Himalayan Blunder – The Sequel


If the report about PMO ‘stalling’ the raising of Mountain Strike Corps for apprehension of ‘sending the wrong signal to the Chinese’ is true, it’s ridiculous on two accounts – the decision itself, and the manner in which it seems to have been taken. In fact, it is a sorry commentary on the way issues of vital national security are dealt with in this country.

Let’s talk about manner of taking decisions first. Raisings forming part of the long term force structuring are not something likely to have been dreamt up by some General in a weaker moment. One assumes that the decision would have been backed by adequate debate and deliberations within the Service Headquarters. Consultations with other services should have followed. The case should then have been presented at various levels including to the Defence Minister, National Security Council and Cabinet Committee on Security. In depth and independent analyses of all aspects should have taken place at each of these levels. The circle of stakeholders and related inputs would have widened at each successive level, with the CCS presumably having requisite perspective to evaluate the connotations and consequences of such raisings on the economy and diplomacy.

The facts that one Division of the proposed Strike Corps has already been raised, and approval for raising of the Corps accorded two years back, as reported in the same news item, indicate that the matter had moved beyond deliberation phase. If this has been done without a process akin to that described above, it is amazing. Conversely, if the decision is being reversed now despite such a process having taken place, it would imply either that drastic changes have taken place in the strategic scenario and our relationship with China in the past two years, or that the initial decision was taken without due deliberation. Since there is no obvious sign of the former, one would have to regrettably conclude that the latter is true. One shudders to think that our strategic vision is so short sighted that it cannot even look beyond two years.

Now let’s examine the merits of the decision itself. Obviously the mandarins in PMO have a deep insight into the current dynamics of Sino Indian relations. As per the PMO, “China in the last few last years has not increased its troop strength along the 4,500 km long Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control (LAC) and any accretions by India will prove counter-productive as both the countries are holding regular dialogue to resolve the vexed boundary dispute” . But as any layman who reads open source material would be able to reckon, China enjoys an overwhelming infrastructural edge over India. It can rapidly build up its forces along the LAC, moving them from the hinterland over roads and railway lines constructed in the last few decades for this very purpose. India, on the other hand, does not have this luxury. Not only is the infrastructure inimical to rapid troop buildup, the fact that we have to simultaneously guard our Western border zealously limits the quantum of troops that can be spared. Also, the ‘regular dialogue’ has been on much before the decision of force accretions was taken, so it is difficult to understand what has changed.

It has been expressed on this blog earlier that the boundary dispute with China needs to be sorted out with a pragmatic approach by both sides regarding respective perceptions and interests. Yet, negotiating from a position of strength is an imperative. To that end, enhancing our capabilities to meet any eventuality does not undermine the dialogue – it strengthens our position on the dialogue table.

It is not conceivable that the PMO is convinced that the fact that we are talking to China guarantees that we will not be facing any kind of adverse military action anytime in the future. If they are, it would be instructive for them to read the following passage from Ramachandra Guha’s epic ‘India After Gandhi’:-

“In a note circulated to the cabinet, He (Nehru) thought it a pity that Tibet could not be’ saved’. Yet he considered it ‘exceedingly unlikely’ that India would now face an attack from China; it was ‘inconceivable that they would undertake a wild adventure across the Himalayas’. He thought that ‘the idea that communism inevitably means expansion and war, or to put it more precisely, that Chinese communism means inevitably an expansion towards India, is rather ‘naive’.

History proved who the naïve one was. It would be a cliché to talk about what happens to those who choose to ignore history. Should we just keep our fingers crossed?

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10 thoughts on “Himalayan Blunder – The Sequel

  1. Dear sir,
    It is said that we learn a lesson or two from every mistake we make. it is also said that only fools do not learn lessons from the past mistakes and repeat!!
    The dragon seems to have cast its shadow on the final decision making body of the nation. Those manning the PMO seem to look only to the “edge of own nose’ more concerned about the immediate short sighted gain of making the PM’s talk a success, with least regard for the long term safety and sovereignty of our great Nation!!
    Only God can save this nation, when such people are sitting in the helm of affairs. Hope some good sense prevail upon them not to stall such critical decision of greatest strategic importance for the Nation!!

  2. Only a solid strength will deter a potential adversary.When we proposed the Panchsheel we thought we could convince China that all issues could be resolved peacefully through dialogue.The Chinese marched into Tibet forcing the Dalai Lama to escape & take refuge in India.Then the Chinese decided to cross the McMohan line, annexe Sinkiang, claim Ladakh & claim Arunachal as lower Tibet.Earlier, Chou en Lai & Marshal Ho Lung of China visited India as Hindi-Chini bhai bhai.Pakistan has continued to entertain the hope that either by military means or assymetric terror campaign J&K. could be annexed. Post 1971 Bangla Desh war, at Simla, Bhutto would agree to settle all outstanding matters, if their 98000 POW’s were released.Pak went back on that agreement.Now, if it is our understanding that we do not need the strike corps, then the Govt must tell the Nation that all outstanding issues will be resolved within a sensible time frame without resorting to coercion or military means.

  3. This is yet another example of an inept Govt which has no clue about defence of our nation and is busy only making money for themselves and for the Italians. Himalayan Blunder of 1962 and we honour Krishna Menon still – he said “Army is unnecessary in India because we are peace loving – Panchsheel ? remember?” What was the end result? 1962? Even countries like Switzerland – which have never been attacked – have a sense of having a good Army to defend themselves. We lost Aksai Chin, Lost North J&K due to unilateral? ceasefire. What do we want to lose now ? Arunachal. Already China is showing teeth there. Did we object to raising of Chinese Army formations by the dozen in Tibet. The political leadership has let us down time and again. Let the nation stand up together. To have peace, we need to be strong, very strong. What has good effort with our neighbours acheived so far except losing advantage. They think we are week in mind and preparedness. Prakaram, we were not ready for war. Our equipment is outdated, obsolete. Will we fight with duds as we did in 1962 with .303s?

  4. Dear All the very fact that the raising of a Strike Corps/its stalling figures on the net and is available for the general public to see is a sad commentary on our security mechanism.That the PMO stalls a strategic decision is of course a reflection of the general incompetence in governance and paucity of vision is another matter altogether.

  5. It seems we are back to pre 62 days with people non military making vital decisions that reflect total disregard to well thought off military analysis and advice showing strategic disregard for National Security interests.



    “India must stand up to the world. Because I believe that unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand” – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

  7. I still don’t understand why the fact that a Mountain Strike Corps is being raised or not (apparently being thwarted) is being advertised in the media. Surely, National Security and Concerns are not subjects of interpretations by Media or Babus who have no stake in National Security. Or perhaps times have changed? Perhaps whether or not we can should or could raise a Strike Corps will have to be debated in Parliament.
    Bottom lie I feel is that such news is just political signaling.

  8. China will be ‘teaching is another lesson’ soon, just like 1962. Except this time they will use nuclear weapons. One can only hope that the corrupt, venal dirtbags in Delhi are the first to be vapourised. I see this happening any time in the next two to ten years. God bless the Indian Army, but how can you fight without weapons? And your new chief seems to be a real specimen.

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