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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

How India must face the Chinese threat

November 13, 2009

India, argues Bharat Verma, needs to aggressively
counter China's imperial ambitions
Bharat Verma
Rediff (India)
November 11, 2009

New Delhi -- cannot afford to sit around while others plot its destruction.

Surrounded with sullied strategic environment and
the spreading fire that engulfs the region, New
Delhi can either continue to live in fear as it has in the past, or fight back.

There are two distinct threats that endanger the existence of the Union.

First are China's imperial ambitions that
threaten to ultimately dismember India into 20 to
30 parts. To succeed in its aim, Beijing [ Images
] over a period of time unleashed the first phase
of the strategy and intelligently encircled
India. This initial phase resulted in shrinking
New Delhi's strategic frontiers in its vicinity.

The Indians unwittingly made the Chinese task a
cakewalk as they were preoccupied with internal
bickering for short-term personal gains,
overlooking the vicious expansionist agenda
designed jointly by Beijing and Islamabad [ Images ] to tear apart the country.

Even as it pretended to withdraw its covert
support to the rebels in India's northeast in the
late seventies, China took advantage of
Islamabad's hatred for India, and deftly invested
in Pakistan to carry out the task on its behalf.

The primary segment of the Chinese strategy moved
with clockwork precision by investing in
autocratic and Islamic fundamentalist elements in
countries on India's periphery -- Myanmar, Bangladesh and the Maoists in Nepal.

In Sri Lanka, while Indians dithered, Beijing and
its proxy Pakistan quickly moved in to help arm
Colombo against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam, develop the Hambantota port etc.

While the adversary invested in encircling India
on its land and sea frontiers, the Indians
merrily continued to indulge in their favorite
past time -- meaningless and endless debates.

Invited by Islamabad, the Chinese moved into
Pakistan occupied Kashmir. With growing
irrelevance of Pakistan as a nation State, this
area in times to come will become Chinese
occupied Kashmir. Similarly, China fabricated its
territorial claim on Bhutan and is working to
eclipse the prevailing Indian influence there.

Is New Delhi prepared to defend its strategic
frontiers in Bhutan unlike our timid response in Tibet?

The second phase of the long-term strategy to
unravel India based on smaller geographical
regions is now underway. After successfully
encircling India, the recent spurts in Chinese
incursions on the border, objections to the prime
minister's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, lobbying
against India at the Asian Development Bank [ Get
Quote ], the drama of apportioning official
annual budgets for the development of the
so-called Southern Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh),
devising opinion polls against India, issuing
visas on separate sheets to residents of India
from Kashmir are clear pointers in that direction.

The concluding part of the plot of unraveling the
Union, if successful, will remove the challenge
to China's unquestioned supremacy in Asia.

China's initial thrust succeeded not only in
effectively rolling back India's influence in its
external periphery, but also helped its proxies
to extend their tentacles deep into India,
threatening the Union's internal stability.

Therefore, the second distinct aspect that
endangers the existence of the Union is the
rapidly increasing internal security threat.

While the external adversary devised strategy to
shrink India's influence in its 'near abroad',
the individual states's inability to govern
ensured rollback of authority towards their respective capitals.

The Indian sway unwittingly stands reduced
simultaneously, within its borders and in its
immediate vicinity. The combined intensity of the
external and the internal threat, where each
feeds on the other, if not handled with
ruthlessness, will unravel India in times to come.

Negligence in governance is primarily responsible
and permits the hostile external actors to take
advantage of the internal dissent to further their imperial ambitions.

To power itself out of the largely self-inflicted
external-internal encirclement New Delhi should
work out a comprehensive counter-strategy with an
offensive orientation. For an enduring win
against the heavy odds, the national goal should
be to emerge as the single most dominant power in Asia by 2020.

This aim envisages an economically powerful India
backed by extraordinary military capabilities and
reach, and formation of potent international
alliances that help defend multi-cultural
democratic values under adverse conditions in Asia.

Instead of endlessly ceding strategic space as in
the past 62 years, we must learn to fight at
multiple levels, and secure and extend our
influence in Asia through hard and soft power on land and sea.

Pursuit of this singular national goal will
automatically force us to gear up the entire
infrastructure, resources, policies and
strategies towards the fulfillment of this endeavour.

At present, we are an inward looking, bickering,
dithering and indecisive nation. New Delhi lacks
the key aspiration and therefore the vision, that
motivates and impels a nation to excel and
achieve worthy living standards for its citizens.
Centrality of such national core ambition will
remove the prevailing confusion and the attendant aimlessness.

However, to be the pre-eminent Asian power, it is
essential that New Delhi first set its own house
in order by reclaiming the space lost within to the non-State actors.

Lack of skills and direction, self-serving
gimmicks and dwindling integrity in the civil
administration ended up in handing over the
control of 40 percent area to the Maoists and ten
percent on the borders to the insurgents.

It is vital that the State recaptures this space
in the shortest possible time frame and
establishes its authority up to the borders.
Otherwise, India will be the next State after
Pakistan to be consumed by civil war.

Since the Maoists and the insurgents are armed
and supported by external actors, it is
appropriate that they be dealt by exercise of
requisite military force, before development and
effective policing can take roots. The nation is
witness to the fact that the Indian police and
civil administration just do not have what it
takes to disarm those who wield weapons against the State.

To rapidly develop the sinews of the civil
administration including the police to face the
war like situation brewing inside, it is crucial
to inject military thinking and muscle.

