India Is Well Into The Great Game

What has triggered the on-going Indo-China face-off , if not its roots are to be found in August 5, 2019 when BJP led NDA-2 abrogated J&K Article 370 and made Ladakh a UT, inviting snarls from China.

It may be pertinent to recall China’s sensitivity towards Ladakh, when only a month before Chinese forces had intruded 6 kms inside Ladakh to stop Dalai Lama birthday celebrations and unfurled the Chinese flag1 something which did not resonate in New Delhi. The latest trigger to be was when Gilgit-Baltistan weather report started to be aired on DD 2 on May 8, which very immediately resulted in a tussle with a prying China , as it considered the move to thwart CPEC, where China has made heavy investments 3, and decided to entangle India in Ladakh in which 20 of our unarmed soldiers 4 have lost their lives on June 15. It took five-months of preparation of India to make to a start to reclaim Gilgit-Baltistan as more than 50,000 troops had been amassed at Pakistan border in J&K and in early January 2020, Indian army chief Manoj Naravane had said that Indian forces were ready and just waiting for a nod from Parliament to invade Gilgit-Baltistan 5

The last three months, since May, has seen a lot in the political dynamics of the country. Narendra Modi visited Ladakh, on July 3, to boost morale of soldiers, and in his 26:35 6 minute speech did not utter China a single time 7 , did we see any such activity from the Chinese side? And, now there is a growing clamour to investigate ‘our intelligence failure’, which led to the loss of life of 20 soldiers, as 144 army veterans have written to President and have called for a time-bound-probe into it 8 .

It is true that Ajit Doval –the NIA chief with the status of a Cabinet-Minister has succeeded into defusing the situation with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, to some extent, but the US lobbyists in New Delhi are calling for his scalp as US wants India to fight China under its umbrella 9 and at the same time a former US national security advisor John Bolton has cautioned India that Trump may not back India in case war escalates with China! 10 . Will Ajit Doval go or will CDS Bipin Rawat follow-suit is time would tell as India’s top military analyst Pravin Sawhney 11 has called for Rawat to resign. It is also very well known that the 2G government ( Modi and Amit Shah from Gujarat) has been bent upon to isolate, the then home minister, and now defense minister Rajnath Singh. Rajnath Singh is from UP from where the bulk of BJP MPs come and always deserved the Home portfolio.

With noises in India that ‘we are scared of China’ 12, India is also slowly upping the ante as it has appointed IFS Gourangalal Das, who in Delhi was tasked to set up the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, the in-house think tank to study China post-Doklam, to Taiwan. 13 Taiwan has reciprocated General Baushan Ger as its representative to India. India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan owing to One-China policy, the move has made Chinese ambassador to India to remind ‘non-interference in each-others internal matters’ 14. It may be known that ever since the latest heat-generated between India and China Taiwan has supported India as Taiwan News ‘Photo of the Day’ 15 of June 17 showing Lord Rama killing the Dragon has gone viral. Needless, to point that US has had stuck an arms-deal of

2.2 billion USD with Taiwan much to the angst of China. 16 .

The big, long and the great game is therefore on and India is now well into it. It has deployed Israeli Heron drones to keep a close-eye on LAC in coordination with our NTRO along with four-divisions of army in Ladakh consisting of around 20,000 soldiers each, as there are apprehensions that there might be Chinese incursions from all sides, before May there was only one-division 17 . Israel Spyder drones 18 have also been put into exercise by India alongside Akash Air Defense System so as to guard from anything untoward to happen. On the China side, there are also ‘Satellite photos (to) reveal ( that) a major Chinese buildup, including a blizzard of new tents, new storage sheds, artillery pieces and even tanks’, has also been set up in the same region 19

China is also realising the US encirclement in its South China sea, this rivalry simply just goes beyond the latest outbreak of COVID-19 which US attributes to China and vice-versa. In its state newspaper Global Times, it has acknowledged the apparent superiority which the US enjoys right now as it tends to bludgeon Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, even Vietnam along with Japan and Australia to fight China and a naval-clash, hence, is quite imminent which might lead to South China sea becoming a ‘tipping-point’. US had already deployed it’s three-nuclear powered aircraft around the South China sea by June itself and what was followed has been the further deployment of USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan on July 4, to conduct dual-carrier operations. The editorial 20 has issued a warning that US would be responsible for the escalation as thereafter China would also be forced to strengthen its capabilities for battlefields and to further demonstrate its military power so as to restore balance in Asia-Pacific.

India is also watching keenly the developments in this fast unfolding scenario and is waiting for the first batch of 4-Rafales fighters, out of the 36, from France to arrive by the last week of July 21 as then India would be on an equal footing with China . The fighters jets would be combat-ready and previously they were to have been meant for Pakistan but now are to combat China. China’s very successful foreign policy has been to entangle India with Pakistan and make India burn its resources on it and thereafter take-on to India as a surprise as this is what is happening.

The great game is on and how India would navigate through it is for us to see.