Book launches are special because of the sheer number of brilliant minds present for them.
One such launch was that of China Bloodies Bulletless Borders written by Col Anil Bhat, VSM (Retd). The book published by Pentagon Press was launched by Former National Secretary of BJP, Mr. Ram Madhav at the India International Centre, New Delhi.
The launch also saw a panel discussion moderated by noted defence analyst Major Maroof Raza (Retd). The panel discussion saw Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd), former Director General Military Operations and former Director, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, Mr Iqbal Chand Malhotra, a prolific author and filmmaker on strategic subjects, Professor Ravnee Thakur, Head of Southeast Asian and China Studies, Delhi University and Col Bhat, discuss the issue passionately. Mr. Rajan Arya, the publisher, who has published many books on military and strategic affairs could be seen enjoying the discussion.
China and borders
Mr. Ram Madhav has himself authored a book on the subject titled Uneasy Neighbours (Haranand), which deals with the history of the 1962 War, and why it is imperative for India to understand the thinking, tactics and tantrums of China as an ‘uneasy neighbour’.
During his talk at the book launch, Mr. Madhav stated that proactive diplomacy together with strong ground posturing is the only way to deal with China, citing the Doklam episode and Galwan clashes as examples.
He further said that the approach of ‘I should/will solve this dispute in my lifetime’ will not work in the Sino-India border issue and argued that any “hurry” in finding a solution to the long-standing wrangling won’t help in dealing with a “civilisation, cultural nation” like China. Talking about the Indo-China relationship since the 1962 war between the two nations, Mr. Madhav said one should not make it an “issue of legacy” as no one knows who will solve the issue eventually. Citing the border dispute between the then Soviet Union and China, he said that it was solved by a thoroughly drunken leader called Boris Yeltsin.
Talking about China and its engagement tactics, he said one should not understand China by its actions but by the “thinking behind its actions” and talked about “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. He also noted the differences between the traditional approach and cultures of the two countries arguing that while Indians are trained in a very “romantic and idealistic culture” where even in war strategy we recall the single-minded focus of Mahabharata’s Arjuna, China on the other hand believes in having five targets in a go instead of one.
Reading between the lines
Quoting Sun Tzu, Mr. Madhav said that if you have a target, never make that as a single target but attack in five places. “So they will engage in building dams, they will also engage you at the border… and they will also talk to you…We attempted cordial relationship with China, after the initial troubles in 2014 in Chumar. But we had Doklam in 2017, which too we sorted out. But the recent Galwan incident where our soldiers were killed is a very unfortunate landmark. Because after 1975, this is the first occasion we have had casualties. Till now, we have had border violations and standoffs, but no casualties on the spot.”
This incident, he added, will impact China negatively. After 1962, efforts have been made from both sides to reduce the antipathy against the Chinese. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried very hard to keep the equation on an even keel and send across a message to the common man that things can be worked out with China. But now all those efforts get pushed back by many years. So, in that sense, China will be the biggest loser in terms of public perception in India. As far as India is concerned, we will continue to engage with China diplomatically and militarily.
“The brutality and barbarism that the Chinese army .. showed with our soldiers has caused a lot of resentment in Indian minds. India does not want any future confrontations to occur. If you go by the official statements of the Chinese foreign ministry officials, we hear the same thing. But past experiences with China have not been great. We can’t let our guard down, as despite our best efforts we have seen violations, in 2014 and in Doklam, and now, in 2020 in Galwan. So, definitely, India has to be watchful, on alert all the time with regard to China”, Mr. Madhav, summed.
Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia ( Retd) lauded the author’s effort at bringing out the problems created by China for over half a century and the importance of dealing assertively with China.
Mr Iqbal Chand Malhotra pointed out how lucidly the author has written an incisive account about the Indo -Chinese relationship from 1962 till the disengagement from the Kailash Range by the Indian Army in early 2021 and that the book provides fascinating new insights for those looking for an alternative exposition to the pre-existing political spin about this subject.
Professor Ravnee Thakur stated that the book was well researched and timely, shedding fresh light on India’s unresolved border dispute with China and that the detailing of military history and analysis of key events helped contextualise the current standoff better.
Moderating the event, Maroof Raza, who wrote an afterword on the book, himself authored Contested Lands and commented widely on China, brought out some pertinent issues dwelt upon in the book.