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Post-Colonial India and Legal dress code

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Authors: Dr S. Anandha Krishna Raj & Prof. S.Vinusowndarya*

The legal dress code of India is the continuation of the United Kingdom dress code. Dress code signifies the profession and concurrently the era. The British Imperialism established the Judiciary in colonial India and even after independence; it retained not only its administrative and other systems but also the legal system. In post-colonial India, some of the age-old European values and laws were abolished. Section 377 is repealed considering modern development. Similarly, Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code is removed because of its patriarchal nature and considering women as property. The British dress code also went for reform in India, particularly in getting rid of the wigs. Northern parts of India relaxed the dress code in the lower courts during summer season. Still, full sleeve black coat and neck band is followed in India as part of the legal dress code. It is time for India to change the colonial legal dress code and adopt a comfortable, convenient and culture-oriented dress code. 

Antiquity of the British dress code

The origin of the British legal dress code has remnants of Roman domination. In the Roman-British period, the British habit began to worthless with the rise of roman control through manners and language. The female wore attire one half-way to the thigh, with a loose sleeve, called British gwn, the origin of the word gown [1]. Queen’s Bench judges had variated five robes, and court dresses not worn in the chamber. In winter, criminal business judges wear a scarlet robe, a black scarf, girdle, scarlet casting hood similarly while dealing civil cases they wore a black robe with fur, black scarf, girdle and scarlet tippet. Attire for civil cases in summer is a violet robe made up of silk, with the black scarf, girdle, and scarlet tippet. Violet colour extracted from rare snail to make an imperial purple later disappeared in 1453. In criminal cases in summer, the scarlet robe is worn with silk. Chancery judges have a scarlet robe, ermine robe and black silk. Accessories including scarf, mantle, hood, black cap, tippet, gloves, knee cap, breeches and steel shoes worn during the ceremony only [2]. Through 1534, medieval judges have reformed the raw material with vibrant colour such as ermine, taffeta and the violet colour for winter whereas green for summer. The green robes bequeathed a different appearance in once identity, hence after 1534; the black and violet robes became frequently used attire. Until 1550, the state officers, self-seekers and who attend the court should wear a doublet, and close-fitted knee breeches made out of silk or wool material with dark and gloomy coloured with stiff golilla collar (white linen) became the Hispanic court attire [3]. 

Bygone dress code in courtesy culture

According to their place in society, in 1637 Privy Council stated lawyers to follow dress code. Therefore lawyers decked in the long gown in court and in public. During King Charles II mourning in 1685, robes with pleated shoulder and bell-shaped sleeves were used. This was followed during the mourning of Queen Mary II (1694) and thus black coat entrenched in British Judiciary. High strata judges wore flapped collar and different sleeve which was continued till now with minimum changes [4]. From 1680 lawyers and judges start wearing wigs. For 150 years, they powdered hair during 1822 Humphrey Ravenscroft invented legal wig made out of horse-hair. Still wig went out of fashion after French revolution in 1790 [5]. In Britain, the judges still wear wigs in the court halls. Gown and wigs gave a degree of anonymity to Judges and lawyers [6]. It was argued that the wig will help the them to hide their identities by the criminals outside the court hall. In a Judgement in 2007, Chief Justice, Baron Phillips stated that wigs would no longer be worn during civil or family cases and that judges need only one robe [7].

Indian legal dress code

Dress code is a representative of the profession, confident, discipline and a part of the personality. Colour symbolises passionate towards nation, belief and determination. However, the colour of black and white is mention to fight for justice; nevertheless symbolic representation blue colour is identified for freedom, justice, perseverance and patriotism [8]. This finds that black and white is only the lawyers’ workwear colour which creates a specific association between the professions and controls the mannerism in court etiquette. The classic and minimalistic culture of court attire in India follows the British dress-code with minor changes. The black coat indicates the profession, meticulousness; authority besides creates the sense of feeling towards Rights and Justice. Barristers were the first lawyer in India; thus white band act as the symbol of advocates also called as ‘Tablets of the Law’ or ‘Tablets of Stones’. The band represents Ten Commandments of the Christian belief, which symbolises to protect the laws of God. The lawyers of petitioners and respondent wear a similar dress code which signifies the law is blind and neutral to the rich and poor alike [9].

