India and China: softly, softlyIndian 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set up a camp fairly deep into what New Delhi considers is its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and it has not withdrawn even after meetings between the local commanders and after the newly-formed border mechanism has been activated.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.
BUT INDIA WANTS TO SHOW TO THE WORLD WE ARE A VERY RESPONSIBLE NATION.
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.