This report talks about reorienting bulk of 1 Corps of the Indian Army towards the China border in Ladakh. Sharing some thoughts on the issue.
Here goes ..
In essence, what this means is that atleast two divisions of the Indian Army will reorient, and possibly physically locate, to Ladakh, along with the Headquarters of the 1 Corps. Frankly, this is a much needed exercise in order to plug own vulnerabilities in that region.
However, this movement / reorientation of two infantry divisions towards the LAC also means that there are going to be two divisions less in case of a contingency demanding their application on the Pakistan border. This is what I intend to talk about here in this blog post.
Now this is an interesting factor which I didn’t find many folks talking about!
Next month is the second anniversary of the Pulwama / Balakot / F-16 Shootdown incidents.
That we prevailed ultimately was due to some deft and aggressive diplomatic maneuvers backed with a solid military posture. Remember the ‘Knees were shaking’ disclosure in Pakistani Senate by a senior politician, when they decided to release Abhinandan? Or more accurately, they were forced to release him.
Here’s the video for those who missed it:
The most important takeaway from the video above is the fact that India was not only prepared militarily, but also willing to use force. Hence Abhinandan returned home in quick time. While on that topic, this thread might be good read as well:
Now fast forward from Feb 2019 to Feb 2021 that is barely a day away. Here’s what the geostrategic scene looks like from Pakis’ perspective:
1. Indian Army already heavily engaged along the LAC.
2. Winters winding down in a month or so, and the LAC will heat up again.
3. A brand new administration in USA, which is willing to ‘re-engage’ with Pakistan.
4. Also, the USA having a rethink over withdrawal from Afghanistan (that much more leverage with Pakistan).
5. Indian polity and security apparatus focussing on internal issues for the time being.
6. The internal issues facing India include the border state of Punjab.
Now if I were a general saab sitting in Rawalpindi, I would most definitely be salivating at the prospects that await exploitation, if only I played my cards right!
A Pulwama type provocation at this point in time, especially once the winters are over and LAC once again active, may NOT draw a response similar to one in 2019, right?
Not when the Chinese are sitting pretty on the LAC!
Yes, there is already talk about de-escalation on the LAC, but then, no side can be really sure how it happens atleast till a couple of months well into the summer. And even thereafter, it might be fair to assume that a substantial number of Indian troops will continue in Ladakh.
Heck, that is exactly what is written in the report linked in the beginning of this blog!
As a Brown Panted General Saab sitting in Rawalpindi, one couldn’t have asked for a better set of circumstances. Their own country may be going down the drain and running out of money, but then, a military clash, or more specifically, the threat of one, will be a good diversion for the masses, no?!!
In all fairness, forces located elsewhere in the country can most definitely be moved from one border to another. In fact it was done during Operation Parakram as well, as chronicled in this report below:
But the big question is whether India will be able to move those forces under current circumstances, especially if a provocation from Pakistan pre-empts a de-escalation on the LAC?
THIS, folks, is the big question bugging me.
The answer seems quite obvious, no?
The window I personally will be watching out for is spread over two months or so, from mid-Feb onwards. In fact, with Khalistani links coming out wrt the ongoing ruckus in Delhi, part of that is already apparent because there is no Khalistan ‘Movement’ without a Pakistani link.
This possibility was already alluded to by me in a thread on twitter after the revocation of Article 370:
You may call it a conspiracy theory, but then, I have my own views as seen in this tweet below!
Bottomline: We may be pre-occupied with the ruckus over the Farm Bills, and pretty soon, with the upcoming tensions on the LAC, it might be worth our while to look west as well, esp with our military machine pre-occupied at the LAC.
Ok folks, so since Gilgit-Baltistan has been in news quite a bit in the past few days and weeks, let me share some perspective on PoJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. In this thread, I intend talking about a historical perspective to the issue and the legal status of PoJK / GB.
Here goes ..
But first, let me share this video of the Prime Minister of India speaking from the Red Fort not very long ago.
Then last year, after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, came these statements from the Home Minister, clearly specifying the territorial limits of Jammu and Kashmir:-
Of course, questions were raised by the media here in India, leading to this statement from the Chief of the Army Staff soon thereafter:-
Before moving ahead, a quick word on the geography of the area. Total area of J&K is approx 222,236 sq km. Area under illegal occupation of Pakistan is about 78114 Sq Km. Are under Chinese occupation = 47,815sq Km (Including Shaksgam). India controls 101,437 Sq Km (45%) of J&K.
Now coming on to the HISTORY of J&K .. To begin with, it is important to note that the widespread ignorance about the historical background of Jammu & Kashmir has perpetuated various myths about its evolution
The main myths include the beliefs that the princely state of J&K was an artificial entity created by the Dogras, also that the entire region was never a part of the same political dispensation and that G-B always existed as a distinct political entity separate from Ladakh & J&K.
There is another belief professed by Pakistan that it was an indigenous movement by the local population that actually led to the separation of Gilgit-Baltistan from the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
All these myths are nothing but Pakistani attempts to merge Gilgit-Baltistan as her Fifth Province, so that international apprehensions on CPEC could be assuaged. THIS is the bottomline as far as all these issues in highlight over the past few days go.
Hence this blog post. Let me go about trying to bust these myths created by Pakistan over the past few years and decades.
Both Ladakh & Jammu & Kashmir, have been part of India’s political & cultural domain and spiritual consciousness since the Mahabharat period. These linkages manifest visibly in the Ganpatyar, Shankaracharya & Kheer Bhavani Temples located in the Kashmir Valley.
In the Third Century BC, Emperor Ashoka introduced Buddhism and the Mahayana School of Buddhism originated in Kashmir. It subsequently attained pre-eminence during the Fourth Buddhist Council held here by Emperor Kanishka in the First Century AD.
Emperor Lalitaditya’s reign from 724 to 760 AD marked the golden age of Kashmir and the Zenith of the Hindu Karkota Empire and the Kashmiri Shaivism.
Islam came in gradually in the 14th Century giving birth to a Sufi tradition of Kashmiriyat, influenced by Muslim saints, one of whom, Sheikh Nuruddin Noorani also known as Nund Rishi, lies laid to rest at Charar-e-Sharif.
Throughout history, ALL the regions of Jammu & Kashmir have been integral parts of the Kashmir Empire and continued so until the Dogra Empire of the nineteenth & the twentieth century. (Second Pic – Maharaja Gulab Singh)
As a matter of fact, Rinchen, the first Muslim King was a Prince of Ladakh, who was rechristened as Sadruddin Shah (Pic 1) on conversion to Islam & the last major independent Muslim Dynasty that ruled Kashmir – The Chak Dynasty – had migrated from Gilgit.
These facts highlight close intra-regional cultural and political connections. Moreover, it goes to prove that the history of the Areas under present Pak Occupied Jammu & Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan have an umbilical connection to the history of Kashmir itself.
With Mughals, Kashmir became a province of Delhi Empire in 1540 AD and continued to be ruled by its Governors for three centuries.
A six decade Afghan rule under the Durranis succeeded the Mughals and thereafter in 1819 AD, Kashmir came under the Sikh Power of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
It is important to note that the Sikh Rule was initially confined to the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu Region was given to Raja Gulab Singh as a Jagir by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1820.
After consolidating his position in the Jammu Region, Gulab Singh assisted ably by General Zorawar Singh captured Ladakh & Baltistan by 1840.
On the other hand, Gilgit was captured by Col Nathu Shah for the Sikhs around the same time.
By this time the 11 peripheral principalities of the state in and around Gilgit-Baltistan, which historically had remained Vassal States to the ruling dispensation at Srinagar became independent of the Central Authority in Srinagar. Do note Chitral too as part of those!
In 1846, Treaty of Lahore was signed after the defeat of the Sikh army at the Battle of Sabraon in the First Anglo – Sikh War. This forced the Sikhs to cede all territories between the Beas & Sutlej and Pay Rs 1 Crore as war indemnity.
Lal Singh, the then Prime Minister of the Sikhs offered all Hill territories of the Kingdom including Jammu & Kashmir in lieu of the indemnity. The British then offered to make Raja Gulab Singh the Independent ruler of Jammu & Kashmir provided he paid the indemnity amount.
Thus, at a reduced amount of Rs 75 Lakhs, the British transferred the territory of Jammu & Kashmir to Raja Gulab Singh at the Treaty of Amritsar.
This treaty made Gulab Singh the absolute ruler of Kashmir and a full-fledged sovereign of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh, as well as Gilgit & Baltistan, but like elsewhere Britain retained exclusive authority over Defence, Foreign Affairs & Communications.
Thus, the demographic fabric of the Princely State consisted a Buddhist majority Ladakh, Muslim majority Kashmir, Western Jammu, Gilgit & Baltistan & a Hindu majority Jammu region – stitches that proved to be reasons for Hari Singh’s indecisiveness and the rapid annexation of the Western Jammu regions in the subsequent tribal invasion of 1947.
The British, interestingly, encouraged Gulab Singh to spread his political influence in Gilgit – Baltistan, so as to establish a safe buffer state between Russia & British India as by 1866, the entire region had come under the control of the Dogras.