The Indian Advocates Act of 1961 and the current practice

In India, as per the Advocate Act 1961, it is mandatory to follow the British constitution and their guideline of using black and white dress code even after they left [10]. Indian rules under Section 49(1) (gg) of the Advocate Act 1961 and the Bar Council of India rules in 1975 [11], advocates of Supreme Court, High Court, and Subordinate Court, Tribunals or Authorities have to follow the British Robe, who ruled India for 150 years and left by 1947 [12]. The specific robe requires modification due to climatic condition, so during the end of 2001 Bar Council relaxed the black robe during summer (March 15 to June 15). The relaxation is given only for Subordinate Judiciaries. Still Supreme Court, High Court lacks in the acquaintance of relaxation. The dress code of Judge and layers were modified based on the climatic condition and to get rid of British colonial legacy [13]. The Advocate Act of 1961 also connotes that lawyer should wear black robe or coat, with white shirt and white neck band. Black is a representation of submission towards Justice. Still, it provokes that colour of Justice is Black? [14]. Researchers have identified that heavy black robes were used in a desert where heat will absorbed by outer layer of the fabric and will not transit to the skin. Where in India, robes create scorching because the colour black absorbs the heat also due to full sleeve [15]. Since the material used for robes where mostly polyester which lighter and emits the heat to penetrate into the skin. The cross-sectional view of polyester is round; thereby, it traps the moisture and does not breathe [16]. For the country with which exceed 40 degrees Celsius during summer should customise the dress code instead of coping with British systems and colours.

Conclusion

India is a tropical country with warm weather all over the year with an exception of few areas. The Legal dress code of India should be reformed according to the climate of India with a regional convenience. Black colour attracts more heat and it’s time to get away with the colour, but white can stay. Moreover, it is supposed to be gender-neutral and convenient for women lawyers. There is no question of leaving the identity of lawyers, but at the same time it should fit the Indian climate and of secular culture. It is not necessary at the same time that all over India the same dress code has to be followed. The weather in Kashmir is opposite to the weather in Kanyakumari same as the weather differences are there in the northeast India’s hilly region. Significant reforms should be made on wearing of neckband, black coat and black gown. Instead of neck band, India can follow similar kind of Japanese legal system of Badges. [17]. These attires create uncomfortable and inconvenient for the lawyers as well as the Judges. The act of wearing all those attires also consumes a considerable amount of time. Moreover, simplifying the legal dress code for the lawyers and judges will help in concentrating more on the cases and important issues.

* S. Vinusowndarya, Assistant Professorfrom VIT Fashion Institute of Techonology, Chennai; completed her B.Tech (Fashion Technology) from Bannariamman Institute of Technology and did Post Graduation (MFM) from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai.

Dr. S. Anandha Krishna Raj, Assistant Professor (Sr), completed his graduation in law from Chennai, at Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College affiliated to The Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University and enrolled in New Delhi Bar Council and practised in Supreme Court of India. He has done his Master of Law from Kurukshetra University and M.A (Sociology) from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Later, he completed his M.Phil. and PhD in international law from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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South Asia

Afghan Peace Process and Indian Involvement

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The Afghan peace process initiated in 2018, marred with episodic halts, finally witnesses an agreement between the US and Taliban on February 29, 2020, in Doha. Both signatories Taliban and the US agreed to some core conditions and compromises to be made. Afghanistan, a land known as the Graveyard of Empires has become a huge quagmire for the US forces and now even after 18 years of war they are still nowhere close to defeating the Taliban. Eventually Taliban had to be accommodated in the US strategy for Afghanistan. The Taliban are still stronger on the ground. There have been occasions even after the deal when Taliban were found to carry out attacks to show off their military strength and presence. This sends out a message to the US that a reduction in violence may not be confused with complete termination of attacks. Taliban being fully aware of their limitations as a disciplined troop, realize it would be hard for them to bring back their militia into the region if peace process doesn’t settle desirably. Geographically Afghanistan is at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia and is also bordered with Middle Eastern states. Such geographical presence makes everything happening in Afghanistan reach a dozen of adjacent countries with great intensity and magnitude. Recently concluded agreement in February this year has offered a world to witness a historic moment in which parties at dispute are finally making adjustments to end this protracted war. This agreement will have far reaching impact on many regional countries which will be compelled to respond according to their interests and likely benefits.

