect,' external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said in response to a question on a front-page report published in Tuesday's edition of The Indian Express. The spokesperson, however, did not comment on specific contents of the report.

The report said that Lambah, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy for the India-Pakistan dialogue, flew to Lahore last week to hold back-channel talks with his counterpart Tariq Aziz on Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's new 'ideas' on Kashmir and push for a forward momentum for resolution of the Siachen dispute.

According to this report, Lambah's trip to Lahore came a day before Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Amritsar, spoke about the need for India and Pakistan to put decades of acrimonious past behind them and agree on a peace, security and friendship treaty.

Both sides are pushing for withdrawal of troops from the Saltoro ridge overlooking the Siachen Glacier, the report said, adding that a breakthrough on demilitarisation of the Siachen was the focus of back channel talks between India and Pakistan.

The report also talks about the two sides engaged in negotiations on some way to accommodate New Delhi's position of recognising the Indian Army's positions on the ridge and the glacier in the overall agreement.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan, during his visit here last month, had spoken about Islamabad's willingness to consider this provided authentication of actual position of troops did not endorse New Delhi's claims on the glacier.

In his speech in Amritsar, Manmohan Singh, in a clear reference to Musharraf's four-point formula revolving around joint management of Kashmir, demilitarisation, self-governance with a view to making the LoC irrelevant, had said that India welcomed 'all ideas as they contribute to the ongoing thought process.'



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