The British Policies towards Kashmir fluctuated with developments in India & Central Asia and were necessitated by a need to prevent the growing Russian influence.
They interfered with the Maharaja’s administration on the pretext that the Maharaja was inflicting severe hardships on his subjects, especially in Gilgit.
Thus, Gilgit Agency was established in 1877 with a nominated British Political agent, who was withdrawn & later reappointed in 1889 in view of the growing Afghan influence in Chitral as well as Russian activities in Central Asia.
However, consequent to the Russian Revolution, British anxieties over the Gilgit region increased & the Maharaja was forced to lease the Gilgit Agency to the British for a period of 60 years with effect from March 1935. Thus, Gilgit region was divided as the Gilgit Agency and the Gilgit Wazarat (District). The Gilgit Agency, directly under the British rule, included Principalities of Hunza, Nagar, Chitral, Punial, Yasin, Kuh Ghizer, Ishkoman, Chilas, Gor & Darel-Tangir. Once again, note Chitral!
The Gilgit Wazarat retained under the Jammu & Kashmir Darbar, included Gilgit, Astor & Bunji. As a result, despite being a part of the Maharaja’s territory, a huge portion of Gilgit including the vassal states were under British civil & military administration.
The announcement of independence forced the British to hand the Gilgit Agency back to the Maharaja in July 1947 – A ploy & an arrangement that would play a major role in the illegal annexation of the Gilgit Agency to Pakistan in 1947.
Hari Singh’s ascension to the throne of Jammu & Kashmir in 1925 coincided with the awakening of mass political consciousness throughout India, which found an echo in Jammu & Kashmir as well.
However, the popular movement in this princely state was directed more at the rule of Dogra dynasty spearheaded by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah through the All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference.
He rechristened the party All Jammu & Kashmir National Conference indicating his leaning towards the Indian National Congress, thereby foreclosing any collaboration with Jinnah & the Muslim League. He was later, in favour of accession to India, but on favourable personal terms.
In 1946, ‘Maharaja Quit Kashmir’ movement was launched against the Maharaja by Sheikh Abdullah, leading to his immediate arrest. But the movement gathered enough momentum in the Princely State as India & Pak approached the dawn of independence preceded by a nightmare of partition.
At the announcement of partition, the Maharaja was still contemplating on a probable deep-within desire to retain sovereignty. He sent standstill agreements, each with the two Dominions of India & Pakistan with an intent to temporarily maintain status quo; Pakistan consented but India clearly conveyed ‘No Standstill Agreement without Accession’.
The horrifying events that unfolded after Jinnah’s call for Direct Action, irreversible polarization of people & ghastly communal riots in Indian provinces in the run up to Freedom added greater concerns to an already indecisive Maharaja.
In the end of Aug 1947, a number of Pakistani Nationals infiltrated into Poonch Jagir of the Princely State and began inciting the Muslim Sutti & Sudhan Tribes to launch protests against the Maharaja to force him to join Pakistan.
Spanning from Aug to Oct , these protests turned into a wildfire of killings of minorities and raids on frontier posts of State Forces all along the Western Jammu Region. Actions by armed & radicalized local groups assisted by 60,000 battle hardened demobilised soldiers, dispersed the State Forces into feeble penny-pockets, thereby preventing cohesive & coordinated counter-actions.
Sudhan Separatist Leaders, Sardar Ibrahim Khan & Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan masterminded these vicious actions and overtly collaborated with the Muslim League & Pakistan Army earning epithets of ‘Ghazi-e-Millat’ & ‘Mujahid-e-Awwal’ respectively.
On 21/22 Oct 1947, Pakistan unleashed OP GULMARG spearheaded by a notion of Jihad and radicalised Pashtun Tribal Lashkars led by Pakistani Officers. Muzaffarabad, Uri & Baramulla were attacked.
Maharaj Hari Singh dispatched Brig Rajendra Singh, his Army Chief towards Uri to contest the raiders. Brig Rajendra Singh, along with his handful of men, despite being outnumbered, fought a successful battle along Uri- Baramulla road, before he was martyred at Buniyar.
He was awarded India’s First MVC for a decisive action of delaying the raiders.
By 25 Oct 1947, the raiders reached Baramulla and stalled there to let loose barbaric acts of loot, plunder, savagery & rape, thereby, in a way, delaying their attack on Srinagar.
The J & K State Forces saw large scale desertions & defections in the Western & Northern frontier districts, which led to negligible or weak defence of border towns. Moreover, reinforcements did not reach in time except for Poonch & Kotli, which held out initially. Owing to the mass defections & desertions Kotli, Muzaffrabad, Bhimber, Rajauri & Mirpur fell early & easily.
On 24 Oct 1947, Sardar Ibrahim Khan declared Bhimber, Kotli, Mirpur & Muzaffarabad independent as ‘Azad Kashmir’ and himself came to be known as ‘Bani-e-Kashmir’.
These Western Districts, forcefully occupied by Pakistan owing to deceit, defections and treachery, today constitute the 10 districts of the PoK.
In order to salvage the deteriorating situation, Hari Singh approached India for help and on 26 Oct 1947 signed the Instrument of Accession to accede to India.
Consequently, Indian forces landed in Srinagar on 27 Oct 1947 to push back the intruders.
The ensuing battles in the region for the next 14 Months is a heroic saga of recapture of territory, highlighting ingenuity & perseverance, preceded and succeeded by iconic defensive battles. The Battles of Budgam, Jhangar, Naushera, Rajauri, Tithwal & Zojila stand out as a sterling testimony of the Indian Military character in its nascent days itself.
Poonch Town, besieged in Nov 1947, remained so for almost over an year. The bravery & steely resolve displayed by Lt Col Pritam Singh, alias ‘Sher Bachcha’ & Air Commodore Mehar Singh alias ‘Mehar Baba’ prevented its fall against all odds.
Op Easy launched by the Jammu Division for linking up Poonch via Rajouri, finally relieved it on 20 Nov 1948.
Now coming over to Gilgit-Baltistan. With the lapse of paramountcy in Aug 1947, Brigadier Ghansara Singh was made the Governor of Gilgit on premature British termination of the lease of Gilgit.
The region had at that time, one State Forces Battalion & 500 troops of Gilgit Scouts commanded by Maj William Alexander Brown. Muslim officers & troops of the State Forces and the Gilgit Scouts established contact with Maj William Brown to establish Pakistani Rule in Gilgit.
However, all the Rajas of the region professed loyalty to Maharaja Hari Singh except the Mehtar of Chitral.
On accession of Kashmir to India, there was a pandemonium in Gilgit and on 01 Nov, Ghansara Singh was arrested by the troops of Gilgit Scouts leading to the disintegration of the State Forces which resulted in massive killing of non-muslim comrades by Muslim troops of the State Forces Battalion & Gilgit Scouts.
On 04 Nov 1947, Pakistani flag was hoisted by Maj William Brown at the Gilgit Scouts lines & Peshawar was informed of Gilgit’s accession to Pakistan along with principalities of Hunza & Nagar.
Justifying his actions under a clandestine operation called OP DATTAKHEL, as ‘Coup-de-Etat’, he had remarked, “My actions appeared to possess all the elements of high treason, yet I know in my own mind that what I had done was right”, unquote.
From Indian point of view, Maj Brown’s action indicated British complicity, various conspiracy theories and Pakistani-British connivance, which surely gets substantiated by him being awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest civilian award in Pakistan, posthumously in 1993.
By the end of Nov 1947, Pakistan was in complete control of Gilgit, paving way for incursions into Baltistan. However, the onset of winters prevented immediate action.
In the meanwhile, Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa of the State Forces took up defences at Tsari, 20 Miles North West of Skardu. Tsari was attacked and overrun on 8/9 Feb 1948 and Skardu was beseiged on 14 February 1948 which continued until 14 Aug 1948, a total of 185 days.
Skardu fell only when it ran out of ammo, but the heroic & determined stand of Sher Jung Thapa & his men at Skardu delayed the operations of the raiders towards Kargil & Leh.
The raiders in the meantime had bypassed Skardu & took control of Kargil, Dras & Zojila Pass – threatening Leh. Leh could only be saved by air landing troops on a newly constructed airstrip by Sonam Norbu, a local engineer.
Subsequently, Operation Bison led to the recapture of Zojila & Kargil prior to ceasefire on 31 Dec 1948.
Seeing the geographic proximity of areas & alignment of the CFL, many questions are raised that seek an answer even today, that why this pursuit of raiders was left incomplete?
However, whatever be the reason, fact remains that history can no longer be changed, though no one knows what the future might hold!
Folks, let me share some thoughts on the latest developments in Eastern Ladakh over the past few days. As always, writing this blog post on the go, in the hope that it will eventually make sense!
Here goes ..
Firstly, I will NOT talk about the specific military situation in the area because, frankly, there is far too much noise on social media for me to paint a correct picture of what exactly has happened on the ground.
