A face-off at the undemarcated international borders is barbarism in its bloodiest form. Such jinxed moment in inter State relations dehumanizes science and technology. In the ominous shadows of an ill-imposed face off, every accomplishment of human society tends to melt down, forever, in the dark and subliminal rituals of death and destruction.
The hostile face-off between India and China at various vulnerable locations across more than 3000 km of undemarcated borderline, is indeed an aggressive imposition by China on the peaceful terrains of two historically glorious beds of geographically tangent civilisations. This unfortunate stretch of more than 3000 km border belts remained critically ‘combustible issue’ ever since India became an independent sovereign State due to self-centric political intransigence of the Communist State – Peoples Republic of China. In the year 1960, the then premiere of Republic of China, as it then, as a masked political entity, presented itself as – Zhou Enlai visited India. He met the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru as well as the then External Affairs Minister Sh. R. K. Nehru. As per the global press reports, his opening words in the meeting with Indian Counterparts showed incomprehensible hubris of the highest order, unknown in the context of international relations. He is reported to have said: “I am not here to repeat the arguments. I am here for the final solution to the border issue”.
As the facts bear out, it has never been a politically convenient moment in a vibrant democracy like India, for any government in the past 70 years, to take a final call on the border issue, moreso, when massive stretches of strategically important land, presently in occupation of India or within buffer zones, are being assertively claimed by China, as their exclusive territory. China, as historically unfolded, reveals a stubborn adherence to irreligion of cartographic diplomacy, layered with secret and subtle ‘dots and curves’. Thus shades of inscrutability stand craftily imbricated over the ‘lines and curves’ of the self drawn maps.
Zhou Enlai told Mr. Nehru, during his visit, that the Aksai Chin should be handed over to China and in lieu of this peaceful handover, China, on its part, will cease to claim territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The meeting remained inconclusive and the 20 hour long futile visit of Zhou Enlai to India was not taken in a normal diplomatic perspective by China. Thus, 1962 attack on India was launched by China. The non aligned India was taken aback while Machiavellian China militarily snatched from India, Aksai Chin. China, in consonance with its policy of ‘thunder shall never calm’ continued to pursue its vexatious claims across more than 3000 km border belts, including the territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Government after government in India, over the past 70 years, being quintessentially champions of global peace, failed to resolve the issue, predominantly due to politically perceived perils of internal nature which any cost of resolution of border issue with China, regardless of long term benefits, could hold against the ‘party-in-power’ in the electoral arena of our typical democracy. The border remained undemarcated and with every passing day, the uncertainties started turning deadly. Thus a perpetual source of tension for India, with war clouds hovering over the region, became a regular feature in growth trajectories of India.
India’s official stand: McMohan line shall not be questioned by China- stands out as a soliloq1uyin the global scenario. China, with its non-negotiable intransigence qua its self asserted claims has never endorsed peace initiatives of India in letter and spirit.
From the time of Jawaharlal Nehru till the present day, the political responsibilities of the Governments of the day to demarcate, dot-by-dot and line-by-line, the entire belts of common border remains painfully undischarged. The critics, nay, the parties in opposition, with well-known parochialism for electoral gains, randomly attribute the political non-resolution of the issues to weaknesses of the successive governments. Thus the vacillation about the decision making processes, and notable avoidance of serious engagements to politically resolve the entire range of border disputes with China on the part of all the Governments, has its genesis in the fragile foundations of our illiteracy-ridden democracy- a democracy of the supine and sleeping citizenry – a democracy of ‘gluttons’ of freebies – a democracy marred by market-driven proclivities- a democracy of voters afflicted by spiritual virus of ‘spectatorial perspectives’ in preference to ‘participatory perspectives’ about all internal and external socio-political events and occurrences and lastly a ‘democracy of disconnect’.
Thus the ‘dark legacy’ of about 70 years with all its negativity has suddenly erupted, amidst historically nurtured culture of ‘denials’, conspicously at the Galwan Valley of Ladakh besides at Doklam of Sikkim.
A vital question that remains to be answered today is: Can India afford the financial and human costs involved in the exercise of effective military control of 3000++ km of the borderline in perpetuity. Answer to this question will per se irresistibly lead to the conclusion that a political solution of demarcation of border, at some reasonable costs, through parliament is the only beneficial solution. Without slightest sound of jingoism, we the people of India must unite and aspire for a finality to the bleeding issue of border dispute, even though the finality is accomplished decisively at the battlefield. Today, the Government of Narendra Modi must clinch the opportunity and resolve the ‘border issue’ with China for eternal peace in India.
The facts on record clearly show that a political mess remained integral part of Indo- China relationship, without any interruption or pause, ever since 15th August 1947. Given the diversity, multiplicity and ethos and political culture of Indian democracy, the governments always chose, in their self-centered perspectives, to keep the simmering issue unresolved.
