Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Returning to the Land or Turning Toward the Sea? India's Role in America's Pivot   

April 25, 2013

By Evan Braden Montgomery

China's rise is pushing America and India closer. But are they focusing on the wrong set of challenges?
While there were many reasons for the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy to mend fences, perhaps the most important reason was the one that few officials could point to in public: the rise of China.

In modern times, tensions between New Delhi and Beijing date back to their border war in 1962. In fact, the contested boundaries between these two powers are some of the only land border disputes that China has yet to resolve.

To keep up with Beijing's growing military power, India needs to modernize its armed forces, which means moving away from its reliance on Russian hardware and looking toward Europe and the United States.

Meanwhile, Washington is searching for ways to preserve its position in the Asia-Pacific as China's strength continues to increase. Having the region's other rising power on its side is a good place to start.
If a partnership between the United States and India makes sense on paper, so far improved relations between the two nations have hardly been game changing.

There are a host of explanations why the fruits of strategic collaboration have been relatively modest, from bureaucracies on both sides that have impeded potential arms sales, to broader considerations such as the fear of antagonizing China.

One important factor, though, is the mismatch between what the United States wants India to do and what New Delhi is best suited to do.
Proponents of closer ties between Washington and New Delhi often view India as a budding maritime power. As then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared in 2010, India can be a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.� For example, with a bigger and better navy, India could help patrol vital sea-lanes, deter or counter smuggling operations, combat piracy, provide humanitarian assistance far from home, and respond quickly when natural disasters strike. All of this could help relieve some of the burdens shouldered by the U.S. Navy, which is juggling its day-to-day role as a global security provider and first responder with the longer-term challenge of a shifting military balance in the Western Pacific. Not surprisingly, areas like counter-piracy and humanitarian assistance are at the center of U.S.-India security cooperation today.
The only problem is that India is not a maritime power: it is a land power. To be sure, New Delhi is building and buying new ships and submarines, and seems determined to bolster its naval capabilities, which is hardly surprising given its location astride some of the world's most important sea-lanes.

But the major military challenges it faces come from on shore, and the Indian Army continues to be the nation’s dominant military service in terms of size, influence, and budget share.
Assuming that the underlying goal of closer U.S.-India ties is to help maintain a stable balance of power across Asia, a larger Indian navy is likely to have a marginal long-term impact. Actually, it could even be counterproductive. The rivalry between China and India may have begun on land, but it is starting to move into the maritime domain, particularly as Beijing makes inroads with island and littoral nations in the Indian Ocean while New Delhi continues to bolster its maritime capabilities. Building a robust, blue water fleet that would enable India to project maritime power throughout its region and beyond could give China an added incentive to double-down on naval modernization, conduct more deployments outside of East Asia, and perhaps develop a permanent overseas military presence to secure its sea lines of communication against the latent threat of Indian interdiction. Given the cost and difficulties of fielding a large, modern, and effective naval force, as well as the pull of more pressing security challenges on land, there is no guarantee that India will succeed.
If the current focus of U.S.-India security cooperation seems misplaced, how should it be adapted, particularly if the United States is likely to be engaged in a long-term, peacetime competition with China for regional influence and positional advantage? The answer requires bringing geopolitics back into the picture. While India has traditionally been a continental power focused on threats along its land borders, the same is true of China. For example, it is surrounded by fourteen different countries, including major powers and nuclear-armed nations. It previously fought a series of border wars and conflicts, not only with India but also against the Soviet Union and Vietnam. Its outlying territories are populated by minority groups that pose a continuous threat of internal unrest. And its access to the sea is limited by island barriers and maritime chokepoints. In fact, the main reason that China has been able to scale back the size of its ground forces and invest in naval and aerospace capabilities over the past two decades is that it hasn’t been distracted by serious land-based threats for the first time in a long time. Nevertheless, China remains extremely sensitive about the security of its borders.
Washington has a strong incentive to slow this trend if possible. As Beijing’s need to spend money on ground units and internal security forces declines, and as the bureaucratic clout of these organizations diminishes, then China’s naval, air, and missile forces are likely to get a growing slice of the resource pie. Yet these are precisely the forces that pose the biggest danger to the United States, its allies, and its interests abroad. Unfortunately, there is little that the U.S. can do, at least by itself.

This is where India enters the equation. History tells us that in competitions between “whales� (maritime great powers like the United States) and “elephants� (rising continental powers like China), the former often need continental allies to counterbalance the latter.

Today, India is the only plausible candidate that might be able to distract China from its growing focus on naval and aerospace modernization and reinforce Beijing’s traditional focus on territorial defense.
Interestingly, India is already moving in this direction. In response to Beijing's development of military and dual-use infrastructure, which could enable it to deploy its forces to its frontiers more rapidly, New Delhi has started to bolster its military presence near disputed borders:

refurbishing air fields, deploying its most advanced combat aircraft and land-attack cruise missiles to the region, and establishing a new mountain strike corps.

Additional efforts along these lines could drive Beijing to undertake a number of potentially expensive but relatively unthreatening measures, such as increasing the size of its ground and internal security forces, hardening local bases and transportation infrastructure, and putting a more robust air defense network in place to the southwest.
If New Delhi does continue its military buildup along its northern borders, it should concentrate its efforts on deploying air and missile forces, for several reasons.

  • First, in comparison to deploying additional infantry or light armor units, air and missile forces would help offset its geographic disadvantage, namely China’s command of the Himalayan plateau (and India's tenuous lines of communications.)

  • Second, forward deployed air and missile forces would reduce the need for investments in the costly but vulnerable ground transportation infrastructure necessary to deploy units from interior garrisons to northern bases. (IN VERY HIGH MOUNTAINS)

  • Lastly, air and missile forces are particularly useful for denying an enemy’s advance by holding at risk staging areas and supply lines.

  • Therefore they would still contribute to deterrence and cost-imposition, but would be much less escalatory than forces that could be used to seize and hold territory, like India's new mountain strike corps. 
For its part, the United States could support India in a variety of ways, from sharing intelligence about Chinese troop deployments near border areas to selling India capabilities such as aerial surveillance systems, intra-theater lift capabilities, and perhaps eventually stealthy combat aircraft that would pose additional burdens on China to establish control of the skies and defend its airspace.
In the end, India is unlikely to appreciate the idea of being a frontline state in a broader Sino-American competition. Yet geography, territorial disputes, the imperative to balance against a rising power on its doorstep, and broader changes in the global balance of power are putting it in that position.