That said, the only fair assumption that I am going to endorse is that Indian troops have actually gone and occupied some heights with the aim of pre-empting Chinese movements. In fact, this seems to have been the line of the Chinese as well. So before moving ahead, let me delve on this particular aspect for some time.
At the outset let me say – This is HUGE!
And why do I say that?
Well, this is because it seems to be the first time that Indian soldiers have actually done something like this on the LAC (Doklam notwithstanding. That was a different ball-game altogether).
So much so, that the Chinese themselves didn’t know how to react to this event. Such was the confusion that Shri Hu went crying on Twitter that ‘THIS TIME’ it was the Indians that had changed the status quo, implicitly acknowledging that thus far it was China that was doing so!
In fact, so rattled were they that they went into a ‘statement frenzy’, ‘denouncing’ India for trying to emulate what they themselves have been doing for all these years! I guess they didn’t get the memo that says ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’!
This brings me to yet another question – Have we really gone 4km inside Chinese territory? Well, who knows! Regardless, fact remains that the mere occupation of commanding heights implies that if not physically, we would still be able to visually dominate a large area beyond and if need be, interfere with PLA movements there. Remember Kargil, and the threat to NH-1 posed by the Pakis?
How far ahead can we do that, depends upon the geography of the are which again, I have absolutely no idea about. But then, the 4km figure does get some context.
Next question is whether we have actually crossed the LAC or not.
Out here, what I’ll offer is the fact that firstly, the LAC has NOT been officially demarcated by India and China. Instead, what exists is a perception of where the LAC lies. This naturally means that there are areas that both sides claim to be on their side of the LAC.
In fact, this was what the initial fracas over the various Fingers from 4 to 8 all about in the months of May and June.
So what my guess is that the Indian armymen might very much be on their own side of what they claim, while having physically crossed and occupied areas that China thinks belongs to them.
From various accounts, one thing that is crystal clear is that it was a tactical move, undertaken to pre-empt the Chinese.
That it caught the Chinese by surprise says a LOT about the mental faculties of the PLA commanders and their rigid decision making.
Oh, talking about ‘rigid’, I’ll just leave this tweet from a few days ago over here.
Ok, coming back to this blog post, it is a fair assumption to say that the PLA are justified in crying buckets at having ‘lost’ territory to the Indian Army. Well, here is a piece of news for them – they have a LOT more territory to lose .. all of Aksai Chin, in fact.
Another V.E.R.Y interesting aspect that more or less is agreed to be true is the fact that Tibetan troops of the ‘hush hush establishment’ (which has its own wikipedia page, btw!) were involved as well!
No wonder that the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokie was a bit .. err .. curious about Tibetans serving as Indian troops!
This fact is as symbolic in the perception realm as it is deadly on the battlefield. The Tibetans are universally acknowledged to be under tremendous suppression by China. The news of they actually fighting back to re-enter their lands, even if in a small increment, is bound to pique interest in a LOT of world capitals, not to say galvanize their fellow countrymen who are still under Chinese occupation within Tibet itself.
So herein lies yet another symbolic victory, going more than the 4km being talked about.
In fact, it goes all the way to Lhasa!
Of course, lest I be declared guilty of getting carried away in a premature victory dance, let me put it out that the ongoing fracas in Eastern Ladakh is still very far from resolution. Things can still get resolved amicably (till the next round, that is), or go far south.
But one thing is for sure – For the time being it is China that seems to be in uncharted territory. I say it not only due to the fact that there have been so many statements from so many Chinese stakeholders (refer a few tweets above), but also since it is now the PLA that have the unenvious task of reacting to an Indian move.
Do they go and physically dislodge the Indians from those heights now?
But isn’t the era of nail studded clubs and stones and fisticuffs over, thanks to the sacrifice of the boys of the Bihar Regiment & their CO?
And what about the tens of thousands of troops amassed by India in the region?
Bottomline: I wouldn’t be envious of the situation that the Chinese commander would be finding himself in at this moment. And no, it is not just about the events on the battlefield, but also the pressure he must be under from the very highest political echelons in Beijing!
Btw, talking about the tens of thousands of troops, I’m not too sure about the PLA being very excited about staying the winter in these areas, their heated and oxygenated tents notwithstanding!
On the contrary, I saw reports on my TL that the Indian Army had procured (or was in the process of procuring) additional winter gear for 30,000 soldiers!
Call it whatever, but I call it a brilliant psychological punch right in the solar plexus of the PLA!
By amassing all those young boys flaunting their shiny toys, the PLA would have thought that they could just roll over the Indians without even having to fire a bullet. But here was the Tiger showing the finger to the Dragon by not just hastening his infrastructure projects but also signalling his readiness to take on the Dragon, man to man as well!
But jokes apart, on a more serious note, two large masses of armed men sitting not very far from each other and that too, under such circumstances, is never a good news.
All it takes is one little misunderstanding, or one error in judgement on part of any commander at any level can result in things getting out of hand at a moment’s notice.
Not that I doubt our boys aren’t prepared for that, mind you. Our boys are amongst the best soldiers anywhere in the world, a fact that wasn’t lost to the PLA in 1962 as well!
On the other hand, empirical evidence suggests quite the contrary about the PLA. Here’s what I blogged about their performance under fire by rag -tag militiamen some years ago :-
Yet, once the guns start booming, there is not knowing when or how will they stop. Add to this the fact that there is a real possibility of such a contingency spreading to other areas as well, including Sikkim and Arunachal. Wrote about it some months ago the blog post linked below:
This brings me to another question, or a flight of fancy, if you choose to call it that – Will a military clash, if it happens, stay confined to merely the Himalayas, or will China find guns shooting at it from the South/East China Sea and/or Taiwan Strait as well?
Yup, you may want to read that question above once more.
I have no doubts in my mind that the days of the world at large blindly believing the crap of ‘peaceful rise’ of China are well and truly over. All it takes is a mere glance at various statements and more importantly, ACTIONS around the world and you know that a LOT of paradigms related to China are changing.
Add to that the upcoming US elections and things don’t look too rosy for Xi ‘Winnie The Pooh’ Jinping in the days and weeks to come.
I wrote about this as well, some months ago in THIS blog post just as the world was learning how to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Must read the blog post linked above. I insist!
So here it is – all this hype and hoopla on social media notwithstanding (including this blog post by me), what speaks the LOUDEST is, in fact, the utter quiet on the part of the GOI, even as the PRC goes ballistic with statement after statement.
This silence has a LOT to say indeed. Call it whatever u may, I choose to draw an analogy with the golden silence of India against Pakistani ramblings in all recent border tensions, starting with the BSF mortars playing havoc with Pakistan Rangers in Oct 2014, right upto the abrogation of Article 370.
All in all, the coming days, weeks and even months are going to be testing times for our Nation in particular and the world in general.
The PLA, in any case not very keen to spend the winters in the middle of nowhere, may even end up forcing the hand of their political masters.
How might that manifest remains to be seen.
I’d assume that the weather will start getting colder and colder from October onwards. So that leaves the entire month of September open for any contingency that they might seek.
Call it a personal bias, but September is something that I have been looking at since long, not just on the Himalayas but elsewhere as well.
But one fact remains crystal clear – the PLA knows all too well that the Indian soldier is no pushover on the battlefield, a fact that was further underlined on the night of 15-16 June in Galwan at the hands of Col Santosh Babu and his Vir Biharis.
The PLA may signal their willingness to stay the winter all that they want, but fact remains that the moment the first gun fires, they might be worse off logistically than the Indian Army.
The areas in contention today are the same where the PLA lost hundreds of their men at the hands of ill-equipped Indian soldiers in 1962, who earned TWO Param Vir Chakras that winter.
The elephant may be a reluctant fighter, but when it does, it tramples all in its path.
I think it is time to wind up this blog post with another ‘flight of fancy’ – What are the odds that the current situation on the LAC is actually a manifestation of a political upheaval going on in Beijing?
This too might be worth ruminating over, for what it’s worth.
Talking about Tibetan brothers getting back to their lands, the Global Times may let out all sorts of propaganda videos in the vain hope that these will scare the Indians, but fact remains that they can NEVER even come close to making something like this of the Tibetan Warriors!
In the end, I’ll just leave this tweet here to sum up this chain of thoughts.
This is just the beginning, mind you .. the beginning of the end, that is. The process may take days, weeks or even years, but it is well and truly underway.
Before signing off, let me just link THIS blog post that I wrote some years ago on the Doklam Standoff. Plz do read this one as well. I insist!
Folks, sharing some thoughts on the current state of India-Nepal relations.
I remember watching this above news break some days ago. My first reaction was not anger, but instead, sadness. Deep sadness is indeed what took over me when I saw this finally happen.
It was also partly the reason why I chose NOT to write anything on this issue. But now I think it is time I share my thoughts. As always, I am going to be writing this on the go, with only a very vague structure to my thoughts. Let’s see how it goes.
Firstly, the map being passed was inevitable. No politician worth his salt would want to vote AGAINST a resolution calling for ADDING territory to his country.
It doesn’t matter that Nepal chose only now to come up with an entirely new map after all these years of existence as an an independent Nation. Heck, even in their boundary agreement with China in 1961, where there was practically NO involvement of India, their map was what is shown below – WITHOUT the now famous finger-type protrusion.
