Lessons and Challenges for India after a Year of Galwan Clash

Synopsis: Ladakh crisis has highlighted that India needs to focus on its land borders. Also, it should use its limited resources for military modernisation instead of focusing on maritime ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

Background:
  • It has been one year since the Line of Actual Control (LAC) witnessed violent clashes in Galwan valley in Ladakh.
  • Although both India and China gave gallantry awards to the fallen soldiers, the details about the incident have not been made public so far.
How the government response can be measured?
  1. Firstly, lack of political accountability.
    • No official briefing about the situation in Ladakh has taken place in the last 13 months.
    • The Government’s political strategy was basically based on denial.
  2. Secondly, the official excuse given was operational security, but the actual reason was to avoid political embarrassment for the government.
    • There is no record of the Cabinet Committee on Security being convened to discuss the border situation, and that is why the PM being held responsible in the view of the public for the setback.
  3. Thirdly, it highlighted the failure of diplomacy and foreign policy.
    • The crisis in Ladakh erupted months after the second informal summit with the Chinese President at Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu.
What is the current scenario in Ladakh?
  1. Firstly, the current situation is not militarily certain in Ladakh.
    • There has been continued deployment of 50,000-60,000 soldiers.
  2. Secondly, China still holds a strategic advantage.
    • The Chinese are present on the Indian side of the LAC in Gogra, Hot Springs and Demchok especially Depsang Plains.
  3. Thirdly, the Indian Army is holding weak position in negotiation during the talks with the PLA.
  4. Fourthly, China has become a bigger security threat for India than Pakistan.
  5. Lastly, the Ladakh crisis has also exposed India’s military weakness, especially in case of two front war.
What are the major implications of Ladakh crisis?
  • India opened back-channel talks with Pakistan which led ceasefire on the Line of Control.
  • The Ladakh crisis has also led the Government to relook external partnerships. For instance, as per U.S. military officials, it has provided intelligence and logistics support to the Indian forces in Ladakh.
  • India has recognized China as a larger neighbour with better force and better technology.
  • The crisis has reduced the military importance of the Quad, as India refused to do joint naval patrolling with the U.S. in the South China Sea.
What are the major challenges present in front of India?
  • Firstly, it is difficult for India to counter Chinese influence in South Asia due to the mishandling of second wave of Covid-19.
  • Secondly, the Chinese challenge to India is much economic than geopolitical.
    • For instance, after the border crisis and restrictions on Chinese companies, China displaced the U.S. to become the biggest trade partner in 2020-21.
    • India is dependent on China for medical equipment to fight the pandemic.
  • Thirdly, Chinese incursions have shown that deterrence has failed. Further, India has learnt that it can no longer have simultaneous competition and cooperation with Beijing.
  • Lastly, it will be difficult for India to take sides in a new Cold War between the U.S. and China and protecting its strategic sovereignty.

India needs to reset its foreign policy choices as they will have a significant impact on the future of global geopolitics.

Source: The Hindu

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