The real question, then, is whether it should emphasize balancing China on land or at sea.

Comment: The above write up enunciates the American perspective. India needs to lay stress on all the three Defence Forces ie Army (since we have a very long disputed border), the Navy to control the Indian Ocean) and the Air Force to ensure a healthy air environment and hit strategic targets.
A conventionally weaker nation should use the deterrence offered by Nuclear and Missile Forces to deter the stronger adversary as Pakistan is doing to India. India needs to go whole hog to develop next generation nuclear weapons for strategic and even tactical use in and across the Himalayas.

India also needs to modify its Nuclear Doctrine and say
unequivocally that in case the Himalayas are threatened, India will consider use of tactical nuclear weapons against attacking forces.
It is time India started to show its muscle and not become more and more a SOFT STATE.

Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen

iconimg Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd), Hindustan Times
The recent intrusion by the Chinese in the Burthe area of Depsang valley near Daulet Beg Oldi is different from the numerous earlier violations in the Ladakh sector. On previous occasions, Chinese troops would withdraw across the Line of Control; however, this time they have established a camp approximately 10 km inside the Indian territory.
The two flag meetings and efforts of the ministry of foreign affairs have not resulted in resolution of the problem. Summoning Chinese ambassador Wei Wei to South Bloc and demanding an early resolution of the problem is routine practice not likely to achieve any results. However, in response to the Indian foreign ministry's complaint regarding the intrusion, the Chinese counterpart in Beijing refuted the allegations of ingress. Obviously, this intrusion is part of a well thought-out move.
We have been in dialogue with the Chinese for decades to resolve the alignment of our borders with Tibet. While perception differs between the two sides, China does not appear to be keen to resolve the issue and perhaps sees some long-term advantage in keeping the problem alive. China has settled its border issues with all its neighbours except India. This policy of keeping the border problem with India alive needs to be seen in the light of other actions by China in the periphery of India and the much talked-about policy of 'string of pearls' around this country.

Chinese have been keen that India accept the 'draft agreement' worked out by it, wherein India is called upon to refrain from increasing its troop strength along the Tibet border and development of communications and military infrastructure.

China's opposition to any increase in Indian deployment along the border is related to the threat it can, when so required, pose to its lines of communication to Western Tibet and beyond.

India is raising some divisions in the eastern sector and there is this deferred proposal of raising a corps. Though some other provisions in the 'draft agreement' are useful for both sides, it is this one clause, which is designed to limit Indian response to any problem China may create along the Tibet border. Objection to Indian defence works in the area needs to be seen in this light.

The present action of establishing a camp deep inside the Indian territory could be linked to the Indian defence minister's visit to China and Chinese premier Li Keqiang's visit to India. In the past too, such incidents have preceded visits of Chinese high dignitaries to this country, be it the claim over Arunachal Pradesh, or visas for those from that state and Jammu and Kashmir or cartographic aggression. This appears to be part of Chinese pressure tactics.

China has been in occupation of Indian territory in Aksai Chin while Pakistan gifted the Shaksgam Valley to it. Now Pakistan has leased out parts of Gilgit-Baltistan region of PoK to China, where the later has already commenced work to link Karakoram highway to the Gwadar Port of Pakistan. This port is being developed by China to serve as a base for its navy in the Indian Ocean and for transporting oil by land route.

The gap between the military capabilities of the two countries has widened so much that India is no better at present as compared to 1962. Besides lack of development of infrastructure along the Tibet border, Indian army is at least a decade behind China in the field of military's modernisation.

China has been developing military infrastructure from mainland to Tibet and within it, coming right up to the border, at a furious pace. On the Indian side, of all people, it is the ministry of finance which tells us that there is no threat from China in the foreseeable future!

So those who talk of a military option to the present 'stand-off ' seem to be oblivious to the ground realities.

Some issues have the possibility of spinning out of control: remember 1962! Some others advocate using the Tibet card, forgetting that we handed over that card to China long ago when we accepted Tibet as an integral part of that country.

China has been adopting an aggressive posture against some of its neighbours, including Japan, in the area of Daioyu islands. It is part of its expansionist policy, which in one way or the other is related to securing markets for its goods and sources of energy.

Chinese exports to India need to be linked to its good conduct along the border, resolving the border and the river water issues. Indian market is something which China just cannot forego.

Herein lies Chinese Achilles' heel. As it is, there is considerable imbalance in the trade between these two countries, in that it is entirely in China's favour, discounting the enormous under-invoicing that Indian businessmen are doing in importing goods from that country.

(The writer is a commentator on defence and security issues. Views expressed are personal)
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.

