With this issue we resume printing after a gap of three months. The sentiment is akin to rebirth. Though we did not miss a single issue and published the April, May and June editions online—which basically entailed nearly the same degree of work and commitment—the excitement of production and going through pre-print copies was sorely missed. It also brought home the happy realisation that print is not getting replaced by digital any time soon.
This month’s cover story decided itself. Since last month we had focussed on India-China stand-off, with the prescient title, ‘Longer the stand-off continues, greater will be the threat to India’, we were planning an omnibus kind of issue for the first print version in three months. But then June 15 happened. In a violent scuffle, first of its kind on the Line of Actual Control, 20 Indian soldiers, including the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar, were killed. The government of India claimed (and the Chinese didn’t dispute) that more were killed on the other side. There was no choice but to return to the LAC stand-off.
Readers will realise that the situation has worsened since the last month’s story. China’s People’s Liberation Army has shed all pretence about occupying territory that was, since the LAC came into being in 1993, on the Indian side. They are not only fortifying their positions and building their defences, they have emblazoned the words ‘China’ in Mandarin on the rocky landscape of Pangong Tso. Apparently, the etching is so huge that satellites are able to pick it up clearly. China has brandished its cards quite brazenly. The government of India’s diffidence, despite public bravado, seems to suggest that India does not have cards worth playing. The future is not only uncertain but slippery too. Hence, there is a need to break away from both posturing and petulance; and take bold decisions, even if it means talking with the enemy.
The FORCE cover story encapsulates both the enormity of the challenge and the limitations of options.
Supporting the cover story is the special report on central forces responsible for border and internal security. More than any other time in the past, there is an urgent need today to ensure the security of the home base, given the volatility of our borders.
We are reproducing the essay written by Russian President Vladimir Putin to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the World War II victory. There are two reasons for that. One, he underlines the importance of cooperation and multi-polarity as opposed to isolationism; and two, he holds a veiled message for South Asia by suggesting that interdependent economies demand peace. He seems to be following this principle in his role as a friend to both India and China.
Complementing Putin’s essay is the interview with the Russian ambassador in India who underscored criticality of cooperation as exhibited in the recent Russia-India-China foreign ministers meeting held amidst the Ladakh crisis.
Welcome back readers.