First, the State should infuse military talent by
offering attractive terms and conditions to
retired military personnel on fixed tenure and
contract basis to take the battle effectively
into the heartland of Maoists and the insurgents.
They are fairly young, have military skills, are
motivated, and understand combat in all its hues
to take on the Maoists and the insurgents.

Second, from the pool of retired military
personnel, create military advisory cells in the
home ministries of the states and at the Centre
with adequate resources. Inter-link them with
each other on a national grid to develop military
appreciation of the situation on the ground and
offer clear and decisive options.

Third, since it is a long haul, the central and
all state police forces should pay the Indian
Army and Navy to select and train at least 100
constables each year in their various regimental
training centres to augment the armed constabulary.

Fourth, the Indian Army can select and train a
few officer cadets every year for the Indian
Police Service at its Officer Training Academy in
Chennai on the same tough pattern as the military
officer cadets. This will rapidly induct
precision of military thinking and sinews that
the civil administration urgently requires to fulfill the task at hand.

The success of expanding Chinese strategic reach
in Asia is due to the singular fact that, unlike
other Communist parties, the Communist Party of
China from its inception has the advantage of
precise military thinking in the party, as the
People's Liberation Army officers are integral to
it. The above suggestions are particularly
relevant to pacifist India, as military thinking
in most of the other cultures is a natural component.

In addition, remove all man made barriers like
inner line permits etc to allow inter-mingling of
citizenry, and establishment of businesses and
industry in the northeast and Kashmir and other states.

While the terrorist, jihadi and the infiltrator
forcibly change the demography, citizens are not
allowed to settle and buy land in many areas of
the Union. Such contradictions besides being
illogical defy national integration,
consolidation and fusion of the nation into one
entity. However, we should avoid forced
settlements like the Han Chinese in Tibet or
Pakistan in the Shia-majority Northern Areas.

But, of course, the writ of the State cannot be
re-established within, unless it can deliver high
quality governance and development programmes.

If India had developed its military power on
requisite scale and demonstrated the gumption to
use it when and where necessary in the past 62
years, if the foreign office had injected
military spine into its policy making, and if the
enemy knew that New Delhi would respond
ruthlessly if threatened, with a clear message,
'Don't mess with us!' -- I am convinced that
multiple wars would not have been imposed on India.

Neither export of terrorism would have occurred
on the scale it does nor China would have dared to be so nasty.

Adequate military preparedness and the ability to
wield it tellingly act as deterrence, taking away
the cost-benefit ratio of war from the adversary.

To emerge as the dominant force in Asia, it is
therefore, essential that offensive orientation
in thinking be injected across the spectrum from
a young age. This entails confronting adverse
geopolitical situations differently to achieve dominance.

Beijing has created an excellent infrastructure
of roads and railway network in Tibet that allows
them to bolster its hostile posture towards New
Delhi. To create similar infrastructure on our
side of the border is going to be time consuming.
Therefore, if push comes to a shove, how can we
innovate to neutralise the imminent threat posed by the adversary?

We should induct massive heavy lift capabilities
for troops by introducing a fleet of helicopters
and transport aircraft on a war footing.
Initiation of superior means of mobility for the
troops and extraordinary firepower will act as a robust deterrence.

We should create military capabilities to disrupt
the enemy's rail supply line to Tibet.

Indian thinkers are nervous at China's
declaration to further extend the railway line to
Nepal and Myanmar. Brought up on pacifism, they
forget that railway lines and roads can move
traffic in two directions. Therefore, in case
hostility breaks out, we must ensure military
wherewithal to dominate these railway lines and
use it to induct our troops in the reverse direction.

We must always plan to take war to the enemy using his vulnerabilities.

Kashmir legally acceded to the Indian Union,
therefore, in my mind there is no dispute.
However, Tibet and Sinkiang (East Turkistan) were
forcibly annexed by China. These indeed are matters of dispute.

As sovereign nations, India and Tibet did not
have any major boundary dispute. Therefore,
illegal occupation of Tibet by China does not
bestow on it any legitimacy to raise bogus boundary claims on India.

Similarly, Baluchistan was tricked into joining
Pakistan. This also can be a subject of dispute.
New Delhi should learn to think differently.

Wielding the weapon of psychological warfare, the
Chinese recently prodded their friends in
Pakistan to project via the Indian media that
this is going to be the Chinese century and in
Asia, the American influence is going to
disappear leaving Beijing as the dominant power.

Therefore, India must decide whether it wants to
side with the losing Western alliance led by
America or the winning side led by China. These
are symptoms of acute anxieties in Beijing and
Islamabad. The presence of Americans in
Afghanistan-Pakistan and the growing Indo-US
strategic partnership unnerves China.

However, despite its technological superiority,
the Americans cannot win the war in Afghanistan
without India's help. They just do not have adequate boots on the ground.

Similarly, India on its own cannot prevail in
this region and requires the Western alliance's
assistance. There is a synergy of purpose.
Equally true is the fact that the Americans are
fighting India's war too. If they withdraw from
the Af-Pak area, the entire jihad factory will
descend mercilessly upon India to create mayhem.

Hence, it is in India's national interest to
synergise with the West in Af-Pak to benefit from
resource rich Central Asia and deny the
centuries's old route of invasion to the adversary.

New Delhi must contest and reclaim the strategic
space lost within and in its vicinity. Otherwise,
in times to come, the Union will slip into civil war and finally wither away.

Bharat Verma is the editor, Indian Defence Review
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