Most recent development in the Afghan Peace process is the induction of a “Power sharing Deal” between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. The power sharing deal is a political settlement wherein both Ghani and Abdullahare looking forward to sharing the burden together in a hope to pave a path to peace, improved governance, human rights, laws, values eventually moving towards successful materialization of Afghan Peace Process to have stable Afghanistan.US secretary of state Mike Pompeo also supported this political settlement to end the conflict. In the meantime, Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg applauded the deal between Ghani and Abdullah.

This however wasn’t an easy feat. US had to nudge the naysayer: India in this case;for its negative and its covert activities to derail the peace process. India finds a stable Afghanistan unfavorable to execute its illicit activities and propaganda. There would be less chances to exploit the soil of Afghanistan for its vested interests. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation had a meeting with India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar in New Delhi and conveyed the firm message for India to shun its anti-peace role in Afghanistan. Chief Negotiator of Taliban, Abbas Stanikzai also criticized India stating “India has always played a negative role in Afghanistan. India supported traitors in the country.” Such Taliban sentiments are prevalent but rarely expressed. Afghan government/NDS and RAW has consistently opposed peace with the Taliban as both stands to gain from discrediting the Taliban. Therefore, depicting Taliban as violent and active propaganda showing them as unreliable to firmly handle the evolving situation, serves Indian interest. Coupled with all this, a delayed withdrawal of US troops and attacks still being carried out in Afghanistan fueled the violent situation to the relief of spoilers of peace that want to see the peace deal completely derailed.

India’s Afghanistan policy is very much  Pakistan-specific. India doesn’t want peace in Afghanistan because unrest on Pakistan’s western border makes it doubly challenging for Pakistan to secure its borders on two fronts. India backed anti-separatist elements get free flow across the porous Durand line into Baluchistan.  This is the very reason India never favored a peaceful political settlement between Taliban and Afghan government. Some Indian analysts such as former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran openly argue that Indian policy should aim at preventing complete Taliban takeover of Kabul, provoking Taliban towards a broad-based government.

While India remained active in hampering the peace process, globally Pakistan’s key role in the entire peace process has been highly appreciated. Zalmay Khalilzad US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation praised Pakistan’s efforts for the deal. Moreover, Pakistan’s role in the peace process is also recognized by Russia, China, and the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has made several efforts to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with the US which eventually resulted in the much awaited peace agreement and has become a ray of hope for the stability of Afghanistan and region as well. There is no doubt this peace deal is in the interest of Pakistan and peace of region because stable Afghanistan means stable Pakistan. Moreover, there are now brighter prospects for lesser clashes near Durand Line between Pakistan Armed Forces and Afghan Forces .Afghan forces have been time and again attacking Pakistani forces near the Pak-Afghan border.  It is hoped that the new political regime will also help in maintaining border peace between the two neighboring countries. However, one has to keep looking out for possible Indian mischief as it doesn’t want peace to prevail in Afghanistan.