Yet, now the Commie govt decided they needed that additional land.
Talking about the communist led govt in Nepal, what adds to the incredulity of the entire situation is the sheer timing of the act of claiming Indian territory – right in the middle of a standoff with China that is ruled by fellow commies.
With both their VERY large neighbours involved in a serious conflict, any prudent govt might have thought of delaying raking up the issue.
But then, the key word here is ‘Prudent’.
With Comrade Oli and his credentials, I have no doubt that he was batting on behalf of his commie masters in Beijing who were only seeking to open up another front against India.
Yes, I call them Masters because that is what they are, rosy ‘ideals’ of communism notwithstanding. TheMiddle Kingdom considers NO ONE as an equal, least of all a small country like Nepal.
But whatever be the motive, now the deed is done. Suffice it to say, it cannot be undone by any future parliament of Nepal – which parliamentarian would vote to ‘give away’ territory to another country, huh?
I will come back to this thought in a while.
Leaving aside the fact that a loony commie is in charge of Nepal these days, let me delve on the traditional relationship between Nepal and its neighbours.
To be fair, it is natural for a small neighbour to try and get out of the shadow of a ‘big brother’ every once in a while. However, this time comrade Oli seems to have gone beyond all earlier norms by taking things beyond a point of no return – neither is India going to accept ceding of her territory to Nepal, nor is Nepal going to take back its claims on the land it now claims.
That it has come at a time when India-China tensions are at a peak and the Lipulekh Pass is a strategic gateway into Tibet only adds to the rising sentiments in India which also brings into question the impartiality of Nepal in this entire India-China fracas.
The road in question didn’t just appear overnight, btw!
But then, there is just no way that you can wake up someone who is merely pretending to be asleep, isn’t it?
That is a question that will never find a satisfactory answer for jilted Nepali brothers and sisters.
China definitely has far more money to throw around, especially as bribes to amenable politicians – The Aussie lawmaker whose properties have recently been raided by law enforcement agencies is just one of the many that has gotten exposed. WHO Chief too comes to mind.
To that end, I’ll just leave this screenshot doing rounds on Twitter, here.
Of course, it will be panned as fake.
I don’t mid that one bit!
What I am coming to is that China and Nepal can NEVER be what India and Nepal have been over millennia – bound by a common cultural and even familial ties. Now add to that, the ties of blood that countless Gorkha brothers of Nepal have shed with fellow soldiers of the Indian Army.
I call it a ‘rishta’ of Roti, Beti aur Lahoo.
This is a bond that has lasted through thick and thin for more than two centuries.
Even today, as per a newspaper report I came across some days ago, more than 30,000 Nepalese citizens continue to serve in the Indian Army.
One thing that surely must have crossed the minds of the powers that be in New Delhi in recent weeks would have been their continued availability in case Nepal didn’t permit those on leave to rejoin in this moment of grave crisis on LAC, citing Coronavirus related lockdown. Heck, with Nepal still under lockdown, I’m not sure if the Indian soldiers out there have actually been able to rejoin their battalions or not.
This is potentially a really serious issue, with attendant repercussions on continued recruitment of Nepalese citizens in Indian Army.
I’m sure there will be atleast a few in Nepal who say they don’t want their fellow citizens to serve in another country’s army.
Logically, it is a fair demand as well.
But then, how might they employ the 30,000 odd citizens who might find themselves out of a job if that happens?
Add to that an average salary of approx INR 40K per month that would translate into INR 120 crore of remittance to Nepal every month, and repercussions are apparent.
Heck, there already are more than just a handful folks in Nepal already demanding cessation of Nepalese citizens joining IA. I’m sure none of them have given any thought to the economic impact to their own motherland in case this demand actually fructifies.
With a nominal GDP of $30Bn (source: wiki), I doubt the economic impact of such a thing actually fructifying will be easily bearable by Nepal.
Of course, I am not even talking about pensions to retired Indian soldiers of Nepalese origin who must be more than 1,50,000 in numbers.
Then there is the question of countless other Nepalese citizens travelling and working freely in India, thanks to treaty privileges.
Hope you get where I am getting to.
But thankfully, this is NOT going to happen anytime soon!
India-Nepal relations are different, much different than India’s relations with any of its other neighbours.
To be fair, it is natural for a small neighbour to play bigger neighbours against each other for its own benefit. In fact, Nepal is not the only Indian neighbour doing that.
In the larger scheme of things it hardly matters, so long as it doesn’t impact own national interests.
So much so, that not many know that Nepal is one of the VERY FEW countries of the world that actually provide VISA-FREE entry to Pakistanis!
Yup, IC-814 hijackers too got logistical assistance from Kathmandu.
Sanctions imposed on Nepal in the aftermath were not very helpful to their economy either.
Yet the visa-free entry to Pakistan continues.
India never made a fuss about that.
Yet, fact remains that Nepal has also long been a preferred entry point into India by Pakistani terrorists.
Of course, this fact too is largely unknown.
But coming back to the India-Nepal border issue. The question now to be asked is how will Nepal enforce it.
Mind you, I ask this in all seriousness.
The area where Lipulekh lies is one of the remotest areas of Nepal. I doubt whether even a decent road exists out there.
But even that question is moot.
The biggest question is how does it get enforced without use of force?
You know why I ask this?
Because the day force is used by either side, it will be the end of a civilizational linkage spanning over millennia.
A linkage of Roti, Beti aur Lahoo.
Of course, Nepalese border guards recently killed a few Indian citizens in Bihar. Yet, the GOI sought to downplay the entire incident, hoping for better sense to prevail. Sad as it might be, that seems to be the only pragmatic way ahead if we need any chance of normalization.
But soon thereafter there were reports of Nepal moving additional forces in that area. This is in addition to the news that Nepal is planning to establish an army outpost towards Lipulekh as well!
Then there are bombastic statements by so many on Nepalese side about they enforcing their claims by use of military.
Well .. to them I’ll say .. be my guest.
But before that I’ll ask them a few questions.
The first question is – what happens after the first bullet is fired? Is there any realistic way in which they can claim that they’ll prevail?
Yes, the Gorkhas make some of the best soldiers in the world. I have absolutely no doubts about that. It is a well deserved reputation, earned through much blood and toil.
But to say that they can just go an grab territory under Indian control is a bit .. well .. fantastical IMO.
But thankfully, this is something I don’t see happening. And thank God for that.
In any case, I find none of them having an answer to what happens elsewhere, in case bullets do start flying – status of Nepalese soldiers in IA, other Nepalese workers in India and such likes.
There is one more question I wish to ask of them, btw.
Are there any similar plans for retaking Nepalese territory currently in Chinese control?
Of course it took the commie govt of Kathmandu a really long time to even acknowledge this loss of territory and subsequently dismiss it as a fake news.
Well, you’ve made your bed.
And China is already occupying much of it.
But then, it is between Nepal and China, so I won’t comment on that any further.
Instead, what I wish to delve upon for a bit is to see how do we go back to a de-escalation of emotions from here.
All said and done, it would be a sad day indeed if the GOI ends up enforcing another blockade of Nepal.
Or if remittances / financial grants etc from India, that could be upto 10% of their nominal GDP, get affected.
Will China be able to provide economic opportunities to Nepalese citizens that India provides? Or a conduit to oil and other essential imports?
Or continue to provide opportunities to hoodwink the SAFTA as Oli and his ‘boys’ were caught doing recently by importing Malaysian palm oil after India stopped imports, and then re-selling it to India as ‘Nepalese’ palm oil?
Bottomline – India has been a ‘Big Brother’ in the neighbourhood, no doubt.
That is a function of our geography that just cannot be wished away. But then, India has been a really benign Big Brother.
And this DESPITE the ENORMOUS leverages India holds.
Now compare that with China and how it treats its own neighbours.
Yes, the same China on whose tunes comrade Oli is dancing with reckless abandon.
To some extent, it is also a failure of Indian diplomacy that things have come to such a state. But then, the fact that comrade Oli is feeling threatened too is a natural outcome of the civilizational ties between India and Nepal re-asserting themselves.
Of course, even if he loses his job, it will be another member of the Nepalese Communist Party coming to power. But then, they have been in power earlier as well. ‘Prachanda’ has been in power in various avatars before. For all we know, he might end up coming back to power again.
But commie or not, I doubt he is as big a loonie as Comrade Oli.
However, even if that happens, thing remains that Nepal has CONSTITUTIONALLY adopted a new map.
This is a fact that just cannot be wished away.
This is something that can potentially be a lasting thorn in India-Nepal relations.
Might there be a way out of this mess that Oli has ended up creating?
The only option that comes to mind is for Nepal to go to the International Court of Justice or some such international forum to settle the issue either which way.
That apart, I don’t see any way out that might be acceptable to both sides. But it will be better to sort out this mess any which way possible, at the earliest. Once again, even if at the cost of repetition, I’ll say that civilizational ties cannot be wished away.
Nepalese economy is currently 100 times smaller than Indian economy. Over time, this discrepancy will only grow.
