Two simmering conflicts in Asia’s biggest countries have jumped back to the headlines recently. In India today, Naxalite forces ambushed a police convoy, killing fifteen policemen. And among China’s restive Tibetans, self immolations are on the rise. It’s a reminder that both these countries are dealing with serious internal unrest.In China’s Tibetan communities, something like thirty people (definitive numbers are hard to come by) have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese oppression in the past year. A stark reminder arrived this week: a Tibetan consumed by orange flames rushed through a protest march in India before collapsing (warning: graphic photos).Meanwhile, India’s Naxalite insurgency is viewed by the central government as the most serious threat to India’s national security. Thousands of guerrilla fighters are suspected to be operating across various states of central and northeastern India, in some places bolstered by disenfranchised tribal communities who feel they have been treated with contempt by the central government. Despite a wide-ranging government effort to destroy their capacity for armed struggle and to address the underlying social and economic issues that drive new recruits into the insurrection, the Naxalites don’t seem to be going away. If anything, their attacks are becoming more bold.These violent episodes should give pause to those who believe that the inexorable rise of China and India is baked into the cake of world history. Both imposing giants stand on feet of clay. Both face problems of security and unrest. Both must deal with political turmoil — whether there is one party or dozens, countries of more than a billion people undergoing rapid change can’t take stability for granted. Neither is guaranteed years of economic growth; India’s economy is slowed by the dead weight of regulations and interest groups the country’s weak governments can’t push aside, and China is approaching the end of the road for export-oriented development.Even in Asia, trees don’t always grow to the sky.