- Prelims: Current events of international importance(LAC, Macmohan line, Galwan, 1962 war etc)
- Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India etc
- The situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has continued to remain extremely tense.
- It has stopped short of a war, with the Doklam and Galwan
INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE
- In 2020, the older arrangements, shaped by the agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005, and 2013, came apart in Ladakh after the Chinese massed troops in Tibet
- They established blockades at six points on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent Indian troops from patrolling the border.
- A clash at Galwan in June 2020 led to the deaths of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, the first such losses on the LAC since 1975.
- The Sino-Indian clash(2022) at Yangtse, north-east of Tawang, suggests that new measures may be needed across the LAC, and not just in Ladakh.
Dispute between India and China in 1950’s:(territorial dispute):
- Whole of Aksai Chin claimed by India
- Whole of NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) is claimed by China.
- Western sector (Ladakh)(China is seeking claims).
- Trig Heights in the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) area
- Demchok in the south
- The Depsang Bulge
- Pangong Lake and Hot Springs
- Middle (central sector):
- Barahoti pasture north of Chamoli in Uttarakhand
- Eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh):
- The international boundary and the LAC are defined by the 1914 McMahon Line
- China seeks to make inroads:
- Tawang sector
- Upper Subansiri region
- Tri-junction with Myanmar.
Need for stability:
- There has also been an increase in rhetoric and jingoism in both countries, calling for more aggression.
- India’s External Affairs Minister:“the situation along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh remains very fragile and quite dangerous in terms of military assessment”.
- This state of affairs is not sustainable: It can trigger a major conflict, thereby destabilizing the entire region and adversely impacting the world, politically and economically.
- It is in everyone’s interest that the LAC is made stable and the two giant neighbors see a benign rise.
The complexity of the India-China border:.
- Chinese territorial claims include the entire Arunachal Pradesh and the occupied Aksai Chin.
- No Chinese government is likely to tone down the narrative that has been built over a long time
- which claims Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh as two of the five fingers that are attached to the Tibetan Palm.
- The Indian political establishment is not in a position to make any concessions to facilitate a mutually acceptable border settlement.
- For India:It is important that LAC disputes do not escalate into full-fledged conflicts.
- There is no surety that the results of war will be favorable to us.
- The India-China engagement got an impetus after the visit by then Indian Prime Minister to China in December 1988.
- Four agreements have been signed between the two countries (in 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013) to maintain peace along the LAC
- The agreements laid the framework for dealing with the border issue and covering the spectrum of engagement from the highest levels of government to border personnel meetings in the field.
- For more than two decades, these arrangements have served their purpose well.
- The agreements are based on the premise that the LAC is mostly defined and understood by both parties.
- However, this is not the case and there are large segments which lack clarity.
- Article I of the 1993 Agreement stipulates the creation of joint mechanisms to verify and settle LAC-related disputes.
- WMCC: After 19 years, the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was created in 2012.
- It meets twice in a year but has little to show in terms of results on the ground.
- The 3,488 kilometer-long LAC has only four Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) points
- The Lipulekh BPM Point which was proposed in the Article V of the 2005 Protocol has not been established till now.
- The paucity of BPM points precludes constructive engagement between the troops on the ground resulting in the escalation of disputes.
- A mutually agreed reduction and redeployment of forces along the LAC, as in Article II of the 1993 Agreement and Articles II and III of the 1996
- Agreement has not seen any progress.
Reasons for increasing clashes:
- The current mindset among the Indian security establishment is to be “unyielding” with China as it is felt that the “salami slicing tactics ” of the Chinese must be halted.
- The quantum jump in surveillance technology provides visibility of movement of opposing forces in areas that were blind spots earlier.
- Increased troop density, better roads, improved logistics
- Availability of aviation assets enhance the reaction capability.
- The LAC between India and China, is frequently open to challenge by either side.
- Areas along the LAC have been patrolled by both sides in the past.
- The Chinese ingress in Sumdorong Chu valley in the Tawang sector in 1986-87 resulted in a close confrontation that lasted eight years.
- In 1995, two sides pulled back: India relocating its Jaya and Negi posts on the south side of the Hathungla-Lungrola ridgeline.
- It is better that both sides consider taking short-term but effective and pragmatic steps to stabilize the LAC, reducing the possibilities of a conflict.
- There is also a need to identify the reasons for rising clashes on the LAC and working on solutions.
- The situation needs to be brought under control and chances of a full-fledged conflict minimized.
- These steps are recommended to usher peace and stability on the LAC.
- Convert the LAC into a Line of Control (LC) by delineating it on the map and on the ground without prejudice to border claims.
- This will reduce the urge among the forward troops to inch forward.
- It can be implemented with a display of maturity by both sides and with the use of technology.
- The disputed areas on the LAC can be treated as no entry zones; alternatively, both sides should be allowed to patrol these areas as per a mutually agreed frequency.
- Joint patrolling of the disputed areas must also be explored as this can result in the maintenance of status quo and an increase in confidence.
- Existing Confidence Building Measures and engagement mechanisms need to be strengthened by providing more teeth to the WMCC and establishing more BPM points so that local issues can be resolved quickly.
QUESTION FOR PRACTICE
- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is transforming itself into a trade block from the military alliance, in present times. Discuss (UPSC 2020)
(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)