First of all, let me dispel some of the misgivings on Chinese incursion in Eastern Ladakh in 2020-21. Some of the scribes had created the confusion based on half fiction and half truth. There is no doubt that situation had developed like Kargil-99. It seems that Indian intelligence agencies , both civilian and Military, have been in a state of deep slumber, while China had built up its troops on the LAC.
But what is strange is deafening noise by some scribes being made about Chinese supremacy about the whole incident. Remember , the days of “ Human Wave Tactics” of China are long over . It is 21st century , when “ Non- Contact war” concept is gaining momentum . And BVR ( beyond visual range) weapon systems are making huge impact on war making due to Computerised precision accuracy , deadly lethality and enhanced ranges . India is no pigmy in such arsenal .
However , China does have some edge in technology and bustling economy , which might have caused concern to some Indian security planners . There is no doubt that some of the scribes might have obtained this inside information from intelligence agencies or the army sources . However, in applying this knowledge, they had run amuck with their imagination . Half - baked information they acquired either through deliberate leak or by payment from saleable persons within the army , is not the real truth. But they have been able to create doubts in the mind of general public .
They give an impression that Chinese soldiers were super humans and Ladakh would be swallowed by them in no time . They should not lose their sleep over it as nothing is going to happen. India is firmly in Control on the LAC. Scare - mongers are all clueless about the true situation. It is doubtful if anyone of them has really visited these high altitude locations. They might be unwittingly supporting Chinese intimidating tactics. Invincibility of Chinese soldiers had been long blasted in 1967 action at Nathula pass and recently it was show cased at Galwan incident of 15 June 2020.
Besides, even if one goes by the convention of past doctrines of war, the basic principle of offensive warfare demands a requisite manpower superiority. Therefore to launch an offensive in a mountainous terrain, a minimum superiority of troops needed is 6:1. And in an High altitude terrain, above 12000 feet, it goes up to a minimum of 9:1. From all sources available information , China has only about 2.25 Lakhs troops with accompanying logistics and arms ammunition located in Tibet. India has more than just matching number of troops, to blunt Chinese offensive in Ladakh and elsewhere. Nearest military region is Xinjiang which is 3000 Kms away with a driving distance of a single vehicle for 96 hours . But do not forget the advantage of DBO , which can be a launch pad for blocking reinforcements on the western Highway.
These critics have no idea of High altitude warfare and they are also not clear about the ground reality of Chinese soldiers. Chinese leadership knows that Chinese soldiers were “softies” because of one Child family norm . A recent study in China had shown that one child was pampered and loved at home, which made him mentally and physically very weak. Consequently, as soldiers, they can not face hardships for prolonged periods. This is why China is now advocating more than one Child families.
These Indian critics do not know that China was more scared than India. (Galwan incident has proved that despite being on a higher ground - Chinese suffered more casualties . Indian Army was better trained in mountain warfare and also more battle hardened. A recent article in a Chinese magazine admitted this - so half baked experts both veterans and journalists, who have never been to Ladakh, should stay away and not mislead people.
"At present, the world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India,” wrote Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Modern Weaponry magazine.
Guozhi is affiliated to China’s leading maker of equipment for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He further contends that mountaineering was an “essential skill” for each Indian soldier deployed in the mountains.
This is what Chinese military minds think of Indian soldiers . They are getting cold sweat and here are our so called defence analyst of these 3-4 magazines and TV channels that are making them super soldiers .
Chinese action could have had four fold objectives in the following order of priority :-
a) Dissuade India from aligning with USA in Conflict with China. In so doing, puncture 'Modi Doctrine' of seeking US Umbrella till militarily and economically India comes up at Par with China . In fact, ‘Modi Doctrine’ is nothing but replica of Deng Xiaoping’s (architect of modern China) principle of TGYH—- “Tao Guang - Yang Hui” , meaning bide your time and accomplish your mission over a period of time before challenging your adversary. India is fast pacing its “ Aatam Nirbharta”.
b) Encourage Pakistan to ramp up 'Irregular war' in Kashmir to annex it, while holding India with a ‘threat in being’ in Ladakh and East . If possible capture DBO through Paratrooper action.
c) Divert US attention from South China Sea ( SCS), Hongkong, and Taiwan to South Asia and leave SCS - Taiwan - Hongkong on a platter for China.
d) A military conflict with India , whatever the scale, would divert domestic attention from internal issues to Nationalism and Patriotism . Thus, mishandling of Covid-19 and democracy movement in Hongkong would be pushed into back ground .
