India shores up China border strategy with ‘Vibrant Villages’

  • A nearly USD600mn Indian program to develop villages in northeastern areas bordering China, including in a state Beijing claims as its own, has underscored New Delhi’s determination to consolidate control along the tense Himalayan frontier.
  • Home Minister Amit Shah, a close aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched the campaign this week, days after China said it was renaming 11 places in the state, which it considers its territory.
  • “Nobody can encroach upon even an inch of our land,” Shah said on Monday while inaugurating the Vibrant Villages Program. He added that developing infrastructure along the border is a key priority for Modi.
  • Shah’s visit drew a swift rebuke from China, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying, “The activity of the senior Indian official in Zangnan violates China’s territorial sovereignty and is not conducive to peace and tranquillity in the border areas. We are firmly against this.”
  • Apart from strengthening border security, India says the village program is designed to improve living standards and create opportunities by developing essential infrastructure in some 2,967 villages in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and the federally governed Ladakh — another focus of tensions with China. In doing so, New Delhi hopes to make these places more attractive and stem migration by residents to major cities in search of better education and jobs.

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