India-China Asymmetry is Over
In less than a week’s time New Delhi sent several strong signals in quick succession to Beijing conveying India’s pre-eminence in defense and diplomatic finesse.
One such signal was Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers meeting which was a deeply calibrated and well planned deft diplomatic move.
In his meeting with General Wei Fenghe, Chinese minister who is said to be one of the most senior Generals in the PLA and a member of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission (CMC), Rajnath Singh reportedly emphasised that Beijing’s attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo at the LAC through aggressive military means is totally unacceptable to India. India agreed for this unscheduled meeting only after a series of requests from the host and a quick realisation by the Chinese side that New Delhi is equipped to deal with China from a position of strength.
“The morale of jawans is high and they are fully prepared to deal with any challenge” — Army Chief General M M Naravane
The situation along the LAC is slightly tense. In view of this, we have taken precautionary deployments for our own safety and security, so that our integrity remains safeguarded.
I visited different places after reaching Leh. I talked to officers, JCOs and took stock of preparedness. The morale of jawans is high and they are fully prepared to deal with any challenge that may arise. I would like to reiterate that our officers are the finest in the world and will not only make the Army, proud, but also the nation.
For the last 2-3 months, the situation has been tensed, but we have been continuously engaging with China both at the military and diplomatic levels. These engagements are ongoing and will continue in the future as well.
We are sure that through this medium of talks, we will resolve whatever difference we have. We will ensure that status quo is not changed and we are able to safeguard our interests.
Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia and his stop over at Tehran to meet his Iranian counterpart Defence Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, assumes greater significance in the emerging geopolitical dynamics of the region post Covid19 pandemic. Rajnath Singh’s successful meetings with the Defence Ministers of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and his appeal to countries in the Persian Gulf region to resolve differences through dialogue comes at a time when New Delhi is preparing for a more proactive role in the region as an important link in the “confluence of two Oceans”.
China which is facing flak for its acts of commission and omission on the Coronavirus pandemic which has ruined the global economy is already on the back foot in the Himalayas over its misadventures first in Doklam and then now in Ladakh.
In a pre-emptive and tactical move the well trained unit of the Vikas regiment of the Special Frontier Force adept at adjusting to inhospitable mountain weather thwarted PLA’s objectives. By taking strategic positions in areas and peaks extending from the south of Pangong Tso to Spanggur Tso, the Indian army has averted another Kargil like disaster.
Hero for Pakistan and China, but zero in India
When Article 370 was removed, it was a huge disappointment for Pakistan. But here in India, people were very happy. At that time, Rahul Gandhi suddenly came out of the Parliament and said that thousands of people had been murdered and this was the news he had. The fact is that this was the fake news and he lied. And on the basis of that lie, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan submitted a dossier to the United Nation and in the first line of the dossier, the name of Rahul Gandhi was mentioned. They quoted Rahul Gandhi as saying that there was no democracy in India and human rights being violated. Therefore, Imran Khan took help of Rahul Gandhi. And today, China is taking help from Rahul Gandhi. Not only this, terrorist Hafiz Saeed, in an Interview, said that there were good people in India like the Congress. So, the Congress is also good for terrorist Hafiz Saeed! I would like to congratulate Rahul Gandhi. First, he was the hero for Pakistan as he spoke against abrogation of Article 370, asked for evidence in support of the surgical strike and also spoke against the airstrike. Today, he is a hero for China too. He was already with China, and today the way Chinese media is praising him and his family, I congratulate him for this. He is a hero for Pakistan and China, but a big zero in India.
Beijing did not expect this move by the Indian army even as it was trying to pin us down with negotiations at the Brigade Commander level talks in Chushul, ostensibly to resolve the five month old standoff in the Ladakh region after mounting a surprise attack across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This time the PLA put up no resistance and was probably instructed to step back as the SCO meeting was in progress. This clearly meant that Beijing is mulling over de-escalation as the supreme leader Xi Jinping seems to have bitten more than he can chew. As preparations for the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary celebrations are on, Xi Jinping announced “operation clean plate” programme in the wake of an impending food shortage as a result of demand-supply imbalance due to cancellation of orders by a number of countries. Needless to say, the Chinese economy is passing through rough weather even as Beijing is covering up its failures on the economic front. The global anti-China coalition is gathering momentum and countries in the region and elsewhere are gearing up to look at the crystal ball for a new world order shorn of China’s hegemonic ambitions.
While India’s standing in the region and other important world capitals has gone up significantly, domestic issues should not be allowed to bog down New Delhi from achieving its larger strategic objectives. The economic and diplomatic prowess has assumed greater importance but India’s military might especially the ability to assume leadership in the ocean should be fully utilised.
A forceful foreign policy, vibrant economic strategy and a dynamic engagement with immediate and distant neighbourhood coupled with soft power tools will catapult New Delhi to the leadership role and help transit India to a strong power with ability to influence global rules architecture.
By Seshadri Chari
(The author is a well known political commentator and security and strategic analyst. He is former editor of English weekly “Organiser”)