What should India do in China-India Standoff in Ladakh once the snow melts? Ask the foreign ministry and they would tell you; “please pray while they will placate China, appease them and agree to the loss of territory in the Depsang Plains and also on the Northern Banks of Pangong Tso.
They would also want the Indian Army to vacate from the Kailash Range and play blind when the Chinese annex the range. After utter subjugation of our national interest, they will wax eloquent on “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The world is one family). They will then brag that they have averted a war and diplomacy has won.
The Philosophy of the ‘World as one family’ is preposterous to practise with China as it would be construed as the refuge of the weak. When China says ‘Might is Right’ do we have to meekly harp on the philosophy which is not only irrelevant but also extraneous in the geopolitical paradigm? Similarly, Gandhi’s Ahimsa has become a shibboleth at indoor seminars than a tool in real geopolitics.
So, let us shed the high-sounding philosophy and come to the reality of our neighbourhood where China is expansionist and Pakistan trades in terrorism. Both the countries have been colluding against us since 1965; however, our political leadership has always been in the limbo and in perpetual denial mode of such an arrangement.
Our MoD is more at ease in slighting the soldier than preparing to take on our adversary. You must have read in my earlier article; when China had committed ingressions in Ladakh in May 2020, the Defence Secretary was lamenting on pension bills in his public discourse and igniting fires to stem the review of OROP. Look at the priority of this bureaucrat? Such are the ways of the MOD.
It is difficult for the public to believe that the MoD, whose duty it is to prepare for war has to be convinced that we need rifles, LMGs and Sten-carbines to fight a war. By the way, these are basic weapons of a soldier and the dumbest in the padded cell will tell you that these weapons are threadbare essentials to fight a war.
Can you believe, for two decades, we were without these basic weapons and even now we are in the process of getting a small percentage of our original requirements? For three decades we did not buy an Artillery Gun as Bofors was a hush-hush deal with Uncle Quatrocchi. In spite of the criticality, our babus will sit on the file and ask those in the uniform to convince them of its necessity.
Thank you, China, for coming to the rescue of the Indian Armed Forces for the second time. It had done us a great favour in 1962 when it stopped our government from winding down the armed forces. Again, it is a blessing in disguise, now as our government is on a buying spree of basic weapons, artillery, Air Defence Systems, aircraft, building warships and submarines, bringing up infrastructure in border areas and revitalising our defence industries.
"What should be our ‘Military Aim’? It should be derived from the aforesaid political aim? We should build Military capacity to take on China in all the three sectors and make China believe that a confrontation with India is not beneficial to them and is forced to consider settling the border through negotiations."
In late 2018, the PM tasked the NSA to craft ‘The National Security Strategy’ for the country. This ought to have been done in some form along with the Constitution of India in 1949. It was a sacrilege for independent India to think of defence, let alone have any Defence Strategy. We were Gandhians, who shunned violence and embraced ‘Ahimsa’. Due to this pertinacious belief of Nehru and his absolute lack of strategic vision; we literally gave thousands of sq. miles of our territory to China and Pakistan.
Had he asked then Maj Gen Cariappa and his team to conceive a National Security Strategy for India, we would have known the Strategic Direction which the country should pave its way and build its capacities. All the governments which have ruled our country in the past did not have any inkling of the Strategic Requirements of the country.
The Present government though belatedly realised the lacuna and the NSA was tasked to conceive ‘National Security Strategy’ (NSS) and put it up to the CCS. To formulate it a ‘Defence Planning Committee’ was formed. It was put under the NSA. By the way; the NSA is already heading the ‘Strategic Policy Group’ and also the National Security Council. The NSA wears three hats; have you heard something familiar? Yes; Xi also wears three hats. No time to discuss it now. Now the NSA will give the same advice to the PM from three separate organisations.
Strategically it would be the weakest link where the only version would be heard by the PM. Only when different views are expressed the PM will have a comprehensive strategic picture in his mind.
We all know; how Nehru trusted only the IB Chief, BN Mullick? What came of it? A disaster for our country in 1962, the humiliation of a proud civilisation, territorial loss to the nation and losing our leadership role in Asia and in the whole world. I am glad that a CDS has been appointed, however, if he does not have access to the PM then we would not be optimising this appointment.
Now, it was the turn of the NSA to delay the formulation of NSS, let alone its implementation. It lingers on, and it was threatening to be revealed at the end of 2019. However, due to pandemic, probably, it has been delayed; you will agree with me if the NSS gets infected with Corona then it could be stillborn? If I am sounding sarcastic; it is because I am!
