The 16th round of discussions between New Delhi and Beijing at the Corps Commander rank has been completed with no sign of a Chinese escape from eastern Ladakh. This reached on the heels of discussions on July 7 between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, that forgot to show any developments. While the MEA’s report following the conference called on China “to satisfy the disengagement from all remaining zones”, the Chinese information did not refer to Ladakh whatsoever. Instead, it concerned Chinese considerations over Ukraine. We have arrived in such a sad situation that Beijing doesn’t actually have trouble acknowledging India’s needs.
Additionally, two years after the border problem with China started in eastern Ladakh, PM Narendra Modi’s approach can be calculated as DDLJ — deny, distract, lie, justify. Talking at an all-party meet on June 19, 2020, just four days after we lost 20 brave Indian soldiers in Galwan, the PM showed China a clean chit. He said: “Na yahan koi hamari seema main ghus aya hai, na hi koi ghusa hua hai.” However, somehow, India has lost command of 1,000 square kilometres of environment where our corps could last patrol but are now either stopped by Chinese battalions or are no extended capable of joining because of disengagement deals.
The PM’s need to save his portrait has also secured the administration in tangles: The Ministry of Defence, in August 2020, was pushed to carry down a paper on its website that now opposed the PM and acknowledged that “the Chinese side broke in the region of Gogra, Kugrang Nala, the north bank of Pangong Tso lake”.
Last Congress, administrations had an exact guideline to repulse Chinese intrusions — a fast, focused counter that creates bargaining space and encourages the Chinese to leave.
Behind its initial mistakes, this administration also did nicely to permit the Indian Army to settle situations in the Kailash Range south of Pangong Tso on the evening of August 29/30, 2020. However, the administration offered up these favourable circumstances in February 2021 without pressing on a full Chinese leave and a recovery to the standing quo. Retired Corps Commander Major General Raj Mehta told this early departure as a “serious blunder”.
India’s perspective has evolved reactive rather than proactive. Over two years, India and China have also encountered ten rounds of dialogues at the foreign ministry group under the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC). During this period, China cemented its command with an outstanding troops build-up in Aksai Chin, numerous just, including 5G webs up to the LAC, five new heliports, and a gigantic bridge across Pangong Tso and a significant boost in air conditioning. This development is desired to give China the ability of fast escalation and quick scheme in eastern Ladakh. The Chinese are being hyper-aggressive, while our administration likes to mislead the Indian people under its DDLJ system.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s guidelines are worsening our financial support for China: India’s imports from China struck an all-time high of $94 billion in 2021-22. As chief minister, Modi himself once stated: “The problem is not on the border but in Delhi.”
The governance should also select a CDS, an appointment that has been empty for seven months during a required course for our national protection. And it should remove the Agnipath plan that risks demoralising our armies at a period of high national safety threat.