The food bridge India built with Kim's Korea

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by JAISWAL, Dec 20, 2011.


    JAISWAL Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 13, 2010
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    The food bridge India built with Kim�s Korea

    Washington, Dec. 19: India did not abandon North Korea, the death of whose leader Kim Jong-il was announced today, at a time when almost the entire world had ostracised Pyongyang and pushed it into isolation.

    In a little-known initiative by the Manmohan Singh government that reflects India's quiet march to global power status, New Delhi revived contacts with the reclusive regime last year which led to a gift five months ago of 900 tonnes of soya beans and 373 tonnes of wheat for impoverished North Koreans reeling from hunger and famine produced by an exceptionally bad harvest earlier this year.

    The bridge was being rebuilt after a long time. India was one of the nine states which supervised elections in undivided Korea under UN auspices in 1947 and it had chaired the "Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission" after the Korean war of 1950-53.

    India's renewal of contacts with North Korea after several years of intense wooing of rival South Korea for foreign direct investments and trade came with its participation in the sixth Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair in October 2010 for the very first time, although New Delhi established consular relations with the fiercely independent communist state in 1962 and full diplomatic relations 11 years later.

    So grateful were the North Koreans for India's participation in the fair with the theme "India: Dynamic Business Partner for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" that their de facto foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan turned up at the Indian embassy in Pyongyang at a reception the mission was hosting for Republic Day on January 26 this year.

    For at least 10 years, the North Koreans, miffed by New Delhi's assiduous courtship of Seoul, had given such receptions the cold shoulder with low-level participation from their side, if at all.

    Following Kim Kye Gwan's gesture, North Korea's ambassador in New Delhi approached the external affairs ministry in mid-April with tales of woe about his country's dire shortage of food following another severely bad crop.

    North Koreans under Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung, the father of the nation, have been a fiercely proud people and have rejected foreign aid in times of calamities, so the permission given to the ambassador to ask India for food was taken in South Block as a sign of trust in Pyongyang that New Delhi could be counted on as a friend.

    Subsequently, Pyongyang's de facto foreign minister wrote a formal letter seeking 30,000 tonnes of food aid from India. The request led to an intense debate within South Block, taking into account North Korea's past assistance to Pakistan's missile programme aimed against India and its pariah status in the international community on account of Kim Jong-il's ambitious nuclear programme.

    Eventually, India decided that it would give food aid but chose to drive a hard bargain in exchange.

    South Block's officials told the ambassador that it was all right on his part to ask for food aid but India would have to assess for itself the needs of the North Korean people.

    To New Delhi's infinite surprise, the normally secretive regime immediately gave India's ambassador in Pyongyang, Pratap Singh, a briefing that was so comprehensive that it rivalled those normally afforded in the chancelleries of free societies.

    But that was not the end of the story. Movements of foreign diplomats outside Pyongyang are severely restricted as a norm but the North Koreans allowed the Indian ambassador to travel outside their capital for a first-hand understanding of the deprivation of the Korean people.

    Encouraged, Pratap Singh decided to push the envelope. On his way to the port of Nampo to take delivery of the Indian aid material and hand them over to the North Koreans through the UN, he sprung a surprise and asked his hosts to show him the countryside.

    The idea was that unlike his previous structured travel outside the capital, the detour would be a surprise and the ambassador could glimpse an unvarnished portrait of life in his host country. The North Koreans had no hesitation in letting him stop at places en route to Nampo where no foreigner had set foot. Overnight, Pratap Singh was the toast of the diplomatic community in Pyongyang because he had seen slices of North Korean life that most ambassadors accredited to the communist regime had not been allowed a peek into.

    His telegrams to South Block resulted in a queue of ambassadors and high commissioners from Chanakyapuri lining up at the external affairs ministry for briefings on North Korea's famine conditions and the state of the nation.

    During discussions on North Korea's request for food, India harboured worries about Seoul's reaction to any decision to step up contacts with Pyongyang. But in another surprise, the South Korean government showed great understanding of the Indian decision. It was Seoul's action in cutting down food assistance to Pyongyang that had aggravated the famine in the North. Besides, China, the traditional source of support for Kim Jong-il, had a severe drought last year, which affected Beijing's ability to send the usual amount of food aid for North Korea in 2011.