China in Ladakh - A frozen state takes time to react to an aggression by tarun vijay in TOI
A polity too frozen in scandals, agitations, elections, promises and having factories to churn out new slogans and charming lines to woo voters suddenly can’t be woken up to a People's Liberation Army platoon, pitching tents on a land that poses direct threat to our position. What should we do? Before the politicians could make use of their wisdom; our jawans, under the guidance of officers at ground zero, in consultation with the MEA, pitched their tents too and asserted that they were watching and resisting. It is eye ball to eye ball at 17,000 feet high altitude.
But why was the government sleeping all these years when everyone was trying to wake it up? Last year, a serious breach of security occurred. The district administration wrote to the government about the Chinese direct intervention. Nothing happened. See my note, released last year.
“3rd September, 2012, New Delhi - The Chinese intrusion in Ladakh region has increased manifold just before the India visit of Chinese defence minister.
India's defence ministry must take up this issue strongly with the visiting Chinese minister and ensure that such intrusions are stopped immediately. So much has been the pressure of Chinese armed forces on Indian border villages that for the first time the tricolor was not allowed to be unfurled at Demchhok, near Line of Actual Control (LAC).
I have just returned from Jammu & Kashmir and where I met a delegation of Ladakhi people who complained that for the first time Indian tricolor was not allowed to be hoisted at Demchhok, near line of actual control, where every year Independence Day is celebrated. Instead villagers were asked to unfurl tricolor in a hall near ITBP post, at a distance from LAC.
Chinese Army Personnel have also forced development work stopped in border village Koyul in Leh. The silence of home and defence ministry in this regard is mysterious. In a communication to divisional commissioner, Srinagar (Kashmir), the deputy commissioner of Leh wrote on 22nd August, 2012, '….work is being executed on the bonafide Indian side and the Chinese have no locus standi on the land which belongs to the people of Koyul. Besides, large chunk of an un-irrigated land to the tune of 400 hectares could be converted into pasture area as most of the nomads are dependent on their live-stocks and their main earning is by sale of raw Pashmina wools'. The letter to DC Srinagar by DC Leh clearly mentions, 'The contractors and the labourers have been reportedly threatened by the Chinese security personnel numbering 15-16 on 12th July, 2012. These Chinese personnel were reportedly carrying weapons with them and asked them to abandon the civil works in progress, although it was an ongoing scheme under BADP.'
The DC had further requested Government, 'in order to resolve this contagious issue the matter needs to be taken up with the external affairs ministry and also with Ministry of Home as the people are strongly showing their resentment for unnecessary harassment and stoppage of the developmental work……The work is being executed on the bonafide Indian side and the Chinese have no locus standi on the land which belongs to the people of Koyul.
In another letter by the deputy commissioner of Leh on 22nd August, 2012 sent to the DIG, ITBP (Force), it is stated that, 'it has been reported by the executive engineer that the I&FC Division Leh that the Chinese have threatened to stop the work forthwith otherwise face the consequences….."Since the ITBP is supposed to give protection to the border villages from any such interference from across the border, you are requested to give all necessary assistance in ensuring full protection to the executing agencies in implementing an important project under BADP scheme and to ensure speedy completion of the ongoing working so as to build confidence among the border villages"
The Chinese didn’t allow our engineers to work, they didn’t allow our villagers to unfurl a tricolour, yet nothing happened.
The deputy commissioner of the Ladakh region alarmed the govt, the govt silenced him. The Member of Parliament, me in this case, raised the issue in the House, the govt again avoided the direct answer. The people of Arunachal and Ladakh send SOS to Delhi, but the Prime Minister says, we have nothing to fear from the dam building exercise of the Chinese on Brahmaputra and the Ladakh sector is fine, not a single bullet has been fired there, and we hope Chinese will go back.
No they will not. Their statement, from Beijing, is a clear indication that they believe their soldiers are on their territory and its India that is unnecessarily poking its nose into a purely Chinese internal matter.
But what we had been doing all these thirty years post 1962 in this sector? Simply watching and maintaining a status quo, that defies any logic. Are we really governed by Indians who care for the Indian nation and her people and can go to any extent to protect the territorial integrity, keeping the lives of our border people safe and boosting the morals of jawans?
Did the rulers and the non-ruler politicians care for the jawans and spare some time to listen to their woes, complaints, demands and their voices of anguish and hopelessness? How many discussions and seminars saw our worthy politicians sitting in the in the audience and listening to the mistakes and major follies that shook the nation in 1962? It was necessary. It was needed because then alone one could have understood the real face of the 1962 action, so different from what we think we know just seeing the Haqeeqat movie.
There is no other country on this earth that sings so many popular songs eulogizing the soldier on national days, yet treats them like dirt when it comes to provide much needed facilities and honour in the society. One rank, one pension demand was met not even the half way, it was in reality an insult to them as many of the stalwarts described it, yet the govt didn’t accept my notice for a short term discussion on this subject in the parliament. Not a single district headquarters can claim that the families of the soldiers and their wards are treated with respect and honour. The way old archaic traditions are still in vogue, refusing to change with the times and the average officer and the jawan is burdened with unbearable stress and harsh, meaningless duties being performed under the barrage of abuses and insults from political rulers like in J&K, is a reflection of the callous, ruthless and insensitive attitude of our politicians. A CM forgets (?), no, ignores to receive the dead body of a slain jawan in Mathura and makes an amendment only when criticized in the media. We live for the media and not for the nation indeed.
Another minister had no hesitation to host a discredited Prime Minister of a country that had sent headless bodies of our sons, who had prided to become jawans in the India army. None had the guts to utter the word-revenge and get the heads of the Pakistani savages. If the govt, the rich, arrogant, castiest, parochial, political leaders, for whom Indian has shrunk to their vote constituencies, think the jawans are only paid employees , like any other govt servant, and hence they get paid to get killed, the matter should end there, with some awards on the 26th January parade, they are grossly mistaken.
The soldier is a tradition, a civilisationally cherished, celebrated and worshipped dharma of the warrior. Much higher and much revered role than those who are members of parliament or state assemblies or become some ‘stiff upper lip’ babus of the stinking class. It’s a khandani parampara, the tradition of many generations in our families to become a soldier. The govt is now also doing away with the time-tested tradition of giving weightage to such family of soldiers in recruiting new boys.
The same un-uniformed babus are put over the uniformed soldiers to decide what should be given to them and how much. It happens nowhere else. The uniformed officer is the one who decides the facilities and perks and the equipments for the uniformed tribe. But the old, fossilized system, of the colonial British is still ruling South Block.

Just one example of the Pengong Tse lake, near Chushul, not very far from the DBO post where the Chinese have pitched their tents. For years, the Indian army is provided only three patrol boats, old and junk like. The Chinese have 22 state of the art patrol boats in the same lake region. Why the new, better, and I would say, better than we purchase the Chinese boats can’t? Dearth of money? You must be joking. It was the sheer babudom of the defence ministry, tenders, foreign visits to inspect the boats, again tenders, again visits, again files and notings on them. endless journey that made life impossible for the jawans asked to patrol the lake. But this delay will never happen if the babu has to buy a new Ambassador car for his use.
The jawan resisting the Chinese in Ladakh needs nation’s full support. Forget the electioneering; focus on saving the Indian territory.
Also read: Endangered Ladakh

India and China: softly, softly

KANTI BAJPAI | Apr 27, 2013, 12.00 AM IST

Indian and Chinese troops are said to be in a standoff in Ladakh, in the Daulat Beg Oldi area. A Chinese military unit has apparently set up a camp fairly deep into what New Delhi considers is its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and it has not withdrawn even after meetings between the local commanders and after the newly-formed border mechanism has been activated. The word standoff probably exaggerates the state of affairs. But the Indian media has portrayed it in these terms, and it is beginning to affect the nature of the debate within the country.