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South Asia

World Must React to Hindutva Terrorism

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The Hindu ideology has transformed into the crude discourses of anti-Muslim platitudes and therefore, existing language of local stereotypes in India has been reinforced with modern offensive terms of intolerance especially against minorities. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, Hindu nationalism has erupted as a dominant power and this power has been executed by rightwing forces to implement the agenda of ideology based on Hindutva. V.D. Savarkar in 1923, used this term to accentuate that Hindutva was not synonymous with Hinduism. Hindutva is a racial ideology to establish Hindu identity while disposing of Indian nationalism in favour of Hindu nationalism. Hindutva’s aspiration is not only restricted to the ballot box, but its magnitude has also started to fabricate societal bondage in India. Through its offensive means “Hindu Renaissance” has made inroads into schooling, developmental initiatives, business activities, community, and virtually every other area of public life. What has transpired is that Hindutva has been growing and expanding well beyond the traditional sphere to explicitly or partially linked organizational network of its militant wings like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Hinduism is considered to be a nonviolent faith but unfortunately, racists mindset of Hindutva activists, who just perceive the material aspect of religion, exploited this faith. The aim of Hindutva is to create Hindu political dominance over non-Hindus through violent means while reducing demographic aspects of minorities to second-class citizens. Hindutva has embodied in the financial, social and cultural realms of India and its most influential incarnation is the sphere of radicalism and militancy. Signature activities of militant Hindutva include violence such as deliberate anarchy; the closure of 100 churches in 2018;the bomb blast of Samjhauta express; the anti-Muslim genocide in Gujarat 2002; thousands of deaths during anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984; vicious assaults on lower caste Dalits and the brutal death of India’s revolutionary leader Gandhi. Despite having strong evidence in most instances, victims of such crimes mostly avoided the repercussions of their acts. Now Indian society has accepted the alteration of glorifying Hindu extremism. The most prominent instance is two times election victories of the current Indian Prime Minister Modi, who was the driving force behind the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom.Hindutva’s extremist philosophy is once again capable of dictating the sociopolitical existence of India when Narendra Modi, who once operated as the main Hindu nationalist leader, gained power.

During the recent Delhi Riots, Indian government immediately claimed that the bloodshed was random as the neighbourhoods in India’s capital were burning and bloodletting engulfed about 40 bodies, most of them Muslim. The killings were neither accidental nor unwarned but they were inevitable due to continuous detest by Hindutva extremists towards Muslims. The initiatives of PM Narendra Modi have imposed tyranny, seized organizations and fostered religious hate. Methodically, the persistence of Modi’s policies is producing a toxic Hindu extremist environment.BJP government has appointed most heads of the major universities and cultural institutions from factions of extremist Hindu nationalist allies. Place names have been modified – even in the curriculum – to play down the connection of Muslims to India and to give Hindutva ideology most prominent position. With these policies in hands, it was just being a matter of time before everything blows up and Delhi riots are just a genesis of future religious conflicts in India. Several Muslim Indians have already claimed that they never feel so oppressed.

The official policy is skewed towards Indian Muslims and the whole society is at the crossroads. Terrorist activities and Muslims are often associated with each other because that is the natural understanding propagated by Hindu nationalists. BJP’s leadership has openly categorized Muslims as terrorists and suggested: “to feed them bullets, not biryani.”There are numerous, profound and long term implications of this witch hunt for Muslims. Hindutva outfits act in secrecy to carry out their dark plans with a veil of tradition. The false flag operations, the Malegaon Blast by Abhinav Bharat, Hement Karkare’s assassination and death of Advocate ShahidAzmi are major instances of Hindutva terrorist activities.

India is also at the brink of a new form of religious polarization in the latest crisis created by Covid-19. Thanks to the efforts of Hindutva nationalists, the Indian government is also scapegoating Muslims for the spread of the coronavirus. BJP’s leaders in India are calling for a boycott to do business with Muslims by spreading rumours that Muslim vendors are infecting vegetables with saliva. The pandemic has offered Hindu nationalists a fresh chance to suppress an otherwise vulnerable minority community and Indian Muslims are sensing more terror against them by Hindutva fanatics. 

Although the social inequalities in India remain a cause for alarm, the senseless aggression of its military is getting increasingly worrisome. PM Modi upset the whole India as he denied the decade-old tradition of giving the Indian army baton to the senior general as head of military forces; rather, by superseding two well-regarded generals in December 2016, he appointed hardcore Hindutva nationalist General Bipin Rawat. Subsequently, Modi has also created the Department of Military Affairs and institutionalised the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to further adjust General Rawat into mainstream military decision making. Given the hawkish approach to Kashmir and other current insurgencies in India by General Rawat and the spreading of BJP’s nationalist narrative, the change was perceived as a politicizing the army.The infamous release under bail and reintegration into the Army of an intelligence officer after completing nine years incarcerated for violence and terrorism indictments further illustrate India’s military alliance with ultra-right-wing nationalist terrorism. Lt. Col. ShirkantPurohit is claimed to be the creator of another radical Hindu extremist party, Abhinav Bharat and he was also active in many militant assaults targeting Muslims under the influence Hindutva or Saffron terrorism.

