Parliamentary statements aren't enough
The Indian defence minister was set to address the Parliament on the issue on Friday and more democratic firework is expected in the country's political and media circles. A goof-up or two will add more spice to the drama. The Samajwadi Party sought a suspension on the LAC issue in the Lok Sabha on Friday. But the question is: Can this territorial matter be settled through statements and opposition in the Parliament or should we need a robust policy on China on military-diplomatic lines?
It's not that China is only targetting us. The problem is that we weren't ready
China has grown and hence asserting itself, India isn't the only one facing the challenge
China is a country that shares little cordiality with most of its neighbours. Its behaviour towards smaller neighbours signifies a typical 'superiority complex' and of late, Beijing has started flexing its muscles in various directions. India is not the only country at the receiver's end for the Japanese, too, are facing a similar challenge in the Senkaku Islands in East China Sea. Other countries like the Philippines and Australia also do not have happy relations with Beijing in the context of the USA's entry in the southern Pacific.
The Chinese are asserting themselves across the Asian continent after its rise as a formidable power and it doesn't hesitate to take a few risks to prove its point. By teasing India across the long border, the Chinese have been sending signals that its time has come.
Beijing is preparing the ground to act as the 'policeman of the eastern hemisphere' and its resurrecting territorial claims vis-a-vis India and other maritime neighbours is suggestive of a proactive foreign policy that it is gradually focussing on. It is a clearly a power game between China and the rest of Asia and being the biggest among the rest and nearest to China, it is normal that India will face a huge challenge.
What can India do?
What should India do to meet this challenge? Nationalist debates on television and in the Parliament won't help. The wiser option is to build a strong Sino-Pak foreign policy to shield India's northern borders and rope in people who can work on that direction. Since India is neither a pygmy nor a giant in world politics, it can not just try to underestimate smaller neighbours and entirely focus on a bigger one like China.
Every neighbour is important while formulating a Sino-Pak policy
To frame a viable Sino-Pak policy, New Delhi needs to take into account Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar and even Maldives and Sri Lanka. But sadly, there is hardly any coherence in what New Delhi does vis-a-vis its neighbours. There is a tendency in India to look at pro-India and anti-India regimes in the neighbouring countries. It will be better if we look to influence the smaller neighbours via strong diplomatic means and not through ideological patronage. Our political leadership should wear the hat of the diplomat and security specialist while thinking how to proceed on foreign relations. But this is something it lacks terribly.
Lack of response from India makes China all the more adventurist
The lack of strong response from the Indian side whenever there is a violation or at least a reported violation is bound to make the strong Chinese take the former for granted. It is not that the Congress itself is only responsible for this situation just because it was in power when the 1962 debacle took place. Take for example, the recent arrest of Indian Mujahideen leader Yasin Bhatkal near the India-Nepal border.
Nepal border left unguarded, why?
Don't the Bihar or the central governments know that the porous border with Nepal is dangerous enough for the national security? Yet, the terrorists freely moved in and out of India through that route. If we are so concerned about the Chinese intrusion, how can we leave the crucial Nepal border unguarded? For the Himalayan nation is known for its oscillation between the two big neighbours whenever the situation demanded so.
Politicians sleeping, army stays under its shadow
India still doesn't believe in truly modernising its security forces and set up a security culture. The army has remained in the shadow of the sleeping civilian administration while the Opposition's reason to champion the nationalistic cause has remained confined inside the Parliament House. None has cared to act on the ground reality excepting clapping when a military aircraft lands at the LAC. Border police personnel are being deployed when the mighty People's liberation Army of China violates the LAC. Our military and security mindset is extremely poor, to say the least.
We must learn to defend ourselves
If our neighbours are adopting a belligerent stand, we must learn to defend ourselves with equal vigour. But the hapless Indian political leadership is often found crying that we are being victimised by our neighbours but yet show no concern to save our own land and its men in uniform. Some of our media anchors seem more fit to take up the gun and settle all border disputes. But foreign policy doesn't work that way.