LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 20th Nov 2020

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.” – Grandma Moses

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #251 :“LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC

LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC

Harsh Pant | Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda
LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Is India facing a two-front threat?

      CENTRAL THEME:

Diplomacy and military thinking will have to evolve more rapidly than we assumed

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR

      MAINS QUESTION:

In the evolving security and diplomatic architecture in the Indo-Pacific, how will the geopolitics of the three play out in the midst of distrust at LAC and LoC ? Comment -(GS 2)

      LEARNING: 

  • Disengagement and de-escalation process
  • Technology edge
  • China–Pakistan Economic Corridor
  • Indo-Pacific

      INTRODUCTION: 

LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC

SOURCES : WIKIPEDIA

  • A CRYSTAL CLEAR PICTURE : The ongoing stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh has brought India closer to that reality.
  • POSSIBILITIES OF TWO FRONT WAR : A two-front war is not a prospect in the near future, but a two-front threat has become more real.
  • DIALOGUES AND DISENGAGEMENT : The military and political establishment felt that we could stave off any military action from China through political and diplomatic action.

While the India-China stand-off continues in eastern Ladakh, the Line of Control (LoC) is yet again on the boil.

      BODY: 

A MATTER OF DIPLOMACY

  • ESSENTIAL STATECRAFT : Experts also say that a two-front war would mean a failure of Indian diplomacy.
  • STRUCTURAL ISSUE : Two major nations with whom you don’t have good relations straddling you on two sides of the border.
  • CONVENTIONAL STRENGTH : There has always been an assumption that we may manage the Line of Actual Control (LAC) better than the LoC because of certain factors.

We have now come to a phase where disengagement is not possible because of what the Chinese are doing.

  • ASSERTION : India has become more assertive and vocal in terms of what it believes to be its own role in the region, how it defines its parameters, the debate on Article 370, Aksai Chin, etc.

For the first time, we are seeing China reacting to something that India is doing.

  • THE CRUX OF ISSUE : In reality, China is a regime that believes its time has come and also believes that India is taking certain steps that are important to be countered in real time.
  • DIPLOMATIC MATURITY : The combination of these variables means that Indian diplomacy and military thinking will have to evolve more rapidly than we had earlier assumed.
  • UNCERTAIN BORDERS : While deliberations continue on a possible proposal for disengagement and de-escalation to end the stand-off, the close proximity of deployments leaves a possibility for escalation.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS

  • RECOGNISING PRIMARY THREAT : In case there is a two-front conflict or threat, we will need to designate a primary and secondary theatre based on who presents the greater danger.

We can’t have matching strengths on both the fronts. 
 

  • DEFENCE STRENGTH : India and the Indian military have some distinct strengths.Over the years, we have built extremely strong defences along the border.
  • HIGH ALTITUDE AREAS : These mountains are not easy for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to apply major force because of logistical and terrain constraints.
  • INDIAN AIR FORCE HAS UPPER HAND : The Air Force has a geographical advantage over the PLA Air Force and has also built a fairly strong strategic airlift capability.
  • INDO-PACIFIC REALM : Our Navy has a significant edge over the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean and there is pretty good maritime domain awareness.

WEAKNESSES

  • MILITARY POTENTIAL : China has a much greater military potential.If they’re able to bring this military potential to bear, we could have a big challenge, even in the Indian Ocean.
  • TECHNOLOGY EDGE : The PLA also has a technology edge in some very critical areas like ballistic missile, electronic warfare, cyber, air defence, etc.,
  • LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE : Despite all our efforts, there are shortfalls in infrastructure along the northern borders.

Army Chief General M.M. Naravane had termed Siachen as the closest point of ‘collusivity’ between China and Pakistan.

NOT AN EASY TASK

  • HIGH ALTITUDE REGION : When we talk of Siachen, we are talking of the Saltoro ridge with heights ranging from 18,000 ft to more than 20,000 ft.

This is a geographical barrier that is not going to be easy to breach.

