In a seminar which I attended at the NDC in Delhi, speaker after speaker cautioned the Indian leadership about the growing danger to India from our immediate neighbors. In particular the Pakistan-China axis and the construction of the Silk Route through POK to Gwadar by the Chinese. It's a massive economic corridor in which Russia is also interested. More important it has a dual purpose and heralds the movement of Chinese armor and troops in a short time to this theater. Unfortunately, the Indian leadership has unable to recognize the military threat and we have a sad spectacle of Indian veterans still agitating for the restoration of privileges and pensions of yore. This can only adversely affect Indian armed forces morale at a time when India is facing the greatest threat from China and India's neighbors. This is sad, but a reality and no amount of blaming Nehru will serve any purpose. Nehru was wrong and he created this situation, but the men who followed him never thought of India as a global power. They are guilty of not setting up a military-industrial complex like China and the USA, with the result that India is now facing the hostile nations with one arm tied behind India's back.

The deteriorating scenario did not happen overnight. It took at least 3 decades to happen and all this while the Indian leadership and that includes the BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee just sat twiddling their thumbs. This is a sad word to use but can only be explained by the title of Alistair Maclean's novel " Fear is the key". This has been the psychosis of the Indian leadership, scared of fighting a full-scale war. Look at Kargil, here was naked aggression as the Pak army occupied the heights. As a soldier, I will say that the Indian response was tinged by fear of an escalation and despite the general staff wanted to open another front Vajpayee expressly forbade it. So much so that people who were flying in ground support were forbidden to cross the LOC. Such timidity does not auger well and the result is that India suffered heavy casualties with over 3000 killed. Nothing to crow about.  The Indian army retook the heights but it was a pyrrhic victory.  

That was almost 2 decades back and the situation has gone from bad to worse. India has not built up its Military-Industrial base with the result the Indian are still reliant on imported weaponry as none is made in India. In contrast, China has a massive industrial base integrated with its military. It is manufacturing nuclear submarines as well as the 5th generation stealth fighter the J-20 ( Chengdu). This plane is based and tested in Tibet and Indian's must be wary of it, as we have no equivalent plane. The Indian made Tejas, the supersonic fighter is substandard and nobody wants to buy it and the IAF is not too keen to induct it. In contrast the J-15 a joint Pak-China venture has already been purchased by 3 countries.

All around the Indian borders show that India is ringed by the Pak- China axis. India's old all-weather ally Russia is no longer that cozy to India and perhaps the Indian shift by the Modi government towards the USA is not all that great. Russia is inching towards Pak and wants to be part of the massive economic corridor China is constructing up to Gwadar. Tibet is no longer a buffer state, thanks to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who in 1947 gave up all rights in Tibet hammered to acceptance by the British by virtue of the 1913 Simla pact. The Chinese as per conservative estimates keep about 30 divisions in Tibet and have a full command there. 

On the western border, there is the Pak army. This is a hardy fighting force and is made up of the same racial stock as India. They are as good or bad as their Indian counterparts and one can recollect that in 4 wars on the western front the Indian army could not break more than 8 miles into Pakistan. This after weeks of fighting and should be a sobering thought.

The Chinese have made inroads into Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. India's relations with Nepal are many centuries old and Nepali nationals serve (Gurkhas) in the Indian army. Yet the relations are frosty as Nepal discriminates against Indian migrants in South Nepal. It welcomes China and a rail line from Lhasa to Kathmandu is planned. Nepal is no longer India's friend and is closer to China. Centuries old relationships have been dumped.

The same is the case with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh has been sold 2 diesel attack submarines by China and they are also given the liberty to use the Chittagong port. Now attack submarines are offensive weapons of war and the Indian navy should be worried as to the purpose of these submarines when  Bangladesh has a border only with India. Against who these submarines will operate as they are not show pieces.

Sri Lanka has handed the Hambla port on lease to China for 99 years China. Why could India not replace China in Bangladesh and Lanka? the fact is, India does not have the technology and the weaponry the Chinese can offer and so India became the monkey just watching and waiting.

India is thus hemmed in and I am afraid it is a self-inflicted injury. Reading some naive write-up on this problem is amusing. The strategic powerplay is something that dominates the ethos of a nation. Unfortunately, India never had leaders who thought of dominating the world. this was the bane of India for 1000 years and ended with India being ruled by the Muslims and then the English. Who will steer India out of this morass?

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