Lessons learnt from the Ladakh crisis

Synopsis: A critical evaluation of the Ladakh crisis, may help India to achieve advantageous position against China at LAC in long term.

  • Even after a year of Ladakh crisis, the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh shows no signs of resolution. Disengagement has been stalled and China continues to reinforce its troops.
  • Even in the future, the relationship between the two countries is set to remain vulnerable to destabilizing disruptions.
  • In this context, it’s important for our military and political leaders to learn the right lessons from Ladakh. It will ensure that India is rightly prepared to meet the challenge of Chinese coercion in the future.
What lessons did we learn from Ladakh crisis?

According to a recent study published by the Lowy Institute, the Ladakh crisis offers India three key lessons in managing the strategic competition with China.

  • First, India’s military strategy doctrine based on denial has been more successful than the retaliation strategy. For example, India’s occupation of the Kailash Range provided it a strategic advantage in case of further advance of Chinese.
    • Focus on denial strategy will enhance the Indian military capacity to thwart future land grabs across the LAC.
    • Further, improved denial capabilities will allow India to reduce the resource drain of the increased militarization of the LAC.
  • Second, the threat of political costs will work more in India’s favor rather than the material threat of material costs.
    • Because, China’s military spending is three to four times larger than India’s. Any material cost incurred, will not disrupt its existing priorities.
    • However, China will not be interested in destabilizing its political relationship with India owing to its pre-occupation in many territorial disputes.
  • Third, India should persist with its strategies to secure the Indian Ocean even if threats at LAC increases.
    • Because the future of the Indian Ocean Region is more consequential and more uncertain than the Himalayan frontier.
    • The Ladakh crisis has highlighted the need for increased militarisation at the LAC. However, pursuing the strategy of increased militarisation at the LAC will delay India’s plan for military modernization and maritime expansion in the Indian Ocean.
    • India needs to make tough-minded strategic trade-offs. India needs to prioritize military modernization over increasing militarisation at the LAC.
    • However, rebalancing India’s strategic priorities is politically challenging. Here, the chief of Defence staff should step in to issue firm strategic guidance to the military services.

Source: The Hindu


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