  • COMMUNICATION GAP : We should not look at ‘collusivity’ of China and Pakistan purely in geographic terms but in strategic terms.
  • STRATEGIC INTERESTS : Siachen is important but geographically it is very difficult to carry out major military operations there.
  • DS-DBO ROAD : Depsang is strategically important to us ; it gives access to Siachen. Also, we have the DS-DBO road which is a vital link to the northern areas of Ladakh and to the DBO airfield.
  • TACTICS AND DEPLOYMENT : The terrain in Depsang lends itself to fairly large mechanised manoeuvres. It’s an area where an attacking force has an advantage.

CHINA–PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (CPEC)

LoC and LAC

SOURCES : RESEARCH GATE

  • GATEWAY TO WEST ASIA : It has already emerged as a major variable in terms of how we define our relationship with both Pakistan and China.

We always knew that China and Pakistan were getting closer, but with CPEC, a new dimension has been added to that relationship.

  • CHINESE-WOLF-POLICIES : And the more China feels vulnerable in the CPEC, the more open and explicit its policies have become vis-à-vis India.
  • EPICENTRE OF TRADE : If the CPEC is the fulcrum around which a China-Pakistan collusion is emerging or will emerge in the future, then India knows how to have countervailing mechanisms in place.

GEO-POLITICS AND INDO-PACIFIC REGION

  • DIPLOMATIC ARCHITECTURE : China is now a very important player in the global matrix.So, India will have to take that factor into account.
  • GLOBAL BACKLASH : However, China is facing an intense backlash across the world post COVID-19, post the kind of aggressive postures it has adopted.
  • LINK BUILDING WITH SIMILAR PRISM : So, there are opportunities there as well for India to build relationships with countries, which perhaps look at the world through a similar prism.

Quad has been revived, the Australians have been invited to Malabar, the U.S.-India relationship has achieved a new dynamic with all the foundation agreements now being signed.
 

  • GLOBAL GEOPOLITICS : Chinese actions have made it virtually impossible for several major powers to have a normal relationship with China.

Now that is a challenge that not only India faces, but also countries like Japan, Australia, the U.S. and Europe.The Chinese have been very sensitive about the Quad and Indo-Pacific. 

  • INDO-PACIFIC REGION : So clearly, the Indo-Pacific seems to be becoming very contested.Ultimately, India will have to fight its own battles.
  • DEGREE OF INCLINATION : India is coming out very vocally about where it stands on a number of these issues, perhaps we will see a greater degree of alignment among major powers.
  • BILATERAL ENGAGEMENTS : The attempt from the Indian side diplomatically was to have these bilateral engagements , partly because India has been reluctant to join any alliance framework.

Where in the past, India was hesitant in articulating some policies, it is less hesitant today.

      IASbhai Windup: 

THE NEW NORMALS

  • MARITIME DYNAMICS : Now that, The Indo-Pacific is widely accepted as a framework through which you look at the region and at the maritime dynamic.
  • ACCEPTING NEW NORMALS : And Chinese behaviour itself is a major driver of the challenge.There is now a new dynamic and a new normal on the LAC.

Even if the current crisis is resolved peacefully, it will take time to get back to the status quo as it existed. 

  • WINDS ALONG LAC : We are going to see greater militarisation along the LAC.The old protocols and agreements that guided the conduct of soldiers on both sides have all broken down.
  • NEW ARRANGEMENTS : So, greater distrust is going to now be the new normal for the next few years until we put in place new protocols to get a degree of trust again between the two militaries.
  • POWERS ARE SET TO GROW : We also must be conscious of the fact that the power differential between India and China is only set to grow in the future.
  • LEADERSHIP ROLES : At the strategic level, there needs to be greater dialogue between the civil and military leaderships to see how this can be bridged.
  • OPEN DIALOGUES : Unfortunately, our state of civil-military relationship and the structures that are in place don’t really encourage an open dialogue between the military leadership and the political leadership.

Even our strategic and doctrinal thinking of how we are going to handle a two-front threat if it comes requires very extensive debate between the political leadership and military leadership.

SUGGESTED READING : INDIA-PAKISTAN RELATIONS 2020 
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | LoC and LAC | The Bidirectional Risks | UPSC

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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