High Time India Jettisons Non-Alignment
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 Oct , 2021

I have no doubts India will do its fighting on its borders without external help.  What needs to be done is to keep Pakistan coerced so that it does not open its front? What would be invaluable, if AUKUS and QUAD open a new front on China’s Pacific Sea Board.  Will they, do it?  There is a need to hem China from two fronts and that is what we should expect from the US and her allies. Our Navy should operate with our allies of QUAD and interdict Chinese oil and trade Sea Lanes in the Indian Ocean.  This can happen only if the QUAD transforms itself into a Defence Alliance.  Japan is willing, Australia is waiting and the US will be pleased but will India have the political will? With the present dispensation of the Duo of Jaishankar and Doval; I very much doubt that such advice would ever be given to the PM, who has the political will should he get the right advice.

India has never been an unconditional friend of the US.  Our so-called policy of ‘non-Alignment’ ensured that we had no friends and defence alliances when China attacked India in 1962.

Just have a look at our own house whose external face is managed by the duo; we did not once mention the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh either at the speech in UNGA or during the Quad Summit Meeting. It was followed by the SCO and also BRICS; not once the intrusion was referred.  The New Delhi Declaration of the BRICS meet on 9 Sep 2021 opposed the politicization of Covid origins thus negating any chance for a second investigation into its origin.  There were also other taglines like rejecting unilateralism and hegemonism and upholding respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity which China has no problems endorsing; in fact, it accuses India for violating its territorial integrity.  China fully understands that lying confidently and repeatedly creates doubts even in those minds who know it to be lies?   One has to appreciate the Chinese leadership of their highly cultivated body language which really hides their inner misgivings.

China literally went scot-free with no mention of her expansionism in Ladakh.  However, the Indian PM mentioned at the 76th UNGA about the open and free Indo-Pacific and reiterated that there should be no exclusion or expansion of oceans, apparently directing his ire on China in the South China Sea.  He also said that the UN has failed in finding the origin of Covid and also has lost its credibility in enabling countries to manipulate rankings in ‘Ease of Doing Business’; both these points have scored a ‘Bull’s Eye’ at China.

In recent weeks China is emboldened further as there were no recriminations against it and does not see any threat of its international isolation.  It has bared its fangs by its rigidity in the 13th Military Commanders’ Meeting and has blamed India for unreasonable demands for the failure of the Meeting. It has hyped its military activities across Tunjun La in Barahoti, and in Tawang Sector.  Let there be no doubt it will up the ante in the coming months and is planning to build a chain of anti-India bulwark linking Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal.  China, no doubt plans to wean Bhutan away from India by signing an MOU for a ‘Three Step Roadmap’ for resolving the Boundary Dispute, with a hope that Bhutan also can be coerced to join the anti-India bulwark at some point of time in future.

Quad Plus as a Defence Alliance can bottle up China. European countries like France and Germany could also be co-opted in the alliance.

Roadmap for India

Please refer to my article titled ‘Resolve the Impasse in Ladakh; Lest we Lose Depsang’.  We are at the cusp of losing Depsang; a territory of over 900 Sq Kms.  As referred earlier; we lost a major part of Aksai Chen in 1962 and previous years as we followed a policy of ‘non-alignment’. This policy is the refuge of the weak and helpless nations.  The US itself has a number of allies in the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.  Then, why is India sheepish about being an ally; more so when we are facing multiple threats. Being an ally does not mean that we have surrendered our strategic autonomy; what use is such an autonomy when we do not have strategic capabilities and are forced to yield territory to China?  It is we, who have to plead with China for each meeting of the Military Commanders.  How long do we intend to remain in a state of supplication?  Meanwhile; Depsang Plains will continue to be denied to us and the occupation by the Chinese will become permanent. No time to be lost.

India should accept QUAD to transform into a Defence Alliance.  Article 5 of the NATO should be adopted by the QUAD; an attack on any of the members is considered an attack on all others. There should be a permanent headquarters with both Civilian and Defence officers.  It should have a ‘QUAD Force Commander’ with staff from all the four countries. It should have a dedicated Combined Armed Force ready to deal with civil and military contingencies. It should be capable of taking on accretions from member countries depending on the task at hand. Interoperability exercises have to be honed up as it has been done in Malabar Phase I and II.  The last mentioned is presently operative in the Bay of Bengal.

