adding value

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Jan 2018 10:23:03

THAT India is going to add 15 new battalions to its Armed Forces to tackle the challenge on the borders with China and Pakistan, is certainly a good news. These battalions would be added to the country’s two major border-guarding forces -- 6 battalions to the Border Security Force (BSF), and 9 battalions to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), thus enhancing their capabilities in a big way. Against the background of the current insistence of Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on altered security perceptions ad a fresh approach to tackling issues such as terror, this new development needs to be considered as welcome. General Rawat has stressed that India is not a weak nation and can tackle all the challenges and issues with neighbours like China and Pakistan. Even as he has talked of military capabilities, General Rawat has also talked of foreign policy initiatives such as “neighbourhood first”. The decision to add 15 additional battalions to the Armed Forces, thus, comes as a good value addition to India’s defence capabilities. 

In the past some, the ITBP, for example, has been trying to reduce the distance between two border outposts (BOPs) along the 3488-km long ice-capped border which it is mandated to guard. The addition of as many as 9 battalions would be a great help to the force to achieve its objective. That would enhance the ITBP’s capabilities to have a better and closer watch on hostile activities from across the border.

As for the Border Security Force, the addition of 6 fresh battalions will enhance its capabilities along the India-Bangladesh and India-Pakistan borders in a big way. The locations of the new battalions could be a decision of strategic needs of the country, but the BSF will become a stronger force with addition of numbers.

Each battalion consists of about 1,000 operational jawans and officers. That would mean a good and useful addition of numbers of trained jawans and officers equipped with suitable arms and ammunition. Naturally, this decision will send a no-nonsense message to both the neighbours who have shown tendencies to engage in hostile conduct from time to time.

It must be noted that the situation along the borders with China and Pakistan is certainly one to cause much concern in India at all levels. Despite all measures to establish friendly ties, both the countries have continued to needle India all the time. If Pakistan keeps sending its forces -- official as well as proxy -- into Indian territory, China also keeps doing more or less a similar thing by staking claims on Indian territory. The recent development of Chinese workers trying to start a road-construction project in Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh cannot be viewed casually. Though the Indian Forces ensured that the Chinese are packed out of the Indian territory and their material confiscated, the incident cannot be taken as a casual happening. Though the Chinese authorities said that whatever happened was by mistake, it is not possible for India just to look at it casually.

It is against this background that any addition in numbers of battalions or soldiers or equipment of the Indian Armed Forces is welcome. In the past some years, the situation has only worsened due to the method of the Chinese and the Pakistani people. They seem keen to keep some trouble brewing somehow with India. This has necessitated enhanced capabilities of the Indian forces and diplomatic outreach. General Rawat’s insistence upon seeking fresher approaches to tackle the situation vis-a-vis China and Pakistan stems from this continuously changing conditions along the borders with China and Pakistan. The new development of addition 15 new battalions appears the step in the right direction.