    The US, too, cottoned on quickly to the UPA government's breakthrough in Pyongyang. It opted for a pragmatic approach unlike in the case of Iran, where South Block is constantly under pressure to downgrade New Delhi’s engagement
    of Tehran. As a result, North Korea, like
    Myanmar, has become an integral part of India’s
    regional engagement of the US. Kurt Campbell,
    the state department’s assistant secretary dealing
    with East Asia, has told the Obama administration
    that India has a role in Washington’s
    rapprochement with Myanmar and in sorting out
    problems with North Korea.
    India is not, however, about to jump into the
    regular international diplomatic activity on the
    Korean peninsula.
    Signalling that aloofness, India insisted that the
    food aid which arrived in Nampo must be
    distributed through the UN’s World Food
    That condition ensured that the regime would not
    divert the wheat and soya to the elite in North
    Korea instead of giving it to those in greater need.
    A low-key media release issued by South Block
    when Pratap Singh took delivery of the Indian
    consignment underlined that it was “humanitarian
    food assistance… especially for women and
    children in the Democratic People’s Republic of
    Korea, through the World Food Programme”.
    Following South Block’s lead, the ministry of
    culture has decided to give 2,000 euros as “grant-
    in-aid” to a school in Pyongyang run by the
    Korea-India Friendship Association, in addition to
    stationery items and coupons for the school to buy diesel.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
    Neil, Vishwarupa and indian_sukhoi like this.
  3. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

    Feb 26, 2010
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    Perhaps one may see India as a sort of a conduit for a lot of interaction between North Korea and the outside world. But one must be cautious as North Korean rulers are highly temperamental and it would not do for us to have the situation blow up in our face.

    Plus, we must not be seen as strengthening a brutal tyranical regime.
    W.G.Ewald likes this.
  4. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Sep 8, 2009
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    What exactly is there to be gained through interaction with North Korea?
    Armand2REP and W.G.Ewald like this.
  5. niharjhatn

    niharjhatn Regular Member

    Sep 26, 2010
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    Exactly... when crisis management in our own country is lacking...

    Note I am NOT against the mass populace receiving aid, which NK state media not withstanding, I understand they badly need... however in my mind it seriously raises the question of whether congress has any INKLING of a plan to helping curb poverty in this country. Were a dedicated poverty plan implemented by the government, coupled with an improved taxation and judicial system against corruption, poverty would drop to 10% within a decade...

    Seriously considering this makes me puke at the guys in power
    W.G.Ewald likes this.
  6. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2010
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    capitalism is slowly sneaking into NK. read todays the hindu article on NK, an american journo who travelled across nk and even where its inaccessible for nk army and core worker's party to go, there he saw bmw and lexus. this means, there is full scene of bribes going to officials and business going on or bribes and looting taking place by officials so that they can black bmw etc to nk towns not even looked upon by great leader( who fly planes for geting delicacies from all over the world and not to forget good clothes and shoes.... hey mayawati cousin).

    there is a collapse of hierarchy in the party.
    loyalty is dwindling and so the discipline among party member and forces.
  7. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Aug 25, 2010
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    We must get into relations with all. We have our interests to look after and this democracy and freedom crap has been useless to us.
  8. sukhish

    sukhish Senior Member Senior Member

    Dec 30, 2009
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    India should and will have relations with all countries, we were never found of and would never be to found of the freedom
    brigade that the U.S espouses to be. that's why NAM is the way to go.
  9. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Sep 28, 2011
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    North Carolina, USA
    The "fierce pride" has led to the death of how many? Probably millions. The fiercely proud Kims dine on gourmet cuisine while the people they rule eat what? K.P. NAYAR thinks India should be proud of what, exactly?
    Oh happy day! Blah de blah. The rate of starving people in the Socialist Paradise continues at the same level.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  10. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

    Dec 17, 2009
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    Good question, there are no trade prospects except exports of welfare. Buddy up to S. Korea as they are going to run that country when it collapses.
  11. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

    Feb 26, 2010
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    We are. A free trade agreement is in offing, so is a nuclear deal on lines of the Indo-US, Indo-Russian and Indo-French agreements. Industrial cooperation is robust and increasing. POSCO matter has been stuck a little due to commie buffoons, which is regrettable.

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