be discreet

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Aug 2018 12:18:00

THOUGH the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs has suggested that India should encourage Bhutan to hike the number of soldiers to be deployed in North Doka La area so as to keep a check on the Chinese activity in the super-sensitive zone, it would often be right for India to be discreet about its response to the security concerns. For, when India and China are working out the details of how to approach certain issues so that there is minimal heartburning, it may not be a good idea to think overtly to step up Indian presence in the Doka La area. 

It must be admitted the Parliamentary Committee headed by Mr. Shashi Tharoor has not talked specifically about stepping up of the numbers of Indian soldiers directly, it may have meant between the lines the very idea. At this moment, the suggestion is to encourage Bhutan to increase the number of its soldiers. No matter that, any overt overture is likely to invite an unnecessary Chinese ire which may trigger an undesirable chain reaction from Beijing. At this stage when diplomacy is proceeding in the right direction, a demonstration of increased India or Bhutanese activity may not serve any specific purpose.

This does not mean to suggest in any manner that India has to be diffident about its security objectives. But the word of caution is necessary so that the flow of diplomatic activity is not impeded unnecessarily. In the past some time, when Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinpinjg are personally monitoring developments between the two countries, it may be preponderous on the part of India to take steps that may cause a little disturbance on the Chinese side. At this stage, what is necessary is to ensure that India stays firm but not unnecessarily loud in its positioning.

To be able to make such delicate decisions is actually the crux of diplomacy. For the first time in recent history, the Chinese leadership has shown patience and respect for Indian position. The two leaders have agreed to ensure that the two Armies do not over-react. In a world where uncalled for tensions are increasing every passing day, diplomatic effort must be guided to ensure that there is no addition to hostile sentiment just for the heck of it. When a ray of hope has emerged on the horizon that India and China could be thinking amicably and resolve at least some part of the dragging and chronic disputes between them, India will have to be extremely discreet about whatever it wishes to do as regards its estranged neighbour who now stands fairly closer to a little better quality of mutuality.

Though India has enhanced its military capabilities in the past couple of decades, it still has to go a long distance to be anywhere close to the Chinese levels of military preparedness. In every aspect of defence-readiness, China is way ahead of India. Its Army, its Air Force, and its Navy are at least as good as those of the United States, and in some respects better. In recent times, the Chinese have redefined their entire strategic vision and altered operational emphasis. Though India has been monitoring all those developments and has been making parallel efforts to match up to the Chinese capabilities, it must be granted in complete frankness that it has yet to travel a fairly long distance to level up.

These considerations must never be lost sight of when India redefines its security vision and redesigns its actual preparedness from time to time. The advice of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs need not be thrown into the dustbin. Yet, even as the Government considers it, it must not lose sight of the reality on the ground vis-a-vis China. For, if India is able to maintain a balanced perspective, then it would serve its own long-term goal and short-term interests better.