An army convoy moving towards the Zojilla pass in Drass (representational image) | ANI
An army convoy moving towards the Zojilla pass in Drass | Representational image | ANI
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It has been exactly one week since 20 Indian soldiers, including the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar Regiment, Col Santosh Babu, were killed in action on the icy heights of the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in a face-off with Chinese PLA soldiers.

But in this one week, in marked contrast to the sombre funerals of the Indian soldiers, attended both by the military and political brass, not one Chinese media publication has talked about either the number of Chinese casualties, their funerals or posted any account of what happened on the night of 15 June.

One wonders if the Xi Jinping government is afraid of telling the truth to its own people about why and how PLA soldiers were martyred.

In India, on the other hand, the chaotic nature of democracy has rescued the deliberately muddled messages from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 19 June all-party meeting, in which he said that no one entered Indian territory or had occupied any border post.


Also read: Modi shouldn’t allow China to use his words as vindication of their Galwan stance: Manmohan 


Not just any clash

Three anonymous accounts of the 15 June clash – here, here and here – describe in gory detail not just the raw courage of Indian soldiers as they fought the Chinese with bare hands when they saw their Commanding Officer fall, but how they pursued their enemy, not once but twice, into the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to teach them a lesson they will never forget.

In other words, without firing a weapon, Indian soldiers conducted a “surgical strike” into Chinese-held territory. They were defending their honour, their Commanding Officer’s honour and that of their regiment, 16 Bihar. Patriotic notions of securing “Bharat Mata” may have come much later.  

Two messages have gone out into the world, as a result of this bloody and brutal clash.

The first, that a non-Western power, born and raised on the backs of exploited people, commanding respect precisely because it was able to pull millions out of economic misery, is bullying a fellow non-Western nation, also an ancient civilisation, for a few square kilometres of disputed territory.

For a nation that quotes the Opium Wars and discards pacts with colonial powers like Britain, for example in HongKong, with contemptuous ease, China shows little sensitivity towards a fellow Asian power. It’s clear that its view of the world doesn’t allow both sides to win. So there was never a second thought when it took Aksai Chin in 1962 and humiliated both India and then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the bargain.


Also read: In Ladakh’s Leh, people are caught between coronavirus and border tensions with China


Letting Aksai Chin go

Aksai Chin was key to controlling far-flung territories like Muslim-majority Xinjiang and Buddhist-majority Tibet – a road was subsequently built that cut across Aksai Chin, connecting both provinces.

And India kept quiet over the decades.

In the wake of the integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union last year, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar travelled to Beijing to tell the Chinese that the reorganisation of India’s map was only intended for domestic purposes — meaning, India would not challenge China’s control over Aksai Chin.

Truth is, every PM since Nehru has known that India will never be able to take back Aksai Chin. By now even PM Modi knows that – perhaps he hoped, like Nehru, that the two Asian powers would showcase their similarities rather than their differences to the world.

Only Manmohan Singh understood that another way had to be found — he was the only one willing to put his hand into the dragon’s lair. So, in 2005, when Delhi and Beijing signed a pact to resolve the boundary dispute, the “guiding principles”essentially suggested a quid pro quo — China would keep the Western Sector, meaning Aksai Chin, and India would keep the Eastern Sector, meaning Arunachal Pradesh (including Tawang).

But then China grew stronger and more powerful, stopped talking about the pact, and essentially withdrew from it.


Also read: India-China military commanders’ meeting at LAC ends after nearly 11 hours


The bond that worries China

So why did China agree to sign the pact in the first place? Because of Manmohan Singh’s decision to grow closer to the US, a process started by his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Chinese realised that together, India and the US posed a real challenge to its growing might.

By the time it withdrew from the pact, China’s self-image as a powerful nation striding to the roof of the world — even as America’ went on a decline — had become even stronger. As for India, it would not stay neutral and accept its place as a lesser power in the hierarchy of nations, subservient to China.

China’s repeated intrusions across the LAC and its repeated refusal to settle the boundary dispute with India is another manifestation of this arrogance: India must be shown its place, must be told that it cannot rely on the US support to expand its sphere of influence.


Also read: India plays into China’s hands if we lament 1962 or criticise Modi govt and military


Galwan’s unintended consequence

The second message of the Galwan clash is actually a consequence. Instead of fear, Indian soldiers are now far more confident of asserting their place; they have taught the world’s most powerful nation a lesson, not with nuclear weapons or guns, but with pure courage.

This is not Kargil 2.0, but the 21st century version of it. And Pakistan has been replaced by China.

Significantly, the credit for the 15 June clash will devolve on PM Modi. India really doesn’t care whether the press releases from his all-party meeting were muddled or not – the simple fact is that the soldiers gave the Chinese a bloody nose. And this happened under Modi’s watch.

