From left to right: MoS Jitendra Singh, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and PM Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
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Chinese troops have occupied parts of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh, including in the Galwan Valley, a fact confirmed by none other than Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane, who said last week that both sides are now “disengaging in a phased manner”.

Significantly, it was also left to the Army chief to reiterate, on the same day at the passing out parade of the Indian Military Academy (IMA), that “we have a very strong relationship with Nepal”.

Not that it mattered. Hours later, the Nepali parliament passed a Bill changing the map of its country in which it incorporated a large swathe of Indian territory, from Kalapani to Limpiyadhura. All of Delhi’s protestations about the new map being specious — which it is — were completely ignored by the K.P. Sharma Oli government in Kathmandu.


Also read: Modi-Shah’s Aksai Chin bravado activated China’s Ying Pai to cross LAC


Novel taste of foreign storm

As India’s coronavirus situation becomes worse — we are now ranked fourth globally in terms of Covid positive cases, behind only the US, Brazil, and Russia – Delhi’s neighbours are beginning to fathom the soft underbelly of the giant.

For the first time in decades, a perfect foreign policy storm is gathering to the detriment of India. China is flexing its muscle and poking Delhi in the eye. Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Oli is revelling in insulting not just the Narendra Modi government, but India itself, by decrying its sacred national emblem, the Ashoka Chakra. The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has asked Delhi to talk to the Taliban – a request that is anathema to Delhi and goes against the grain of its Afghan policy, because of the Taliban’s close identification with the Pakistani ISI.

As for Pakistan, the Modi government decided early on – since 1 January 2016, when an Army camp was attacked in Pathankot – that it would break off all relations if cross-border terrorism was not stopped. Well, it’s been four years since, and both infiltration and cross-border terrorism continue, killing more and more people in Jammu & Kashmir – which, incidentally, is now ruled directly by Delhi.

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Also read: India’s Fingers have come under Chinese boots. Denial won’t help us


A collective failure

How and when did this slide happen? For the last several years, Prime Minister Modi has been the apple of the world’s eye, travelling from continent to continent, enveloping the most powerful men in a bear hug, and greeting female leaders with a respectful Namaste.

Modi’s foreign policy was supposed to be new and refreshing. In his first term, he was supported by some of the smartest men in South Block, including then-foreign secretary and former ambassador to China S. Jaishankar, now his external affairs minister. But nobody saw the Chinese intrusions in eastern Ladakh coming.

Over the past month, in fact, as the Chinese walked a few kilometres across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into the Galwan Valley, considered to be “settled, and not disputed” by both sides, there has been no word at all from Jaishankar, leave alone Prime Minister Modi.

Nor has the external affairs minister explained why and how India “lost” Nepal, a country with which India has not just political but civilisational linkages. Instead, the first comments on both these matters, besides the government spokesperson, have been from Army chief Gen. Naravane.


Also read: Modi govt’s flip flops widened the gap between India and Nepal. Chinese are filling it fast


Gen. Naravane’s slip

You can almost feel bad for Gen. Naravane. He made some totally insensitive remarks about Nepal, hinting that Kathmandu was being instigated by China. The kindest explanation is that the Army chief is a straight-shooting kind of person – as men of his ilk often are – and didn’t realise that he was causing a diplomatic incident.

But if you really think about it, shorn of diplomacy, Gen. Naravane was not speaking an untruth. The fact is that Nepal’s K.P. Oli was almost going to lose his job as prime minister when the Chinese threw him a lifeline, with the caveat that he had to spit on India’s face – and he took it.

From his comments at the IMA parade, it seems as if Gen. Naravane was being persuaded to make amends for his indiscretion. He gave the facts again, that disengagement in Ladakh is taking place and that Nepal and India have the oldest and closest relationship in the world. Were they the full facts? Certainly not.

But the question remains: Why was an Army chief making comments that really should be the remit of the Foreign Office?

This has been a bad month for India. The Chinese have taken the heights at Galwan and are camping a few kilometres inside Indian territory. On the face of it, that sounds like what happened in Kargil in 1999, when the Pakistani army took the heights. After all, the LAC, like the LoC that separates India from Pakistan, is not a settled boundary.

The best case scenario is that the Chinese will withdraw and return to status quo ante, like they did when they intruded in Chumar in 2015, during Xi Jinping’s visit to India. The worst case scenario is that they will sit tight where they are today — an untenable solution. A middle course of action is what happened in Doklam in 2017 — the Chinese withdrew, but not to their positions before the intrusion; moreover, they built structures, put you on eyeball-to-eyeball notice.

That’s the message in Ladakh: Mess around with China, and this is what you get.

Meanwhile, here at home, the Covid crisis grows and grows.

Views are personal.

