Homeland Security

Aggressive Chinese designs and India's utter timidity...
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 14 May , 2013

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, after holding talks with his counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on 09 May 2013, told reporters that there was still no clarity on the reasons behind the Chinese incursion of April 15 in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector. He was hiding the truth.

They resented India’s construction of bunkers and semi-permanent structures at Chumar and other places.

The fact is that the Indian government is fully aware of the Chinese motives. By pretending ignorance, the government is deceiving itself and the countrymen. It knows that the incursion was not a one-off transgression by an over-enthusiastic local commander but was a very well planned and perfectly timed foray.

In fact, India should have anticipated such an adventure by the Chinese and taken pre-emptive steps to foil it. Of late, India has been improving its ground deployment and long-neglected infrastructure, much to the annoyance of the Chinese. They resented India’s construction of bunkers and semi-permanent structures at Chumar and other places. In addition, they feared that India’s was resorting to aggressive patrolling to strengthen its claim in the disputed areas.

Having failed to deter India through protests, China decided to resort to muscle-flexing, intruded 19 miles deep inside the Indian territory and established a tented camp as a bargaining leverage. The Chinese knew that the timid Indian leadership would be hard-pressed to seek Chinese withdrawal through negotiations. It was a brilliant masterstroke by the Chinese. The subsequent events got played out exactly as expected by them.

To pressurise India further, the Chinese pitched an additional tent, erected fence around the camp and started displaying banners claiming the area to be the Chinese territory.

To start with, the local mechanism was activated and flag meetings held between the local military commanders. The meetings were doomed to fail as the Indian army rejected the Chinese demand of demolition of Chumar and other posts as a pre-condition for their withdrawal. The stalemate continued. To pressurise India further, the Chinese pitched an additional tent, erected fence around the camp and started displaying banners claiming the area to be the Chinese territory. The ploy worked. While a prominent political leader termed Indian response as cowardly, media faulted the government for adopting a timid stance.

The Indian leadership got unnerved. It wanted speedy resolution of the matter at every cost. It overruled army’s objections and ordered it to accept the Chinese terms. Having achieved their aim, the Chinese withdrew. A spineless India capitulated like a vassal and agreed to back-off.

On his return to India on 11 May, Salman Khurshid confessed that China did not express regret for the incursion. Did India really expect China to be sorry for having achieved operational ascendency through a brilliant stratagem? How naïve can India get!

 The Urgent Need

Norman Cousins considers history to be a vast early warning system. Unfortunately, the Indian bureaucracy displays a distinct disdain for history. Most bureaucrats suffer from megalomania – a serious psychopathological disorder characterised by delusions of own intelligence, an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation of competence. They consider themselves to be the repository of all the intellect and wisdom in the world. Resultantly, India fails to learn lessons from history and be forewarned.

China has never lived in peace with its neighbours. Hostility and disdain towards weaker opponents is in the Chinese DNA.

Every student of the Chinese history knows that a strong China has always been an expansionist China. China has never lived in peace with its neighbours. Hostility and disdain towards weaker opponents is in the Chinese DNA.  It respects strength.  Diplomatic niceties and good neighbourly relations mean little to it. Coercion and intimidation are well-tried instruments of China’s state policy.

China evolves long-term strategic plans and every single step is well thought through towards the achievement of the final objective. Ad-hocism has no place in the Chinese scheme of things. All wings of the Chinese government work in tandem and in complete harmony. There are no localised or isolated initiatives.

The recent intrusion and the Indian capitulation will certainly embolden China. India must acquire wherewithal and courage to face China confidently. The following issues need urgent attention:-

Operational Control. Unity of command is by far the most urgent and critical requirement. It is well nigh impossible for the Indo-Tibetan Police Force (ITBP) to counter Chinese coercive subterfuges and intimidatory posturing on its own. It must be placed under army’s command forthwith. Ministry of Home Affairs must shed its selfish and anti-national intransigence. Have we learnt no lessons from centuries of foreign rule? Must we continue to sacrifice national interests by remaining mired in egotistical and blinkered thinking?

Operational Preparedness. The armed forces must be given necessary resources to acquire needed operational capability. Proposals for raising of additional forces has remained stuck in bureaucratic quagmire for far too long. The required accretions must be sanctioned without any further vacillation. Equally importantly, the Indian military is carrying huge shortages of critical ordnance. Deficiencies of equipment like 155m Ultra Lightweight Field Howitzer and Light Utility Helicopters cannot be ignored any longer. The Ministry of Defence must constitute an empowered agency to carry out emergent acquisitions under the Fast Track Procedure.

India is perhaps the only country in the world where operationally critical infrastructural works get stalled due to some misplaced concern for ecology and environment.

