K B Jandial
While the martyrdom of 20 brave hearts in the bloodiest scuffle at Galwan in Eastern Ladakh has shocked the nation coming after 45 years of peace on LAC, reports of confusing developments like agreement on disengagement of troops but not adhering to it with simultaneous heavy build-up is equally disturbing. Blood at the icy heights of Galwan valley on the intervening night of June 15-16, has sunken the huge personal goodwill built by PM Modi and President Xi Jinping in last six years including ‘Wuhan Spirit’ (April 2018) and ‘Chennai (Mamallapuram) Connect’ (Oct. 2019), that laid down a roadmap for long term peaceful, stable and friendly relationship. The biggest outcome of these unique informal summits-‘differences don’t become disputes’, too dipped in the blood of our martyrs and theirs. Like Pt Nehru’s ‘Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai’ bonhomie of late fifties, Modi’s similar but different type of optimistic outreach too has been shattered with huge remorse and personal embarrassment to Modi.
Modi’s personal bold initiatives to build up relationship with Pakistan too failed and the western borders continued to be hot taking toll of security forces and civilians almost on daily basis. The end of Pakistan sponsored militancy in Kashmir too is not in sight even though one of its major promoters, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has finally bid goodbye to his section of Hurriyat Conference set up in 2003 after vertical division of the parent APHC. As if these two enemy neighbours were not enough, once the only Hindu nation, Nepal too has stood up against India at China’s instigation, trying to unsettle the settled border issue. These unexpected developments came when India is fighting much bigger war on health front, COVID-19 that too is the Chinese ‘gift’ to the world.
These developments are worrisome but more worrisome is the effort of Congress and few other leaders, some anti Modi TV anchors, panelists and columnists to create a narrative against Modi and the ruling party holding them responsible for the current national crisis by projecting facts and analysis to paint Modi a ‘culprit’ of the crisis without bothering for the advantage they are giving to the enemies within and outside India.This is bound to create national despondency that would be more dangerous than the threat from across the border.
With huge mandate and projection across the world as a ‘decisive’ leader, Modi could not have wished more for such a worst time for him and India. These unexpected turn of events that too in close succession have put Modi’s ‘invincibility’ to test on all fronts. It would be wrong to dismiss all these challenges in the context of Modi and BJP alone as these are basically against India, and if not handled with maturity, thoughtfully, dispassionately and decisively, the nation would suffer.Itis an extraordinary time that demands national effort which unfortunately not visible.
While the response of the common man is quite discernible with campaign to boycott Chinese goods and apps gaining huge momentum, political parties’ ‘tu-tu main-main’ on TV channels every day indicate a politically fractured response to these developments especially on Chinese front. Contrary to the expectations and past record, the current national crisis have failed to unite India with unending jibes on PM, demoralizing statements and willfully unfriendly analysis on 15th July Galwan incident. This is being done more to target Modi, forgetting that all this negative narrative being created through media is helping China and Pakistan. But who cares?
Strangely, the Galwan incident is being projected as India’s ‘humiliating’ defeat at the hands of “mighty” PLA men. Some prominent Modi haters, TV anchors and panelists carrying the tag of defence and strategic experts, are daily projecting India’s doomsday, reminiscence of 1962 debacle and China captured 43000 sq km areain Ladakh and NEFA. The valour of Indian army in inflicting much higher casualties on ‘mighty’ PLA and made them run for their livesdo not fit in their motivated discourse on the events of the night of June 15-16. PM Modi’s emotive tribute to their valour “woh martey martey bhe dushmaon ko mar gay” has no impact on them. Rahul Gandhi and his likes in Congress, a few anchors and expert panelists find this situation convenient to run down Modi on Galwan tragedy. In this process, they are trying to take away, even inadvertently, the pride of Indian army in inflicting heavy casualties on PLA.
Be it Uri and Balakote surgical strikes and now Galwan, it has become normal for these opposition leaders and critics to demand proof of enemy’s casualties. They want all these conflicts, surgical strikes and border face-off should be shown like live T20 cricket match,so as to enable them to analyse ball to ball account. They only believe in those reports that are demeaning and critical of Indian action, dismissing positive reports as emanating from’ sold out media’and even overlook US intelligence reports on higher Chinese casualties. Their “mourning” continues even when 16 Bihar regiment has moved on taking inspiration from their sacrifice and even the martyrs’ families performed “uthalla” but these politicians and critics didn’t.For them, Chinese killed them as sitting ducks.