Predictably, domestic politics in India is starting to take its toll on government thinking. The role of domestic politics in Indian foreign policy could be a positive one. Instead, it is increasingly negative, tying the hands of the central government which is responsible for the conduct of external relations and clouding judgment and rational decision-making. We have seen in the past year that state governments and coalition politics are affecting New Delhi's stances. First Mamata foiled the Manmohan Singh government's efforts to reach an agreement with Bangladesh on the Teesta river. Then the Kerala government complicated the Ministry of External Affairs' handling of the Italian marines' case. Most recently, we have seen the DMK lecturing the Indian government on its policy on Sri Lanka.

There are of course times when domestic politics is positive. The Punjab government in India has worked assiduously to develop relations with its counterpart in Pakistan. The West Bengal government under the CPM was generally supportive of a rational, moderate policy towards Bangladesh. Indian public opinion over the past five years, in spite of the Mumbai outrage of 2008, has seen the good sense of a constructive approach to relations with Pakistan. Manmohan Singh was helped by coalition politics when he took the India-US nuclear deal to Parliament.

There is a danger that domestic politics will unhinge a cautious, prudent policy toward China in the present standoff. The opposition parties and the government of Kashmir under Omar Abdullah are calling for sterner Indian action. The BJP which had a fairly rational policy towards China when it was in power is now pounding its chest. The fact of the matter is that we just do not know enough about what happened in Daulat Beg Oldi.

Since we do not know, we must, as the government has argued, be patient. The meeting between commanders and the border mechanism has not been terribly successful in resolving differences. But there are other modes of communication and conflict mitigation. These must be given time. In any case, those who are jumping up and down calling for tougher action - by which they mean military action - should explain what action New Delhi can take when its overall weakness in relation to China is so massive.

The fact is that China's economy is four times India's size. This is a measure of the difference between the two countries. It suggests that China has a much greater capacity to prosecute any conflict anywhere with India. Militarily, it has more nuclear weapons by a factor of three, at the very least. In terms of conventional weapons, there is glaring mismatch as well. China has about two times as many active military personnel as India. Its army has the advantage of the heights and infrastructure along our northern border, has better equipment, makes so much more of its arms, and can therefore fight a longer and wider war.

Comment: Now transcribe India as Pakistan and China as India. India is stronger in most terms than Pakistan as China is as compared to India. Pakistan is holding India to ransom for decades!! On the other hand India is shit scared of China since 1962!!! If India got a beating from China in 1962, Pakistan was dismembered in 1971.

India will never never catch up with China economically or militarily. Therefore should India for generations be cowed down by China!! India has to get out of this mind set.

It is not the suggestion that India goes to war with China over the Ladakh stand off but
we cannot have a perpetual Ostrich like attitude either!!

A weaker nation ie India should lay emphasis on Nuclear option including Tactical Nuclear weapons.The Himalayas and Chinese bases in Tibet are ideal for its use.


The worst is that India is a house divided, with rampant corruption and terrible governance.
The Politico Bureaucratic combine has eaten in to the guts of the nation and we have become a laughing stock of the world with the rapes, money scandals and political Tamasha.

No fighter aircraft, helicopters, guns in the pipe line, thanks to our Clean Defence Minister and his time passer Secretaries, with a listless Prime Minister ruled by an Italian Lady. How can we take cudgels with China who manufactures most of its armament

How can China, Pakistan and even smaller neighbours not bully us!!
India has a very black future!!

So let us be careful about what we would wish for. A fight with China would be disastrous - in every way. India would stand exposed militarily and diplomatically. In 1962, it was Parliament and public opinion that pushed Jawaharlal Nehru into taking positions that were unwise. Let's not repeat 1962. Our political parties and Chief Ministers should stifle themselves for a while, as the government tries to figure out whether the incursion is part of a larger strategy or if regional and local PLA commanders got too ambitious and need some time to retrench.

We are reeling economically and politically from an assortment of crises. This is no time for our nostrils to flare. 

Lesson from an unsettled boundary

Manoj Joshi


The reality is that the Line of Actual Control between India and China is notional and has not been put down on any mutually agreed map

In 1950, the Survey of India issued a map of India showing the political divisions of the new republic. While the border with Pakistan was defined as it is now, including the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir area, the borders with China were depicted differently. In the east, the McMahon Line was shown as the border, except in its eastern extremity, the Tirap subdivision, where the border was shown as “undefined.” In the Central sector of what is now Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the eastern part of Jammu & Kashmir, including Aksai Chin, the boundary was depicted merely by a colour wash and denoted as “boundary undefined.”