Infrastructural Development. On a visit to Nathu La in East Sikkim in 2007, Defence Minister Antony was taken aback to see the difference between the infrastructure on the Indian and the Chinese sides. Although he promised to take urgent steps to develop frontier areas, there has been little progress on ground. India is perhaps the only country in the world where operationally critical infrastructural works get stalled due to some misplaced concern for ecology and environment. It is shameful that some activists consider security of the nation to be of lesser importance. Lack of clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests has stalled progress of a large number of crucial roads in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.  The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been pleading for clearance for decades but to no avail. BRO should be exempted from seeking forest/environmental clearance for defence works in the notified border areas.


In 2008, India’s envoy to Beijing was called by the Chinese government in the middle of the night for absurd reasons. The ambassador promptly reported to the Chinese foreign ministry without a whimper of protest. Whereas even a banana republic would have taken offence and chided the ambassador for abject servility, India rewarded her dedication to the cause of Indo-China relations and promoted her to the coveted post of the foreign secretary. Let the South Block try the same with the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi – even a peon from the Chinese embassy will not respond in the middle of the night.

 Unfortunately, the decision makers believe that the best way to deal with a crisis is to pretend its non-existence.

India went overboard to ensure safe passage of the Olympic torch in April 2008 as China had expressed its disapproval of pro-Tibet protests. That is India for you; a nation masquerading as an emerging power with a mind-set that is characterised by a total lack of aggressive protection of its national concerns. India’s foreign policy has been a chronicle of shameless submissiveness, utter timidity, sheer gutlessness and inexplicable reticence, especially towards China.

As stated earlier, only a fully equipped military with well-developed infrastructure can counter China’s ill-designs. The armed forces are ready to deliver. It is the leadership that lacks required courage. Unfortunately, the decision makers believe that the best way to deal with a crisis is to pretend its non-existence. After all, no one undergoes major surgery for acne, as diagnosed by Salman Khurshid.

India must consider the recent incursion as a forewarning of the aggressive Chinese designs, draw due lessons from it and put its act together. Great nations are distinguished by their military strength, self-assurance and self-respect. India fares miserably on all the counts. The leadership would do well to remember the old adage – ‘if you behave like a foot mat, you will be treated like one’.    

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Maj Gen Mrinal Suman

is India’s foremost expert in defence procurement procedures and offsets. He heads Defence Technical Assessment and Advisory Services Group of CII.

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16 thoughts on “Aggressive Chinese designs and India’s utter timidity…

  1. Well India shld learn from Vietnam, this country and its peoples are no push over. They have guts aplenty and they push out both the French and American and even China. Remember the brief war fought with China, China withdraws unliterally bt never talk peace too proud fr that. U think the chinese are superior no way, they are bully and apportunist and only how to threaten and bark (barking dog seldom bites) but when comes to the push they will never take the plunge. So don’t worry always give them a hard time, and stand up tall to them and they will learn the lessons that you are tough and cannot be pushed over. That is what they will learn and learnt well. Never be afraid of the chinese and always stall their ambitions., no matter what and no matter how. China occoupies only 1/10 of the world , what can they do. Even Germany can be defeated. Japan shld be allowed to be stronger, times and things have changed.

  2. Any amount of input by the fighting forces does not sink into the mind of our politicians or the babudom who are their advisers. It is unfortunate that almost all of those in the policy making group in the Govt have any combat or even service experience.This is in complete contrast to what it is other countries.
    Leave alone these, they do not have even exposure , Their occasional visits to the
    forward areas or interaction with the forces does not give them the insight to handle problems and requirements.
    The NDC will do well to organize short presentations for their better understanding of this area of governance.

  3. It is high time that Salman Khurshid and Man Mohan Singh undrtake a journey to our border along with our defence minister to understand the real grave situation we are in. WILL THEY BE READY TO SPARE THEIR VALUABLE TIME! I doubt as their hands are full with many, much more important ,burning problems!! AFTER ALL WHAT DIFFERENCE IT MAKES EVEN IF CHINESE MARCH UP TO DELHI!!

  4. Dear General,
    Every word you wrote is the naked truth. Unfortunately our public in general are unaware of the real facts as they get only the filtered half truths as brought out by our leading so called patriotic news papers. If they wish many facts can be brought before the public. It is important to create public awareness on issues of such critical nature. If we allow the Government in power to continue with their timid tactics one day the whole nation will pay a heavy price which we can ill afford. We can not allow the power mongers to sell our country and its territory to the ever deceitful aggressor.

  5. India should recall the Johnson line proposed by the British colonial rulers in 1865. The British rulers were keen in protecting their Empire from any aggressive designs from the north. Alongwith the Johnson line Macmohan Line was also proposed.

