Lt General PRAKASH KATOCH | 20 SEPTEMBER, 2020
Doggy Tail Syndrome - 6 Pointers For the Raksha Mantri
Need for hard power
Simply put, the Doggy Tail Syndrome originated from a dog’s tail placed in a bamboo straightjacket that remained curled when taken out after 20 year.
The Doggy Tail Syndrome denotes a one-track rigid approach that is universal, mostly afflicting politicians, political parties and governments.
Not that it doesn’t affect others, be it the ‘Avengers’ in the movies or ‘Appeasers’ (cult worshippers) in abundance in India though denoting different shades – right and wrong.
Witness the debate in the US with President Donald Trump terming climate change "mythical", "nonexistent", "an expensive hoax" simply to justify pulling out from the Paris Accord.
The Doggy Tail Syndrome of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is pretty straightforward; all territories belong to China and hence no matter where the People's Liberation Army (PLA) goes it remains in Chinese territory. And ‘Liberation Army’ itself gives the PLA the self derived authority to ‘liberate’ all territories on this planet.
The behaviour of President Xi Jinping has been under discussion. Some opine that the CPC stole Hitler’s DNA from Germany and Xi was born in a lab that produced Xitler. They argue the recent discovery of this theft has led Germany to cold shoulder China. Also the lab-birth of Xi is behind his obsession with P4-like labs, release of Wuhan Virus and establishing similar facilities in Pakistan.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s speech in Lok Sabha on September 15 on the border situation in eastern Ladakh is being hailed as the first comprehensive government narrative on the issue. Other than praise for the bravery of troops, other main points highlighted are summarized as under:
- China doesn’t recognize the alignment of the India-China boundary based on well-established geographical principles confirmed by treaties and agreements.
- Both sides have different perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which is not delimited.
- China illegally occupies 38,000 sq km of Aksai China, 5180 sq km of Shaksgam illegally given by Pakistan to China in 1963, and claims 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh.
- Both sides are committed to fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable border resolution and maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas.
- The 1993 and 1996 Agreements require keeping military forces along the LAC to a minimum level.
- Late 1990’s to 2003 clarifying-confirming LAC was discussed but thereafter China was disinterested.
- The government has an elaborate and time tested intelligence mechanism which is shared with the armed forces.
- Since early April a PLA build up was noticed in border areas adjacent to Eastern Ladakh and in early May Chinese hindered patrolling of our troops in Galwan Valley resulted in a face-off. Amidst Ground Commanders talks in mid-May the PLA made several attempts to transgress including at Kongka La, Gogra and North Bank of Pangong Lake, which were detected and responded to appropriately.
- Violating the military commanders agreement for disengagement and respecting LAC, the PLA engineered a violent face off on June 15 at Galwan resulting in casualties to both sides.
- India believes mutual respect and mutual sensitivity are the basis for peaceful relations with neighbours. Continuing diplomatic and military engagement is based on: both sides strictly respecting and observing the LAC; neither side attempting to alter the status quo and, all agreements and understandings being abided by in entirety.
- Despite ongoing discussions the PLA again engaged in provocative actions on August 29-30 to change the status quo south of Pangong Lake but timely actions by our armed forces prevented these attempts from succeeding.
- The PLA has mobilized a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC and depth areas. Our armed forces have also made appropriate counter deployments.
- During the India-China Defence Ministers meet at Moscow the Chinese side apprised our concerns about the amassing of troops by the PLA, it’s aggressive behavior and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo, and our determination to protect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Subsequently the two Foreign Ministers met at Moscow and reached an agreement which if implemented could lead to complete disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquility in border areas.
In 2005, PLAAF’s Lt Gen Lin Yazhou said, “When a nation grows strong enough, it practices hegemony. The sole purpose of power is to pursue power. Geography is destiny … When a country begins to rise, it shall first set itself in an invincible position”.
We have done the opposite; neglecting the military but indulging in high political jingoism both in Parliament and speeches in public.
The Defence Minister’s speech in Lok Sabha reflects the same Doggy Tail Syndrome. Witness the hollowness in the statement:
- The bit about “elaborate and time tested intelligence mechanism” was to hide the collective failure like in Kargil, instead of acting against those responsible?
- For deflecting from current intrusions, even the Shyam Saran report of 2013 about China slicing off an additional 645 sq km of our territory was avoided, even though most of this may have happened under Congress regimes.
- Which LAC are we discussing in talks with China?
- Stating that the PLA “attempted” to alter the status quo and we foiled it is to cover up intrusions. Not even the 20-km deep PLA intrusion in Depsang was mentioned. This suits China - branding India as an aggressor from day one and saying the onus of disengagement is on India.
- What “complete disengagement” do we contemplate when China demands we also step back in all areas in our own territory – for example, do we go back to Finger 3 in Pangong Lake? Next they will ask us to vacate Kailash Range and the features occupied in Chushul area – hope we don’t agree to this.
- Talks have given more time for PLA consolidation even as India lost the opportunity to take back Galwan heights and other areas in May-June itself.
Our Doggy Tail Syndrome doesn’t stop with the above. Replying to a question in Lok Sabha the Defence Minister said, “No force can stop us from patrolling Ladakh borders”. But patrolling has already stopped from Finger 3 to 8 in Pangong Lake, PP 14 in Galwan and in Desang to PP 10, 11, 11A, 12 and 13.
Similarly the Minister of State (Home) tells Rajya Sabha there has been no infiltration along the LAC in the last six months. He possibly doesn’t know the difference between ‘infiltration’ and ‘intrusion’, avoids what an MP from Arunachal Pradesh has been saying about intrusions, and perhaps feels the five youth abducted in Arunachal voluntarily went across and faked their abduction.
The initiative taken by India south of Pangong Tso, around Chushul and Kailash Range covering the Spanggur Gap is commendable but can hardly be classified as an “Indian Offensive” since it involved occupying unoccupied heights in its own territory.
Similarly the SFF was known to Beijing decades back but the ‘appeasers’ harping that Tibet will be liberated tomorrow is the height of foolishness especially when we don’t even recognize Tibet.
China would have studied our Doggy Tail Syndrome over a period of time - the jingoism in Parliament about retaking Aksai Chin, the denials that not one inch of our territory is lost and all along neglecting to build hard power.
China is in a comfortable position, placed there by our assertions of no loss of territory – implying the current intrusions are permanent. Besides, if China ever agrees to a particular line (even if say India agrees to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - hopefully not), they are capable of dumping it the very next day. Beijing knows it is in a stronger position and unlikely to be interested in a settlement.
As for the 5-point agreement reached between the two foreign ministers of India and China in Moscow, what is new in it that was not in earlier agreements and ongoing talks that China has not repeatedly broken?
They could have simply re-signed the old Panchsheel Agreement because both mean nothing to Beijing. Significantly, a senior veteran has stated that after a round table discussion at a prominent think tank in New Delhi 15 years ago, the then Chinese Ambassador replied to a question very clearly saying, “Either you are with the US or with us”. Our strategist would not accept this but the consequences of banding with the US ‘without’ building own hard power are there to see.
We may be horribly wrong to assume China is for a peaceful resolution and not interested in limited war. Recent inputs indicate the PLA has procured a new batch of Russian Mi-171Sh Hip combat transport helicopters painted in grey colours like the Indian Air Force instead of the dark green / disruptive green-tan of PLA helicopters.
China could be planning a stealthy insertion of forces in depth areas like behind the Kailash Range, Chushul, Pangong Lake, DBO or elsewhere along the LAC.
Lt General Prakash Katoch (Retd) is veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are personal.
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