This also means that Modi will now gravitate towards nations that will help safeguard India against China – and there is only one nation with that kind of power today, the US.

That’s why the Galwan clash is a turning point. It is the night India finally realised it needs new friends.

Views are personal.

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49 Comments Share Your Views

49 COMMENTS

  1. “Bloody nose? China mauled the Indian Army and killed 20 soldiers and wounded over 50 more. That is way more than a bloody nose. The fact remains that nothing has changed. China is able to do what it wants when it wants and Modi can do nothing about it!”
    — Totally agree with you Stephen. I’m Indian but I’m not a jingoist (read raving saffron lunatic).

  2. I guess all those against the article were present on the ground to witness something beyond the things mentioned in this article.
    Indian army is considered one of the finest fighting forces and so is PLA. So this definitely never going to be a one sided affair.
    Leadership in the country is reflection of its people.
    I want to believe that today’s India does a proper assessment of gain and loss.
    So take your rhetoric, your partisanship and make love with it unless your are talking facts
    and not opinions.

  3. BJP, Modi and Modi bhakts are well aware of the gory details that have emerged from the 15th June tragic faceoff at Galvan and with new tents coming up at the flareup site they have been proved liars who want to make a joke of the sacrifices of our jawans. Modi wants us to believe that they were armed and in full military gear at the time of clashes, that they dismantled and tore away the Chinese tents, that double was the casualty in the Chinese camp, that India has convincingly taught a lesson to the Chinese. This damning media management legacy of Modi although helped him a lot in domestic politics, has boomeranged on the honour of India in this hour of crisis when China seems to be winning the first round in terms of the information war. Modi is more concerned of his domestic image, internal politics and the integrity and sovereignty of the nation has been tossed into the air and left to the mercy of destiny. Pangong Tso, Galvan Valley, Depsang plains,Dhemchok et al, are in a lurch with the Chinese having arrived at these points in sizable numbers accompanied with heavy artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles as a backup. Our Jawans were butchered and battered with clubs and barbed wire studded iron rods and here we have a Modi unnecessarily flaunting his pride and masquerading as a he-man. He should have pointed out, in detail, to the rest of the world the adventurism resorted to by an over ambitious China, the treacherous and unsuspecting assault of these goons on our innocent Jawans and their cold blooded murder, their reneging on the 2005 consensus arrived between Manmohan Singh and Zhiang Zhemin and the promise to avoid any military buildup on the LAC and the adamancy and utter disregard on the part of the Chinese of the Border protocols as followed worldover. This way we could have succeeded in exposing Xi Jinping before the world and before our allies and we could have easily put the ball in the world court and then we could have waited for their response. But Modi by outright denial that nobody has intruded in Indian territory and that not a single border post is in the enemy control, has let go the opportunity and squandered the initiative to bell the cat and effectively corner the dragon in the corridors of international diplomacy. Is this what Modi calls statesmanship and Chanakya niti? Modi wants Bihar, he longs for Bengal, he desires a complete rout of the opposition, he wants every politician of the opposition camp to resort to immorality and to become prone to and an active accomplice in their policy of horse trading, Modi dreams of a day when he will be crowned as the undisputed King of a barbaric Hindu rashtra. Where then has he the time to think for the multilingual, multiethnic ,multi religious, and multicultural society of India and its democratic and federal constitution. Gone are the days when India boasted of its hegemony over the legacy of liberal, inclusive and secular ideals that it had been handed over by our worthy forefathers. India under Modi now becomes a pseudonym for democracy, equality, liberty, fraternity and justice that are only on paper and not meant for meaningful interpretation or implementation. Meanwhile bhakts are busy, surreptitiously and shamelessly, veiling Modi’s failures and shortcomings and trying to revive the ignominy and humiliation of 1962, just to justify Modi’s current lapses on the Laddakh faceoff.
    (Md.Israil)

  4. Bloody nose? China mauled the Indian Army and killed 20 soldiers and wounded over 50 more. That is way more than a bloody nose. The fact remains that nothing has changed. China is able to do what it wants when it wants and Modi can do nothing about it!

    • That’s what India told you, probably your communist boss wants you to hide the fact that it was Indian brave hearts who in chilling temperatures kicked chinese asses in such a way that xi could not have imagined in his wildest dreams….

  5. This is a brilliantly structured piece that achieves two aims simultaneously, one overt, the other covert: (1) to give (entirely deserved) credit to the Indian military for standing up to the Chinese bullying along the LAC and ‘giving them a bloody nose’); and (2) to underplay any positive roles/measures by the Modi-led government in taking on China, and at the same time whitewash the mind-numbing pusillanimity of Congress-led governments from Nehru to Manmohan Singh in not only surrendering vast areas of Indian territory – including Aksai Chin! – to the Chinese, but displaying a 70-year-long servility to Chinese opinion that endures to this day.

