Too little, too late

Knee-jerk reaction after border clash not strategic planning

Too little, too late

The more the fog lifts, the worse the Indian situation appears. During the telephone call between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday afternoon, India insisted that premeditated and planned action by Chinese troops was directly responsible for violence and casualties on June 15. If that be so, it only proves that India was caught napping diplomatically and militarily. Worse, Jaishankar explained that the People’s Liberation Army’s actions reflected its intent to change the facts on the ground in violation of agreements to maintain status quo. This is the first admission from the Indian side that status quo has been violated by the Chinese, which implies that the Chinese have indeed set up structures and camps on Indian territory. Indian soldiers seem to have fallen defending our territory against a barbaric attack by the Chinese using nail-studded iron rods. Our military leadership has a lot to answer.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual in Delhi with the bruised left hand not knowing what the right was doing. On June 12, while the Indian Army was trying hard to push back Chinese aggression on the Line of Actual Control, the National Capital Region Transport Corporation awarded a Rs 1,126-crore tunnelling project to Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Corporation, rejecting the bids from Indian giants Tatas and Larsen & Toubro. The tunnel is part of the Regional Rapid Transport System, whose foundation stone was laid by PM Modi near the Hindon Air Force station last year.

Five days after awarding the tunnel-digging contract close to an IAF base to a Chinese company, the Union government woke up to the dangers of the Chinese virtually running the Indian telecom sector with their hardware. It is too late and too little to ask the private telecom operators to stop using Chinese hardware or the Indian Railways and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited to cancel contracts. Strategic planning for a nation’s economic security and military capabilities cannot begin after a border clash. It ought to be inherently ingrained in all actions pertaining to infrastructure development and capacity building in core sectors.

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