subramaniam: India’s ‘missed opportunities’ against China in the past

India now faces a big challenge of battling China since the Indian strategic establishment did not adopt ‘a singularly realistic approach’ in the past, according to strategic commentator Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam (retd).

India should have pressed home its dominance after the Nathu La face-off in 1967 or the Sumdorong Chu clash in 1986-87, he said, adding that there were missed opportunities even after that.

“Instead of consolidating and building military capabilities as well as border infrastructure, we got taken in by the smosmokescreen created by China. The host of border agreements naught in 2020,” he said, referring to China’s attempted incursions in eastern Ladakh last year.

Subramaniam, a fighter pilot-turned military historian, said this while discussing his latest book- Full Spectrum: India’s Wars, 1972-2020’ at a Times Litfest session with TOI’s Suneel Sinha.

Subramaniam said he was not as “pessimistic” as other commentators on the present situation at the border as the Indian armed forces are in a much stronger position now.

“I don’t think the Chinese can try too much mischief without being willing to accept attrition,” he said.

Compared to Pakistan which “shows tendencies of unpredictable and irrational behavior” because of the ingrained enmity towards India, he said, China is more responsible.

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