    Words like: “Truth is, every PM since Nehru has known that India will never be able to take back Aksai Chin. By now even PM Modi knows that…” are enough to make a coronavirus laugh…Because it was Nehru who gifted away Aksai Chin to China in 1962!

    P.S.: I like the deft use of the words “even Modi”…clearly, this seasoned journo knows how to wield the verbal nail-studded cudgels 🙂

    • For once a Bhakt who can at least “wield the verbal nail-studded cudgel”. Please Sir (Ma’am?) do not blindly believe all that Feku says, with all the contradictions and lies. Try to read between the lines and ask yourself why the Chinese media is praising Modi if indeed India gave China a ‘bloody nose’?
      Even more importantly, ask yourself why we came to that at all? Has India no soft power? Why diplomacy did not work? Indians must (re)learn to use their brains and think critically.

        • You are an idiotic Moti bhakt. Modi is actually “Moti” (the lap dog of Trump and his likes) and you are a Moti bhakt!! So what does that make you?

  6. As an Indian I’m really proud of the brave Indian soldiers who were not only outnumbered by trecherous Chinese soldiers, but the Chinese also used came prepared with clubs, rods. The Chinese were also on the high ground. In spite of all this, the courageous Indian soldiers fought on, grabbed the rods, clubs from the same Chinese and killed and wounded them grievously and also pushed them for around one kilometer on their side of the LAC. The attack was so ferocious on the Chienese that they went into a panic mode, probably they never saw such a bloody fight. I think this Galwan clash will remain a turning point to define the relations between India and China and I really hope they both now come to a mutual agreement over the LAC and finally convert it to a border.

  7. Please give the devil its due. Modi handled the crisis admirably without dragging India into a major conflict with China which would have imposed unacceptable economic costs at this time regardless of the outcome. We are indeed far stronger than we ever were. And that too counted in the end. The truth is that starting with Rajiv Gandhi who I think is the most corrupt and incompetent of PMs India ever had, successive Congress Govts left our defense forces incredibly weak and compromised. To be fair Manmohan Singh certainly realised this and used his considerable intellectual powers to moderate debilitating influence the Sonia Vadra clan.

  8. But the USA under Trump is not a reliable ally, in any sense of the word.

    Look how they abandoned the existing Afghan gov and signed a pact with the Taliban, knowing full well what they’d done to the former democratic government in the late 80s.

    Look how they abandoned the Kurdish allies in Iraq and left them to be bombed by Turkey, and Syria.

    India and Modi relying on Trump’s USA for support is as much a mistake as thinking that improving relationship with China by giving it a free reign on trade and commerce in India would make our region stable.

    In gujarati, Modiji’s language, there is a saying, “aap mue swarge na javaay”. it essentially means, if you want something done right, you need to di it yourself.

    Bharat has to accept that it has two hostile neighbors, and they’ll have to make the required changes to its strategy so it can combat both….And take care not to alienate it’s other neighbors and get surrounded by Chinese allies in the process.

  9. Gem of an article. This will be a turning point in the subcontinent. India will lean towards the QUAD. China has shown again it cannot be trusted to keep peace.

  10. “Patriotic notions of securing “Bharat Mata” may have come much later. ”

    Why this hit-piece on patriotism? The honour of the soldier, the honour of the CO and the honour of the regiment are all included in the honour of Bharat Mata.

    Why does this author want to drive a wedge between the soldier and the nation? Is it to prove her “secular” or “liberal” credentials?

  11. This article proves that Jyoti can write well except when she is blinded by her Modi hatred. A slip like ” Patriotic notions of securing “Bharat Mata” may have come much later ‘ shows her hatred for “Bharat Mata” too, as probably she thinks that is a BJP construct! So China is shown its place but alas, Modi is the PM at this time and will hog all the credit for the bravery of the soldiers who fought for their CO and the regiment!

  12. Why is The Print printing blatant lies? Who exactly believes that “India gave China a bloody nose”?
    Even army-men are angry with Modi now for such a no-show.

    • “Why is The Print printing blatant lies? Who exactly believes that “India gave China a bloody nose”?”
      This article itself provides links to three independent sources where fact-based details about Galwan clash are given. So what makes you think these are blatant lies. And why should you “believe” something? Just because you have some preconceived notion.

      “Even army-men are angry with Modi now for such a no-show.”
      Again, this statement is nothing but the result of your pre-conceived notion. Did you talk to any armymen? So please keep your notion with yourself.

  13. What kind of crap is this? We taught the Chinese a lesson? The editor has to be a moron to publish propaganda like this.

  14. Best analysis I have read so far. Politicians are messing up due to petty political consideration, including ruling dispensation. It’s the courage of the army and people’s support that is the real power.

