Saturday, October 07, 2006

Developing Northeast the Yunnan way: AIDS, drugs and prostitution

Developing Northeast the Yunnan way Pallavi Aiyar

Pallavi Aiyar, in an earlier article, tells us that Yunnan is the AIDS capital of the middle kingdom.

"We have a real crisis in Yunnan. We are doing everything in our power to fight it but the AIDS situation is only growing worse," says Zhang Chang An, Director of the Office for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS of the province.

Impoverished and underdeveloped, Yunnan shares an over 4,000-km porous border with the notorious golden triangle states of Laos and Myanmar. The province has thus some of the worst drug and prostitution problems in all China ...

Pallavi Aiyar wants Northeast to be developed the Yunnan way: the capital of AIDS, drugs and prostitution.

Despite the similarities pointed out earlier with India's Northeast in terms of geography and population, it is apparent that the parallels between the two regions end here. The seven States that comprise Northeast India continue to languish in poverty. Per capita incomes are well below the national average.
So too is the per capita income of Yunnan much below the national averaga of China. But Pallavi Aiyar is trying to deliberately misinterpret statistics to push her point that all is well and rosy in Yunnan. In an earlier article, she clearly states that Yunnan is one of the poorest provinces in China.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Northeast has tremendous potential for tourism and the infrastructure is underdeveloped. But the situation is no different from the rest of India. To reiterate, I agree that Northeast must be better integrated into our country's prosperity; tourism is a good way to do so.

Thus far China has been the initiative's most enthusiastic proponent; India its least. The initiative currently remains track-two despite Yunnan's efforts to lobby New Delhi to upgrade it to governmental level.
This condescending attitude towards India is something we find consistently in CBCNN. It is always India that is not doing enough - be it bilateral trade with China or peace-process with Pakistan.

Pallavi Aiyar talks about improving road and rail infrastructure to boost trade in this region. Good point. But why does she outrightly reject India's concerns? The Stillwell road was closed around the Chinese invasion in 1962, while India has already helped Myanmar build 100 km of good quality road from Imphal towards Mandalay. So there are some obvious security considerations here. India is not rejecting but directing the trade routes according to its national interests. The second important question is the nature of bilateral trade. The Myanmar route is used for smuggling drugs and arms, which in turn increase restiveness in Northeast -- clearly a disadvantage to India. The bilateral trade, along these routes, with China is not beneficial to India. It provides an outlet for China to flood Indian market with cheap goods, thus killing the domestic economy. Also, as Pallavi Aiyar points out, iron ore is the major component of exports from India. CBCNN earlier argued that iron ore exports must be discouraged.

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