A terrible economic cost India is likely to incur to ward off China’s new-found passion for aggrandisement
Three successive attempts by People’s Liberation Army(PLA) of China in the last week of August to change the status quo in the southern bank of Pangong Lake in Eastern Ladakh lays bare Beijing’s gameplan to keep India on the tenterhooks even during the pandemic.
This only puts paid to an apprehension doing the rounds in the corridors of power.
A terrible economic cost India is likely to incur to ward off China’s new-found passion for aggrandisement.
Aware that these incursion attempts in the contentious Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh could scuttle the on-going diplomatic talks, China is loathe to desist from its aggressive military posture.
India’s retaliation has so far been two-pronged: foil all such incursive moves by PLA and slap ban on more Chinese apps including PUBG and WeChat besides Beijing’s investment in the country.
However, there is something more than meets the eye so far as Beijing’s military posture is concerned.
The failed incursions took place immediately in the aftermath of Chinese military dictator Xi Jinping’s orders to his party, government and military leaders to “solidify border defences in Tibet”.
Since the sudden outbreak of the bloody conflict in June last, the enormous expense in mobilisation of troops and unwanted escalation in key defence procurements have been a major drag in India’s financial prowess. India’s defence expenditure has almost trebled in the last few months, exposing gaping holes in the government treasury
Expanding the battle zone from north to the south of the Pangong lake is a proof of China’s penchant to provide depth to the Tibetan plateau.
The strategic importance of the area is supreme.
There are multiple corridors converging into Chushul, from the east along Pangong Tso and the Spanggur Tso, from Tangtse in the northwest, and from Dungti-Nyoma in the south, along the Indus.
In close proximity is Daulat Beg Oldi where India has completed a modern road suitable for landing of latest fighter aircraft like Rafale.
Interestingly, this stretch along Pangong lake has a history of bloody conflict at Gurung Hill, Magar Hill, Rezangla during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
As a result, India has perforce to make strategic changes in redeploying the air and ground defences along the border in this region.
Beijing too is aware of the fact that New Delhi would obviously make a matching posture to fend off its belligerence despite the entire world being in the vicious grip of the Covid 19.
The big question is why China has chosen such a time as that of pandemic to aggressively implement its vision of expansionism, not once, but more than thrice.
One of the aims camouflaged in the ruse of this massive military build-up along the LAC in Ladakh is to increasingly and steadily weaken India’s financial might.
Since the sudden outbreak of the bloody conflict in June last, the enormous expense in mobilisation of troops and unwanted escalation in key defence procurements have been a major drag in India’s financial prowess.
India’s defence expenditure has almost trebled in the last few months, exposing gaping holes in the government treasury.
Majority of the sources of revenue generation of the Narendra Modi government have remained shut, thanks to Pandemic.
As per the government’s own admission, the GDP has already nosedived by 24 per cent in the April-July period.
Having already caught the Indian soldiers unwares during the June 15 combat, Beijing has zeroed in on New Delhi’s areas of vulnerability.
Hence, in the garb of a series of incursions along the LAC, China has been inflicting a serious economic `wound’ on India.
Defence planners are certain of the fact that Beijing would hardly opt for a full-scale war along the LAC, as that would turn New Delhi into a martyr in the eyes of the western superpowers, already wary of the Dragon.
Hence, Beijing has deliberately hit upon a strategy to continuously `pin and prick’ New Delhi in the tortuous 3,400km- long LAC, forcing the Indian army to remain in battle gear in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh.
China’s latest gameplan equally implies some economic cost for Dragon though.
But Chinese economy which is much stronger than India, has already begun showing signs of revival, with manufacturing and economic activities restarting with a bang.
It is not for nothing that chief of defence staff of India Maj Gen Bipin Rawat asserted early this week that India must prepare for a face-off from the combined front –north as well as west – implying China and Pakistan.
The repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan and unabated attempts to export terror in Jammu & Kashmir only confirm how Islamabad has been working in tandem with Beijing.
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The author has served no less than Al Jazeera and German TV, and India’s Parliamentarian magazine among others! To his credit goes a deep-rooted empathy for social issues and humans. He has wide experience in covering the northeast of India. His coverage on the 2020 Amphan cyclone in eastern India has easily been the best around the world