Kolkata, India Feb 7: India in 2018 is not the same India that it was in 1962, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury(Retd), former chief of the Indian army staff said in Kolkata on Sunday. He was speaking on India – China relations on the occasion of the launching of a book ‘Shadow of the Dragon and Recent Developments’ by journalist Amalendu Kundu at Calcutta Club, West-Bengal, India.
“Geography can’t change,” General Roy Chowdhury pointed out, and India would have to co-exist with China as a neighbour. “We have to compete, contain but if necessary we also have to confront China.” The former chief of the army staff assured that there was nothing wrong with India militarily. “At the level of the soldier, the officer, the commander or the field commander, there is no problem. But, I don’t know what is happening at the level of higher command or at the political level.” But, it was necessary for India to build its economy, an area where China had excelled over India.
General Roy Chowdhury said the policy-makers in Delhi had always paid more attention to the western border. “The east has always been distant from Delhi.” But, all these were now changing, General Roy Chowdhury assured. The Look East Policy was an instance, though this had come in confrontation with the One Belt One Road project of China.
Governor of Tripura Tathagata Roy said China had no intention of invading India and making it a colony. “It wants to keep the pot boiling and keep India on its toes so that India can’t devote its entire energy in economic development.” Roy also pointed out that the present problem is a result of long period of negligence by Indian decision makers of the past. To Roy’s poser if the story in 1962 had been different had India used its air power, General Roy Chowdhury said the question was an open one.
Former director general of police of Sikkim RK Handa, who had also served as the senior police official in Darjeeling in the days of Gorkhaland movement of Subash Ghisingh, said the Gorkhaland movement was aided by the Congress government in Delhi in those days to put the Jyoti Basu government in West Bengal government in trouble. “But Jyoti Basu, an astute politican that he was, did not allow Bengal to be divided again. “The agitation leaders in Darjeeling should be told there can’t be a Gorkhaland state there,” Handa said.
Amalendu Kundu, who has spent a lifetime in journalism in Sikkim, recalled the way the contemporary history of Sikkim had unfolded in front of his eyes.The book, published by Poets Foundation, is divided in three sections: India-China relations, the Gorkhaland agitation in Darjeeling and the situation in Sikkim. Besides the main author Amalendu Kundu, there are contributions from writers from different walks of life.
About || Amalendu Kundu
Amalendu Kundu, is one of the senior-most journalists from Kolkata – and India too – who has completed 50 years in the profession in December 2017. And in this long journey of half a century, which in itself is a feat of sorts, Amalendu has accumulated experiences that now is a part the geo-political folklore in the history of eastern India, especially that of Sikkim and Bengal along with Bangladesh and China. Born in Howrah, Amalendu started his journalistic career with the multi-language news agency Hindustan Samachar in 1968 right after completing post-graduation from the Calcutta University. He quickly made a name for himself with his reporting skills and became the Chief of News Bureau, Eastern Region in 1970 – one of the youngest ever to hold such a position then. He was responsible for setting up the Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya tele- printers.
Soon after, the country was staring at war and this time all the action was at the Eastern front. With the Indo-Pak war looming large, Amalendu took over as the War Correspondent in 1971. By this time, Amalendu was working closely the Bangladesh (East Pakistan then) war cabinet president Nurul Islam, it’s prime minister M Tajuddin among others who were based in Calcutta and looked after the operations of the Mujib Bahini. This association helped Amalendu to bring out exclusive stories related to the war and its preparation. He also visited the training camps. This working experience had already made Amalendu an authority when it came to reporting in the east and he was the automatic choice when a bureau had to be setup in the newly formed state of Sikkim (’75) in 1977. And thus began his long association with the Himalayan state as Amalendu forged a close relationships with LD Kazi, the first chief minister of Sikkim, NB Bhandari and then the current – and the longest serving – chief minister, Pawan Kumar Chamling.
Over this four-decades time, Amalendu contributed to as many as 30 media houses as their lone point of contact in Sikkim. He still does special stories for leading media houses, including Times of India. During this period, Sikkim emerged as one of the most important states in India. Not only has it progressed immensely, its geo-political significance has time and again made international headlines. Sikkim now stands as witness to all kinds of political standoffs that has been rallying around it for years. Sikkim is the only state to have an operational trade route with China on one hand and a Dokala (Doklam) on the other!
Be it the Gorkhaland movement in next-door neighbour Darjeeling, emergence of the North East corridor, the balancing act with Nepal and Bhutan and above all the love-hate relationship with China… Sikkim remains sandwiched under the shadow of all these. And amidst the Chinese glares and Indian comfort, Sikkim continues to retain its own identity with dignity.
‘Shadow of the dragon’, chronicles this journey through the pages of newspapers. It gives you a holistic and neutral account of what – and why – Sikkim means to India, and therefore China.