The inflection point in the Indo-China relationship has suddenly erupted again and supine and sleeping citizenry awoke with a shock to receive garlanded coffins of the martyrs at Galwan. With the ceremonial cremation of the immortal heroes of India, the ‘faith and trust’ of humanity, often resonating in the global conventions, stood unceremoniously buried in full public view of the global community.
The hostility of the US and Europe against China and consequential perception based political equations, are largely believed to have worked as catalyst in the Galwan conflagration. The ‘perception cartography’ in China resulted in troop build-up and artillery mobilization across Galwan Valley.
The situation turned from bad to worse at the ever-volatile borders with China. The usual hubris of China literally turned into a giant form and took law in its hands, nay its claws- the deadly claws which, as per treaties between the countries, were bound necessarily to remain free from a weapons, were found lethally weaponised.
In a militarized faceoff, punctuated, at the initiative of India, by military and diplomacy initiatives for resolution, the Chinese showed chutzpah to attack, maim, fracture and bruise 20 soldiers of the Indian Army, in full view of the world – a sprawling community of callously silent spectators.
The world remained silent, barring few whispers, and the legal doctrines as well as Vienna Convention clauses also bled to a dried and dessicated cessation, much to the detriment of the global order created by Vienna Conventions and other global peace initiatives. In this regard, the following doctrines deserve fair consideration for evaluation of causus belli, which has the potential to escalate into any disastrous denouement, in the course of time.
Jus cogens– the principles which form the norms of international law that cannot be disregarded or set aside by the nations who are signatories to the conventions.
Pacta sunt servada– Pacta sunt servanda, a brocard, is a basic principle of civil law, canon law, and international law. In its most common sense, this principle refers to private contracts, stressing that contained clauses are law between the parties, and implies that non fulfillment of respective obligations is a breach of the pact. In short it signifies that agreements must be respected in letter and spirit.
Erga omnes– Erga omnes is a Latin phrase which means “towards all” or “towards everyone”. In legal terminology, erga omnes rights or obligations are owed by every nation and Sovereign State towards all.
Jus ad vim– This doctrine embodies the principle from where the justness of use of force short of war. In the event like a border face off, is evaluated and understood.
Jus ad bellum refers to the conditions under which States may resort to war or to the use of armed force in general.
Jus in bello -regulates the conduct of parties engaged in an armed conflict. This spells out rules of conduct of warfare.
The aforesaid doctrines constitute sacrosanct clauses of the Vienna Convention. The said doctrines also form foundation of various bilateral and multilateral peace initiatives across the globe.
China faceoff is not an isolated incident, where the violence could be treated as inevitable.
In historical perspective it is incontrovertible reality that there have been massive global pressures inter se the Sovereign States in the recent history in the post World War II scenario, where peace as a glorious value was preserved by maturity of the governments.
The faceoff in such situations remained hostile and menacingly unstable on the brink of belligerency. The hostile tensions ingrained in such political events were treated by political analysts as a ‘cold war’ (It is relevant to clarify that on 16th April 1947, Bernard Baruch, the multimillionaire financier and adviser to presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Harry S. Truman, coined the term “Cold War” to describe the increasingly chilly relations between two World War II Allies: the United States and the Soviet Union). The said term ‘cold war’ was coined to explain the ‘situation of actual battle, without actual hostility and use of weapons’. We all know the length and intensity of Russia- US cold war period. Even in the worst crisis, no country breached and bruised the clauses of Vienna Convention and the peaceful ways and political processes restored semblance of an ‘order’ to ensure global peace and prosperity. The conduct of China, as a sovereign State, is indicative of the worst effects which the concoctions of absolute power and absolute irresponsibility can inflict on the rulers of a State.
What has actually happened at Galwan Valley border is more than an abysmal breach of values of humanitarianism by China, in an insane act, which tore to pieces the central theme of the Vienna Convention. The culprit, a self-proclaimed and self-anointed ‘super power’, in an overly and unethically aggressive mode of insensitive self-assertions, transgressed the sanctity of International Law. Ostensibly hiding and holding secretive weaponry carried out acts which are quintessentially misanthropic. The insensitivity and hubris of China in wantonly discarding the fundamental issues of humanism do not require any emphasis, having regard to the timing which is characterized by pain of humanity in its fight against Covid-19 – a ‘demon’ which also emerged from the ‘secretive labs’ of China itself.
If the United Nations, at this critical hour, fails in its duty to rise to the occasion, it will not only erase fundamentals of its own existence but would ingloriously bear the weight of an epitaph in the cemetery of history: ‘An institution which turned astray and committed monumental abdication of its solemn constitutional duty to save the globe from a nuclear war and politically turned blind eye to the suffering of humanity
The nations of the world need to awake and arise to save the humanity from perishing, at the unholy hands of a rogue nation, nay, ‘a frenzied power-chaser’ in the global political-military equations.
The political dilemma being faced by Indian democracy is philosophically reflected in the following words of Martin Heidegger:
“Temporality temporizes as a future which makes the present in the process of having been.”
Let the ‘present’ quintessentially be an eternally living flame of positivity, here and now!