Chinese incursions into Ladakh – should the Government take a stronger stand ?

First of all, there is an element of surprise in the entire matter in respect of the way in which the Government has allowed highlighting of the entire matter. The news was allowed to float out about Chinese incursions, the way in which the Ladakh Scout moving near the Chinese tents was highlighted, all of these seem very different from the way that the UPA Government normally behaves. Any issue in which the Government could face embarrassment is typically kept under wraps unless it assumes a critical nature. So, there is a suspicion that the Government will be stringing out this issue, and when they start hectic discussions with the Chinese (maybe around the time of the visit of Salman Khurshid to China in another week or so), then the Chinese troops will withdraw and this will be claimed as a diplomatic victory of the Government. This could also be the reason why opposition parties (primarily the BJP) are not going hammer and tongs against the Government on this issue. Posing a huge diplomatic challenge at this time would take away the focus on the Coalgate and the 2G JPC report, and if this gets resolved, the Government will have sidelined major issues and got a diplomatic victory.
At the same time, the issue with China is serious. The Chinese have shown in their confrontations with many of their neighbors, whether with Japan on the islands, or with their other neighbors such as Vietnam and the Phillipines on rights in the oil-rich South China sea, that they do not worry about diplomatic niceties, and are willing to put as much pressure as possible. They also are very confident about their abilities, and there is also a strong feeling that they are confident that the Government of India cannot match their abilities. So, China will continue with its efforts to needle India, directly through such incursions all along the disputed border, and indirectly through its collaboration in an attempt to encircle India. The Chinese step in wherever there is a mis-step by India, and they are not worried by such similar factors as the the pressures that the Indian Government faces from states such as Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Bengal over its relationships with other countries. The collaboration of China with Pakistan is already well known, and so is the attempts by the Chinese to engage parties and elements in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives wherever they have an issue with Indian policy. So, if India refuses to sell arms to Sri Lanka, the Chinese do so. When India is blamed for instability in Nepal, the Chinese step in as a supporting party.
So what can India do ? I would hope that the Indian Government take steps similar to these, and maybe they are already doing so, but I have my doubts about whether the Government is really thinking to a plan. There are several aspects.
One, the Government needs to get stricter with Pakistan, and show that there is pain to be got when you try to inflict pain. The lack of Indian retaliation shows the country as a weakling which does not take the required tough measures. If Pakistan is attempting to drive separatist movements in India, India should do the same. So, both Balochistan and Sindh have lots of separatist movements, and the Government should reach out to them through third parties and encourage them. The Pakistanis will get the message, and so will other countries such as China. Another aspect which almost seems idiot is the currency smuggling that happens in India, run by the Pakistanis through Nepal and others. India has enough agents in Nepal that they should eliminate those in Nepal who are controlling the smuggling (even if they have connections to some parties in India) and also start reverse smuggling of Pakistani currency. This will cause huge problems, since the Pakistani economy is weak. There are many who scream for good relations between the two countries, but such a quest is from a position of strength. The biggest weapon that India has right now is the highly biased (against India) Indus Rivers water treaty of 1960 (signed by Nehru). India should start making noises about how to dissolve it, and then you see the problems that will start to surface in Pakistan. India is also a down-river state to China, and you don’t see the Chinese caring about water rights for India or any treaty to guarantee the same, and it is idiotic of India to be so generous with a country that is pushing terrorism into it.
Now, with regard to the Chinese. Direct action against the incursion would not be advisable, instead the Government should continue with diplomacy while in the meantime putting in more troops (regular army units rather than the ITBP) into the area and keep a better watch of our borders. We have a number of high resolution satellites, and it should not be so difficult to have software programs to analyse the downfeed from our sensing satellites that would be looking at the borders to see whether there are any incursions (getting such a system in place would be cheaper than the alternatives of dealig with such incursions).
Next, the Chinese will understand the tactics of encirclement. India needs to really improve its relations with the feuding neighbors of China, which include the Muslim Republics of Central Asia, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries. There are quests from time to time about greater ties and collaborations with the countries of Japan, Australia, and the US. These are all countries that share our value system more than with the Chinese, and without actually talking about specific military alliances, we should do all we can to encourage the belief that we are getting closer to these countries in terms of principles and military relationships. This will have a profound impact on China, since it dreads any effort by the US to get closer to the region around it, and specially not South Asia.
Even locally, there have been talks over a decade or so about increasing the infrastructure in border areas and having specialist military units there. India needs to get better with the quest to build roads and airports near the border, as well as raising specific mountain units and air bases for high performance aircraft. These take time, so the sooner we get started on these, the better.
And of course, we need to really ensure that we have a high economic growth rate, not the sort of paralysis that is gripping out Government. The Chinese respect economic growth, and if you have a higher amount of trade with China, it decreases the prospect of conflict with that country and increases the cost of any kind of disruption in the relationship. Diplomacy is seen as a soft pleasant war, and the more seasoned and expert we can get with our strategy, the stronger we will get.

1 comment to Chinese incursions into Ladakh – should the Government take a stronger stand ?

  • Santosh Kumar

    Hi This is Santosh

    How the Chinese are entering into Indian border Regions .its shows the Soft Tolerance By the Indian Govt. which not sends a Great signal to our neighbors.Tolerance is a Subject which has a Limitations of its own Percentage .If the Percentage Increases Actions has to be made > Throw Diplomatic way .if its become Unalterable Defence Mechanism should be implemented. So I would say Tolerance has its own limitations & Answers .As a great nation we should no How to deal with this sort of situation . This is A view of an Aam Adami .

    Thanking U

    Santosh Kumar

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