    In 1865 Ladhak-Tibet/Sinkiang alignment was proposed by WH Johnson of the Survey of India. This line was to link was to link Demchok in the south with the 18,000 feet high Karakorum pass in the north, but it took a circuitous route beyond the Kuen Lun Mountains and thus included Aksai Chin desert.

    It is most unfortunate that Independent India could not protect its borders.

    I recall after Chinese aggression, our them Prime Minister Pt Jawharlal Nehru described Aksai Chin as cold desert where “not a blade of grass grows”, forgetting its importance as a strategic value. From the Opposition, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia in a lighter vein said – Pandit jee your head has no hair, it is bald. Does it mean it matters little?


  6. I think our timidity will see a further low as China’s think-tanks have started spreading a canard that India is preparing to fight both Pakistan and China simultaneously. We just do not have the gall to withstand such accusations and will wilt further to appease China.

  7. One who has the muscle can only flex muscle. Chins has developed muscle over a long time. Look at its atrategic standing in the World. It is a super power. You cannot classify it as a developing nation even though poverty still is a concern in its rural areas. It has developed an awesome manufacturing capacity that is well blended into a self reliant defence production capability. So far able to manage its economy well in spite of Global economic crisis. Never forget its growth is export oriented based on market economy. Reality is India cannot afford to flex its muscles even if it has a partially developed one. Diplomacy is the main option at this stage. Unfortunately, we have spurned the friends who understand the importance of strategic alliance with us to counter the might of China.

    • I am taken aback by this assessment of China by the respected Air Cmde. I would say this is based on some pre-conceived notions and superficial new reports. The Chinese manufacturing base is built on sweat shops. It will collapse as soon as the Western nations decide to switch off importing goods from them. For those who have been exposed to military technology, to-date China is behind India in mastering state of the art radars. Of course this will change within couple of decades since the Chinese state has invested substantially more heavily than India in science and technology. I would remind the Air Cmde that as General Sundarji remarked in not so distant past, the PLA learnt a lesson from tiny Vietnam whom they wanted to teach a lesson. The Indian political leadership (excepting Indira Gandhi) has lacked spine to stand up to China, but that should not be the case with the Armed Forces. Field Marshal Manekshaw had observed in an interview, that even if Pakistan and China joined hand to thrash India, they could cause some big trouble here and there, but could not defeat India in an all out war.

  8. When china had occupied Aksai Chin the then PM had said in Parliament, what use is the area not a blade of grass grows on it. Piloo Mody got up and said I have head, not a blade of hair grows on it, should I cut it off? Surreder of few KM of area is of no cosequence is to our timid bureau-politico nexus for whom to remain in power is paramount than indulge in any crisis. On the whole our army is a caged tiger being famished gradually to make it tooth less and weak for which nation shall pay dearly some day, not far away. Politics is the art of ignoring facts and that is what we are following to our misfortune. We call our cowardice as our diplomatic art.

  9. India should consider the recent intrusion as premeitated agressive design by the chinese to the guage the extent of our governmental timidity..We shout stop soft soaping this wilful intrusion and deal militarily and evacuate the chinese and Pak occupied areas as looking at the map one can see how srategic is this intruded and occupied area.. Let us militarly throw the intruder out and give them a bloody nose too in the deal . Hoping for befitting action…Jai Hind wgcdr(retd) K Unni Ithikkat

  10. The best article one has read on the subject. Writer has revealed true intention of the chinese. They have made India look silly and weak. The writer is correct that unless India learns to face boldly, we will become the soft state whom every country can thrash. Shame on us.
    Honest and brilliant artcle all indians should read and understand.

  11. India would be perpetually in a state of war with China and Pakistan if it were to go by the advice of the experts and the columnists. thank god discretion prevails even if the hyper nationalists call for action

    • The author is correct in assessing the ground realities…. The Chinese… Either live as a free nation or scumbb and live like a slave!

      Why spend 40 Billion on defence every year if we cannot detect the invaders when entered 19 KM into our territory!

    • Dear Sir

      If we do not go by the word of experts then whom should we follow the corrupt governments or barking newspaper who show us the half baked truth. We mango people do not know what actually happens out there. What our soldiers are facing and where we are lacking at front and strategy. We have always been the moderate side starting from Pt Nehru to Manmohan Singh. But with changing time we need to change and we must acquire a tough stand but until we have political will it is just on papers. Chinese will be exploiting this and we will be repenting this for ever.
      Jai Hind Jai Bharat

  12. Now a days people call them Chinese, but in history these people were know has Hans. They used to move in groups burn villages rape women, kill children and babies and then when pursured they used to go and hide behind the great wall and pretend to be innocent. Their habits have not changed, but they cannot hide any more. World knows who they are. Racist Hans days are numbered.

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