Unilateral act

In March 1954, the Union Cabinet met and decided to unilaterally define the border of India with China. The colour wash was replaced by a hard line, and the Survey of India issued a new map, which depicts the borders as we know them today. All the old maps were withdrawn and the depiction of Indian boundaries in the old way became illegal. Indeed, if you seek out the White Paper on Indian States of 1948 and 1950 in the Parliament library, you will find that the maps have been removed because they too showed the border as being “undefined” in the Central and Western sectors.
What was the government up to? Did it seriously think it could get away with such a sleight of hand? Or was there a design that will become apparent when the papers of the period are declassified? Not surprisingly, the other party, the People’s Republic of China, was not amused and, in any case, there are enough copies of the old documents and maps across the world today to bring out the uncomfortable truth that the boundaries of India in these regions were unilaterally defined by the Government of India, rather than through negotiation and discussions with China.
It is not as though the Chinese have a particularly good case when it comes to their western boundary in Tibet. The record shows that the Chinese empire was unclear as to its western extremities, and rejected repeated British attempts to settle the border. The problem in the Aksai Chin region was further compounded by the fact that this was an uninhabited high-altitude desert, with few markers that could decide the case in favour of one country or the other. But there was cause for the two countries to sit down and negotiate a mutually acceptable boundary. This as we know was not to be and, since then, the process has gone through needless tension and conflict.
In the initial period, India’s focus was on the McMahon Line which defines the boundary with China in what is now Arunachal Pradesh. It tended to play down the issue of Aksai Chin because it was a remote area and of little strategic interest to India. But for China, the area was vital. Indeed, according to John W. Garver, it was “essential to Chinese control of western Tibet and very important to its control of all of Tibet.” In other words, in contrast to India’s legalistic and nationalistic claims over the region, for China, control over Aksai Chin had a geopolitical imperative.
For this reason, it entered the area, built a road through it and undertook a policy to expand westward to ensure that the road was secure. India woke up to the issue late and when it sought to confront the Chinese through its forward policy in 1961, it was already too late. And the 1962 war only saw a further Chinese advance westward which led to almost the entire Galwan River coming under the Chinese control.
We can only speculate on the causes of their present westward shift in the Daulat Beg Oldi area. But one thing is clear: the central locomotive of Chinese policy remains Tibet. Despite massive investments in the region, large numbers of Tibetans remain disaffected. No country in the world, including India, recognises Tibet as being a disputed territory yet, for two reasons. The Chinese constantly seek reassurance from New Delhi about its intentions. First, because of the past support that Tibetan separatist guerrillas got from the U.S. and India, and second, because of the presence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile in India. Despite the massive growth of Chinese power, their insecurities remain high. In great measure, they are due to Beijing’s own heavy-handed policies and only China can resolve the issues through accommodation and compromise with its own people. But not untypical of governments, Beijing seeks to deflect the blame of its own shortcomings on outsiders.
There could be other drivers of the tension as well. In the past five years, the Chinese have been generally assertive across their periphery and this could well be an outcome of policy decisions taken by the top military and political leadership of the country or, as some speculate, because of an inner-party conflict. Exaggerated Chinese maritime boundary claims have brought them into conflict with the ASEAN countries, principally the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. A separate order of tension has arisen with Japan over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. In the case of India, an important initiative to resolve the border dispute through Special Representatives has been allowed to run aground.
Another possible explanation for the Chinese behaviour could be the steps India is taking with regard to its military on its borders with China. India’s border infrastructure and military modernisation schemes have been delayed by decades. But in recent years, there have been signs that New Delhi may be getting its act together. In any case, the cumulative impact of the huge defence expenditures since 2000 is beginning to show in terms of better border connectivity and modernisation programmes. This momentum could see Indian forces’ confrontation with China become even stronger when you take into account new manpower and equipment such as mountain artillery, attack helicopters, missiles and rocket artillery.

Overlapping claims

Even so, it would be hazardous to speak definitively about Chinese motivations. After being lambasted by the Indian media for occupying “Indian territory,” the Chinese might be concerned about losing face with a hasty retreat. The fact of the matter is that the boundary in the region is defined merely by a notional Line of Actual Control, which is neither put down on mutually agreed maps, let alone defined in a document through clearly laid out geographical features. While both sides accept most of the LAC and respect it, there are some nine points where there are overlapping claims and both sides patrol up to the LAC, as they understand it. In such circumstances, the Chinese could well withdraw after a decent interval.
This more benign interpretation of Chinese behaviour is also in tune with the statements that the new leadership in Beijing has been making. As has been noted, following his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the BRICS conference in Durban, the new supremo of China, Xi Jinping, was quoted in the Chinese media as saying that Beijing regarded its ties with New Delhi as “one of the most important bilateral relationships.” Belying the belief that the Chinese were dragging their feet on the border issue, Mr. Xi declared that the Special Representative mechanism should strive for “a fair, rational solution framework acceptable to both sides as soon as possible.” This last sentence is significant because a week earlier, he was quoted as making the standard formulation that the border problem “is a complex issue left from history and solving the issue won’t be easy.”
2013 is not 1962 and the Indian media and politicians should not behave as though it was, by needlessly raising the decibel level and trying to push the government to adopt a hawkish course on the border. But what the recent controversy does tell us is unsettled borders are not good for two neighbours because they can so easily become the cause of a conflict that neither may be seeking.
(The writer is a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi)

India's Feeble Foreign Policy

A Would-Be Great Power Resists Its Own Rise

The world may expect great things from India, but as extensive reporting reveals, Indians themselves turn out to be deeply skeptical about their country’s potential. That attitude, plus New Delhi’s dysfunctional foreign-policy bureaucracy, prevent long-term planning of the sort China has mastered -- and are holding India back.
MANJARI CHATTERJEE MILLER is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University. She is the author of the forthcoming book Wronged by Empire: Post-imperial Ideology and Foreign Policy in India and China.
For the last decade, few trends have captured the world’s attention as much as the so-called rise of the rest, the spectacular economic and political emergence of powers such as China and India. Particularly in the United States, India watchers point to the country’s large and rapidly expanding economy, its huge population, and its nuclear weapons as signs of its imminent greatness. Other observers fret about the pace of India’s rise, asking whether New Delhi is living up to its potential, whether the country’s shoddy infrastructure will hold it back, and whether it is strong enough to counter an increasingly ambitious China.

All of this frenzied discussion, however, overlooks a simple fact: within India itself, the foreign policy elite shies away from any talk of the country’s rising status. As a senior official who has worked on India’s relations with Western countries recently told me, “There is a hysterical sense, encouraged by the West, about India’s rise.” A top-level official in India’s foreign ministry echoed the sentiment: “When do we Indians talk about it? We don’t.”

What explains this discrepancy? As I found through a series of interviews with senior officials in the Indian government, many of whom requested anonymity, it is a result of three important facts that have gone largely unnoticed in the West.

  • First, New Delhi’s foreign policy decisions are often highly individualistic -- the province of senior officials responsible for particular policy areas, not strategic planners at the top. As a result, India rarely engages in long-term thinking about its foreign policy goals, which prevents it from spelling out the role it aims to play in global affairs.
  • Second, Indian foreign-policy makers are insulated from outside influences, such as think tanks, which in other countries reinforce a government’s sense of its place in the world.
  • Third, the Indian elite fears that the notion of the country’s rise is a Western construct, which has unrealistically raised expectations for both Indian economic growth and the country’s international commitments.
  • As one senior official with experience in the prime minister’s office said, the West’s labeling of India as a rising power is “a rope to hang ourselves.
  • By contrast, Chinese political leaders and intellectuals pay a great deal of attention to the international hype surrounding their country’s emergence, and Chinese think tanks and media outlets regularly try to shape and respond to this discourse.