As India aims to reach the global community and prove its international superiority, the world must be mindful of the transformation of India from a democratic and thriving society into a suffocating repressive religious ideology. The world must take note of the 2020 Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which recommends entitling India as “country of particular concern” for instituting national level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims, and much more. Whereas in India Muslims are being murdered, the majority of the world is too sluggish to denounce these atrocities. Increased regional radicalisation and terror threats would be motivated by the Modi regime’s ability to carry on with its ideology of Hindutva. The international community must start paying more emphasis on countering Hindutva and saffron terrorism.

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South Asia

China’s Kashmir Move: The Great Geopolitical Puzzle of South Asian Chessboard

Mir Sajad

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“We will not attack unless we are attacked. But if we are attacked, we will certainly counter-attack”. –Cited by Chinese Foreign Ministry(2020) .Mao Zedong

After scraping of Article 370 in August previous year China has emboldened its stand on raising the Kashmir issue twice in United Nations joining many international countries in the unprecedented criticism on India’s action in Kashmir. Before  August, the last time that Kashmir Issue got resonated at the UNSC forum was in 1971 and has been flagged twice since then within a span of five months. China was the main actor in highlighting the ‘disputed’ nature of Kashmir’s historical and political entanglements. This powerful spectrum of internationalising the hostilities and tragedies being carried out in Kashmir cannot be brushed away. This has weakened the rhetoric of ‘bilateral issue’ between India and Pakistan. After the   2017, Indian and Chinese troops had a face off  in a 74-day standoff in Doklam on the Sikkim border During the recent track of intense border skirmishes and rush of troops  by China around Pangong Tso Lake in Galwan Valley shifted  the focus of international attention from hollow diplomatic slogan of ‘bilateral issue’   to potential regional interventions in the arbitration on account of excesses and human rights violations being perpetrated in this ‘conflict torn state’.  There is an absolute clampdown on political activities of the state and is governed directly by the central government with Lieutenant Governor overseeing the region. The basic democratic right of exercising the political freedom too has been robbed off as more than half of political leaders are under the house arrest.”China is always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction,” reiterated the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, following India’s Kashmir move.”Recently India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law,” Hua added. “India’s action is unacceptable and would not have any legal effect” in the wake of giving UT status to Ladakh. The test flight of the unmanned helicopter AR500C designed for  high-altitude operation flared up  at a period when China-India border tensions have been intensified    bolstering border vigil measures and made some moves  in response to construction of recent, illegal defense facilities  into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region. China has built a stranglehold on a large part of the Galwan valley which includes a portion of Ladakh region from the past 10 days by entering up to the 3-4 Km’s of Indian land making it China’s first attempt since the sixties, to make alterations on this part of the Line of Actual Control. As per estimates  China is making arrangements for making inroads inside Indian territory in asserting its claimof the entire Galwan valley including a portion of Ladakh. The Galwan river flowing from the contested Aksai Chin region, claimed by India, to Xinjian region in China before entering Ladakh. WHO recently showed parts of Ladakh as part of China on its map with color codes and dotted lines with showing earlier  parts of Arunachal Pradesh part of it in Sky Map’s, Chinese authority on maps .Satellite imagery from Shadow Break Intl. has shown a close-up view of airport with a possible line-up of four fighter jets either J-11 or J-16 fighters of the Chinese PLA Air Force and massive constructions being carried out at a high altitude Chinese air base, located just 200 kilometres away from the Pangong Lake

China’s Kashmir Connection

Chinese diplomatic behaviour has been swinging in dribs and drabs but it swayed drastically in after   1963 agreement, with China exhibiting  more pro- Paksitan and stated in  1964 “The people of Kashmir should beallowed a UN supervised plebiscite in Kashmir” ( John W Garver, “Evolution of India’s China Policy” in Sumit Ganguly (Ed), India’s Foreign Policy: Retrospect and Prospect, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010).After second India-Pakistan war in 1965,China recognising the gravity of the situation after  couple of weeks of the war, China’s official mouthpiece the People’s Daily’s while describing the situation in the Indian state (then) of J&K as a “popular struggle” and “armed uprising”  attributing it to the Indian government’s bigoted governance (Mao Siwei, “China and the Kashmir Issue”, Strategic Analysis, March 1995. A new dimension of China’s Kashmir policy has been the issuance of loose-leaf/stapled visas to  Kashmiris considering entire J&K as disputed  (Jayadeva Ranade, “The Age of Region: China seems to Review its Asia Strategy”, The Times of India, New Delhi, 13 January 2010)  Furthermore, in July 2010 China denied a visa to Indian Army General BS Jasawal (Indian Army General) on the grounds of his posting in a territory that was “ , head of the sensitive Northern Command based in J&K. Clarifying the denial, Beijing stated that it would not be possible to give Jasawal a visa because of his posting in the territory that was “difficult” (“Now Three Chinese Army Officers refused Visas”, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 28 August 2010).There seems  an intersection of interests in China-Pakistan relations with China investing heavily in Pakistan and  seemingly ‘all-weather’ friendship bond between the two with Kashmir hyphenating   perfectly on this mutual regional integration. In the Rambo-styled film ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ in 2017 China exhorted the geo-strategic message through this film by flashing the Han dynasty saying, as:“Whoever offends China will be punished, no matter how far they are”. Chinese have been exhuming the ghosts of ‘silk route’ by announcing to the world the ‘new silk route’ (The Return of Marco Polo’s World; War, Strategy and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century by Robert D. Kaplan, 2018) and Kashmir remain the core of that grand project.

Soutce:Deutsch Well ©DW

China’s Geo-Strategic Might and Xi Jinping’s ‘New Era’

The strengthening of ‘comprehensive national power’ has gained   centrality for China’s geo-strategic interests for evaluating and measuring national standing with respect to other nations. There are enough reasons to believe that China would remain engaged with the process of re-structuring its ‘comprehensive national power’ (Annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China) in the coming years, and hence would pursue the principle of cooperation with other countries while avoiding a direct conflict. China’s stress has been essentially, the antithesis of the shoot-from-the-hip diplomacy that appears to be the strategy ‘du jour’ around the world.  Fluctuating between romanticism, underlined by stretches of rhetoric on commonality, and an intense wariness of each other’s intentions, Sino-Indian relations have inclined to spurn easy predictions on either their drifting apart or drawing close. This idea of geo-strategic planning is part of the splendid Chinese traditional thought and is also the bridge   between the diplomatic thought and policy-making thought. China’s global strategy has gone over the stages of “the two camps”, “the three worlds”, “the four layouts” and “the five equal considerations” which illustrates China’s tactical design in always keeping up with the times. China’s regional strategy has developed from “developing friendly relations with its neighbouring countries” to “establishing proper orders of the local region and achieving mutual benefits and win–win results with countries of other regions”. The main kernel of playing up Chinese-ness is to play it down as both are having strong dialectal relations. There is a traditional Chinese poem, which corroborates the same reading as, “beautiful as she is, she just tells spring is coming, never intending to steal any show; when all flowers are in blossom, she smiles happy therein”. The epistemic connexions of ‘power’ and “undiluted’ sovereignty have the similar configuration in their foreign policy dynamics but New Delhi’s approach to South Asia will always be different form Beijing . There is a fascinating pattern of intriguing, unpredictable and dramatic unfolding of geo-political interest being wrestle in the volatile rings of Himalayas reincarnating Connolly’s   ‘Great Game’ spectacle once again which will determine the course of South Asian geopolitical climates in the Xi Jinping’s “new era” geopolitics

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