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.

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Updated On : 3rd Sep, 2020

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