ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Why India Did Not Go to War with China

India had the military ability to evict the intrusions in Ladakh or carry out a quick grab action of its own in the early stages of the crisis. Yet, it did not exercise the offensive military options. The explanation for such strategic reticence lies at the political level. 

The Prime Minister speaking at an all-party meeting on 19 June said, Neither have they [China] intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them? (Wire 2020). Following from this claim, a flippant answer to the question implicit in the title could be that India did not go for a military option in Ladakh because there were no intrusions. Similarly, a superficial answer to the question is that the army was caught unawares by the intrusions and could neither evict the Chinese from the Indian side of the line of actual control (LAC) or make a counter grab across it.

Evidently, the army, taking COVID-19 precautions rather seriously, had deferred the usual spring manoeuvres in Ladakh. However, privileging the threat from the novel coronavirus over the Chinese propensity for periodic transgressions was owed in part to a discounting of the China threat at the strategic level. After all, not only had the Prime Minister, in early December last year, hosted the second informal summit in Mamallapuram with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, but the two special representatives, Ajit Doval and Wang Yi, had met at the 22nd meeting of special representatives later in the month. Therefore, for the army to have let down its guard is explicable, but subsequent relative inaction calls for an explanation.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 12th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.