Contrary to Rahul Gandhi and his die hard leaders and other critics, Indian bravehearts have actually given the Chinese a “bloody nose” which they would remember forever. The gory details which these critics don’t tell or even accept lest PM Modi would be get credit, are, in fact, demonstrate the courage and bravery of Indian army unheard. They fought the Chinese with bare hands and killed them after seeing the fall of their CO in to the icy river, and chased PLA men twice into their side of the LAC and taught them a lesson which PM proudly mentioned in his speech at All Party meet.
Galwan was an impromptu “surgical strike” at Galwan valley where Chinese had surreptitiously erected a post which our jawans destroyed. It is humiliating for China to accept loss of over 40 of their men at the hands unarmed Indian soldiers. If not, then why China is afraid of telling their own people, why and how many of their soldiers were killed by Indians at Galwan. The China’s state run newspaper ‘The Global Times’ is giving flimsy excuses to put a cloak of secrecy over their casualties like to avoid ” stoking of public mood” by comparing number of casualties.While interacting with a select group of diplomats on June 24, Dy. Director General of Boundary and Ocean affairs, He Xiangqi confirmed Chinese casualties but said, Beijing didn’t want to stir up sentiments.”Exact casualties were not publicized as China did not want the media to play it up. Now is the time for both sides to find ways to de-escalate the situation and restore stability. Comparison may trigger antagonism on both sides, which is not helpful”.
Many Modi critics say that had India been alert martyrdom of 20 Indian brave hearts could have been avoided. But they forget that the defence forces deployed on borders are tasked to prevent incursion and if occurred, throw them out. This is what Indian army did at Galwan but at a heavy cost. While the killing of 20 brave hearts is unpardonable, further causalities too have to be avoided which would again be made by the defence forces and not by the critics or jingoists.
The tragedy with India is that negative politics have seeped so much deep in to our polity that at such critical junction some political parties, columnists and TV anchors would create a narrative that tends to generate a feeling of defeat, disarray and national humiliation that is enough for the enemy country to get bolster even when their public is slamming them for retreat, insult and loss of many of their men. Unmindful of overall impact of their misplaced analysis based on assumptions and not actual facts, they thrive on perpetual negativism, which too is in demand.
The pro-BJP experts and spokespersons also don’t miss opportunity to counter opposition’s narrative on the ground of “demoralising defence forces” which too is wrong as defence forcesare not guided by TV debates. They have no time to listen to this 24×7 ‘bakwas’ as they have a bigger challenge to defend the frontiers of the country, even at the cost of their lives as happened at Galwan.
Ignoring TV jingoism, immediate retribution, India and China don’t wish to further escalate the border tension but nonetheless accuse each other of trying to change the status quo on the border. Diplomacy and military dialogue are continuing to send back troops to April 30, 2020 positions even though China cannot be trusted going by the fate of 6th June agreement. But militarily, India defence forces are no less strong, fully equipped. Galwan has sent a loud message that 2020 won’t be 1962.
Modi Govt has started using coercive non-military economic and trade measures to squeeze China’s participation in trade, social media platforms, investment, infrastructure and telecom contracts, FDIs, e-commerce etc. It has rightly banned 59 Chinese mobile apps which may below-denomination items without much financial involvement but has disproportionately large presence in mass consumer segment. It is both a statement of intent and a strong message to China for its anti-India moves especially the recent Sino-India border tension. As a precursor Indian move will unleash similar actions against China world over and more bans from USA and other effected countries on Chinese goods and contracts may follow. To cap it further the ‘boycott Chinese goods” public campaign is gaining momentum which too can become a global movement. Whether Indian move would impact Chinese economy or not, but the strong anti-China sentiments in India is going to hurt it. This sentiment is going to be India’s strength.Chinese economic hegemony is under threat. Time has come to call China’s bluff.