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India and China exchange comprehensive disengagement proposals after 50 years

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, October 17:

Perhaps for the first time since India and China fought a bloody war in the Himalayas in 1962, the two Asian giants appear to be engaged in discussing serious proposals for disengagement their armies along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

After seven rounds of meetings between Indian and Chinese military commanders in eastern Ladakh, the two sides have exchanged serious proposals for disengagement that are currently being studied by the top echelons of the Indian government.

Though sources are tight-lipped about the development, it is believed that India is looking for a “comprehensive” disengagement that covers all the friction points along the LAC and addresses future problems.

While discussions on disengagement have been on for some time, the current discussion is seen as a serious movement between the two sides. The proposals have been discussed in the China Study Group in their last meeting and are still being deliberated.

That something serious is afoot was hinted at by Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday. Addressing an online conclave, he said: “Discussions are on, what is going on is something confidential between us and the Chinese,” he said when the moderator at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum pressed him to give a clear status of the border situation.

“There is not very much that I am in a position to say in public. I certainly do not want to prejudge it,” he added.

India-China LAC is 4,057 km-long. Over a period of time, China has agreed that there are 23 areas of dispute needing resolution.

There is no certainty that this could lead to a breakthrough, but it is a significant development and comes after India acquired tactical advantages on the heights around Pangong Tso, thus changing the equations on the ground.

It comes after the government decided to send senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official Naveen Srivastava to the border talks. Srivastava was a surprise introduction in the sixth round, and in the seventh, the Chinese foreign ministry too sent its representative.

The development also acknowledges a bitter reality — of deep winter setting which is already imposing human costs on both sides.

 

The MEA’s official readout after the last round described the talks as “positive and constructive”, adding that it was the second time both sides had issued a joint statement, indicating convergence.

“This is the second joint press release issued after the one issued after the previous round. The two sides have a better understanding of each other’s positions. Disengagement is a complex process that requires redeployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC,” the MEA had said.

 

The talks so far have been successful in setting in place local steps to avoid confrontation and flare-ups. What they are now talking about is a deeper disengagement. India has made it clear that de-escalation (troops and equipment returning to their bases) could take place only after a full disengagement from all friction points.

 

India would like to retain the military advantages that it has taken in the area. It’s not yet clear how the disengagement process will be worked out. India would be keen to avoid a Doklam-like situation, where the Chinese built up after the disengagement in the stand-off areas.



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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