After needlessly investing in friendship with Dictator Xi, we have realised that it was a sheer waste of time; instead, had we invested in our Defence preparations; we would have been in a much better position to meet the current threat on the Sino-Indian Border. Only, when China meant business and invaded our territory in Ladakh did we wake up to the requirement of unearthing our list of long-pending requirements of weapons and equipment that had gathered dust in the catacombs of the MoD.
You know our finance people; even if the Chinese offensive forces are closing ground; they will still ask questions about the necessity of weapons or critical ammunition and create untold obstacles in its procurement. However much you may criticise them for delaying the procurement, even their worst detractors cannot help but appreciate their ingenuity to raise new and novel doubts each time the file crosses their tables. Why blame the Chinese, we have enough nigglers and cavillers in-built in the system to help our adversaries?
Have I digressed? What is our political aim vis-à-vis the Chinese? Settle the Sino Indian Border based on the McMahon Line in the Eastern Sector, along the Zanskar Range in the Central Sector and Johnson’s Line in the Western Sector. We should pursue this aim and should be prepared to give and take to arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement.
What should be our ‘Military Aim’? It should be derived from the aforesaid political aim? We should build Military capacity to take on China in all the three sectors and make China believe that a confrontation with India is not beneficial to them and is forced to consider settling the border through negotiations.
It entails that we build our military capacities and also construct infrastructures on the Sino-Indian Frontier that would enable India to launch our offensive forces to capture or threaten important cities/towns in Tibet or interdict his Western or Eastern Highways.
In the Indian Ocean, we should be able to interdict his Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs) and disrupt his trade and energy supply lines. I think I will stop now, as our planners would be doing the serious task of its identification and means to achieve it.
First and the foremost is that we should expect China to launch an offensive anywhere on the Sino-Indian Border. If he doesn’t, so be it but our preparations have to be complete to absorb their offensive and go on a counteroffensive in the same or different sectors. In each sector, we should appreciate his ground objectives and deploy our forces to deny them. China already is on full ballast in his propaganda that Indians have resumed the forward policy of Nehru.
Interestingly, it is accusing the Indian Armed forces of violating a LAC more than thousand times. Apparently, it is a very poor joke and one has to strain oneself even give out a mild snigger. Firstly, when China has not even given its perception of LAC both in the Western and Eastern Sectors; who and how to determine it on the ground? Ludicrous; isn’t it?
Now it is left to a local commander on the Chinese side to determine and report the violation based on his individual belief and guess on the lay of LAC. Such are the ways of China! In short, it is used to bullying all its neighbours with its whimsical demands and does not really know when to call it off?
This is the time that we should not take the Chinese threat lightly. All news emanating from the ‘Global Times’ the official mouthpiece of China is talking of war as a natural fallout for the alleged indiscretion by India. The whole nation has to be ready to wage a war with China if forced on us. All our industries should be able to restructure their products to make war waging requirements for the country.
All people should be mentally prepared to contribute to the nation. The Public-Private Partnership industries have to gear up and meet the requirement of forces. The farmers’ agitation is helping our adversaries. It was disheartening to see the deeds at the Red Fort on the Republic Day. You remember similar things happened during the visit of Trump to India.
Both events were planned to let down the country and indeed those who were involved are like maggots who live in the country and feed on it. Remember the quote by Oliver Kemper; “The Foundation of Freedom is Unity”. I cannot believe that our country which has been a slave country for centuries still does not value our priceless freedom?
About the Author
Lt Gen PG Kamath, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, Commandant, Army War College retired from service on Mar 30 after a career spanning almost four decades. An Alumnus of Sainik School, Bijapur and NDA, Khadakwasla, He was commissioned into the Madras Regiment in June 1973.
A cerebral scholar warrior, he is a graduate of Defecne Servicces Staff College, Higher Command Course and the prestigious National Defence College.
He has commanded an infantry battalionn on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir during peak of the insurgency 1993 to 1995. He commanded an inf bde during 'OP PARAKRAM', an infantry division with operational role in the deserts and the Rann of Kutch.
His repertoire of staff appointments includes the prestigious tenure of Defence Advisor to the Indian High Commissioner in Malaysia, the significant position of Additional Military Secratary at the Army Headquarter Chief of Staff at a Command Headquarter.
He has contributed immensely to operational planning and training of his formations as Chief of Staff and Brigadier General Staff of a Corps in the Eastern Command.
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Mission Victory India)