  15. Last year Pakistan PAF F 16 shot down…………………….this year a bloody node to Chinese military …………..Is Modi Govt living in a Bollywood movie !!!

  16. The days of pooh-poohing and ignoring the Chinese are long over. China is more wary of an assertive and powerful political leadership who cannot be bulldozed like earlier times. The test of Indian resolve was concluded in the recent violent incident, which was deliberately planned by China. Thanks to the dare-devilry of Indian soldiers, the message went straight through. Now the initiative towards war or peace rests with China, Indians are just waiting in full strength and readiness.

  17. Condolences to The Print
    A very very sad day when The Print has to report that “the credit for the 15 June clash will devolve on PM Modi.”

  18. What an exceptional and muddled BS is this article
    1- confusing messages from the PM and his coterie on whether there was incursion or not leaves the world laughing at a inward looking system
    2- Why did the bloody nose happen in the first place? Were they unarmed? By letting soldiers die on the border without any intelligence or planning one isn’t displaying courage but extreme apathy towards brave lives and selfishness…
    3- No ALLY of India has said a word in favor of India. Where are the diplomatic ties that a PM or a nation should build..

    Shame on such short sighted writing

  19. Seems author is ignorant about democracy. Does release of manipulating usually fake news indicate large democracy. It is better not to tell anything rather than telling lies. Charecteristic of indian democracy, named large democracy by US and its vassal countries.
    1. Shooting its people ( about two month back) is fascist action. Does fascist comes under indian democracy
    2. Not able to feed its people ( different between poor and elite is too wide and same demonstrated by street bigger in india. What is democracy with hungry stomach.
    3. Rich people buy court, police and politician therefore law is only for poor
    4. Huge percentage of people are under poverty for them indian democracy is something useless. Vote can be exchanged with money.
    5. Killing those who are fighting for poor people (in the name of terrorist). For them indian democracy is Demoncracy.
    6. I believe there is large democracy in the india who is having large amount of money.
    7. India is not democratic country, rather imperialist. Look at Galwan, Kalapani and kasmir at the same time captured land of china, Nepal and Neharu resolution.

  20. Jyoti are You OK? Please take your temperature and check for any of the present infections. You are writing and conceding strange things.

  21. ThePrint is a clever anti-national media house. Only anti-nationals would think that Modi will now gravitate towards nations that will help safeguard India against China i.e. these anti-national salves have deep routed anti-India mindset that doesn’t believe that India doesn’t need anybody’s help to defend its boundaries.

  22. Very detailed and engaging account by Jyoti Malhotra. It is quite clear that, India is tilting towards US strategically, but what to do with China’s market presence in India ? While taking China head on, Modi government raised a slogan Atmanirbhar Bharat and simultaneously sided with US. But from the market point of view, the fact is, common Indian’s whose buying power is still a very weak , so best suited to Chines products. If India wants to dump China, then can India afford US or any other market presence, can Indian be able to buy American or any western products? or Like China, can India produce billion of skilled workers/artisans overnight to cater to Atmanirbhar Bharat? So from skill development to desired consumers, it’s a long way to go.. In a nutshell , India playing with a very limited choices. Military conflict seems unavoidable as also the market presence of China in India.

  23. Lol, “you gave china a bloody nose”, jyoti what do you smoke. Seems you have got your monthly stipend early on. You guys have been stripped naked in front of the whole world.

    • If she has smoked something she would have been able to think clearer. It is known to cure mental abnormalities.

  24. Fine column by Shri C Raja Mohan in IE today. Urges a new sense of realism – certainly not defeatism, as the brave jawans of the Indian Army have demonstrated – in accepting the fact of China’s preeminent role in Asia. China is not preventing India from undertaking structural reforms, doubling, then tripling, the size of its economy, improving the lives of its citizens providing them with better education and healthcare. India requires to do many of the good things China has done, not get fixated on its Vishwaguru manifest destiny fantasy. The equal of China in every sense, our veto as potent as theirs in the UNSC.

  25. What is this? A propaganda piece. We dont know about the bloody nose. The facts are that Indian army suffered huge losses & have surrendered territory to china. Militarily India refused to climb the escalation ladder which signals abject surrender.If India cant see that then much much worse is awaiting. Open your eyes

  26. Sadly you people use martyred for PLA and Killed for Indian armed forces. This clearly shows your mindset toward India and its underestimated power. I have been following theprint and no wonder you people print opinions rather than news. Again this shows hypocrisy and ill mindset.

  27. Like ALL articles in ‘The Print’ views always personal so Congress backed ‘The Print’ will also back away and say the views printed are personal.’The Print’ does not the balls.Under Modi we can always grow stronger unlike Vadra Congress who signed lots of MOU’s with China and are not revealing those documents.Bastards.

    • Please enlighten us about these documents. Provide a snapshot. That way we’ll be sure you are not Whatsapp educated.

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