"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last" - Winston Churchill

by Edelbert Badwar

The Price of Panchsheel

Appeasement is the term which can be used to describe Indian policy towards China since it gained independence in 1947. In 1949,India was the first country to give recognition to Communist China.

This was the time when India under Nehru was seeking to carve for itself a leadership role in the Third World.Immersed in moralistic ideals and ideas of Third World fraternity Nehru completely failed to anticipate the threat that Mao’s China pose to this country.So when the Chinese rolled into Tibet, India’s leaders quietly acquiesced.By sacrificing Tibet the Indian leadership thought that the Communist gods in Beijing would be appeased.How wrong they were .After having gobbled up Tibet, the Chinese now trained their sights on India ‘s frontiers.

The Dragon Breathes Fire

70 years on the territorial dispute between India and China on the Himalayan frontier simmers .

The Chinese who now have a tremendous advantage in all elements of national power in relation to India are in no mood to compromise. Incidents like the Chumar ,Depsang,Tuting intrusions and the Doklam episode are not merely a result of “different perception “ of the LAC as some apologists of the Indian government would like the public to believe. They area well crafted strategy of “creeping annexation” like that being witnessed in the South China Sea.Inch by inch the PLA is acquiring real estate for its vast population.

Nehru Clones Abound

In Spite of these grave provocations why has the Indian establishment not managed to fashion a robust strategy to counter the dragon.?

Apart from the legions of China sympathizers in this country,there is a constituency of “peaceniks” who still believe that a “ lasting peace” and a final settlement of the “border” dispute with China is still possible.If you wanted proof of this take a look at some of the” mini-Panchseels” signed with China in the last 20 years.

• 1993 Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement
• 1996 Confidence Building Measures in the military field
• 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement

Obviously these” peaceniks” have learnt nothing from history.India’s impatience to settle the frontier dispute is matched an equal degree by China’s nonchalance over the issue.Why would the Chinese be interested in a settlement if they can gain territory inch by inch,kilometer by kilometer?

Anyway, what would a “lasting peace “ with China mean ? Will it involve the return of Aksai Chin and China-occupied Kashmir (ceded by Pakistan).What about the fate of Tibet ?

Cross the LAC

Rather than clamour for a settlement of the “ border” , the fight has to be taken to the enemy.Chinese territorial gains will have to be offset by us by moving forward of the LAC.There are any number of weak spots all along the frontier where we can press home our advantage. The Chinese strategy of creating “facts on the ground” should be reciprocated by us. There is no point in proclaiming ourselves a status quo power if the Chinese treat the LAC with derision.

The only question here is whether our political leadership is prepared to exercise this option. Militarily, too we have to be prepared if things flare up.In dealing with a belligerent ,non-status quo power like China there are no soft options. We have to dig our heels in and prepare ourselves for the long haul.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same