Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd)
The Chinese have been in the news in 2020 for all the wrong reasons starting from COVID 19 to its brashness in the South China Sea. The COVID 19 impact globally has trashed the economies and there is a surge amongst the US and China to grab the world’s superpower status. The US and Europe have been direct in blaming the Chinese for lying on the Corona Virus – calling it the Chinese Virus. The US pulling out of the WHO and withdrawal of its obligation for future funding for failing to blame China; has the party hardliners in Beijing in anger.
The US has indicated that it’s willing to recognise Taiwan and has supported the demonstrators in Hong Kong for their autonomous status. India’s signing of the logistics treaty with Australia as part of the Quad in the Indian Ocean Region has upset the dragon.
Closer home the Chinese are trying to lock horns with the Indian Army in the Ladakh and Sikkim region. No shots have been fired but isolated ambush of patrols leading to fist cuffs and use of nailed truncheons have injured soldiers on either side as per media reports. The Indians have been cautious of releasing “dramatic footage” on social media; whereas the Chinese have been quick to do so in trying to build up a macho image. Recently one of the state-run media company released a video of its troops being mobilised and being re-located as part of its Psychological War efforts.
This video may have been very amusing for those who have not witnessed military manoeuvres, to the serving and the Veterans it was just another day at work.
Indian Armed Forces routinely carry out collective training and retain their ability to be mobilised at short notice to take on any professional task that can be assigned to it.
The Indian Army, in particular, is one of the most battle-hardened armies in the world. In case a push comes to a shove the Armed Forces will deliver the punch at a time and place of its choosing.
The initiatives are on from India to contain the situation and restore a status quo ante. The Chinese Ambassador in Delhi in his statements indicates that China does want to settle the LAC alignment amicably; its military is on a different wavelength.
Hearing all professionals – diplomats, politicians and military leaders in a wide spectrum of discussions has brought out that the deployment this year is for the long haul.
The Indian Government has been dealing with China with kid gloves and has not had a long term clear policy. As in any developing Nation, the balance between carrying out infrastructure development is necessary to narrow the gaps between the haves and have-nots, the military modernisation takes a hit.
The political parties have huge funds and as is evident post any election, the horse-trading takes place and party with deep pockets manages to buy the requisite numbers be it MLAs or MPs. This is done in the public domain and yet no one questions the source of funds and I wonder if the income tax department puts the “politician” on a scrutiny watch for his tax payments.
The reason I raise the above point is that the Military is made to suffer as the fund crunch is imposed on the brass and the boots. The rest of the environment is able to maintain itself as unlike military equipment which tends to get obsolete very quickly in view of emerging technologies.
The Combat Potential of the Armed Forces remains critical. The National Security Advisor, the CDS and the Defence Secretary must brief the parliament on this important aspect.
The Indian Armed Forces over the last several decades have the best possible manpower available to it; it must be supported by the best weapons and equipment.
As India reboots itself post lockdown, the MoD should do well to fast track Make II projects under the DPP with assured orders and timely payments. The surge in this spending will trigger other ancillaries to kick start the economic revival. We need to lift ourselves from bootstrings upwards for all to succeed.
The raising of the Strike Mountain Corp(s) should resolve the demand and supply issue.
(The author is an Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal.)