Dislodge China from Tibet, to prevent Doklam:
During the Doklam, or Dolam, stand-off between India and China, and also after India successfully making China end the stand-off, several analysts and commentators in India have pointed out several lessons for India from this episode. I intend to throw light on a lesson that has been less commented upon, but it is a lesson that’s not new. In the known history of Asia, the first war between India and China took place in 1962, and that’s shortly after China invaded Tibet in 1950, and gradually consolidated their position through the 1950s. Dislodge China from Tibet, this will stop them from making ridiculous claims based on utopian history, to Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. For India, making this change to her neighborhood is the only sustainable solution to Chinese expansion, which will automatically prevent future Doklams.
Can India dislodge China from Tibet?
In the context of the above mentioned project of making China vacate Tibet, India will be the “Change Agent” and China will be the “Status-Quo” power. Let us examine how a change agent can wrest back strategic territory from a status quo power, and what the critical success factors are, for such a project. During the examination, we will look into ‘positive evidence’, i.e, where a change agent has successfully defeated a status quo power by favorably effecting the critical success factors. We will also look into ‘negative evidence’, i.e, where a change agent has not been able to defeat a status quo power, because the change agent could not favorably effect the critical success factors. While I have used this article as a reference to explain the critical success factors, I have also modified the critical success factor definitions based on my thinking.
First Critical Success Factor – Sustained higher motivation of the change agent, compared to the status quo power:
Presently, India does not score well on this factor. Late Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was the only Indian political executive who had come close to recognizing the Tibetan Government in Exile.
Not many Indians are motivated enough to see Tibet freed from China. Indian people may like this idea, but are currently not prepared to make sacrifices, for the idea to become reality. Far too many Indian people are currently too enamored with the cheap Chinese goods. There is currently not a critical mass of Indian people demanding relentlessly from the Government of India that India drive China out of Tibet. Narendra Modi, although a nationalist leader, will first address the priorities that people in India genuinely consider a priority. That’s what democracy is all about. Professor Brahma Chellaney sums it up well here:
Beijing’s annual trade surplus with India is large enough for it to finance one China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) every calendar year and still have a few billion dollars to spare.
Hence, in summary, we can state that currently India has less motivation to drive China out of Tibet, when compared with the motivation China has, to hold on to Tibet.
Positive evidence – 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war:
When India demonstrated a higher motivation compared to Pakistan in 1971, India was able to liberate Bangladesh.
Negative evidence – Pakistan’s continued effort to severe Kashmir from India:
Pakistan, although driven by bloodthirsty criminal enterprise of Islam, and the doctrine of Jihad, still falls short of the motivation India has, to hold on to Kashmir, and Pakistan has not been able to severe Kashmir from India. With the steady Hindu revival in India, shady deals and surrender of territory of Sonia Gandhi-led UPA era will no longer be possible, and if anything, India’s motivation will only rise further.
However, India can acquire higher motivation on freeing Tibet from Chinese clutch:
There is no substitute to knowledge. Once sufficient number of Indian people know what Tibet had to suffer in the hands of Chinese, Indian public opinion will turn around. Also, when sufficient Indians know how China can wage water war on India using the rivers originating in Tibet, Indian public opinion will be strong, in favor of Indian intervention in Tibet. There are signs that Indian people may finally be waking up to disastrous consequences of cheap Chinese good flooding Indian market. Motivation has, by nature, an intrinsic component, and with China looking at Tibet as a resource-rich colony only, Chinese motivation to hold on to Tibet can be made to diminish. The Chinese people have nothing sacred about holding on to Tibet.
Second Critical Success Factor – the Change Agent needs to have a significantly stronger Military capability:
Does India possess a significantly stronger military capability, than China? It is not an easy question to answer.
On paper, Chinese Military capabilities look stronger:
China has more soldiers, better infrastructure, stronger economy, more military hardware, more nuclear weapons and missiles, more submarines, better cyber warfare capabilities, and a more aggressive outlook to matters military. The consistent Chinese position is that they are the preeminent power in in Asia, and they push this narrative widely.
