This Article is From Jul 07, 2020

Government Has Our Support, But Must Share More Info On China

There has been a tense face-off between Indian and Chinese troops for over two months now in various places of Line of Actual Control (LAC). The points which have been mostly in discussion are areas where Chinese incursions have been established via satellite images and not necessarily by the Indian government. They are in areas of the Pangong Lake Fingers 4-8, Galwan Valley, Naku La, Hot Springs. News reports say that the process of disengagement has been initiated in Galwan Valley as Chinese troops have moved back and brought down the structures that amounted to a new military camp for them in the region. However, the information has been just as hazy as the situation on ground with the Indian government unwilling to offer clarity on the extent of incursions that took place on our side of the border. Most of the information that is available is coming from independent defence analysts and experts including retired Army Generals, making it difficult to establish vital and basic details. If the government's communication had been clear to its citizens, the confidence in their decisions would have been complete; unfortunately, though gaping holes exist in their narrative, any question to the government is considered an anti-national move.

The India-China relationship has been a complex one, devoid of trust post the 1962 war. Despite many dialogues, exchanges, bilateral agreements and confidence-building measures in the past 70 years of our diplomatic engagement, there exists an uneasy truce. However, both sides have been committed to boundary agreements, until recently when China upped its ante at the border that led to the death of our 19 jawans and a Commanding Officer at the Patrol Point 14 of Galwan Valley on June 15, shattering 53 years of a fragile peace at the LAC. It is not a hidden fact that PM Modi, after coming to power by attacking the UPA for its disregard of national security, changed his policy towards China and set out to better India's equations with the dragon by participating in 18 meetings (the highest by any Prime Minister), which included two bilateral, informal exchanges between President Xi Jinping and himself. The trade deficit almost doubled in favour of China after the BJP government removed China from its list of "Country of Concern". There have been instances of skirmishes in the past but this by far has been the most violent, and there has been hostility at multiple points on our border to provoke a reaction.

The Indian government has been working with great restraint despite the provocation; with limited options at its disposal, the country does understand the challenge, but the bluster and premature glorification is best avoided. The Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and the Prime Minister have been engaging diplomatically with the world leaders while keeping the army's morale high on the China issue, but calling the decisions to boycott their popular apps in the nation a "digital strike" is an unwise over-simplification of the challenge. India's success would like in strengthening itself militarily, by bettering the infrastructure, equipping our armed forces better, forming deeper strategic partnerships with nations facing a similar challenge and not bowing down to the Chinese pressure. India will have to take appropriate measures to thwart China's expansionist agenda. Turning a blind eye to the incursions and by saying no one entered our territory, as the Prime Minister did on the day of the all-party meet on June 20, is undermining the valour of our martyred soldiers as well as emboldening China to make new claims on our land.

The messaging from the government hasn't been coherent with all of them speaking in different tones. The Defence Minister in an interview agreed that there was a large build-up of Chinese troops at the border while the PM denied it; in the same manner, the Foreign Ministry admitted structures were created inside our territory and asked their Chinese counterpart to ensure status quo ante of May. India's Ambassador to China was more forthcoming with the details but the government came down heavily on the press agency that interviewed him.

The latest staements from both the sides differ as well. It is a bit premature for the National Security Advisor, who has been largely silent all along, to be given credit for this. The statement from China continues to call India the aggressor in the Galwan Valley and warns firmly that they will continue to safeguard their territory. India has to categorically and emphatically reject this assertion coming from China. The country stands united in its resolve to ensure that whatever measures that the government takes against China, we stand firmly with them, and that it is unacceptable to allow China to get away with this blatant transgression and attempt to change our maps. Hence it is imperative that India treats all these moves by the dragon with the cautiousness it deserves till all their soldiers who have encroached on our land are not just pushed back but are shown that like in 1967, India takes it sovereignity and territorial integrity with all the seriousness that it deserves and any change to that will be dealt with severely.

(Priyanka Chaturvedi is Member of Rajya Sabha and Deputy Leader Shiv Sena)

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