By Tathagata Satpathy, ex-MP

A HIGHLY ranked Indian army officer and an unspecified number of Indian Jawans have been killed by Chinese forces near the Galwan valley in Ladakh while the supposed de-escalation was in process. There is no clarity about the actual number of jawans dead. Nor is there clarity about the casualties, if any, on the Chinese side. According to official sources, at least 20 Indian army personnel were killed in the violent face-off.

We in this country are constantly being fed with lies and half truths about the situation prevailing all along the border areas. While media reports from both China and India claim loss of lives on both sides, neither government has thought it fit to inform its citizens about the true situation.

In the case of China, falsehood is the ruling deity. The Chinese never tell the truth nor do they feel the necessity to do so even to their own citizens. The case of India seems to be very different. The ruling elite, in its wildest dreams, never calculated a confrontation with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The unpreparedness on the Indian side seemed evident not just today but for the past few years. For nearly a decade now, China has been gradually but surely encircling India and making friends with all the neighbouring countries. This argument may be stretched to the extent of claiming that various China-funded projects like One Belt One Road (OBOR) have been designed keeping India in mind. The necklace, on land and sea, thus formed will eventually make a chokehold on India that would be extremely difficult to shake off.

China’s inroads all around India have made it reach out to not only Nepal and Bangladesh but even to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives. With the presence of the Chinese navy in southern Sri Lanka, the encirclement seems complete. While China has been moving ahead offering positive help to these countries in the form of economic cooperation, India has preferred to ignore all those advances and focus on internal bickering. Indian military planners seem to be incapable of functioning free of political wisdom. The result is that our politicians at the helm are preoccupied with toppling non-BJP ruled state governments but do not have sufficient time or energy to handle external threats from across the border.

This is evident from the recent statement of India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh who has claimed that the land dispute emanating from the official map of Nepal can be solved simply because both countries share a ‘Roti-Beti’ relationship. The minister’s statement probably implies Nepal needs bread (roti) from India while India gets their daughters as brides. Such remarks could be considered extremely derogatory and not befitting the stature of a Union minister. India has to learn that it can choose to create as many friends as it wants across the world but it cannot choose neighbours. Therefore, belittling neighbouring countries is the worst diplomatic move possible.

Apart from constant diplomatic bungling and a seamless effort at showing who the Big Brother is, India has all along focused on the wrong enemy. The ruling BJP’s mindset has always been against Moslems. The dislike at home echoed very successfully with the average Indian who voted that party back to power the second time with a thumping majority. Domestic politics should be kept confined within the boundaries of the country. That is the practice across the world. However, when domestic likes and dislikes jump the border and help in creating international policies, the problems that ensue become very long lasting. That is the phase India has just started facing.

The Indian government and the armed forces have consistently braced themselves up against a failed state like Pakistan. That colossal mistake has diverted India’s much needed positivity towards neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh or even Sri Lanka. It has also diverted India’s military focus from China to Pakistan. Today, the whole country is sad learning the news of the deaths of its brave sons at the China border in Ladakh. The price they have paid may go totally in vain as the nation is unwilling to accept the incident officially.


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