History And Background
Let me now give you a historical background. These unsubstantiated comments by these fake noise makers on Chinese troop movements are actually trying to mask a big blunder made by the Indian leadership at the time of independence .
Geographically speaking, high mountains of Himalayas were a great barrier between India and China. With Tibet as a buffer state between India and China , there was no possibility for China to come any way closer to India . And Nepal would not have dared to act funny at Lipulekh- Limphyadhuria - Kalibari. India is paying for that blunder today.
By accepting Chinese suzerainty over Tibet , India not only lost the greater advantage of Tibet being a buffer state but also compromised the great advantage of Himalaya as a natural barrier. What more, we provided logistics support to Chinese troops when they came to Tibet.
In so doing India lost the big advantage of Himalayas, when China’s lordship over Tibet was accepted by Nehru . Undoubtedly everyone knows that Nehru was a great leader but he was strung in his Moralistic and Gandhian thoughts and lacked pragmatic vision on international relations . He also had NO IDEA on geopolitics and National security issues . He thought : IF HE SAID PEACE ; THERE WOULD BE PEACE !
Look at the Indian confusion during Nehru’s time on international relations! On one hand, Nehru’s India had accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, while Sardar Patel had objected to it, on the other, in 1959, he gave asylum to DALAI LAMA. These are two self -contradictory actions! Thereafter, it should have been realised that China would not like it and would seek revenge. Efforts should have been made to equip and strengthen army . But nothing was done.
Frankly speaking, as soon as India had accepted accession of J& K from Maharaja Hari singh on 25 October 1947, it should have taken measures to take over Gilgit - Baltistan and Aksai Chin by stationing troops in Gilgit and Fort Shahidulla (Shaksgam Valley). In fact, India took no action to reinforce militarily Skardu Garrison, under Lt Col Sher Jung, who held it till April 1948 —— six months after fall of Gilgit to Pakistan. This shows lack of geopolitical vision. Instead, Kashmir issue was further complicated by going to UNO, on the advice of Lord Mountbatten.
What was worse that having had accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, India continued to believe in the authenticity of WH Jonathan line of 1865, as the boundary between India and Tibet. This line ran along the KUNLUN mountains range and thus included Aksai Chin as part of J& K. It might be noted that in 1899 , British India had brought this line back to Karakoram Range, thus excluding Aksai Chin and accepting Tibet’s jurisdiction over it. But it was not published .
However, in 1954 , Nehru ordered publication of the maps based on Jonathan Line to include Aksai Chin. It is strange while no physical action was taken to control Aksai Chin but we dreamt of it as Indian territory .
When in 1962, Nehru had resented Aksai Chin loss as something, where not a blade of grass had grown, Mahavir Tyagi , another Parliamentarian had retorted : "As I am bald , Should I cut my head being useless". It is not that people did not question Nehru on these matters but his towering image silenced everyone. His dislike of the army and belief in his Panchsheel and non- alignment had given him no time to have a practical view of the world.
India had come to know about construction of G219 Road (Western Highway) to Tibet in 1954, as a result of a secret patrol report, led by a Lt Col of Kumaon Regiment . But the report was never made public . In 1954, it was still in its nascent stage and it could have been challenged. But it was not done.Unfortunately, Prime Minister Nehru lived under his own illusion of greatness. And Chinese Strongman , then, Mao Ze Dong, decided to teach him a lesson. The 1962 Sino- Indian War had started with Nehru’s “EVICT THE CHINESE ORDER" to Indian Army and rest is history wherein, an unprepared Army was pitched up against PLA.
To be continued in Part 2
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, battle-hardened infantry veteran, renowned author, notable national security analyst and a regular contributor in several leading defence & security journals.
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)
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