Look at the possibility to enhance the membership of QUAD to include Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia. A beginning was made at the virtual summit meeting in Mar 2021 when South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand joined the Quad Plus meeting.  If Indonesia is also included; all the straits from South China Sea into Indian Ocean; Malacca, Sunda, Lombak and Timor Sea are ipso facto interdicted during a conflict.   Indonesia also has issues with China for the territorial waters of Natuna Sea which have been frequently violated by China as its 9-dash line overlaps it.  Quad Plus as a Defence Alliance can bottle up China. European countries like France and Germany could also be co-opted in the alliance.  Both these countries had sent their naval ships into the South China Sea to enforce ‘Freedom of Navigation’. Taiwan also can be one of the prospective members; notwithstanding the ‘One China Policy’ accepted by the Americans.

Our initial blunders in losing territories to Pakistan and China is well known and does not need any reiteration.

Wall Street Journal reported that two dozen members of US Special Forces and a contingent of Marines have been in Taiwan for the last one year secretly training troops in Taiwan; if these reports are true; obviously, the ‘One China Policy’ is rightfully repudiated with the repugnance it deserves. All QUAD Countries should rescind the ‘One China Policy’.  As far as India is concerned, China has never accepted ‘One India Policy’ then we have no reason to accede to ‘One China Policy’.

India right from independence had been blind to the powerplay of instruments of national power in the arena of geo-politics.  Our initial blunders in losing territories to Pakistan and China is well known and does not need any reiteration. Our aspiration to be a leader of the nonalignment ended our bluff and bluster after the Chinese attacked us in 1962.  Our appeal to the UN after the Pakistan invasion of the J&K soon after independence is another example of our naivety.  In the hindsight; the posterity now wonders; is it possible for any country that has become independent after two and half century of slavery to throw away its territories by following such insane policies? 

A litany of our strategic misdeeds is unending and requires a compendium of several volumes to narrate; but our foreign policy makers have taken a vow that they will not learn from past mistakes and continue to repeat them and persist in parting with our territories.  Enough and no more.  We will not rest in peace till the time our patrolling rights in Depsang is restored and we have access to over 900 Sq Kms of our territory denied to us by the Chinese.  All we need is a strong political will that would not be lacking if only the Duo renders correct advice to the PM. 

1 2
Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen PG Kamath

a veteran of Indian army;  was the former Commandant of Army War College, Mhow.  Currently, he writes on Ethics,Leadership Strategy and Current International and National issues.

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left

2 thoughts on “High Time India Jettisons Non-Alignment

  1. Totally agree with the writer, India should have immediately jettisoned non-alignment after the 1962 war with China and aligned with the West. It is still a mystery why we still hang on to this. One of the reasons often cited is to be independent of the major powers. What is the value of the so called independence when we cannot address the basic challenges to our security such as occupation of Aksai Chin by China which has its eyes on more of our territory, Pakistan, a much smaller and weaker state which can resort to terrorism to bleed us and create insecurity with our populace for three decades, collusion of two nuclear powers who aim to dismember and destroy India etc etc. No wonder India is defined as a “soft” state by many writers. Our leaders and strategists continuously fail to understand the basic tenets of ensuring national security and seems to be only driven by ideals. Very sad indeed.

    We need to get lessons from Vietnam which had not only stand up to the US during the Vietnam War but today can quietly challenge China. Also we must respect the courage and tenacity of the Taiwanese and their leadership to stand up against China.

    We must ask ourselves, where are we compared to these much smaller and weaker states. The more I ponder about this Indian approach to national security and independence for the past 60 years since the 1962 war, the lesser the confidence I have that this will ever change. Maybe it could be due to the concept of non-violence and the teachings of Buddhism entrenched in the Indian psyche which allowed invaders to plunder us for many centuries and sadly looks like significant change may not be visible anytime soon.

  2. A comprehensive take on QUAD and “non alliance”. Well presented.

    My two bit. I suppose an alliance need not be bound by formal treaties where by, say, the USA will establish Defence bases in India. That is the danger of formal Defence alliances which India does not possibly want ypt and rightly. Even with a formal alliance on sorts can we expect and do we want, for instance, the USA deploy troops along Pangog Tso?

    There are more to these pacts than what is apparent.

    Having said that non alliance was and is a disaster. But alliances can have different hues. In today’s world we can’t expect a one sided “friendship”. You give some you get some. The sum of the exchange is calculated by the economists and not military strategists!!!!

More Comments Loader Loading Comments