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37 Comments Share Your Views

37 COMMENTS

  1. It is interesting how Hindus feel aggrieved by Chinese bullying and cruelty. But the same Hindus themselves were bullying minorities and Dalits, without remorse. They were practising ‘might is right’ inside India. Hence, it is karma that a bigger bully appeared on the border to beat the Hindus. Karmic cycle means there is more coming for Hindus.

  2. The Indian media is silent about Chinese casualties which is reportedly twice that of India. But it is continuously referring to Indian casualties and giving an appearance that India is at the receiving end. It seems that some of the media have their obligations to Beijing. Also as far as Nepal is concerned it is as much an obligation of Nepal to maintain good relations with India as it is that of India. One has to just look at the obnoxious and unbecoming language used by K.P. Sharma Oli against India. He is using India as a whipping boy for all his troubles and supported by some Chinese funded media in Nepal to raise anti India feelings. There is direct interference by China in K.P. Oli’s government and it seems that Mr. Oli takes directions direct from Beijing rather than his own Government. Also many Chinese makes posts and comment in social media using Nepali names to create a wrong impression.

    • Nobody believes the Chinese casualties were twice that of India. Only the bhakth media is saying so.

      If what you say is true, it means India thrashed China. The reality is China thrashed Indians, pushed them over a cliff into the river, and took land. Modi’s and India’s body language shows it has been beaten.

      Such a beating was coming, Modi had become too arrogant and cocky. It is better to keep quiet and provoke, otherwise the Chinese will take more.

    • Alright then, India crossed over and inflicted more casualties , ask the bhakths to take out a victory parade and chant ‘go China, China go’.

    • Mr/Ms dk: Since when did it become a law or the norm in India that the press should be solely publishing articles praising the government? In that case one might as well ban all newspapers and media platforms in the manner totalitarian and authoritarian countries like North Korea, China, Pakistan etc. have done. Another thing, you seem to forget that the bulk of India’s media is anyway in the business of paid news and uncritically supports the BJP and sings praises to the all-knowing Gujarati Messiahs Modi & Shah. So surely, you can ditch The Print and go and inhale the hot air emanating from Arnab Goswami’s orifices if that is what will give you an ..gasm !

      The article here did NOT demand any operational or classified information from the PM. The author, like many others in India merely wanted to know why no messages were coming from the PMO. Indeed, barring bhakths, most Indians wonder why the Gujarati genius who mocked Manmohan Singh as “Maunmohan Singh” has become tongue-tied now that things are heating up. And smart “hard work is better than Harvard” type one-liners from the PM for Xi Jinping either !

      In a democracy, the job of a free press is to hold the government of the day accountable for its actions. And equally, the responsibility of citizens is to not only hold the government accountable for its actions but also accountable for ensuring a free press. But alas, Modi cult members like you shirk your responsibilities as citizens in a democracy and paradoxically, ask that fascism replaces democracy. No wonder India ranks at an abysmal 142 out of the 180 countries surveyed by Reporters Without Borders. And yes, India is converging towards Pakistan which is at 145.

      Pathetic indeed that citizens like you cannot tolerate debate and dissent and wish to usher in fascism.

      • The article’s writer has the same delusions about Modi : ‘How and when did this slide happen? For the last several years, Prime Minister Modi has been the apple of the world’s eye, travelling from continent to continent, enveloping the most powerful men in a bear hug, and greeting female leaders with a respectful Namaste.’

        Modi was only the apple of the eye for Hindu NRIs. He was the Great Hindu Hope. Modi meant nothing to others. In fact non-Hindu Indians abroad are getting organised to oppose BJP-RSS and what Modi stands for.

        As to when India’s slide happened, it took place when Hindus gave a large mandate and blindly worshipped Modi and imagined he was making India a world power. The writer has not realised that.

    • Modi, BJP and RSS have done so much damage to India that you should take it as a blessing that China gave Indians a beating. You need a few more like that for the mischief you have been creating with Indians and neighbours. Like Nepal and the neighbours, the day will come when the BJP and RSS will drive even Indians to embrace China !

      • That’s why Chinese accepted they also have casualties and the so called peaceful religion and Chinese are hated worldwide. We will better die then embrace them let there be a nuclear holocaust neither we will live nor allow them to…