India’s discomfort with being labeled a rising power should lower Washington’s ambitions for its partnership with New Delhi. India can be convinced to play an international role in areas where its narrow interests are at stake, but it will not respond positively to abstract calls for it to assume more global responsibility.

By and large, three bodies in the Indian government work together to make foreign policy: the prime minister’s office; the National Security Council, led by a powerful national security adviser; and the foreign ministry. The prime minister’s office is seen as the ultimate seat of authority, and other foreign-policy makers jockey to move closer to it. 

One factor, however, cuts across all three bodies. All three offices and their top positions are filled by Indian Foreign Service officers.

Understanding the structure of the foreign service and the role of its officers is essential to explaining why the rise of India garners more attention in New York than it does in New Delhi.

The Indian civil service was created by the British government in the nineteenth century to help administer its vast colonial empire. Known as “the steel frame” of British rule on the subcontinent, the civil service was retained by India after it won its independence in 1947. The service remains highly prestigious today: new officers are selected through a competitive civil-service exam and sorted into the various branches based on their rank.

The foreign service stands out as one of India’s most elite institutions, reportedly accepting recruits at a rate of only 0.01 percent. Unlike the diplomatic corps in China, for example, in which officers are recruited according to need, a fixed number of Indians are admitted into the foreign service each year. And unlike in the United States, in India, the most significant ambassadorial and foreign policy jobs are usually filled by career civil servants rather than political appointees.

Once they survive the cut-throat admissions process, the foreign service officers go on to serve as key advisers in the prime minister’s office, on the National Security Council, and at the foreign ministry. They also tend to hold the most powerful positions within these bodies: the foreign secretary, the administrative head of the foreign ministry, is always a foreign service officer. And three of the four people who have held the position of national security adviser since the post was created in 1998, including the current one, Shivshankar Menon, have been foreign service officers.

The powerful role of the Indian Foreign Service produces a decision-making process that is highly individualistic. Since foreign service officers are considered the crème de la crème of India and undergo extensive training, they are each seen as capable of assuming vast authority.

What is more, the service’s exclusive admissions policies mean that a tiny cadre of officers must take on large portfolios of responsibility.

In addition to their advisory role, they have significant leeway in crafting policy. This autonomy, in turn, means that New Delhi does very little collective thinking about its long-term foreign policy goals, since most of the strategic planning that takes place within the government happens on an individual level.

My interviews with top officials revealed that there are few, if any, top-down guidelines for the making of Indian foreign policy. The senior official who has dealt with Western countries told me, “We have a great deal of flexibility and autonomy in shaping policy on a day-to-day basis within the overarching framework of policy.” Pressed to explain that framework, the official said, “It is not written anywhere or formalized. . . . It’s expressed in speeches and parliamentary statements.” After a brief pause, the official admitted with a laugh, “But those damn things are also written by us,” referring to the foreign service officers.

Several current and former ambassadors confirmed this situation, stressing the lack of top-down planning. One ambassador with close links to the national security adviser’s office put it this way: “You make up your own goals, which is hugely enjoyable and has impact. But it would be nice to have direction from time to time.” A former ambassador to several European countries agreed, saying, “I could never find any direction or any paper from the foreign office to tell me what India’s long-term attitude should be toward country X. Positions are the prerogative of the individual ambassador.” Another former ambassador elaborated:

I was completely autonomous as ambassador. There is little to no instruction from the [prime minister’s office], even in cases of major countries. I had to take decisions based on a hunch. I sometimes got very, very broad directives. But I violated virtually all of them. The prime minister was a temperamental man who told me that politically it was suicide and that if it were made public, he would disown me. The fact that I got it right had a lot to do with luck.

Not only do India’s foreign service officers wield enormous power; they also enjoy near anonymity of action. The ultimate responsibility for their decisions lies with the political figures in charge: the prime minister and the foreign minister. They must play the tricky game of persuading the political leadership to accept their decisions, resulting in a bottom-up policymaking process.

As Jaswant Singh, a former foreign minister, explained, “If a [foreign] minister has the skills to command the respect of the [foreign ministry’s] officers, he will make policy and implement it. Otherwise, it is the civil servants who make the policy and the minister is simply the figurehead.”

This lack of top-down instruction means that long-term planning is virtually impossible. Many of the officials I interviewed confirmed that India produces no internal documents or white papers on grand strategy.

Moreover, newly minted ambassadors are given very loose guidelines and little background information about their regions of responsibility, and they are not required to produce reports on their goals.

Other factors contribute to the lack of long-term planning. The foreign service’s exclusive admissions policies leave New Delhi short-staffed in that arena, and overburdened foreign service officers have little time or inclination for strategic thinking.

As the ambassador with ties to the national security adviser’s office told me, “It’s hard for people to focus on a long-term strategy because they deal with day-to-day thinking.” Officials at both the foreign ministry and the prime minister’s office described their roles as too often consisting of either putting out fires or getting bogged down with the mundane, and they expressed concerns about the shortage of personnel.

Comment by HS: This is the situation with every Ministry in New Delhi!!

Moreover, the two departments within the foreign ministry that are supposedly meant to handle long-term strategizing, the Policy, Planning, Research Division and the Public Diplomacy Division, are widely seen as lacking clout.

The absence of grand strategic thinking in the Indian foreign policy establishment is amplified by the lack of influential think tanks in the country.

Not only is the foreign service short-staffed, but its officers do not turn to external institutions for in-depth research or analysis of the country’s position. U.S. foreign-policy makers, by contrast, can expect strategic guidance from a broad spectrum of organizations that supplement the long-term planning that happens within the government itself. But in India, there are very few policy-oriented research institutions that focus on international relations. Those that do are often private organizations funded by large corporations, so they inevitably focus chiefly on trade issues. Even when Indian think tanks house retired foreign service officers and ambassadors -- who often have access to senior government officials -- they are still not seen by the government as useful sources of advice. This is true even for India’s best-known think tanks, including the Centre for Policy Research, which houses first-rate experts, and the Ministry of Defense–funded Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

When asked whether policymakers ever consult with think tanks, the senior official who has experience working with Western countries replied, “It is very different from the United States. . . . I sometimes talk to individuals [at think tanks] but on a personal basis -- the problem is think tanks don’t have much information or access to government information.

