Book Review | Elephant on the high Himalayas

October 07, 2021 6:15 PM

The Sino – India conflict dates back to the late Forties, post China’s independence, when it annexed Tibet and laid claims to Indian territories in the North Eastern Frontier Agency now Arunachal Pradesh, the Ladakh region, Sikkim and Bhutan, which still remain unresolved.

To take a bird’s eye view, we have China frontally confronting India along the Line of Actual Control, while attempting to encircle it by dominating Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries contiguous to India.To take a bird’s eye view, we have China frontally confronting India along the Line of Actual Control, while attempting to encircle it by dominating Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries contiguous to India.

By Lt Col Manoj K Channan

The ongoing India – China standoff along the Himalayas is turning out to be ‘The Clash of the 21st Century’, directly involving one third of humanity, geopolitically impacting near half of Asia, economically involving the second and third largest economies of the world in terms of purchasing power parity, and being contested by two armies that figure in the top four armies of the world in combat power. The clash is setting the geostrategic discourse for the world at large, truly making it the ‘Asian Century’.

China in its well-known quest for usurping the mantle of world leadership from US, has also put in place a very well-crafted plan to ensure its expansionist mode plans proceed unhampered.Dominance of the South China Sea, laying claims to and seizing island territories in its maritime region, vigorous pursuit of Belt and Road Initiative and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), are many ways that China wants to secure its lines of communication in addition to ensuring the security of its Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs).

The Sino – India conflict dates back to the late Forties, post China’s independence, when it annexed Tibet and laid claims to Indian territories in the North Eastern Frontier Agency now Arunachal Pradesh, the Ladakh region, Sikkim and Bhutan, which still remain unresolved.

The 1962 conflict and subsequent confrontation in 1967 at Nathu La, Sikkim has imposed a caution on the CCP/PLA not to get engaged in a kinetic battle which may not help them to achieve their military aims.

Having set the context of the current Chinese expansionist policies and India’s stand at the Line of Actual Control, the author Col RS Sidhu, SM, Veteran has seized the moment to put into correct perspective the prognosis of the issue at hand and the likely options that are available to India.

Why should you read this book?

The author Col RS Sidhu is a decorated war veteran with extensive combat experience. He has the right credentials to write on the subject, with a Master’s in History from Delhi University, and an amateur ‘China Watcher’ of more than three decades standing. He is also author of the very successful book SUCCESS FROM BEING MAD, about ten armed forces veteran entrepreneurs.

His writings can be accessed at his blog spot valleysandvalour@blogspot.com.

The author looks at it as a civilizational clash “it is the world view held by the two cultures which most clearly defines the difference in approach of the two nations. Bharat looks at the world as an interconnected whole, ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ – (the world is one). China, on the other hand, views itself as the centre of the Universe before whom all other countries must kowtow…A resurgent Bharat is looked at as a key threat by China to realise its ambition of establishing a new Sino-centric world order. A threat that needs to be nipped in the bud, before it becomes too powerful to counteract.”

While China has been focused on its all-around development towards becoming the unipolar Superpower, India has been fumbling as the corridors of power in South Block have remained divorced from a Strategic Mind set, focused on internal consolidation of power vis a vis a focus on the development of India’s National Power.

The author has done quality research and brings out how to advance its stranglehold over the creation of the alternate global infrastructure, “China is providing silent state support through capital and technology infusion to set up global corporations, such as Huawei, Alibaba, Tencent, ZTE etc. Undercutting and outbidding rivals through price manipulations, enhancing scale and speed of operations, and acquiring controlling stakes in identified global technology companies, are the route being followed by Chinese corporations to marginalise competitors.”

The key highlights of the book are a vision document for a resurgent India to combat the Chinese threat in the long run, insight into the ongoing policy discourse on reforming the defence and security architecture of India with specific reference to China, and the influence of India-China rivalry on the geostrategic portends in Asia in 2020-2025.

The recent developments in Afghanistan, after the US exit from a two decade war on terror, has left a void that many countries in the region are silently moving in to fill by engaging with the Taliban. China seems a likely front runner, with deep pockets and funds to infuse into the Afghan economy, ostensibly to bring about much succor to the Afghani people who face multiple challenges, while extending its strategic reach into this sensitive region.

To take a bird’s eye view, we have China frontally confronting India along the Line of Actual Control, while attempting to encircle it by dominating Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries contiguous to India.

Apart from the dominance of the Indian subcontinent region by CCP/PLA, the author has dwelled on the energy needs of China through various corridors to include another option through the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to Iran.

A challenge in writing a book review is to not let the thunder be stolen, by revealing too much, so as to take away the pleasure of reading the book.

“It is the mailed fist behind the folded hands which ensures peace essential for successfully engaging in trade and commerce.”

To sum up, this book is not a run of the mill assessment based on a thought process promulgated by noted think tanks or military and diplomatic thinkers, who have been shoehorned to think on a particular line of thought process.

Author’s deep study and his own analysis is an essential read for students, the military and bureaucracy leadership and of course the political leadership to think out of the box in taming the Dragon at our door.

“The hallmark of a natural born leader is the ability under stress to transcend the barriers of fear and conventional wisdom, alike, in undertaking actions capable of causing geostrategic ripples beyond intended space and time.”

(The book reviewer is an Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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