Bowel and Border Movements

My blogging career almost ended before it began when my stomach announced that the inevitable had occurred less than a fortnight after my arrival in the subcontinent. As mudslides and torrential downpours brought unprecedented devastation to parts of Tamil Nadu, so similar unleashings were occurring on a more personal level in the claustrophobic heat of my Kochi hostel toilet; the grim rumblings of late monsoon thunder in the sky above Kerala mirrored by the gaseous tumult going on in my stomach for four long hellish days and nights.

Somewhere amid that delirium, I managed to read a copy of Outlook magazine which ran a series of articles on the rivalry with China, particularly relating to the disputed region of Arunachal Pradesh, which China prefers to think of as Southern Tibet).  I liked this article in particular since it echoed the sentiments in my first entry on this blog that India has a serious case of the green-eyed goblin when it comes to its Communist neighbour, which often leads its commentators to confuse a strong and successful China with a threatening China.

For its part, China plays along, knowing that it keeps India preoccupied with piddling issues such as which way the Line of Actual Control should wiggle, while it goes about becoming the Hyperpower of the Future. While these issues dominate the Indian press, far more threatening changes are afoot, not least the revelation this week in the FT that China was rapidly taking over from India in its ability to speak English (it’s down to 5% in India apparently while China adds a further 20 million English speakers every year). It’s precisely these sort of long-term, fundamental evolutions that the monolithic Chinese state is perfectly designed to deliver and the tempestuous merry-go-round of Indian politics is not.

Meanwhile, on the details of the Arunachal Pradesh issue, Outlook also put together a neat summary of a ludicrously complicated dispute – one of those collisions of history, geography, politics and pride that seem designed to last for an eternity.

Much like I felt about my own, internal, problems at the time I was reading these articles. It turns out they did come to an end, so maybe there is hope for the Arunachal issue after all…

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