Lt Gen Baljit Singh(R) Artcles on Water Wars reproduced.He is one of our most well read scholar soldiers.
CHINA CASTS EVIL-EYE OVE BRAHMAPUTRA
One of the latest and more perfidious designs of the Chinese was revealed through a casual statement from Beijing that they intended diverting the flow of the Brahmaputra (Tsangpo) in Tibet. Viewed together with their preposterous claim over most of Arnuchal Pradesh, this new intent tantamounts to shriveling the Brahmaputra in India to a meat monsoon, flood water ditch. This in effect will deprive millions of citizens living in the NE region of India, of their ages old livelihoods. And in due course, Bangladesh will be reduced to the status akin to Darfur with unending queues of seekers of food-dole. After all, the food chain and industry are, among other inputs, hugely dependent on the perennial waters of rivers.
In the history of mankind, certain spheres of activity acquired universal acceptance without recourse to legal treaties or covenants. Take for instance the freedom to ply over the high seas and oceans and utilizing rivers for water and commerce as they come flowing from where-so-ever and by whom-so-ever. So the Danube which arises in the Black Forest, merrily waltzes along not only through W Germany but also across Austria, Hungary and Yugoslavia. In its journey of about 2800 km to the Black Sea, it enriches both mankind and its own water chemistry. In turn, the Black Sea becomes home to 300 species of birds and 100 fish species. More important, Danube’s waters become the elixir for Sturgeon which provides story of symbiotic inter dependence on one river by eight nations.
In the course of evolution, nation of South Asia, SE Asia and China were provided with several rivers; some for exclusive use of one nation and others as a common, water-wealth for several countries. A cursory glance on the topography of Asia enthralls the viewer as he watches so many rivers emanating from Tibet, in one narrow corridor encompassed in between South of the line Rudok-Lahsa-Chamdo and North of the crest line of the Greater Himalayan Range. In the West of the corridor, in a space of just about 60 kms is a tight knot of glacier sat the mean elevation of 17,000 ft ASL which forms the source of four major rivers of Pakistan, India, Tibet and Nepal. The Indus enters India near Rudock and flows onwards to Pakistan without hindrance by India. Barely 30 kms from its source, arises the Sutlej. It used to flow into India without obstruction till the recent mountain-slips at Parechu creating a huge boulder-dam which may well in fact, be the creation of Chinese mischief.
From the South-East of Mt Kailas, the abode of Shiva springs up the Brahmaputra. It flows in almost a straight West-to-East channel for nearly 1600 kms sustaining life and culture in Tibet along both its banks. It then flows between the two most beautiful-to-behold Himalayan peaks, Namcha Barwa (25,445 ft) and Gyala Pari (23,470 ft), reverentially believed to be the nourishing breasts of Goddess Pemako, by the Tibetans. Thence it turns sharp South to enter Arunachal Pradesh. Another 160 kms and it makes a dramatic West turn to enter Assam at Sadiya. Now it flows for about 500 kms (due West and Almost parallel to its channel in Tibet) up to Dubri where yet again it turns South to enter Bangladesh; and ultimately emptying in the Bay of Bengal! What a River and how exceptionally intricate its geometry! For immeasurable eons, the Brahmaputra has been a common legacy of Tibet and India and lately of Bangladesh as well.
Now look up North of the tri-junction of Tibet (China) India and Burma and we come to an incredible geographical occurrence. In a constricted space of just 240 kms lie the main upper channels of four more immense rivers of Asia. And all flowing North to South. Two of them, the Irrawady and the Salween are exclusively Burman. Next comes the Mekong, nourishing life and culture of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and South Vietnam covering some 4500 kms to end up in the South China Sea. In its upper reaches the Mekong, forms the common international boundary between China and Thailand. Unmindful of the protestations of the Mekong Delta Nations and the UNO, the Chinese have usurped and dammed the Mekong to provide hydro-electricity to its South Eastern region. So the once upon a time, rich rice harvests of SE Asia are now a thing of the past.
The fourth river of this brother-hood is the Yangtze-Kiang which is wholly Chinese. And barely 60 kms Norh of the Yangtze source is China’s very exclusive river, the mighty Howang Ho or the Yellow River. Both rivers are as indivisively a part of China as is The Great Wall. Well, that is simply not yet all the waters of China, for; she has more than another dozen rivers which emanate from within the mainland itself. Now if the sum of all the rivers of China falls short of her needs, would that justify China resorting to International, rivers brigandage?
Would they next divert the Karnali Ganga which also spring close to the Brahmaputra and flows into Western Nepal? And the the Red River before it enters North Vietnam, the latter’s only river? Nile, the longest of all the rivers of the World, bubbles out from an insignificant spring on a hill-top in Burundi, the smallest nation in the world perhaps none bigger than UT Delhi. It covers more than 6400 kms to its mouth on the Mediterranean in Egypt. In its colorful history the Nile valley cradled one of the Worlds great civilizations. Now if Uganda and Tanganyika were to drain Lake Victoria (the head-waters of the Nile) through a canal into the Indian Ocean, what will be the fate of the teeming millions in Sudan and Egypt?
Significantly, “The Great World Atlas” compiled by the Readers Digest in 1960 makes a profound declarative statement: “Today our knowledge of the world has drawn on the sum of that knowledge accumulated through many lifetimes of research”. It then goes on to highlight in bold print that the trickle oozing from the shadow of Mount Kailas is the “ Brahmaputra” or the “Maghang Tsangpo”, that is, first and foremost the son of Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, one of the most worshipful of Gods of Indian mythology.
Regrettably, such like esoteric thoughts and lofty beliefs which nurture and expand the souls of Democracies are the bane of megalomaniac dictatorships. We can be sure that the International community will pout pious platitudes on China’s evil designs over the Brahmaputra as they did prior to the impending destruction of the Bamyan Budhas. China knows that India is ill matched for any meaningful saber-rattling; not till India has a demonstrable assured nuclear-triad capability. So what options have we for the present save for abject diplomacy? And draw solace from our mythology that the birth spot of Brahma is watched over by Siva and his comely consort Parvati from atop Gurla Mandhata (Mt Meeroo), their abodes on either bank of Manasarover!! No. Let us shake off sloth and get the ICBM act together, the soonest.
About 1200 words.
Lieut General Baljit Singh,
Chandigarh. 160 015.