A couple of land mark events have taken place during the last few months; India asserting its rights to explore oil in South China Sea by entering into a contract with the Vietnamese government in a potentially conflict situation with the Chinese and signing of a strategic partnership agreement with anarchic war ravaged Afghanistan on October 4, 2011during President Karzai visit to India. Government’s sudden decision to come to grips with the Chinese mounting challenge along our northern borders is yet another equally significant event that has come to the fore.
After overlooking the Chinese threat for years and literally following a policy bordering on acquiescence and appeasement, the government seem to have suddenly become vigilant. These events reflect a clear departure from years of past strategic indifference.
The MOD plans to induct nearly one lakh additional soldiers in next few years that include raising of four new divisions for Sino-Indian border, two of which would constitute Mountain Strike Corp dedicated for offensive operations. Besides, two independent brigades for deployment opposite Ladakh and Uttarakhand are also on the anvil. The government would incur an expenditure of Rs 64,000 crore ( $13 billion) over the period.
Fear of antagonising the Chinese with explicit preparations along the northern borders, restrained India from taking much needed security measures to improve its position in the past. However, the Chinese unmindful of India’s similar concern went ahead and built airfields for fighter bomber operations, metalled roads and railways for expeditious induction of troops and wherewithal and storage facilities for surface to air missiles. India on the other hand continued with dirt roads and without much infrastructure. After overlooking the Chinese threat for years and literally following a policy bordering on acquiescence and appeasement, the government seem to have suddenly become vigilant. These events reflect a clear departure from years of past strategic indifference.
Also, by signing strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, India has entered into an area of potential conflict with China as well as Pakistan. Pakistan is waiting in the wings for the US and the NATO forces to withdraw by 2014 so that it could establish its hegemony with the help of its proxies like the Haqqanis and ensure long cherished strategic depth against India. Its negative reaction is therefore on expected line, for it sees burgeoning Indo-Afghan relations as inimical to its long term interest. India is the biggest regional donor with $2 bn invested in development and infrastructure projects. Obviously, India like others also has economic and energy interests and will perhaps prospect for hydro-carbons. How it creates a space for itself, especially when Pakistan and China are antagonistic towards it has to be seen. Will India be able to meet its objectives and also help Afghanistan to stabilise as the powers that be now expect it to do without getting embroiled in this quagmire is a moot point?
Indias foray in South China Sea is another bold initiative, not quite bereft of serious ramifications.
India’s foray in South China Sea is another bold initiative, not quite bereft of serious ramifications. The Petro Vietnam and the ONGC Videsh of India signed a deal for oil exploration in South China Sea during Vietnam President Truong Tang Sang recent visit to India, overlooking Beijing’s objections. The deal was signed at a time when the communist party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong was in China, pacifying the Chinese perhaps. China’s official news agency Xinhua said later that both countries had promised to hold “frequent communication and dialogue on maritime issues” and that they would not “allow any hostile force to destroy their relations.” Obviously, they had reached some sort of understanding amongst themselves.