by Monotapash Mukherjee

Every crisis brings with it lessons and opportunities. Only those who decipher them, gain in the long run. China’s Corona invasion the world over and its planned massacre of the Indian soldiers at Galwan --- brought messages for the world as well as for India. In fact, both of them are a wake-up call to the World and India.

India’s complacent, Ostrich-like attitude towards China down the decades did no good for the country. China created strategic blackhole for India ---- Pakistan, equipped this rogue nation with missile and nuclear capabilities, in fact it opened up its entire arsenal for Pakistan. It blocked India’s entry into the NSG and the UNSC (permanent membership). Narendra Modi’ s C-based graded scale of --- caution, calculation, co-operation, containment, containment, competition, and confrontation, again failed to contain China. Georg Hegel’s words---“We learn from history that we do not learn from the history”—often haunt me. This again proved true through the Galwan incident.

Through Corona endemic related actions and reactions, the whole world, especially the developed nations like US, UK, Japan, Australia, etc. realised how they created a Frankenstein’s monster out of China when they built the entire global supply chain in China and poured billions in the imperialist nation at the cost of their existence.

However, enough lessons have been learnt by India and the world. Now is the time to act.

Concerning India, the sad incident of Galwan has brought tremendous opportunities for India. In fact, this is a deal time and preparation time.

Article 370 hindered India’s army land acquisition and base-building plan in J & K and Ladakh. Now, the time is ripe for India to build a huge military outpost in Ladakh consisting of radar stations, missile bases, underground storage facilities, tunnels etc. Ladakh should be given as much importance as the Andamans to throttle China. Japan can be involved in the infra-building of the military outpost.

Galwan crisis is showing us a trailer of what China will do in a full-fledged war scenario. It has already launched hybrid war against India consisting of propaganda war, misinformation campaign and cyber war. North Korean and Pakistani hackers have become active in penetrating Indian sites. Chinese soldiers and planes are being stationed in Skardu in PoK. Almost all of India’s neighbours are against India. Global Times has already threatened India with a 3 front war scenario. India has been surrounded by enemies. Moreover, two of its rivals are nuclear armed rogue nations.

China has so much modernised its military that it is challenging the US. Economically India’s GDP is only one fifth of China.

Realistically, China is much stronger than India. Heroism of the soldiers is one thing. But man can’t fight machine. Automation and artificial intelligence are rapidly changing war scenario. China has invested heavily in these. India is in real danger. On the contrary, India has to failed to modernise its armed forces. Most of the defence budget is spent on pensions & salaries of the staff.

But this crisis has presented us with many opportunities. The Quad has wakened up. America is serious in taking on China. It has decided to relocate its troops from Europe to Asia to help India and South East Asian nations confront China. It has presented a bill in Senate (NDA 2021) to train the other Quad members’ air forces in Guam. It is working on expanding the Quad with the inclusion of Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, etc.

Australia renouncing its earlier reluctance to partner India, has signed several agreements with India including the MLSA during the virtual summit between the PMs of both the countries. Japan is standing up to China. The defence department of Japan is going to constitute a team especially to handle Indo-Pacific affairs. It has deployed ballistic missiles, missile defence system on the border and driven out Chinese subs from the East China Sea. It is determined to retain the control of the Senkaku Islands.

It is developing stealth aircraft, long range cruise missiles, hypersonic weapons and powerful jet engines.

All these have presented unique historic opportunities for India. India has no way but to join the US-lead world order consisting of the Quad, the Five Eye, the PDI, the Blue Dot Network, etc.

In this regard, deft handling of economic diplomacy in the case of Russia is the need of the hour. Sanction-ridden Russia needs money. India has to bring about a US-Russia rapprochement. Realisation has begun to dawn on the US that China is the future danger, not Russia. India has to invest heavily in the Arctic and Russian Far East in energy and resources. Co-operation in high-tech defence areas with Russia like hypersonic weapons, underwater drones, missile defence systems, cyber warfare & space etc. should be increased. Russia has become concerned with the recent discovery of a Chinese espionage activity in the Arctic. This mistrust should be utilised by India.

In the field of high-technology, India should partner with the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In respect of 5G technology India should join South Korea. India should fast track its technology co-operation with Japan. Despite Indo –Japan agreement on co-operation on robotics, UGV & AI, the progress in the spheres has been surprisingly slow. This should be accelerated. Furthermore, India should join Japan’s hypersonic missile, fighter engine & stealth fighter programs. India should partner Singapore, Japan and South Korea in the field of manufacturing.

To diversify the global supply chain, India should partner Russia and Australia. In the field of rare earth materials both these countries can help. Most significantly, this is the time for India to sign agreements for uninterrupted & huge supply of uranium from Australia to ensure energy security .Earlier Australia was sceptical about India. But now, Australia needs India more than ever.

In short, this is the deal time and preparation time. India’s diplomatic community has to go on overdrive. These two or three months can be very crucial. The US Presidential election is in November. If the democrats come to power, there may be some policy hiccups.

So, before the global excitement and anger with China cools down, India must be active on the diplomatic front and utilise every opportunity that comes in the way. As the saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot!”

Monotapash Mukherjee is an amateur China watcher who pursues favourite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks