Another Chinese intrusion along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and old questions creep up again. How secure are our Chinese borders? Why has India over the years ignored development along Chinese borders? India will lose a lot if the dragon army penetrates along its Northern border. If China attacks India, lack of border infrastructure could largely be responsible for its second defeat.
India cannot forget the 1962 debacle with China. China had then unexpectedly attacked India. It is interesting to know the history of the conflict between these Asian giants.
The history of conflict (Past Hostility)
The border claims between India and China has a long past. Nothing has changed much. The hostility took root in 1950 after China captured Tibet. India was not so supportive or impressed. The tensions slowly began and nationalist feelings against China became rampant as the Indian Government released white paper against the border transgressions committed by China along its border.
In 1959, there was an up rise against China by Tibetan leaders and civilians which led to the escape of Dalai Lama to India. India readily gave him refuge which again angered China. India further built 40 check posts along the northern border. This led to the arousal of nationalistic feelings among the Chinese.
In November 1962, China decided to permanently settle scores with India. The Chinese army unexpectedly intruded into the India territory and began capturing major areas along the North and North eastern border. Indian forces were not able to respond appropriately due to the sudden nature of the attack and were thoroughly defeated by the Dragon forces. Luckily for India, the Chinese army withdrew from the major captured territories for mysterious reasons, as unexpected as the attack itself. China, however, captured a part of Ladakh, and other areas along the Himalayan terrain. The suspicion on each other has since remained.
Now coming to the crux question, why did not India over the years actually develop its LAC border knowing well the unpredictable nature of the threat from China? India may have recently started some work along the border, but the Chinese for long have done their homework. They have built an airport, laid railway line and built roads in Tibet along border which allowing swift movement arms in the event of a war.
Why did not India develop its Chinese borders? (Amusing Reasons)
Amusing as it may seem, Indian government, including the Army and the bureaucracy, were reluctant to the idea of developing infrastructure along Chinese borders for two reasons. Firstly, an improved infrastructure will be taken advantage of by Chinese troops and secondly, because having infrastructure in border areas also meant they have to defend the infrastructure. This cowardly perception is, however, gradually changing today.
Why India should start developing its borders? (The Present Priority)
India is beginning to realize the advantages of a good infrastructure along the border. The Chinese are reportedly occupying Arunachal and other areas inch by inch and a good infrastructure will help take note of any little occupation. In a different context, developing the borders could also encourage trade and people to people contact between the two countries and shed the antagonism which has been prevalent in the collective consciousness since 1962.
Neither ‘Bye Bye’ nor ‘Bhai Bhai’ (Adopting The Middle Policy)
India should consider the northern and north eastern borders as bridge and not a barrier for better relationship with China. At the same time it cannot adopt the ‘bhai bhai’ policy of Nehru. India should approach the middle path of neither ‘bhai bhai’ nor ‘bye bye’.