PERHAPS .. sometime in future Nepal might actually come into some form of a loose federation with India.
Remember, much of it was in any case a part of King Ashok’s empire more than two millennia ago. Terai region of Nepal itself continued in some form or another to be a part of a number of subsequent Indian kingdoms as well.
I know it is a flight of fancy, atleast for the time being.
But then, who knows ..
In any case, a China just cannot come to your aid the way India did after the recent earthquake. That’s because they are not only physically but also emotionally as far from Nepal as can be.
Time to end this blog post.
Nepal is free to build new bridges. It is their inalienable right.
BUT, burning old bridges in the process is something that is bound to raise a few eyebrows, especially when the new bridges have not yet been tested fully.
All I’ll say in the end is a repetition of something I said a number of times before in this blog – Roti, Beti aur Lahoo.
So with the justifiably growing demands for moving on to Indian apps, amongst those being touted as Indian alternatives is the Hike Messenger.
Understandably, their creators are Indian.
But when I decided to did into them a bit, their wikipedia page gave a V.E.R.Y interesting piece of info about their ‘Indianness’ – Apparently, on 16 Aug 2016, just one day after the 69th anniversary of Indian independence, Hike got a 175 Million Dollar investment from a Tencent Group led grouping (India’s WhatsApp Rival Hike Raises $175M led by Tencent).
Now who is Tencent, I asked.
Once again Wikipedia came to the rescue!
Tencent is a Fcuking CHINESE company based out of Shenzen!
A Chinese company owns a substantial stake in an ‘Indian’ App!
What I did next on Wikipedia was to check out the owners of Tencent. Unsurprisingly, out came the name of Shri Ma Huateng.
Who’s Ma Huateng, you asked?
Well, he has a Wikipedia page too!
That page tells that he is a member of the Chinese Communist Party – a VERY SENIOR member at that. Heck, he is a part of the 12th National People’s Congress!
As far as the other co-founders go, not much is available as of now about them, but I’ll not be surprised if they too are linked to the Chinese Communist Party.
But for the time being, I’ll leave it.
And then there is another ‘beautiful’ thing about Tencent.
TENCENT ARE THE OWNERS OF WECHAT!
Yup, let that sink in a bit!
WeChat – the preferred social engineering tool of the Communist Party of China!
And they own a sizeable stake in ‘Indian’ Hike Messenger!
Yes, the same WeChat that DELETED all references to the Indian Prime Minister’s statement on the India China FaceOff from their platform!
Now tell me that Tencent will NOT be interfering in content management or such likes in Hike Messenger, and I’ll show you a white coloured marble building in Agra that I wish to sell!
Of course, there is also the ‘small’ issue of private data of the 10 million plus mostly Indian users who have installed this app, that can potentially be accessible to the Chinese Communist Party member owned Tencent.
Chilling, I’ll say.
Hope you are able to see where I am going with this chain of thoughts.
If not, then let me shout it out for you – HIKE MESSENGER HAS A SUBSTANTIAL CHINESE FOOTPRINT.
At the very least, they are earning money from you and me and sending a chunk of it to China, thanks to the stake owned by the CCP member led Tencent.
So to all that are selling Hike as an Indian messenger app to me, I’ll say Thanks, but no thanks!
I’m not going to install an app that can potentially make available my personal data to a company owned by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party.
Hence, I am betting on Chirrups App as an Indian alternative instead of Hike or such likes. If it succeeds, I’ll let go of all social media platforms that I’m using.
This is my recommendation for you all – I get good vibes from them.
(These thoughts were shared on twitter last night. Putting them here for archival purposes)
Folks, moving on from THIS blog of last night to the developments that have taken place since, especially in light of what the Indian Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister said earlier today.
But first, let me take you back to yesterday afternoon. This news first broke at about 1:00 pm on 16 June 2020. Now that in itself is very interesting! The Govt of India chose to wait for nearly 16 hours to make the report of the incident public.
Now what might have gone on within those 16 hours is anybody’s guess – The GOI might have been trying to get a clear picture of what actually happened, or might have been working backchannels to prevent things from spiralling further .. It’s all open to speculation.
But then, there was one interesting news that also came about almost simultaneously with the story breaking – that the Indian authorities will do a formal briefing at 2:00pm.
Heck, I had to pend my lunch break, waiting for that briefing.!
Alas, it never came!
Somehow, instead of being disappointed, I was reminded of a similar press conference from last year that too got postponed for reasons unknown!
And true to that intuition, soon thereafter came a couple of tweets from China – thru Shri Hu Xijin, as well as the Global Times, acknowledging the ‘violent’ faceoff, but surprisingly, also acknowledging that the Chinese side too had suffered casualties!
Now this was really interesting.
You know why interesting?
Because till that time ,the GOI themselves had not said anything about casualties on the Chinese side.
To top it up, Shri Hu also seemed a bit ‘subdued’ from his characteristic bombast of recent days – calling for sanity to prevail, of all things!
Feel free to disagree, but to me it sounds like a plea not to escalate things any further.
Ok, ‘plea’ might be something that some folks may not agree with, so let me call it a ‘request’ instead.
Bottomline – The Chinese were not prepared for this magnitude of casualties on both sides. The very fact that they agreed to casualties on the PLA side and also said that they wouldn’t want to disclose their numbers, said as much.
They were willing to engage India towards de-escalation.
Ultimately, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs gave out an official statement in the evening.
It was clear that the Chinese were unwilling to listen to reason. The MEA chose to lay the blame squarely on China. This was also the first official statement from India saying that the PLA too suffered casualties, btw.
Mind you, in the middle of it, social media ‘warriors’ (myself included!) had gone ballistic at the sheer magnitude of casualties suffered by own side.
Let it suffice to say that this ‘violent’ faceoff has been far too ‘spectacular’ to simply wish away.
It just cannot be.
Once again, let me draw an analogy with the Pulwama Attack of last year. This one too is not much different from that attack.
The sheer anger that it has generated means that the GOI simply cannot NOT retaliate.
Not retaliating would not only dent the image of the Nation, but also be political suicide for the Govt of the day. Heck, the ghost of 1962 still hangs around the neck of the then Prime Minister. So no, it wasn’t a surprise that the Prime Minister said what he said in his address to the Nation in light of the loss of own troops.
His words were poignant and loaded with meaning.
The Prime Minister himself saying those words means that the back-channels that back-channels to seek any mutually agreed way out of this mess have failed.
Of course, as I said before, it is far too big to ignore altogether.
Right on cue, the Chinese Foreign Minister called up the Indian EAM soon thereafter!
Of course, a hardened Indian stand doesn’t suit the Chinese plan of just browbeating the Indian Army without having to actually fight them man to man, right?
This is what I wrote in my previous blog (linked in first para of this blog)
The subsequent statement of the Indian External Affairs Minister too made the Indian stance abundantly clear – there is no way this latest provocation from China will be left unpunished.
Unsurprisingly, the Global Times once again recommenced its campaign of ‘terrorizing’ India with ‘jazzy’ videos of PLA troops simulating battle practice under controlled conditions!
Yup, V.E.R.Y professionally made videos.
But a ‘photogenic’ army and an effective army are two very different things, no?
This is what I wish to devote some time on, hereafter.
One thing is for sure – the way the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister have spoken, something will most likely happen – something very visible.
The earliest that we may see some announcement is 19 June when the all party meet shall take place. At the very least, I feel there is some sort of economic retaliation coming up against China. Let me delve on that for a moment, before moving ahead.
India’s trade deficit with China is more than $50Bn, despite all assurances by China to try and redress this imbalance. So economic retaliation does make a lot of sense. After all, China stands to lose much much more than India.
But then, this is NOT what I am getting at.
What I am more interested in, is how China takes economic sanctions from India, if it actually happens!
How they react will be really interesting to see, even if Indian sanctions are merely pinpricks compared to what the USA is doing to them!
Would the manic ego of the Chinese comrades permit them to swallow such ‘humiliation’ at the hands of an ‘uppity’ India?
With the USA, it can still be justified – it gives them a sense of having ‘arrived’, when the sole superpower is fighting an economic war with them.
Herein lies a challenge as well.
Will this induce China to mellow down their military stand on the LAC?
I’d say No.
The sheer ego of the commies that occupy Tibet will prevent them from accepting such ‘humiliation’, that too at the hands of a supposedly ‘inferior’ neighbour.
So no, do NOT expect China to ever let go of their claims over the Galwan area by such no-kinetic means. They won’t back-off just like that. In fact, economic measures might actually exacerbate the military situation on the LAC.
So, how might that pan out?
Well, first thing first – Til the time the LAC provocations were limited to face-offs and fists and kicks, it didn’t really matter how many troops were amassed behind, so long as you could maintain numerical superiority at the point of face-off itself.
However, in case the guns start booming, this won’t be the case.
In such a scenario, a LOT will depend upon how many troops can China build up opposite Ladakh. What also has a bearing on this is how many troops can China actually spare for this contingency, given the mess they have created on all other borders.
