In Parliament, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley categorically mentioned that the armed forces are strong to meet any challenge to the country’s security and underlined that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war with China. “I agree that some challenges are still there. Some people are targeting our country’s sovereignty and integrity. But I am fully confident that our brave soldiers have capability to keep our country secure, may it be challenges on the eastern border or the western border,” he said.
on a day when a senior official in China made aggressive remarks about the possibility of the escalation of the dispute at Sikkim which began in the middle of June.
Indian artillery guns have not been shifted to their emplacements near the site of the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the disputed Doklam Plateau, a part of Bhutan, which is located East of Sikkim.
According to sources, this is a clear indicator that a military escalation between the Chinese and Indian Army seems unlikely at the moment. Also, there are no signs of a significant Chinese military buildup in the region as both New Delhi and Beijing look to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Doklam, potentially the gravest crisis between the two countries since the 1962 war.
The military debacle of 1962 sparked a comprehensive overhaul of India’s army. Today India is a nuclear armed power with the third largest army in the world and an air force and navy comparable to world standards. The military disparity of 1962 has all but vanished. The India of 2017 is no pushover.
Barely five years after 1962, Indian forces inflicted a crushing defeat on the Chinese army during a border skirmish at Nathu La and Cho La; over 400 Chinese soldiers died compared to 80 to 100 Indian casualties; a clear reflection of the changing military equation between China and India.
India’s trump card is its logistic geographical advantage that has the potential to strangle China’s military thrust and disrupt its economy.
China imports over half of its oil from Venezuela and oil-rich nations in Africa and the Middle East.80 percent of this oil transits the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca, a ‘choke point’ that India has the ability to exploit with its powerful naval base in the Andaman islands.
The war at sea would be the decisive front in a conflict between the two countries. Sitting astride the Indian Ocean, India lies on China’s jugular vein. The Indian Navy, with its force of submarines, aircraft carrier the INS Vikramaditya and surface ships could easily curtail the flow of trade between China and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
India is blessed by favorable nautical geography. The subcontinent juts into the Indian Ocean, adjoining potential battlegrounds in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. Its geographical layout amplifies the advantages of the interior lines. Furthermore, New Delhi is sovereign over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an island chain thwart the western approaches to the Strait of Malacca. Suitably fortified with missiles, aircraft, and ships, the island chain would constitute a barrier to east-west Chinese maritime movement ,enfeebling any force that ventures onto India’s turf.
The Indian navy enjoys direct, relatively short routes to potential scenes of battle while the PLA navy must project forces across long, distended, potentially contested sea routes just to reach the fight. Distance favors the defender while debilitating its adversary.
According to experts naval warfare is no longer about navies alone. The Indian air force, constitutes another implement of Indian sea power. And it’s an imposing one, American aviators testify to the combat excellence of their Indian brethren. The Indian armed forces, in short, could give PLA navy expeditionary forces a very bad day if they turn all assets at their disposal to advantage.
In dealing with the Indian navy, it’s China that must assume the strategic offensive, carrying the fight onto a defender’s ground. Offense poses a different challenge altogether, and it’s unclear whether the PLA has yet devised methods for prosecuting an offensive campaign,something it hasn’t conducted since the disastrous Vietnamese excursion of 1979.
High mountain warfare is another area, where Indian Army is considered as matchless in the world. While China lies on the northern side of the Himalaya where Tibet plateau provides it a rather flat surface, Indian Army is trained to fight in the rugged terrain of the highest mountains of the world.
Indian expertise in high mountain warfare is so much appreciated that the US, the UK and Germany send their soldiers for specific training at the High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian Army has already been manning the highest military base in the world at Siachen.
China has numbers on its side, but India’s allies include geography, land-based sea power, and silent partners such as the United States and Japan.
According to defence sources, the Indian Ministry of Defence has sought an additional Rs 20,000 crore from the Centre to meet its capital and revenue budget needs.
The demand for additional money comes at a time when the face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam in Bhutan has entered the 8th week and the borders with Pakistan remain unusually active.
A few weeks earlier, the Defence Ministry had allowed the Vice-Chief of Army Staff to make emergency purchases of ammunition, mines and spares that are considered crucial for war fighting. Delegating financial powers to the army was done to cut the red-tape and speed up purchases.
Meanwhile more than 50 days since the border standoff began at Doklam, the Dalai Lama on Wednesday said that it is “not a very serious issue”, and that the two countries have to live as neighbours. The Tibetan spiritual leader said there are periods when the countries use “harsh words”, but the spirit of “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai (India-China brotherhood)” is the only way forward. “I do not think it (Doklam standoff) is very serious. India and China have to live side by side…. Even in 1962, Chinese forces had reached Bomdilla, (and) eventually withdrew. India and China have to live side by side,” he said.
The Dalai Lama continued to emphasise on dialogue in the current global scenario. He said in order to create a peaceful century, every problem should be resolved through talks. “One side victory and one side defeat is old thinking. Destruction of your neighbour is destruction of your own self.”