FPJ Edit: Much needed reassurance on the border situation

12:19 AM Jun 30, 2020 |
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Given how little we know of the actual situation at the disputed Indo-China border, and how there is a surfeit of wild speculation, the Prime Minister did well to allay the misgivings, if any, of the people. His assertion that “the world has seen India’s commitment to protecting its borders and sovereignty in Ladakh…a befitting reply has been given to those coveting our territory.” Modi’s morale-boosting claim came on Sunday in the course of his monthly address to the nation, Mann Ki Baat. He referred to the sacrifice of the 20 soldiers in the clash with the Chinese troops on June 15, paying them fulsome tributes. Reciting a Sanskrit sloka to decry China for being deceitful when India extended the hand of friendship, the Prime Minister used the occasion to address the crisis frontally. Keen to remove any lingering doubt that Indians might be assailed with, he reiterated the commitment to stand up to the bully. His claim of a befitting reply to the Chinese in the April 15th clash further confirmed reports in the foreign media about the number of Chinese fatalities. A section of the usually well-sourced American media put the Chinese losses at over 40, including a colonel-ranked officer. Modi’s ringing words also provided an inkling into the government’s approach to the border crisis. There was no question of India tolerating any intrusion into its territory. This should silence politicians like Rahul Gandhi who have sought to embarrass the government by implying that the Indian troops were beaten back in the clash with the Chinese. The Congress leader’s childish name-calling in this regard has elicited a sharp rejoinder from Sharad Pawar, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party with whom Rahul’s party shares power in Maharashtra. Notwithstanding the resounding defeat of India in 1962, in Circa 2020 Modi claims to have given a befitting reply to the enemy. The two situations are entirely different. Therefore, any attempt to exploit the border crisis for partisan political ends ought to be shunned, especially by the Congress Party. Six decades later, the border crisis still persists, with the two armies ready for any eventuality. A clearer picture of the Chinese incursions into the Indian side of the disputed Line of Actual Control is yet to emerge. But the notable point is that the government is not willing to rest until China restores the pre-April position. Simultaneous military and diplomatic engagement by the two nations is expected to resolve the stalemate. For, neither country can afford armed hostilities which can always spiral out of control. Meanwhile, we cannot help notice the sharp contrast in the way the latest standoff is played out for domestic audiences in the two countries. In India, it is a hot topic of discussion, with the government feeling obliged to take the nation into confidence. Ordinary Chinese are kept completely in the dark about the events on the border, barring a bald statement about some disturbances. So much so that even the families of those killed in the clash at the LAC have not been informed about their loss, this becoming evident from the muted voices heard on the Chinese social media. Authoritarian nations inflict cruelty on their people in myriad ways.

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