Remember, there are THREE aircraft carrier of the US Navy patrolling the South China Sea and thereabouts!
So coming back to Ladakh – Can they build up numerical superiority to actually militarily enforce their claims?
And then comes the question of how much numerical superiority is considered enough. Remember, the Indian EAM said it was a pre-meditated attack by China on the night of 15 June. YET, the PLA suffered fatal and non-fatal casualties to the tune of 40+.
Some ‘pre-meditation’, this, huh?
Now let me further spice things up a bit.
What is to say that a military clash, IF it comes, will stay localized to Ladakh?
I am surprised that no one is yet talking about this, atleast none that I came across on my TL.
When it comes to China, a LOT of historical wrongs are long pending to be righted. That includes the case of Coco Islands as well, doesn’t it?
Feel free to mull over it for a moment before moving ahead.
To sum it up, escalation is very easy to achieve. Heck, the Chinese have just given us a beautiful example of that in the Galwan River area over the past few days and weeks.
But then, when it comes to de-escalation things are not so simple. Especially when you DON’T want to ‘lose face’.
And herein lies a huge challenge.
Especially when there has been such a grave provocation.
Will the Chinese agree to de-escalation wherein India gets even a ‘notion of victory’?
I’d say, No.
The CCP will simply HAVE to be ‘victorious’, whatever the case may be.
Such is the nature of communist regimes.
They just cannot be seen to be weak.
So brace yourselves, folks. The coming days promise to be really interesting indeed, to say the least. Indian retaliation may or may not come tomorrow, or the day after, or even next week. But come it surely will.
The first steps are likely to be economic. Military steps, much needed, if they indeed happen, might come later.
The Post-COVID world that I talked about a couple months ago seems to be shaping out just as I thought it would. This blog might be worth a relook at this point in time –The Post COVID-19 World
(These thoughts were tweeted before the official statement from the MEA was released)
You know what is the most significant statement about current state of the #ChinaIndiaFaceoff?
Well, it is the LACK of a statement thus far by GOI.
What this tells me is that the situation is still developing. It might go downhill still, or might get resolved. Wait & watch how it pans out.
On the other hand, the Chinese govt has gone public about the incident with their spokesperson, Lijian Zhao, as well as the Global Times and Hu Xijin.
Does it say something?
I can’t be sure, but in it might lie some messaging as well.
From what is known in public domain, it might merely be an unfortunate face-off where both sides came face to face in the night time. Mind you, this is NOT a routine thing, going by previous templates of such engagements which have thus far, only been reported in daytime.
It might just be an unfortunate incident.
After all, despite all safety protocols, at the end of the day it is one body of hundreds of INDIVIDUAL human being interacting with another such body. I did speculate about that in my previous blog – On the Ladakh Standoff Between Indian and China
Might it be a pre-meditated escalation? Not very far fetched, I’d say.
In case it be so, which side might have triggered it might be a question which may never get answered, atleast for the foreseeable future.
That is why I am, for the time being, waiting for an official word from the GOI. This is what might give an insight into the current state of affairs and likely future courses that the GOI might be contemplating.
In any case, ‘quasi-official’ sources of various influencers on social media are already in the process of divulging details in bits and pieces. Whom to believe, and whom to dismiss is solely your prerogative.
Facts, atleast as far as the number of fatalities goes, WILL emerge, since the GOI does not hide those. Numbers of non-fatal casualties may or may not be known, though. However, in any case, even in current absence of absolute facts, one this is clear – THINGS AREN’T NORMAL ANYMORE.
Where we go from here, is anybody’s guess.
In any case, what has happened, was inevitable, in my opinion.
Of course, time and circumstances under which it has happened does tend to catch one unawares. However, keeping aside the flood of emotions and anger coursing through the veins, it should rather be taken as a blessing that of the dozens of times that hundreds of troops from both sides have engaged in physical scuffling on the LAC, lives haven’t been lost much earlier.
Small mercies, huh?
After all, which two armies fight each other this way – with fists and kicks?
We should just be thankful that it is only now that things have deteriorated to this extent.
However, coming back to what I said earlier – the inevitability of it all.
As India rises to reclaim its rightful place in the larger scheme of things, increasing friction with China is inevitable. I wrote a blog on it some years ago – China & India – Together Ahead?. Do read before moving ahead.
Bottomline – A clash / conflict with China is a matter of ‘When’, not ‘If’.
Are we seeing the beginning of it?
I’d say YES.
Like it or not, it is unavoidable. At best we may kick the can a few years down the line as we build our capacities. In fact, we’ve already been doing that for some years now. Whether or not we as a Nation want it, fact is that it is coming.
Or maybe a few years down the line.
Mind you, the NathuLa clash of 1967 too commenced with a Commanding Officer getting injured in firing by the PLA. Over here, it seems one Commanding Officer has actually died under circumstances that are still not very clear.
Seen in the larger scheme of things, it could also be China lashing out wherever it can, given the immense pressures they are under, thanks to their role in the possible creation and of course, the spread of the virus that resulted in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
However, that doesn’t give them a free pass to kill my soldiers.
At the cost of repetition, I’ll once again say that the GOI will simply HAVE to react aggressively, given their reputation from past years and consequent expectations from the Nation.
What form that takes, needs to be seen.
If played well, then hindsight will tell us that this incident was just the trigger needed to ‘formally’ reset our relationship with China from the current ‘accommodative’ stand to something more natural – Adversarial, or at best, neutral.
Remember, Balakot came nearly two weeks after Pulwama. Over here, time and tenor of retribution may take a bit longer. At the very least, I see a strike on Chinese economic interests in India.
At the other end of the spectrum lies a military escalation.
For some time, cast aside your emotions and see it in the light of the US-China spat and the upcoming US Presidential elections.
For all we know, it will end up strengthening our own hand against the Chinese in a much shorter timespan than otherwise possible.
China already has her hands full across all its borders – Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, SCS, Korea – you name it and there is something or the other going on.
And then there are reports of three US Aircraft Carriers in or near the South China Sea.
Of course, I see all this as pieces falling into place in one high stakes game of Wei Qi.
Coming back to the Himalayas, China may have relative advantage on the LAC till such time that things are kept below a boiling point – With weapons secured behind the backs, they needn’t worry about long lines of logistics, right?
Given the fact that PLA has its hands full in other theatres as well, it is really doubtful how they can prevail on the LAC except in a handful of areas in case of a larger conflict.
Herein lies an opportunity, today or maybe a few months down the line, to regain the moral and tactical upper hand on the LAC.
Let me conclude this chain of thoughts with a simple statement – the Indian Armed Forces will do whatever the GOI tells them to do, and they will do it perfectly.
If the GOI tells them to keep their rifles slung behind their backs, this is exactly what they will do.
On the other hand, if the GOI tells them to point them across the LAC, they WILL ensure that the PLA doesn’t know what hit them.
What we usually see are figures of a 2 million strong PLA, or three divisions of PLA entering Tibet. What we often overlook is how many troops the Indian Army can bring to the same battlefield.
Mind you, I am not even talking about the other two services – the IAF and the Indian Navy.
Food for thought, right?
In the end, all I’ll say is that it might be worth waiting for a day or two in order to see how things are likely to progress.
Remember, the Chinese can come in whenever and wherever they want to.
Escalation control thereafter lies with India as to how it reacts.
We’ve seen it in Doklam. Let us see what happens this time round.
A civilizational clash between India and China was written by fate the moment the first PLA soldier set his foot in Tibet in 1950. We might just be witnessing the unfolding of the endgame in the coming days, months and years.
Oh, btw, how many of your remember the Finance Ministry asking sometime in 2013 whether the threat from China will still remain five years down the line, when asked for funds for additional troops for the LAC?
(This chain of thoughts was tweeted by me on 01 June 2020. Plugging it here for archival purposes)
This tweet above and the video embedded therein generated quite a bit of ‘excitement’ on my twitter Timeline. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on the current snafu on the LAC.
But before moving ahead, let me offer a disclaimer. I don’t intend to go into the specifics of the alignment of the LAC between the two countries. Enough has already been said on that, by the doomsday walas as well as the ‘All is Well’ walas.
Instead, what I intend to talk about is my thoughts on the fairly regular ‘interaction’ between the two militaries on the LAC, one aspect of which is depicted in the video above. Do watch it before reading ahead in this blog post, if not watched already. Here it is –
That there is a dispute, is undeniable.
But then, what exactly is this dispute that we keep hearing about?
Well, to put it simply – the two sides do not agree as to where the LAC lies in a few sectors – thus what is called ‘Claim Lines’, wherein both sides feel that the other side claims ‘their’ land. THIS is the ‘difference in perception’ that the Raksha Mantri talked about some time ago.
With both sides keen to retain their claims, patrolling parties inevitably ‘cross over’ into areas claimed to be theirs by the opposing side.
Hence the occasional video / photograph of both sides engaged in shoving and jostling with each other.
This is the ‘normal’ interaction between the Indian Army and the PLA.
Sharing some photographs to put things in correct perspective before moving ahead with my observations.
Here is a video as well, for those interested. Do watch it, atleast partially before moving ahead, since it has a bearing on what in intend writing further.