In reality, is Chinese Military stronger than India?
The reality, however, is fuzzy.
Indian armed forces are professional and motivated:
Naib Subedar Bana Singh, Major Shaitan Singh, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal, CQMH Abdul Hamid, Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat, or Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav are not exceptions in the Indian armed forces, rather, every soldier aspires to emulate them.
Innovations such as tank battle on Zoji La, improvisations by Indian Air Force such as using the M-62 bombs to put the Tezgaon runway out of action thereby grounding Pakistan Air Force in December 1971, rapid response to emerging opportunities like the Indian Air Force did on 14th December 1971 in bombing of Governor’s House (Dacca), are possible only when the element of trust is high. Denied action in 1965, Indian Navy was smarting, and they showed in 1971 how motivated and professional they were.
Indian armed forces have, consistently for the last 70 years, fought either wars, or sustained operations against terrorists. The heroism on Siachen glacier can hardly be fully appreciated by anyone who have not stood on guard there.
Doubts linger over professionalism of Chinese PLA:
The last war Chinese PLA fought was against Vietnam in 1979, which they had initiated, to ‘teach Vietnam a lesson’, and ended after receiving a bloody nose.
Prior to that, in 1967, China received a bloody nose in Sikkim, from the Indian army.
Prior to that, China had the upper hand against a poorly equipped and poorly prepared Indian army in 1962 only in the-then NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh), while Indian army staunchly resisted in the Ladakh sector. The exceptional combination of ineptitude India had displayed at that time through Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, V K Krishna Menon, B M Kaul and General Thapar can only be rare occurrences, and is no longer possible in a tumultuous democracy of present-day India. Indian people keep a close eye on the government, using many channels including social media.
Generally speaking, Chinese PLA is mostly persecuting Chinese citizens over the last 50 years, and that can’t be good for their morale or battle readiness.
There are severe doubts about how battle-worthy Chinese PLA really is.
Corruption in Chinese PLA is severe enough to reduce motivation.
Fleeing from duty during UN peacekeeping mission, abandoning own arms, when faced by murderous rioters in South Sudan, certainly does not indicate a highly motivated PLA.
Military superiority in 1971 was a defining factor in India’s ability to dismember Pakistan in 1971.
In spite of sustained effort, and propaganda to the contrary that have only managed to fool themselves, Pakistan has not been able to wrest Kashmir from India.
India can bridge the military capabilities gap with China, if any, and can actually surpass them:
- India needs to optimally use her armed forces, and not repeat follies such as refraining from using own Air Force during 1962, or denying combat opportunities to Indian Navy in 1965.
- Augmentation of Indian military capabilities, including domains such as cyber warfare and space, and sustained growth in Indian economy, is certainly possible. Many experts have commented on this already, I need not add to it.
- India needs to significantly augment her hybrid warfare capabilities, including special forces, covert operations, and exploiting fault lines in China (Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang being just two of them) .
Third Critical Success Factor – hostile population sapping morale of status quo power:
Tibetan people certainly have enough reasons to maintain sustained hostility against China, as Chushi Gangdruk had shown. 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet and China since February 2009. Establishment 22 certainly proves their fighting mettle. The sorely tried Tibetan people just need to remember their own Gendun Chomphel, who had so prophetically exhorted the Tibetan people to reclaim their martial past.
Hostile population of erstwhile East Pakistan had formed “Mukti Bahini” (liberation force) with guidance and support from India, and played a major part in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
In spite of hostile population in the four districts of South Kashmir consistently harassing India, under the spell of Islamic Jihad, Pakistan has not been able to dismember India. This is because the population in Ladakh and Jammu resist this Jihad tooth and nail. This is also because overwhelming sentiment in larger India is focused on emphatically standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian security forces, so much so that Kashmir can only be separated from India over the dead bodies of 1.25 billion Indian people.
I end with Swamy Vivekananda’s call to action, because China will not pack themselves off Tibet, we need to make that happen:
On and on, work, work, work