  3. The article as well as the comment section, both are very interesting. This shows mentality of indian government, indian media and indian people towards nepalese people. They think nepal as their colonial state and should run as their will. In their centuries long history, nepal never came under any colonizing force unlike india. How can u people assume that a sovereign country nepal and its government run as ur will ? I dont know weather there is any actual border treaty between india and china or not. I dont know how this border disbute began betwn india and china. What i as well as whole world know is that there is an official border treaty between nepal and india, that is treaty of Sugauli 1816. That is the only border treaty between nepal and india, there is no any other border treaties between these country and acc to that treaty those three disputed lands are rightfully belong to nepal. I find it very difficult to understand the double faced policy of india. On one hand they are claiming nepal’s land against the valid sugauli treaty, on other hand they are claiming disputed land with china on the basis of some unofficial line of demarcation made by britishers which was not signed by both of then governing bodies. These disputes should be solved by diplomatic table talks, for that nepal is requesting india since decades but what india did, they continuously ignored. On top of that they included those three land on their Map and even constructed a road against all opposition by nepalese side. I dont know how india will handle the situation with china becoz it seems complicated. On the other hand, the situation with nepal is straight forward, can be solved with table talk and accoding to all historic and valid facts. I request u indian media and indian people to advise ur government for a peaceful friendly diplomatic talk with nepal. Nepalese people think u as brothers and sisters and fought for u many times, its ur turn to help them.

  4. This writer lacks maturity and strategic understanding. Chinese only understands the language of force. As per the opinion expressed by the writer, india should surrender to Chinese claims. China is an autocratic country which has no respect for international laws and rules. India is the only country which can withstand the Chinese bullying. Chinese claim line is continously increasing from 1959. Even after 1962 war, they have occupied land much beyond their claim line. India must resist the chinese aggression even if it means fighting a war. There is a risk but post Covid, the world will move away from China in favour of India and Vietnam, Philippines etc. Chinese know it and that’s why they are showing aggression everywhere. And remember, there is a possibility of war in SCS anytime.

  5. Idiotic commentary by an idiotic fake news establishment.
    The EAM and PM are doing their jobs – which is communication with foreign governments and deciding policy.

    Giving public statements and providing fodder to the barking journalists is not their job.

    In times of crisis – the PM does his job , unlike the rabble rousing media.

    • Mazo: Your favourite barking journalist Arnab Goswami has gone silent these days hasn’t he? Did he get to discover that the 56 inch chested Gujarati was not what he was cranked up to be ?

  6. It appears that writer of this articles doesn’t have any sense of how foreign policy works. The sole purpose of this article is to malign the government and stoke people’s sentiments to cause instability. Would have been better if she had written a separate article on how Covid continues to grapples us and the shortcomings of government therein. While I agree Modi government has failed a big time as far as its foreign policy towards China is concerned but Nepal falling into Chinese camp was indispensable, as fall of commie government in Nepal was in our interests, the opposite would have favored China. We did what we could have done best ie to not do anything and let the government fall while China saved it and we couldn’t have indulged directly to pursue our interests because that would have drawn the ire of Commie government and would’ve strained our relations with them for ever. While Modi government may have failed on almost all the fronts, foreign policy(apart from one towards China) has always been its strong suit.
    Apart from that I don’t see any statement by army chief where he said that China has captured our territory. This article reeks bias and you may criticize Modi for all you want but don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Yes he has failed our expectations but times like these require our country’s politics to be stable and Media whether ideologically right or left is trying to divide the people, while one is busy being too jingoistic and the other is leaving no stone unturned to bash the government and more often than not for reasons that even it knows that aren’t valid. You people can continue this game after things get back to normal but the present situation calls for our unity.
    I’m not a foreign policy expert so I might be wrong in assessing the cause of deterioration of our relations with Nepal but most experts would agree that foreign policy of the current government has been remarkably good.

  7. Modi Ji talks philosophy & tells a fellow citizen what should they do sitting in home during in lockdown. If at least once in the tweet Modi would have publicly asked for help from other countries and UN, brave men would have not martyred.

  8. Your statement that “Mess around with China and this is what you get” is an anti-national statement. You mean to say that India should never take back the land illegally acquired by Pakistan and China should never be taken back and we should let them be with these rogue nations?

  9. In the name of God , please go to Peking and Islamabad and help their narrative with your blind inhuman so called journalism . Why spread negativity , only , in our Motherland ( which you don’t have ) . Thanks a tonne !

  10. Why is our nation India (Bharat) always limping in terms of matching China’s military prowess? Modi Ji tried to dispel this thought globally but is not happening with China which does not recognise India as their friend rather than an enemy. So, what makes us to keep trade relations with China on these terms.

