Indian Army has advantage over PLA on border: General M M Naravane
Former Indian Army chief, General MM Naravane, on Friday said India’s military, for the first time, enjoyed an advantage on the Sino-Indian border vis-à-vis China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLC).
“We should negotiate the (Sino-Indian) border with China from that position of advantage,” he said, while addressing a New Delhi-based think-tank called the Foundation for Non-Violent Alternatives (FNVA) at the release of its new report, “Resetting India’s Tibet Policy 2022”.
Naravane commanded the Indian Army from January 2019 to April 2022, a period of border turmoil in which the PLA made inroads into the Indian territory at several points in Eastern Ladakh. In a brutal hand-to-hand encounter between the two armies in the Galwan river valley, Indian soldiers were killed for the first time since 1975.
New Delhi admitted deaths of 40 Indian soldiers in that clash, while Beijing acknowledged that four PLA soldiers lost their lives. Naravane said the Indian Army gained a major moral advantage, stemming from the fact that, for the first time in decades, an adversary had inflicted casualties on Chinese soldiers.
“It doesn’t matter whether four Chinese soldiers were killed or 40. What is material is that we stood up to the PLA and inflicted casualties,” he said.
The message that had gone out to the PLA and the Chinese leadership, said Naravane, is that any aggression hereafter by China would result in their paying a price. “It will not be a small price, but a heavy one,” he said.
The former Army chief also claimed that the Indian position of advantage came from the fact that the large number of Chinese soldiers now deployed on the Sino-Indian border had to be resupplied from bases far away on China’s eastern seaboard.
“The PLA’s lines of communication to their western border with India are 4,000 km long, while India’s lines of communication to its Himalayan border are barely 400-500 km,” said Naravane.
This leads to a position of stalemate, said Naravane, in which neither the Chinese nor the Indian side can benefit from conflict. It is a position that calls for negotiation.
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