K B Jandial
PM Modi is well known for his unexpected moves including unscheduled visits and bold statements, controversies notwithstanding. On July 3, PM surprised again, this time the nation as well as the belligerent neighbour, China by landing at Leh to personally review situation in Ladakh sector in the wake of China’s build up in Eastern Ladakh and bloodiest scuffle at icy heights of Galwan in which 20 bravehearts were martyred and inflicted greater casualties on PLA.
On December25, 2015,PM Modi had surprised the world by landing at Lahore unexpectedly to wish the then Pak PM Nawaz Sharief on his birthday and to convey greetings on the marriage of his granddaughter at his native house at Raiwind, 40 kms from Lahore while returning home from Afghanistan. First visit of Indian PM to Pakistan in more than ten years, it was a bold move to “infuse a positive spirit in the neighbourhood” even though the good initiative was torpedoed by Pak army by engineering terror strike at Pathankot Air Force Base just a week later. It was followed by Uri and Nagrota.
Modi’s aggressive speech at Ladakh was as usual, very impressive and loaded with several messagesincluding boosting the morale of the army deployed at various points at ALC and the injured soldiers of bloodiest scuffle convalescing at a hospital.
In a direct message to China from Ladakh, Modi said, “Vistaarvaad ka yug smapt ho chukka hai, yeh yug vikasvaad ka hai. Vikasvaad he avsar hai aur vikasvaad he vishav ka adhaar bhe hai.” He said that in the past century, expansionism has ruined the humanity. It had posed threat to world peace and history is witness that such powers were either finished (mitti main mil gay) or forced to turn back. He also said that the entire world has made up its mind against expansionism.
While China promptly reacted to Modi’s charge of expansionism to whom it was directed, Congress and some Modi critics made an issue for not naming China in his speech. Who doesn’t know whom Modi was targeting and who has done Galwan. Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “India should avoid a strategic misjudgment on China,” and “jointly maintain peace and tranquility in border areas and safeguard bilateral ties”. But the reality is that China is not trust worthy has border disputes with 18 countries and latest is Bhutan besides maritime territorial disputes with Japan and some south-east Asian countries.
It is not for the first time that Modi has reminded Dragon about world turning against its expansionism. He had echoed similar views on expansionism during his first visit abroad to Japan after becoming PM. On September 1, 2014, he said, while addressing Japanese and Indian industrialists, “The world is divided into two streams… one is Vistaarvaad and the other is Vikasvaad . Vikasvaad is the way ahead.” He had given a call in Tokyo,saying. “We have to decide whether we want the world to be caught in the clutches of expansionism or…on the path of development. Those who follow the path of peace, those who believe in development, they guarantee peace and progress.”
Elaborating his views against expansionism, Modi had said at Tokyo,”Today, we see what happened in the 18th century… expansionism is visible… kisi desh ko encroach karna, kahin samundar mein ghus jaana, kabhi kisi desh ke andar ja kar kabza karna… in cheezon ki pravritti chal rahi hai”. He hadn’t name China there too. “This expansionism cannot be beneficial for mankind in the 21st century… development is essential”.While expansionism has been the core concern of Japanese, two students asked a question about China’s expansionist designs but PM Modi ducked it advising Japanese”Let’s focus on ourselves, not others. Let us remain committed to our values, focus on development and peace. Then the situation will improve,”
After Modi’s blunt views on China’s expansionism at Tokyo, Chumar in Eastern Ladakh saw 16-day standoff which coincided with Xi Jinping’s visit to India& the matter was resolved when Modi tookupthe issue with his counterpart. Earlier, there was 21-day standoff at Depsang valley faceoff in Daulat Beg Oldi sector in April-May 2013.So, such ‘adventurism’ is not new with China and would continue it.
Ladakh speech on expansionism and Indian Govt.’s coercive economic and trade restrictions on Chinese apps,disqualifying Chinese firms’ from participation in many prestigious contracts, non-custom clearance of shipping containers from China and placement of no fresh Indian orders in view of anti-China sentiments have started’hurting’ China. Its immediate reaction to PM’s speech and withdrawal of forces from Galwan and some other points after 63 days standoff following two-hour ‘hard talk’ on VC NSA Ajit Doval had with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicate China’s rethinking on its ties with India.Both of them arenominated special representatives on border dispute.
But the Govt cannot overlook that similar withdrawal of Chinese forces from Galwan valley took place on July 15, 1962, but on 20th October, just 93 days later, China waged a war and took away 43000sq milesarea including Aksai Chin. In view of China’s deceitful DNA and huge trust deficit, India should views the current PLA’s disengagement with cautious optimism and monitor their movement very carefully. Let there be no repeat of1962.
Modi’s Ladakh 26-minute aggressive speech to the troops has many messages.Of course, the first & foremost message was to boost the morale of defence forces whom, he said,none in the world can match their valour. “Your courage is higher than the heights ofthe peaks where you are serving today. When the safety of the country is in your hands, then there is a belief. Not only me, but the entire nation believes in you. We all are proud of you.” These chosen words are enough to boost the morale of forces. Simultaneously, it has cautioned the neighbours againstharboring any misadventure. Modi’s words that “bravery and courage are prerequisite for peace as a weak nation cannot initiate process for peace”, were loaded with a strong message that India is ready for both escalation &peace. Going to roots, he explained the universal message of Lord Krishna and said”We are the same people who pray to the flute playing Lord Krishna but we are also the same people who idolise and follow the same Lord Krishna who carries the ‘Sudarshan Chakra.”
A clear message to his friend, Xi Jinping was that the policy of expansionism and ambitions of world economic power run counter as the world stands united against China’s military hegemony that would put roadblocks to economic global spread. Galwan, coronavirus, atrocities against Muslims and HR violations have dented China’s global image and its PR offensive in COVID-19 hit Europe coupled with ‘mask diplomacy’ didn’t pay off.
As seen during standoff, Modi Govt is focusing on strengthening defence forces and defence infrastructure, equipping them with modern arsenal and equipment as India can no longer take a chance with neighbours being rogue. Another message was India is not going to back-off in eastern Ladakh and would handle the developing situation with a firm hand. Modi also conveyed that India doesn’t depend on others for its strength but make India atmanirbhar (self-reliant) as major plank of India’s composite strategy.
K B Jandial