The 20th round of India-China border talks began in New Delhi on Friday between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Chinese special representative Yang Jiechi. The mechanism for holding border talks between the two countries was set up in 2003. Since then fourteen years have elapsed but the people of India do not know if even fourteen millimeters of progress has been made toward the resolution of the border dispute. Or, whether the Chinese have shown any positive frame of mind to settle the issue. Talks are being held periodically like a ritual, with no direction and no formula on the basis of which the dispute can be resolved within a limited timeframe.

Meanwhile, satellite images suggest that China is clandestinely building roads near the disputed Doklam area and bringing in fresh reinforcements to strengthen its position. As a result, India has been forced to deploy Brahmos missiles in the border region very demonstratively so that the Chinese know we are not going to be browbeaten. India has also sent reinforcements in the border areas in the north-east. If China is thinking of settling the border issue by force of arms then there is no point in going through the Tamasha of holding border talks regularly. China is also believed to be draining away huge quantities of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet (where it is called Yarlung Tsangpo) to irrigate lands elsewhere. This has caused the muddying and discolouring of the waters of the river in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, killing birds and fish. As farming in Assam depends greatly on the waters of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, the situation is indeed grave.

If China shows no genuine interest in resolving the border problem and takes to dragging its feet and holding ‘border talks’ interminably, then New Delhi should take a fresh look at the situation and decide whether India is being benefited in any way by the endless talks. It is better to call off the talks till China is serious about working out a practical solution. China may be in a more reasonable frame of mind if it realizes that the threat or the actual use of force will not work against India. Doklam has sent out a message to China that the India of 2017 is not the India of 1962. China will have to reconcile itself to this reality. Beijing cannot go on holding round after round of border talks while amassing troops on India-China border.