The thing is, despite all sorts of provocations at higher echelons, the interaction on the ground between both armies is diligently kept below a level that might cause grievous bodily harm to anyone from the other side.
Bottomline: NONE seek escalation beyond a point.
So what about all those reports of a buildup of ‘tens of thousands of troops’ behind the area of the current standoff?
Well, didn’t we hear the same during the Doklam days?
Oh, and talking about Doklam, that standoff lasted nearly 2.5 months whereas this one is less than a month old!
Mind you, I am not saying that this too will follow the same template as in Doklam.
Things might still go downhill. It is about whether both govts can come up with a via media wherein a de-escalation can be ‘sold’ to domestic audiences as a ‘victory’ by boths sides, real or imagined.
It is HERE that the current issue lies.
Like it or not, the release of the video of the Chinese boy captured by the Indian troopers and the counter visuals of Indian troops in Chinese hands do not help the cause.
Is it a cause for worry, though?
Of course, it is.
But not for reasons we might think.
In a far-fetched contingency, in case guns do start booming, will such scenarios matter?
First of all, the last time that guns boomed on the LAC was in Sep-Oct 1967, i.e. more than half a century ago. And unsurprisingly, it was the Chinese that came second best!
For those who aren’t aware, just google for Chola and Nathula clashes.
Yet, we remain fixated with 1962, not realizing that there too, wherever he was led well, the Indian soldier stood like a ROCK in the path of Chinese hordes, making them pay dearly with their blood for every inch of territory they gained.
But is it to say that this current standoff too will degenerate further in to a shooting match?Well, thus far, I’ve seen both sides exercise enough caution to indicate that they are not really interested in that. (Once again, I’m NOT going to talk about merits / demerits of that)
However, at the end of the day, despite all policies and agreements on that account, it remains the soldiers on the ground who are ultimately entrusted with ensuring that it remains thus.
What is to say that in the heat of the moment, a Jat, or a Sikh, or a Gorkha, or any other soldier of the Indian Army, or for that matter, one from the PLA will NOT end up losing his cool and end up initiating a chain of events that may potentially take the entire situation downhill?
Remember, the Chola clash of 1967 started not with a rifle being fired, but a Khukri being flashed, resulting in a Chinese sentry losing his arm to a Gorkha soldier of 7/11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army.
As I’ve said before, human element plays a big role.
It is here that the military leadership at lower levels assumes paramount importance. To that end, hats off indeed to the immense maturity displayed by the young Indian commander in the video at the beginning of this blog post, in ensuring that the captured PLA boy doesn’t come to more harm at the hands of his men.
But then, what exactly happens in case situation deteriorates and guns actually end up opening up again on the LAC after nearly 53 years?
First of all, all those beautifully pitched tents of the PLA being shared as photographic evidence will be up in smoke for sure! Satellite imagery works both ways, no?
In any case, this is very nearly the same area where TWO Param Vir Chakras were earned by the Indian Army in 1962 – by Major Dhan Singh Thapa and Major Shaitan Singh – both extracting the lives of thousands of PLA troops in the process.
As a follow-up of that incident, I came across the account of the battle by the Indian company commander who pulled PLA nuts out of fire. He says that when he asked the PLA commander as to why they abandoned their post, the answer was ‘Because it was not safe out there.’
Yes, this was a commander in a professional, well equipped army, talking about a situation created by a rag-tag militia in South Sudan!
But coming back to the current standoff, that we (as well as the Chinese) choose not to escalate and instead, seek diplomatic solution instead of military escalation. It is not a reflection of the professionalism of the Indian Army, but instead, a well considered decision of the Govt of India.
And dare I say, the Govt of India doesn’t choose this option from a position of weakness, but from one of strength, with full confidence in its army to deliver on whatever directions it gets. Doklam is a very recent example of this.
Cant’ say the same for the PLA, though, given their performance under fire in South Sudan. Till such time the rifles are slung behind the backs on the LAC, no side has a relative advantage. But in a scenario when this no longer holds, the Indian Army is well capable of ‘surprising’ the hubristic PLA.
An India-China showdown is inevitable, given that both are jostling for the same geopolitical space.
But that is not to say that it will happen right now!
As for the current standoff, I’ll just leave THISpiece here. Make your own assumptions.
Oh, and talking about ‘Little Emperors’ that make up the PLA soldiers, HEREis another piece that first came to my notice some years ago. Worth a read.
To conclude, those predicting doomsday for the Motherland would be well advised to take a swig of their favourite alcoholic beverage in order to calm their nerves. An escalation may or may not happen, but even if it does, trust your army to deliver!
In the end, let me share some thoughts that I blogged when the Doklam crisis was still ‘hot’. Similarities with the current one might still emerge. Here it is – Doklam Standoff: Thoughts on the Endgame
Folks, sharing some thoughts on the recently foiled terror attack in Pulwama.
What I find surprising is how little ‘air-time’ it has received on social media and even mainstream media.
Just because it was unsuccessful?
Let me put things into context.
Firstly, let me discuss what exactly was being planned.
The Pulwama Attack of Feb 2019 is just over one year old, so we all remember that, right?
This one too was looking at something similar in effect – visual as well as material damages as the one last year. This car too was laden with 60+ kilograms of explosive.
You know what 60kg explosive can do? Well here is the video of the explosion caused when the IED was detonated in a controlled environment by own troops some time ago.
To put things in another context, Wikipedia tells me that the Brahmos missile has a 200kg warhead.
So this car was laden with about 1/3rd of that.
Yup let that sink in a bit – SIXTY KG!
Just imagine the effect this would have had on yet another soft skinned vehicle carrying about 40-50 CRPF troopers, as was the original plan of the bastards.
Hope you see where I am getting to ..
What our boys have achieved is NOT merely averting a terror attack, but possibly another military clash, perhaps far bigger than what came in light of the Pulwama attack of last year.
Here I take a moment to thank them all for their selfless service to the Motherland.
Just imagine what might have been the aftermath had this attack been successful.
With the experience of Feb 2019, the GOI would have been expected to act with no lesser fury. But .. is it the right time for that?
The Nation is just about settling down as it fights COVID-19 and the attendant social and economic challenges that come with it. Of course Beggaristan too is dealing with it, but about their ‘fight’ with the disease, lesser said, better it is.
Then there is the ongoing fracas on the LAC with the Chinese. I’ll leave that bit out of further discussion on this blog post because I intend writing about it separately in a few days.
But, a major terror attack of the kind that was just foiled and the expected aftermath would have definitely made Indian position a bit more difficult, no?
Is it too fantastical to claim that Pakistan was acting like a true and loyal lap-dog of China when it attempted this attack?
Why else would the Terroristani Beggar-in-Chief allude to a ‘false-flag’ attack by India FOUR TIMES IN PAST THREE WEEKS?
As the Prime Minister, I’m sure he knows what his Brown Panted boys are upto, right?
You want a smoking gun?
Here it is.
The Bastards had already thought up yet another ‘brilliant’ alibi for what they knew was to come in Kashmir. Remember Musharraf and his ‘freedom fighters’ occupying heights in Kargils in 1999?
Yes, these idiots are not very creative, I must say.
Before moving ahead, let me just leave this screenshot of a tweet from two weeks before the attack was foiled.
Now with the benefit of hindsight, would you call that ‘incident’ of running through checkposts a trial run?
Would you call the people who went mad, accusing own forces of high-handedness, fifth columnists working for the enemy?
(Disclaimer: This comment is generic in nature, no alluding to Shri Gokhale personally in any manner)
That incident was dismissed as a mere ‘traffic violation’ by some folks.
Technically, this one too was a much similar ‘traffic violation’, no? This time too the forces fired at the vehicle, sadly missing the driver who chose to run away.
Now just imagine if the media had just broken this part of the story – the same rudaali would have been commenced by the usual suspects.
So should I say ‘Thank God’ that this time the vehicle was found to be laden with explosives?
These homegrown ‘liberals’ are either willing pawns in the hands of Pakistan, or sheer idiots unwittingly doing their bidding.
I’ll let you decide on that. As far as my opinion goes, I’d rather reserve it to myself, lest I cause a furore!
Btw, for a moment just imagine if this attack had succeeded.
Pakistan would have been crying hoarse with cries of ‘Imran Khan told you so’, ‘Imran Khan Zindabad’ and such likes, in addition to ISPR’s brilliant hashtag campaign on Twitter, right?
As far as homegrown Jaichands go, Pulwama 2019 template is still too fresh to be elaborated all over again.
To cut a long story short, they would be gloating, just like last year, happy that the Govt of India is in a spot; not caring for the killing of the Nation’s soldiers .. THEIR soldiers.
With the forces already engaged with China on the LAC, this would have only relieved pressure on the Chinese for the time being, enabling them to concentrate better on their own self-created siyaapas in the SCS and Hong Kong, with their India front secure, no?
Btw, before moving ahead, let me just plug THIS tweet here in this thread. Willful partners of Pakistan, or unwitting accomplices – I’ll leave that to your judgement
Ok, so back to the blog post.
