ROAD AHEAD

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Aug 2018 12:14:06

THE assertion of Minister of External Affairs Mrs. Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha that the Doka La face-off was handled with diplomatic maturity without losing any ground, offers a critical analysis of the events that had caused much anxiety to the people of India. There was little doubt that the face-off that lasted for a very long period had all the propensities to escalate into a full-scale military engagement of the two countries. Yet, the mature manner in which India handled the challenge made all the difference. The most critical achievement of the Doka La face-off was that China was at sea about how to respond to the Indian diplomacy. Mrs. Sushma Swaraj has analysed all the details in a cogent manner to claim that diplomatic maturity helped the country to tide over the serious crisis. 

It may be recalled now that when the face-off began, China declared that it would not entertain any dialogue on the issue. Undeterred, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi grabbed the hand of Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping at an international conclave and opened the topic informally, thus demonstrating to the world that India did not carry any hang-ups about any issue and was open to dialogue. That actually cracked the tough mould China claimed to have worn. Had the Prime Minister not done that instinctively, the problem could have continued longer. This openness proved to be a mark of India’s growing diplomatic maturity in a very complex situation.


In the past four years, India has been demonstrating such maturity in many a diplomatic activity. This maturity, of course, did not come all of a sudden. Right from Day One after taking oath as Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi had been making possible an open channel of communication with the world. Under his leadership, India did not mind using all its plus points to further a diplomatic cause. One of the good resources India has is its military prowess. Under Mr. Modi, India continued to build pressure, no matter what the other countries tried to do. It leveraged its military power to glean an extra advantage for itself. Such a use of military potential was done successfully for the first time by India. It is to this aspect that Mrs. Sushma Swaraj called maturity.


Had such a situation arisen during previous regimes, India would have faltered. It would have buckled under pressure, as used to happen on many occasions in the pre-Modi era. But India did not mind the Chinese pressure by threatening to use its military power, and also actually doing it by creating an armed eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at Doka La. This also was another mark of maturity on part of India.
In the times to come, India will have to face many more such tests. For, as Mr. Modi expands India’s diplomatic footprint in larger areas, the country will have to contend with many such challenging situations. The Doka La episode was a test-piece on this count. It was from that point of view that Mrs. Sushma Swaraj explained to the Lok Sabha that India was growing in its diplomatic maturity and was getting more capable of handling complexities of diplomacy.


When China is trying to expand its regional presence by extending a hand of friendship to many countries, though quite maliciously, the Indian diplomatic counterweight has its importance.Yet, it must be said that much care and caution need to be exercised in the coming times. And as part of that effort, India will have to start spending more on its security considerations and defence preparedness. That will give the country’s diplomatic activity certain upper hand, certain edge, certain thrust. Diplomacy is not just winning arguments; it is ensuring that the country’s position is safeguarded keeping good relations intact.