By occupying areas in Pangong Tso lake region till Finger 4, China’s PLA has effectively taken over India’s buffer zone territory and reduced its claim line by 8 km from what it was in 1960. There is another matter that is hardly occupying any media attention. The entire focus is on Chinese occupying the Indian side of LAC on the ground, but what about the mountain tops.
It is time we reminded ourselves of the prophetic words of Sardar Patel and Sri Aurobindo as we face renewed threats across the Himalayas. It is true the situation today is different from the one in 1950 or 60s. And yet the validity of the lesson remains: the firmness with which both spoke regarding national security has not lost its relevance.
It is often said that ‘those who forget history are condemned to repeat it’. The truth of this adage is seldom realized. With the brutal and savage killings of unarmed Indian soldiers by the death squads of the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] and the brazen claims of China over the entire Galwan valley of Ladakh and other vital territories that historically belonged to India, we seem to have come full circle from the debacle of 1962.
The hawkishness which informs the current chorus, “India of 2021 is not the India of 1962”, ignores the accompanying truth: China of 2021 is not the China of 1962. It is challenging the United States.
The standoff in Ladakh takes the mind back to External Affairs Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 1979 visit to Beijing. That visit was conceived in a context. Until 1971, with the Cold War at full throttle, a tiresome parity existed between India and Pakistan.
Pandemics are not created in a vacuum. A whole mix of ingredients makes up the conundrum. When the coronavirus pandemic wanes, China should become a case study and warning to the rest against a government that suppresses people brutally, a thieving autocratic dictatorship indulging in excessive surveillance and propaganda, and of how all these create conditions that endanger not just one country, but all of humanity.
2019 marks the 54th anniversary of the 1965 war that both India and Pakistan claim to have won. The truth perhaps, lies somewhere in between the chest thumping.
Is R&AW dreaded or dreadful, effective or affectlessly irrelevant, a proactive shaper of India’s history and foreign policy or a bumbling reactionary force? As R&AW turns 50 today, it is worth investigating its past in search of an answer. Like everything else about it, R&AW’s origin is shrouded in mystery.
This column is not to recount R N Kao’s successes or failures; he saw both in good measures. For despite the paucity, there have been some books both by his colleagues and some by later spies, one of whom had the good sense of recording him for posterity. Instead, this column is just to inspire us Indians – in a world where history is being slaughtered daily - to study our gradually eroding past.