The gallant Indian gladiators of Galwan


Galwan valley has been in news since the beginning of May this year, when the borders started simmering from the skirmish on the western bank of Pagong Tso. The ridge on the northern bank has spurs running down to the lakes resembling human fingers and hence are named fingers numbered 1 to 8. India claims till finger 8 and China claims till finger 4. The face-off started in the finger 4 area.

Another incident took place at Nakula in Sikkim, where the Chinese side is claiming an area inside the Indian Territory. These two incidents followed an encounter in the Galwan valley in Ladakh. There have been face-offs in past too but they were in standalone mode and the simultaneity and strength was a cause of concern.

The aggressive and deceitful action on the part of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) was uncalled for and against the ethics of warfare and military diplomacy. This behaviour was not only different from other incidents but was certainly a deliberate dastardly act of aggression. It appeared that the incident was not locally triggered, but coordinated at least at the western Theatre command of China, if not higher.

The situation has aggravated now, where both countries are involved. The talks at the top military and diplomatic levels were progressing well and the Lt General level discussions about the issues that the armies from the two countries were facing, were moving in right direction. It was agreed upon that the buffer zone will be established in Patrolling Point 14 (PP 14) the hot spot, on the night of 15 Jun 2020 when Chinese unilaterally violated the consensus arrived at by coming into Indian territory.

Col Santosh Babu, Commanding Officer along with some jawans went to inspect and verify the situation and while doing so he was stopped, and a scuffle started between the armies from the two sides, resulting in causalities for the first time after 1975. The Indians suffered 20 causalities including the commanding officer and the Chinese suffered 43 (as reported in news) including a number of officers. The veer Biharis of 16 BIHAR fought gallantly and gave Chinese a bloody nose and a punch in belly which sent them bruised and reminded them of the battle of Rezangla, during the Himalayan conflict of 1962. 120 Veer Ahirs of Kumaon Regiment killed more than 2000 Chinese soldiers, fighting till the last men and the last bullet. 

The way ahead 

China in the 19 and 20 centuries was subjected to shame and subjugation by the western countries who colonised them, looted and left them as a relatively weak country. However, after four decades of industrial churning and the prowess of their industrial boom, China has been able to get back in action as the second largest economy in the world, tagging behind the USA. While this has been happening, China has been simultaneously mustering the military might especially under the tutelage of Xi Jinping.

The well-crafted expansion designs and military empowerment that the Chinese military will be a force to reckon with by 2035 and China a super power by 2050, this is well articulated in defence and national policies. China has focused its target on the USA being rival in world politics.

The Indian narrative as seen by China is that India’s geographical area, demographic footprint, educational levels acknowledges the pan world presence of India in the IT, service industries, with a young population driven by innovation and dedication, India has the potential to challenge China, and hence China sees India as rival.
China feels India should not live up to its full potential by challenging it in many ways like opposing our entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group, raising tensions on the borders as a reminder of power differential between us and utilising Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh into surrogate conflict.

India does not enjoy any comfort level with Chinese, as our values are diametrically opposite, our open, transparent democratic set up in politics, economics and social values is closer to the US and other democracies. India needs to have stronger economic, scientific and military strength and reduce the asymmetry of power with China.

We should not shy away from leveraging China’s vulnerabilities in Tibet, Taiwan, Xijiang. The Galwan incident indicated that PLA has violated every agreement aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility and this should keep us ready for a long hot summer in  the Himalayas and the military should be ready for longer engagement and a limited offensive to set right our defence posture to maintain the Integrity and sovereignty of our country.

Brig (Dr) Vinod Dutta

Brigadier Dr Vinod Dutta has almost three decades of experience in Disaster & Crisis Management, Response, Relief & Recovery, Supply Chain Logistics, and Training. The former Secretary, DCMG (Disaster Management), the Brigadier handled supply Chain Logistics during the KARGIL war, has been the Logistics Advisor to The Royal Govt of Bhutan and a faculty at prestigious colleges with a double masters in Management & Strategic Studies, a Law degree, M Phil in Management & PhD.