Monday, September 7, 2009

ADMISSION BEFORE ACCUSATION, SURRENDER BEFORE ATTACK

Chinese intrusions into Indian territory are not only increasing disturbingly, they are also occurring in new areas, besides becoming becoming more and more audacious, as if to taunt India. Yet, the response of those who are ru(i)nning India's Ministry of Defence (MOD) continues to be like that of a petrified lamb that has been unexpectedly confronted by a tiger. But even by their standards, the way they have responded to the latest report of Chinese intrusion into India territory is shocking.

In the latest incident, Chinese troops entered nearly 1.5 kilometers into Indian territory, painted rocks with red spray paint, and wrote "China" in Cantonese on them. What makes this intrusion really serious is that this is the first time since Independence that the Chinese have entered this area and graphically claimed it as their own. The 22,420 ft Mount Gya is located at the tri-junction of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Tibet. Its boundary was marked during the British era and regarded as the international boundary between the two countries.

The Chinese, as always, have rejected India's accusation as groundless and about something that has not happened at all, along with a stereotyped statement that China is committed "to seek a fair and mutually acceptable solution through peaceful and friendly negotiation". The Chinese response is perfectly justified because that country has no illusions about the real estate it must grab by force at the right time, to complete the unfinished agenda and humiliation of 1962. So, it has been systematically and relentlessly projecting its national will, and creating "evidence" all along the more than 4,000 kilometer long border. This will be used later, backed by photographs surely, to justify its occupation by saying that these areas always were part of China.

What does India's MOD have to say? "This incursion is not a major issue". That is not all. It has also given the Chinese a completely clean chit on the logic that there is a difference in perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). But the icing on this cake of abject surrender is the statement that "incursions happen from both sides". This "proactive" admission has been made even when the Chinese have not accused Indian troops of a violation, just to make sure that they don't bare their real fangs yet. Have we ever heard of China accusing Indian troops of repeatedly intruding into Tibet like India does almost every second day? (It might start now). Is it not Chinese troops alone who keep entering deep into Indian territory repeatedly on the quiet to leave behind tell-tale signs of their presence, to deliberately let the Indians know that, as far as they are concerned, those cold and inhospitable areas belong to China?

No doubt there are some parts in the difficult terrain along the LAC where it is not easy to identify the watershed. But, will anyone answer as to why all doubts and disputes pertain to areas that fall on India's side of the perceived watershed? Have the Indians ever dared to claim even an inch of Tibet that is now China thanks primarily to the fatal strategic blindness of Nehru?

China's latest military doctrine states that "unresolved border disputes would be one reason for going to war". Its southwest border (with India) has also been identified as a potential theater of war. China has 14 neighbours. It had border disputes with most of them, including Russia. But over the years, it has solved its disputes with 12. The only ones that China has doggedly refused to resolve are the ones with India and Bhutan. Unlike Nehru, who simply wrote off "distant" Aksai Chin, the Chinese are unrelenting in their intention to grab even more land in remote and inhospitable areas which are far away from mainland China.

The latest incursion into Himachal Pradesh/Ladakh has never happened before. The decision to intrude so deep into this area surely would not have been taken locally. There is a significant political message in this display of national will. Is it not a major issue that should cause serious concern? One would like to believe that MOD's statement is for public consumption and that privately India is taking necessary steps to ensure that the Chinese do not dare to try a 1962 again.

Unfortunately, that is not true at all. The babus of MOD have already surrendered to the might of China and are seemingly content to patiently wait for it to put India out of the misery of border violations by grabbing Arunachal Pradesh and other claimed areas to settle the dispute once and for all. Which other MOD will actually pay glowing tributes to China as an "important player in global affairs", proceeding firmly ahead on its "well charted out goals"? In its annual report of 2008, the MOD, in fact, not only pretends that there is no threat from China but also lauds that country for "improving bilateral relations with its neighbouring countries at diplomatic, economic and military levels"! Even the Pentagon is concerned about China's military build up. Perhaps that is because it is in the hands of honest, nationalist professionals, and not unaccountable, time serving bureaucrats.

India's military leaders, unfortunately, are little better. They have meekly played along with the babus, despite knowing better as professionals and as leaders on whose command young sons of India are expected to die without asking why. There is a widespread belief within the services that successive Army Chiefs have sold their souls, and their country, out of greed for post retirement rehabilitation as Governors and Ambassadors. Present Army Chief Deepak Kapoor's very guarded statements and the ominous silence of his not-so-illustrious predecessors lends real credence to this belief that would be a cause of concern in any responsive military organisation. Little wonder these guys do not enjoy the kind of respect that real leaders of men do.

Such being the state of India's national security apparatus, does India have real options? A besieged fort cannot be held by firing flower bouquets from its cannons or by waiving the white flag every time a cannon ball hits it. Perhaps there is an unintended point in Chetan Bhagat's juvenile views. The way things are, India will do well to show great "statesmanship" and "good neighbourliness" by unilaterally giving Kashmir to Pakistan, and Arunachal Pradesh and other claimed areas to China.

Why wait for lakhs of Indians to be slaughtered when you know that defeat is certain whenever the besieger decides to launch an assault? Admission before accusation must logically lead to surrender before attack. No?
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3. India's 'Power': weakness=virtue, strength=immorality
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5. Democracy, morality and national interest
6. Myanmar lost to China: India's encirclement complete
7. Diplomacy cannot counter China's challenge
8. China gets dangerous, but nothing can move India