I think Chinese military attack on India is imminent. I believe it will be a short conflict, will not last more than a few days. I believe in military standpoint it will be a stalemate, but due to superior Chinese propaganda it will be perceived as ‘Chinese teaching India a lesson’. Both sides will have significant casualty. Indian Jawans will fight gallantly, but will not have a military victory to show for it. I may be proved wrong. I will be happy to be proved wrong, because I am not confident that Indian political and military leadership will provide the right kind of leadership to the Indian Jawans. I do not want to see Indian Jawans being humiliated in a perceived manner in the hands of Chinese PLA. I have recently read a book written by Gen. (retd.) V P Malik (ex-COAS, who was COAS during Kargil war) on Kargil war. In his book, he makes a disarmingly honest comment. He states that Indian solider is a remarkable human being – spiritually evolved, physically tough and mentally resilient. He also says that whenever they have been well-led, they have made the country proud. My worry is over whether they will be well-led in case of an imminent Chinese attack. Hence, I wish that my prediction does not fructify.
I am making this prediction based on my analysis of pre-October-1962 events and events of the recent months. For this analysis, I have used material from many books and journals, and I wish to state my gratitude to the authors and institutions. I may miss mentioning some, and I apologize for that. I thank Shri K N Raghavan, Claude Arpi, late Brig. John P Dalvi, Professor Brahma Chellaney, Major (retd.) Ashok K Mehta, late Shri B Raman, late Sydney Wignal, and many more. I also thank institutions such as IDSA, Bharat-Rakshak, Daily Pioneer, Lancer Publishers, and many more.
Following are the similarities I see between events pre-October-1962 and those of the last few months.
1. Then, the Chinese government had accurately perceived Indian government to be weak. Indian government had ignored governance and was focused on a leadership role in the international crisis (Korea, Hungary etc). Now, the Chinese government perceives that the ‘UPS government is in crisis’, according to their Blue Book published in May-2013. They are right. The Indian government is under tremendous pressure, primarily due to scams and lack of governance. Crimes against women, children, dalits and other disadvantaged communities are increasing. Economy is stalling.
2. Then, a strategic asymmetry prevailed. Communist China was born in blood, was growing up in blood, and their leadership had acute sense of matters military. Indian government was ‘non-violent’ and ‘non-aligned’ with no culture of strategic thinking. The only person of stature capable of such thinking, Sardar Patel, had passed away in 1950. Now, Chinese have established a strategic supremacy, backed by their economic and military might, that all nations acknowledge. India continues to lack an institutionalized culture of strategic thinking.
3. Then, a military asymmetry prevailed. Chinese PLA had already fought the Americans in the Korean peninsula, they were well stocked, well-trained and well prepared. Indian army had been run down post second world war, and with ineffective political leadership, was poorly armed and poorly prepared. Now, a military asymmetry prevails. China can amass a huge army in the Indian borders, owing to their logistical superiority in Tibet. India has poor infrastructure in the border areas (Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh) and will struggle to match Chinese mobilization. For example, the road to Daulat Beg Oldi in the Indian side is not ready even after 11 years.
4. Then, Indian army’s most brilliant officers were hounded out, vilified and humiliated by V K Krishna Menon. Gen. Thimmayya, Gen. Umrao Singh, Gen. Verma were upright and rare military talents. They were replaced with pliant officers such as Gen. Thapar and Gen. B M Kaul. Government had politicized the army. Per Acharya Kripalni, Menon ‘had created cliques in army’. Now, Gen. (retd) V K Singh is being hounded. He had set up TSD, with full cabinet approval. In 2012, after Gen. Bikram Singh took over, TSD has been disbanded. An internal army probe report was submitted to the defense ministry in March-2013. After Gen. V K Singh has shared dias with Narendra Modi, in September-2013, the government has leaked the probe report to media. Why did the government not take legal action against Gen. V K Singh earlier? I believe the Chinese government is watching this closely.
5. Then, China had created many incidents over the border, for several years. In 1959 there were incidents in Longju, Spangur gap and Galwan. Each of these were incursions. The Indian government had treated each as localized arrangements. The Indian government had only made on-paper arrangements, to address these, and those too were mostly for public consumption, with no real change to our defense capabilities. Now, China had intruded into Depsang bulge in Ladakh. India was taken by surprise. China continues to intrude in Arunachal Pradesh, and in other areas of Ladakh. Each are treated as localized incidents, without trying to evolve a coherent and proactive strategy.
6. Then, India had appeased China. India had given up all rights in Tibet. India had pressed for UNSC seat for China. India had embarked on a massive ‘Hindi-Cheeni bhai bhai’. Now, India continues to appease China. Chinese PMs visit should have been cancelled when Depsang intrusion came to light. Instead, Indian foreign minister went to Beijing. India continues to incur huge current account deficit due to trade imbalance with China, but does not raise tariff barriers (or take other appropriate meaningful actions) to force China to see reason.
7. Then, Indian politicians had demonstrated a ‘foot in the mouth’ disease. Nehru had ordered to ‘evict the Chinese’. Nehru had announced in the Calcutta airport that he ‘had ordered Army to evict the Chinese’. V K Krishna Menon had said ‘Chinese will receive a reception too warm for their liking if they invade India’. Now, foreign minister Khurshid called the Depsang incursion as an ‘acne in an otherwise beautiful face, that requires ointment’.
8. Then, India had caved in to Chinese pressure, whether it is in the negotiating table, on Tibet, or on the question of Dalai Lama. Even now, India appeased China. Dalai Lama is not allowed to make political statements. It appears that the Indian soldiers had to ‘pull back’ in their own territory, for the PLA to pull back. Also, it appears that India had demolish bunkers in Chumar, as this was PLA’s demand before they pull back. Now, Ladakh is very tough terrain. Not having these bunkers as shelter is greatly impacting Indian army’s ability to patrol. What’s more, India has, since 2010, given primary responsibility of border management in Ladakh – such a sensitive region – to ITBP. Can ITBP be a match for Chinese PLA?
It is hoped – nay, we pray – that the Indian government prepares adequately to meet Chinese threat. We as citizens need to be alert and vigilant.