A familiar script along the border

Source: The post is based on the article “A familiar script along the border” published in the Business Standard on 16th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS – 2 – India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Relevance: About India – China conflict and opacity in government information while confronting China.

News: A clash between India and China occurred again this month at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Yangtse area of Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh.

About the clash at LAC
Read here: The new India-China Tawang crisis: Where, why, and what now
What is the Chinese strategy behind these transgressions and subsequent resolutions?
Read here: Flare-up at Tawang marks shortcomings of India’s China diplomacy
About the opacity in government information while confronting China

Three days after the occurrence of the incident, a video has been leaked in the media. On the following day only, the government briefed the incident at a “high-level meeting”.

When the clash in Galwan happened in 2020, that information was also not released as it should have been and when it should have been.

What is the reason for opacity in government information while confronting China?

The Indian government might have not been informed about the conflict due to reasons such as 1) The army might thought that this clash was not important enough to report to the political establishment, 2) The army might briefed previously, and held the second meeting something purely for media consumption, and 3) The government did not intend to communicate that the clash had happened to the people, and was forced to act only because the report leaked.

A British newspaper reported that “India is covering up the true extent of border clashes with China to avoid panicking the public,” and that “army officers are under strict instructions to keep quiet about the regular clashes between Indian and Chinese troops.”

About the historical opacity in government information while confronting China

Jawaharlal Nehru knew that the border on both the western sector (Ladakh) and eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh) was problematic. He felt that the population— the Indian people— would not accept anything other than the lines that the maps showed, even though these were lines the Indian government unilaterally drew.

So, even after the 1962 war, India chose opacity. Nehru’s papers were hidden away as was the report on the war with China. Material that is important to understand why the war happened in the first place and the background to the border and its cartography is still not completely accessible.

How India can gain from transparency in government information while confronting China?

Transparency can expand India’s options because it will enable the full use of our democratic power.

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