This Nation of ours seems truly blessed that despite being surrounded by enemies outside as well as within, we are somehow able to keep plodding forward. Thank God for the countless, faceless men and women who put their very lives on the line day in and day out for our safety.
I’ve said it before as well – The real fight coming up is that of China with the rest of the world.
The way the Chinese are thrashing about everywhere is indicative of the terror that they are feeling within, despite the bravado outside.
It is here that pet dogs can and WILL be put to good use. What better than to force a principle land adversary to look AWAY from the Himalayan borders as the commies go about sorting out their own mess?
Especially when a few crumbs thrown at Rawalpindi would do the trick?
Let me say again – I would NOT want this to be treated as a terror attack that has been foiled. Rather, I would like to see this treated as a full-fledged attack mounted by Pakistan that our forces have beaten back, just like in the 1965 or 1971 wars,
Retribution MUST be visited on those responsible.
Thankfully, the pressure to do so immediately is not there this time round because the IED exploded at a time and place where WE wanted it, not when the Terror Central based out of Rawalpindi wanted.
So here I finish this blog post, once again with heartfelt gratitude to all our warriors who have just done what they are tasked to do. Let the enemies outside and within do their worst.
WE SHALL PREVAIL.
Update (06 Feb 2021) : The person responsible for the attempted attack has been nabbed in Anantnag!
So this tweet generated quite an interesting discussion on my mentions yesterday.
Even though the circumstances regarding the WHO meet have changed by now, yet I will take some time to take this chain of thoughts forward. So here are my thoughts on whether it is time for Indian to change her policy on Taiwan.
Firstly, why the current policy?
Well, this is due to the Paranoid Republic of China’s insistence on the world recognizing Taiwan as their province; basically the ‘One China Policy’.
Never mind that the Taiwanese have been administering themselves for the past 71 years in a democratic republic that the Communist overlords of China can only find threatening to their very survival!
After all, how can a ‘renegade’ province of the Middle Kingdom be democratic!
So much so that they go on issuing ‘experience’ certificates to all that ‘dare’ to engage with Taiwan!
With their increased economic and military heft, they have been successful in bulldozing practically the entire world in keeping Taiwan at an arm’s length.
To be fair to the CCP, they did it because, well, they could!
Might is right, after all!
I won’t delve much on that since it is a well known fact. However, what has happened in the very recent past is that the #WuhanCoronaVirus pandemic has shaken the very foundations of the current world order.
Herein lies an opportunity for the entire world to shrug off the rising Middle Kingdom & their arrogant, sanctimonious ways.
Knowing the Chinese, they must have prepared a roadmap for next 50 years as to how to go about their ‘peaceful’ rise & who all to ‘teach a lesson’ on the way as they do so. But this #ChineseVirus pandemic and their typical handling of the entire mess has put a MASSIVE spoke in the wheels of history that the Chinese must have planned for themselves.
EACH and EVERY person in each and every country, more or less, is seething with anger at them.
Even as Trump said that the US might even de-couple from China in ALL respects across the board, others too are doing much the same, or atleast a bit of the same.
Bottomline is that the world is changing faster and faster, geopolitically speaking.
India won’t be immune to it either, in case anyone of us is thinking that way. We may not be faced with a ‘With us or Against us’ question, but the thing is that we will be EXPECTED to play the role of an upcoming power that we are.
Going forward from this point, let me offer a disclaimer – I am in no way prescribing a ‘way ahead’ for Govt of India. What I write hereon are strictly my personal views!
I am sanguine that the GOI will act in whatever way they feel is best for the country under current circumstances. It may or may not conform to my views, but so be it!
Coming to the issue of India and her re-evaluating relationship with Taiwan, let us be very clear about one thing – The current relationship is what it is, thanks to the ‘sensitivities’ of the Paranoid Republic of China.
Let’s have no doubt about that.
And, a reset in the India-Taiwan relationship too will be an outcome of the state of India-China relationship.
Which brings me to the next question – What is the current state of the India-China relationship?
Well .. does that really need an answer?
China has been our neighbour ever since they invaded Tibet in 1950. Ever since then, they have been an excellent example of a BAD neighbour.
I’ll be glad to be corrected on the above statement!
I think this tweet below sums up the current India-China relationship perfectly.
The Paranoid Republic of China is NO ONE’S friend. They will act nice if you kowtow. Else they WILL do all in their powers to undermine you.
As far as India goes, they have been shielding the terrorist Masood Azhar at every international forum. They have been dumping cheap goods in our markets, undermining our own manufacturing industry.
Heck, they provided the NUCLEAR BOMB to Pakistan!
Oh, and did I tell you that they also provided missiles to Pakistan to deliver those nukes to India?
So, is it time for a reboot of India’s relationship with China?
I’d say, YES it is.
We are in the midst of a massive ‘Manthan‘ these days. In fact the entire world is.
All thanks to the #CCPVirus.
Indian economy is staring at another 1991 type moment today – both in terms of challenges as also, opportunities. Given the recent announcements by the Finance Minister, the changes expected in the coming months are not merely expected to stem the downfall, but instead, to unshackle it all over again and establish India as a major manufacturing hub, unburdened by antiquated laws.
Herein also lies a hint in what the Prime Minister said – Aatmanirbhar Bharat!
For all those who care to listen, it also means saying NO to cheap, CCP subsidized Chinese imports that are killing our own industry.
Thing is, that this blog post of mine might actually be a bit too late, and a reset of India-China relations might already be well and truly underway.
Hints too are everywhere.
Trump has well & truly shaken up the ‘normal’. And to compliment him, there is a GOI with an immense popular mandate as well!
Now since I said that ‘hints are everywhere’, does that mean our friends, the Chinese too are listening to it?
I’d say yes they are.
So how do they react?
Well, you may want to revisit this tweet again!
Recent transgressions on the LAC do point to an arm-twisting kind of a tactic in order to warn India to stay away from the US-China spat. Such transgressions have happened earlier too, most prominently when Emperor Xi ‘Winnie The Pooh’ Jinping visited Gujarat some years ago.
So, to that end, it could still be dismissed as mere posturing.
But then, via their commie proxies in Nepal, they opened up another front – a non-existent border dispute at Lipulekh Pass.
Do you still think this is mere posturing?
Well, I don’t.
To me, it seems that the Chinese have already fired a shot across our bow.
What makes me say this?
It is THIS statement by the Chinese representative in New Delhi that made be take note!
And he says it with a straight face, no less, even as his army gets into fisticuffs with ours on the borders!
A popular saying about ‘actions and words’ comes to my mind!
Bottomline: The world is rapidly realigning.
Non alignment in this time and age might not be an option.
Heck, it might not even be advisable since we might have more to lose than gain if we stand aside!
Just as the Lord knew that Mahabharat was inevitable, despite he himself taking the Pandavas’ offer of peace in lieu of five villages to the Kauravas, so is this new and upcoming New World Order.
To stand aloof is NOT going to be an option this time round.
Especially when India stands to gain perhaps the maximum out of a PRC cut down to size. I wrote a BLOG on what I foresee coming in the coming weeks and months, less than two weeks ago.
Dare I say, things are already moving that way.
Do have a look at the above quoted blog post whenever you get the time!
But I did notice that Chairman Xi Jinping postponed a major CCP event that was about to happen at about the same time.
Do tell me again why he is not spooked!
Guess why the Chinese are so angry with Australia for asking for an independent probe into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic?
Do they feel threatened?
If not, then why are they lashing out?
Heck, there is already talk in the USA of an alternative grouping in lieu of the W.H.O in case they do not desist from doing Chinese bidding. Just see this video at about the 1:15 mark!
Like I said in the beginning of this blog post, it STILL might not begin at the W.H.O, but happen it will!
If not this week then maybe the week after.
If not at the W.H.O, then at the economic front.
But happen it will!
Why do I get the feeling that a reset of relationship with Taiwan will form an inescapable part of this upcoming showdown?
Not just by the US, but by India as well?
If not full diplomatic recognition, then maybe a vote in their favour over China?
Food for thought, no?
Yes, Taiwan’s map of China claims Arunachal Pradesh. But will that really matter in case China itself retreats from Tibet?
Yes, I know it is a long shot, but not entirely impossible.
In any case, whom would you prefer as a neighbour when it comes to resolving a boundary dispute – an intensely dogmatic communist regime that simply will NOT listen to reason, or a democratic nation who is open to negotiations?
Remember the enclaves swap with Bangladesh some years ago?
As I wind up this blog post, all I will say that time has come to bite the bullet, either which way. It is nothing short of a ‘Dharm Yudhh’ that faces us and the rest of the world.
Yes, the ‘Manthan’ that I talked about above WILL throw up poison as well, before the nectar.
But it will happen regardless of we being part of the Manthan or not.
We should be prepared to deal with the poison, in order to get to the nectar eventually.
The more people there are to share the poison, the better it will be, no?
Even if it is in the form of a vote in favour of Taiwan, if not an outright diplomatic recognition, all I’ll say is Bring It On!
We should not, in fact we CANNOT sit this one out.