  11. Sino-Indian conflict should not escalate. Indian economy is in a terrible mess. It all started with Demo, accelerated by botched up GST. Industry is out. Business is gone. Govt revenue has taken a nose dive. Govts after Govts in States are cutting down salary and DA for their employees as their coffers are getting emptied. Governments in various states are foolishly extending the lock downs little realizing that lockdown would never eliminate the virus. They only flatten the wrong curve – the economy. If the Conflict with China gets escalated, our economy will be pushed into a bottomless pit – from which it will a decade to come to the present level. We need now people like Ludwig Erhard or P V Narasimha Rao to rescue this country. Both of them are not there. The Govt will not touch Dr Manmohan with the pair of its tongs. But they have their own Dr Subramanian Swamy who is capable of turning the economy around. My appeal to the Prime Minister; Sir. please do not stand on prestige. You need all the available talent available in the kitty at this critical juncture. Request Dr Swamy to take over the Finance. Give him independence and full power with a clear cut mandate to revive the economy in six months’ time. Fortunately agri sector is buoyant. Foreign investment is coming despite several handicaps. We need to see foreign industries located in China are drafted to India, even if that country becomes bellicose. Swamy can do that and we should not waste our talents. Let him do the work – you take the credit – let people survive. a k pattabiraman, Chennai

    • Mr A.K. Pattabhiraman: An excellent diagnosis of the man-made – err Modi made – mess that India finds itself in. On many fronts, domestic as well as external.

      As you rightly point out, it all started with the self-goal called demonetisation that smashed India’s vast informal economy to smithereens and jeopardised the lives of 82% of India’s workforce. The PM, in his infinite wisdom sidelined trained economists like Dr Raghuram Rajan, Dr Arvind Subramanian and the RBI – all of whom strongly advised against demonetisation – and went ahead with this massive demonstration of rank economic incompetence. He preferred to listen to quacks who dabble in economics like Baba Ramdev and Anil Bokil of the NGO ArthaKranti and went ahead with demonetisation, sidelining professional economists. And today, demonetisation is being taught in economics classes as a prime example of liquidity shock and hare-brained economics.

      Whilst I agree with your diagnosis Mr Pattabhiraman, I nonetheless disagree with your cure. You suggest that making Trump worshipper and rabble-rouser Subramaniam Swamy as Finance Minister will be enough to affect a turnaround of the economy. My reasons:

      1. Mr Swamy is a loose cannon and a loudmouth who is and is more arrogant and undiplomatic than even Ms Nirmala Sitharaman.
      2. Although he is a trained economist, aged nearly 81, Mr Swamy is well past his prime

      In any case, regardless of who the Finance Minister is, in the authoritarian, highly centralised Modi government, the Finance Minister is a mere rubber stamp. Decions are only taken by Gujaratis…

  12. China is needling India frequently directly and through India’s neighbours. India’s responses to China in such matters have always been cautious for obvious reasons.
    The provocative heading for your article is not in good taste

  13. It is very common to accuse Pakistan for incursions that harm Indian specially in Kashmir. Surprisingly with all border defences and heavy militarised zones there, if incursions continues that shows the inefficiency of Indian LEF.

  14. Why do you pussy foot around China. What is wrong with Gen Narvane’s statement that Nepal was being instigated by another country? Actually, I agree with you on other points that our political leadership seems paralysed before the glare of the Dragon. Today, three army men have died at the border, after nearly five decades. Indian army should have shot back and killed a few chinese. During Modi 1.0, lots of politicians demanded that Modi make a statement on all and sundry issues. Now, even the opposition seems to be comatose. At this juncture, when China is stepping on the toes of India every day, and has even killed three army men, one of them an officer, the PM has a duty to tell the nation what does his government plan to do. There is a duty to speak up now. Silence is a crime at this juncture.

  15. Soft underbelly of the giant … When we saw the heartbreaking images of poor Indians walking long distances to their home states, one of the many thoughts that struck me was : This is now how the world will see India.

  16. Thank you for this incisive analysis. “Why was an Army chief making comments that really should be the remit of the Foreign Office?” Why indeed? It seems to me that we should be afraid, very afraid. Modi’s government is not interested in defending India or its interests. They want to push their own agenda. They cynically used COVID to lockdown early and stifle budding mass protests, they go on gutting labour and environmental laws, they jail every voice of dissent. A war with China will be encouraged and used for the same purpose – to push for a Hindu Rashtra, with the help of the army, and instead of having an “akhand bharat” if we become even less “akhand” , who cares? as long as MoShah rule…

  17. Look at these communist crooks. How they latch on to opportunities to run down their own government and country. I am certain that the foreign minister and prime minister are much more concerned and aware about ge0-strategic needs of the country than these commies. Thank god these inconcequential people have no say in govt matters anymore.

  18. Where is that idiot Abhijit Iyer Mitra? What has he got to say now? Let’s see if ThePrint publishes this comment.

  19. Deeply saddening that an officer and two jawans of the Indian Army have laid down their lives in the Galwan Valley. They wore the cloth of the country and have kept its honour intact. Our condolences to their families. The first loss of precious lives along the LAC since 1975. 2. Smt Sushma Swaraj was a fine EAM, had the political stature and other attributes to have contributed much more to the formulation of India’s foreign policy and the practice of its diplomacy.

  20. 3 Indian Army soldiers were killed a few hours ago on the China border.
    The Print chooses to stay silent – does one need to say anything more about who The Print supports?
    Every other media portal has this news as headline.

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