Comment by HS. We Indians when in the chair think we are KNOW ALLs. And when out of power ie Retd, we reap what we had sown when in the Chairs!! Consulting,listening to people, getting studies done are highly important actions to broad base advice, but we are Indians-----

” Another official who has worked in the foreign ministry similarly stated, “We just don’t have that kind of intellectual input yet. We recognize that we can’t become a superpower without it.” This lack of consultation stands in sharp contrast to the situation in China, where regular interaction among the government, intellectuals, and think tanks results in prolific debates about the domestic and international ramifications of the country’s rise.

Countries that aspire to great-power status usually look beyond tactical challenges, imagine a world that best suits their interests, and work to make that vision a reality.

The problem for New Delhi is that its foreign policy apparatus is not yet designed to do that. India’s inability to develop top-down, long-term strategies means that it cannot systematically consider the implications of its growing power. So long as this remains the case, the country will not play the role in global affairs that many expect.


Although perhaps flattering to Indian officials, the international discourse on India’s rise also makes them deeply uneasy. This is because it risks raising expectations -- for the Indian economy to grow at a pace that is simply not achievable and for New Delhi to take on an international leadership role that it does not want to assume.

Several of the officials I interviewed referred to the fiasco of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2004 “India Shining” campaign as an example of this liability. During the 2004 national elections, the ruling BJP campaigned on the successes of the Indian economy, all but ignoring the daily struggles of the vast majority of the population without access to basic services. The BJP’s subsequent trouncing served as a cautionary tale to Indian leaders about prematurely promoting their country’s emergence.

Now, as the ambassador who is close to the national security adviser’s office pointed out, “The prime minister does not have one speech where he talks about the rise of India but not about [the need for] growth.” To be successful, Indian politicians need to spend more time focusing on domestic issues and the economy than on trumpeting their foreign policy clout.

New Delhi’s caution about raising expectations is tied to its fear that a growing India might have to take on responsibilities commensurate with its power. Officials who have worked with the foreign ministry and the prime minister’s office told me that the disadvantage of the international discourse on India’s rise was that the West, particularly the United States, might pressure India to step up its global commitments.

India might have to abandon its status as a developing country and could be forced to make concessions on environmental issues, such as limiting its carbon emissions, and on trade, such as opening up the Indian market further to U.S. exports. India has not adequately thought through what its growing clout will mean in terms of assuming global leadership.

This fact has had significant bearing on New Delhi’s foreign policy, and it should be taken into account by other countries when they consider how to approach India.

India’s discomfort with the idea that great power brings great responsibility means that the United States and other Western countries must be cautious about asking India to assume a larger international role. New Delhi is not likely to take the lead on climate change or support ambitious humanitarian interventions. Nor will it eagerly sign on to efforts to bring down barriers to global trade -- after all, India still sees itself as a developing country that needs to rely on protectionism to nurture its infant industries.

And despite India’s tense relations with China and its pride in being a democracy, New Delhi will be wary of Washington’s efforts to impose on it the status and the burdens of acting as a liberal counterweight to an authoritarian China.

New Delhi’s strategic thinking may be strengthened by the recently proposed expansion of the Indian Foreign Service, the growing number of Indian think tanks, and the increasing interest of the Indian diaspora -- which has come to play a large role in New Delhi’s economic diplomacy -- in Indian foreign policy.

In the meantime, if the West wants India to play a larger international role, it needs to offer the country concrete incentives and assurances that discussions of its rise are not simply excuses to force it to make concessions.

By supporting India’s long-standing desire to join the UN Security Council as a permanent member, for example, the international community can signal that it wants to both empower India and give it a greater say in world affairs. India might eventually find that although global leadership can be a burden, it also has its benefits.


True and very pathetic picture of our External Affairs Ministry. No wonder, we cannot tackle even Maldivs!!

Those of us who have travelled abroad  while in service and seen the working of our Embassies know what sad state these are in!!

No Long term policy, goals, directives.

Bottom up policy formulation based on individual officer's grasp and thinking.

Babus busy with fire fighting and mundane things on day to day basis.

If both the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs have no strategic thinking, then how can India rise and be safe!! Things in Ministry of Home could be even worse!!

A very bleak but true picture. The Chiefs should read this!!

Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen

 (Prudence yes, but appeasement, No!!)

China ’s motives in provoking the Depsang valley incident in Ladakh are not easy to decipher. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the undemarcated India-China border is not defined on the ground, unlike in the case of the Line of Control in J&K. We have our own perception of the areas we control and the Chinese their own. One way to signal territorial control is patrolling, which both sides undertake in contested areas. Until the sovereignty  over these areas is determined through an agreement, both sides want to maintain the appearance of actual control, with periodic patrolling serving as proof in future negotiations. Neither side, however, as matter of practice, sets up posts in the disputed areas- a noteworthy point.
In Depsang valley the Chinese have violated this practice. Since the 1986 Sumdorong Chu incident in the eastern sector, this is possibly the first major one of this nature. The implication of setting up a tent and staying put for almost two weeks is that the Chinese are now frontally and unilaterally asserting their sovereignty over an area that India too claims. If all these years they did not feel the need to do this, why now? The question is all the more pertinent because the purpose of the 1993 peace and tranquillity agreement and the 1996 agreement on CBMs was not to bar patrolling but to avoid any headlong clash between patrols and observe a certain protocol if they did come face to face.
What is puzzling is that, purely militarily speaking, the Chinese move makes no sense. They can be easily dislodged by the Indian army. The Chinese platoon has limited provisions and there is no evidence of any planned logistic support. Even if that was there, their lines can be easily cut off, forcing them to retreat. Alternatively, India could set up a similar position outflanking the Chinese one and wait for the stand off to run its course. If, as some speculate, the Chinese move might be a riposte to aggressive Indian patrolling in eastern Ladakh in the Chumar area, then why choose such an ineffective counter in military terms?
The argument that this could be an action by a local commander, without any larger military or political design, no longer holds because apart from two flag meetings on the spot, the demarche to the Chinese Ambassador by the Foreign Secretary hasn’t resolved the stand-off. The top leadership in China has now been seized of India ’s protest through the Ambassador, but the Chinese government is asserting that they have not violated any agreement with India and that their platoon is within their side of the LAC.
Some argue that the Chinese have decided to pressure us in order to dissuade us from  participating in the US pivot towards Asia , about which they are deeply concerned.
Firstly, India is quite reluctant to join for larger reasons relating to doubts about the capacity and willingness of the US to seriously confront China.
Secondly, such intimidating steps do not make any sense as the more China takes them, the more opinion in India would look favourably at forging partnerships with US, Japan , Australia and South-East countries that too are threatend by Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea .
With China already embroiled in such maritime disputes in the east, common sense would dictate that they do not open up another front with India in the west, as this will only to serve to deepen concerns all round about Chinese assertiveness as the country grows stronger. Such does not seem to be China ’s thinking, however.
It is difficult to believe, as some suggest, that the communist party and the PLA might be  at odds with each other after the change of leadership in China and that this adventure in Ladakh constitutes independent muscle-flexing by the PLA. The latter supposedly wants to send a hard signal about India to the political leadership in China before Premier Le Keqiang visits us in May. If this were so, the PLA would have chosen to provoke us in a location and with means that would make their action more credible. As things are, the Chinese have exposed themselves to an effective rebuff by the Indian armed forces, which could cause them great embarrassment potentially. The assessment of those who believe that our forces are not capable of dealing with this incident and any likely escalation thereafter by the Chinese seems erroneous.
China’s action is also at variance with the general improvement of India-China ties, notably in the economic domain but also in terms of maintaining high level political exchanges bilaterally and working together in multilateral groupings. Defence contacts and regional dialogues, including the recent one on Afghanistan , are other signs of positive engagement between the two countries.
This incident comes in the wake of the supposedly friendly exchanges between our Prime Minister and President XI Jinping at Durban on the occasion of the BRICS Summit. But then, despite the intensity of US-China economic and financial ties, the adversarial element in their relationship is sharpening. With Japan too, despite the huge trade and investment relationship, China is being aggressive on territorial issues. Clearly, the Chinese logic allows slaps and a friendly handshake simultaneously.

One explanation that may not be wrong is that China has begun to believe that India can get easily intimidated, that its leadership is weak and prone to temporize and concede. Past Chinese presidents like Jiang Zemin were privately contemptuous about the fibre of the Indian armed forces. Our lack of reaction to Chinese provocations in recent years, our  overly conciliatory political discourse and eagerness to reach out to them may have convinced them that a little show of force will prod us to find ways to placate them.
Our political reaction to their latest provocation would confirm this. We are downplaying its import, calling it a local affair, shielding the Chinese political leadership from responsibility even after our failed demarche to the Chinese Ambassador and the Chinese spokesperson’s repeated statements that they are blameless. We don’t want the relationship built up with such effort to be damaged, as if we have provoked the present crisis. We have taken the responsibility for defusing it before the Chinese premier visits India next month. We seem to be more keen than the Chinese themselves to ensure that Li Keqiang comes and the atmosphere becomes congenial for this visit.
We are describing the Depsang valley incident as part of a growing up process, as acne on the beautiful face of India-China relations. Our six decades of differences with China have, some may say, outlived the phase of adolescence. From China being India ’s enemy number one and, more moderately, India ’s biggest strategic adversary, the ugly visage of the relationship has now become beautiful.
Rather than the Chinese Foreign Minister visiting India to prepare for his Prime Minister’s visit, our Foreign Minister is, most unusually, going there, as if we owe China an explanation for the face-off in Ladakh. If now China withdraws it will seem a friendly gesture in the face of appeals by India .

Why have we lost our nerve?  Prudence, yes, but appeasement, no.

Sunday, April 28, 2013 
From Print Edition
The trilateral talks in Brussels between the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan – convened by Secretary of State John Kerry – do not appear to have advanced the cause of peace and harmony. They were led by COAS General Parvez Kayani rather than the federal secretary under whom the COAS is supposed to work. 
There was no bilateral meeting between General Kayani and President Karzai, and the body language at a press conference in which Kerry tried to get both men to shake hands was electric with anger
This was not how a Pakistan government spokesman perceived things. Perhaps he was at a different meeting. We are told that there was ‘a positive and constructive atmosphere in which it was agreed to pursue political, security and economic cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan’ – which tells us precisely nothing. 
Beyond the empty platitudes indicative of a moot that was unproductive and therefore to be reduced to a vanilla nothingness, there was John Kerry pleading that the fractious neighbours ‘under-promise’ in terms of what they say they will do rather than ‘over-promise’ and then underachieve, failing to deliver.
The inability to clear the road of rocks is bad news for both countries. Kabul is reportedly awash with rumours that the Karzai government is going to postpone elections for three years. 
It is known that Karzai is desperate to hold on to power, in large part because he runs the country (or the 30 percent or so that is nominally under his writ) as an extension of the family business
The Taliban run parallel administrations in much of the south and east of the country. The Afghan army is taking casualties at the rate of 1,000 a year; recruits are 70 percent illiterate and desertions run at about 30 percent annually. Hardly a stable fighting force. Half of the Afghan police force is said to be corrupt. Afghanistan is the world’s leading supplier of heroin. And the Taliban have not in any sense been militarily defeated. There is an artificial economy based around foreign aid. 
Next door is Pakistan, which is nowhere near as close to being a failed state as is Afghanistan but is not in the best of health. 
To call this a volatile mix understates the case considerably. 
The US is desperate to broker a rapprochement before 2014, but on the evidence of this most recent meeting both sides are cosmic distances apart. 
Other players, notably India, China and Iran are busy with their own agendas, which for India constitutes the consolidation of a flanking move on Pakistan that left us wrong-footed and floundering. 
Now is the time for wisdom and statesmanship rather than displays of anger or petulance. The two countries need to urgently work at both because the price of failure is going to be the future fate of many millions of people.