This refers to your cover story on the first anniversary of the India-China clashes at Galwan valley (China Gate, June 21), especially the column by Gautam Bambawale on the diplomatic dimension of efforts to keep India safe from Chinese aggression (Checkmate & Stalemate). China’s frequent attempts to bully India—first at Doklam and then in Ladakh—not only met with failure, but also resulted in casualties. China’s competitive geopolitical moves have challenged the preeminent position of the US in many regions of the world. Its growing economic and security commitment in neighbouring countries and beyond—right up to West Asia—has reinforced the view that the US needs India on its side more than ever before. Joining hands firmly with an emerging power like India can help the US pose a formidable challenge to China. With China continuing its support for Pakistan, India has all the more reason to explicitly express its desire to work with the US and build a robust, multidimensional partnership to effectively contain China’s influence in South Asia.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
The sacrifice of 20 soldiers who laid their lives to defend India’s borders will remain etched in people’s memories forever. They gallantly fought the PLA soldiers who were armed with iron rods and heavy clubs, and pushed them back with bare hands. The casualties on the PLA side were probably more, but the numbers were not disclosed by authoritarian China. Nor has India disclosed the steps it has taken to restore control over its old positions. It is also not clear if India reserves the right to patrol on its traditional routes in eastern Ladakh. There has also been no progress in talks with the PLA after their disengagement at Pangong lake and Kailash range in February. While the continued presence of the Chinese army on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Gogra, Hot Springs and Demchokaffords some tactical advantage to the PLA, their control of Depsang plains is a major cause for worry for the Indian Army. That China is the new hegemon in Asia with an incomparably more powerful economy is plain from the fact that Wang Wenli, a Chinese official, once needled a visiting India delegation, saying “what if we enter Kashmir or Kalapani in Uttarakhand?” China is quite unhappy about India boycotting its Belt and Road initiative and choosing instead to increase close interactions with the US, including through Quad. India needs persuasive diplomacy to resolve the boundary issue and improve relations with China.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to your cover story Asymmetry of Threat Management (June 21). With an overwhelming mandate twice in a row since 2014, the BJP continues to showcase its approach of muscular nationalism, making the term synonymous with the party, while at the same time deriding its opponents. Thus, it cannot afford to be seen chickening out against China in the Ladakh region. At the same time, the might of Beijing prevents New Delhi from going overboard in words as well as action. No wonder China is not milked politically the same way as Pakistan. However, standing up to China, which far outweighs India almost in every front, as seen on the friction points of the LAC, does find a way into the political discourse, benefiting Modi and boosting his strongman image.
Kamna Chhabra, Gurgaon
This refers to the column by C. Uday Bhaskar (Beard the Lion to Bell the Cat). The story of June 2020 is an old one. India was surprised by China’s military actions across the contested LAC in Ladakh. Several lives were lost on both sides. The strained bilateral relationship took another beating and a tense military stand-off ensued. The tactical situation is unresolved. We must not forget the debacle of 1962 while learning the same lessons again from the lapses at Galwan. China cannot be our faithful friend.
Ashok Sharma, Patna
This refers to your story on Bengal politics (Turncoats in Waiting Room, June 21). Fair-weather politicians returning to the TMC fold, claiming to be restless in the BJP as they are unable to serve the people without enjoying power, represent a trend that is not new in Indian politics. ‘Aayarams-Gayarams’ have been the bane of our democracy. Getting elected for one party and then migrating to some other party without the consent of voters amounts to cheating the electorate. CM Mamata Banerjee must not trust such petty self-seekers. Political equations are changing fast in the post-poll churning in Bengal. The statement of Mukul Roy, while returning to the TMC along with his son and a few others after his short stint in the BJP, that “the situation in Bengal BJP is such that no one can stay there” is an honest description of suffocation in a highly regimental and dictatorially disciplined party. Mamata’s welcome remark—“Old is always gold”—may be self-flattering, but she must remember that gold is a good reserve and, if put into circulation, it has a high risk of theft and cannot be relied upon. Once someone is exposed for placing expediency above principles, ignoring it may be suicidal in the long run. The BJP’s expertise in poaching such elected representatives from its opponents and indulging in power-snatching adventures is well known. If the TMC gets vertically divided one fine day, it should not surprise anyone.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)
This refers to the interview with Manoj Bajpayee (Our Family Man of the Season, June 10). The actor is candid about the OTT platforms providing not only much-needed entertainment to a pandemic-weary audience, but also work to artistes. Manoj has repeatedly shown his acting chops while getting into the skin of the character he is supposed to portray and pulling it off with elan. In The Family Man, he plays the quintessential family man, with the demons of his domestic life playing on his mind while he takes on hardcore adversaries in his secret assignments. The vulnerability of the family man, devoid of any daredevilry, makes his character all the more realistic. Manoj Bajpayee, the actor, is truly a man for all seasons.
Vipul Pande, Nainital
This referes to your story Crumpets & Cricket (June 21). The New Zealand cricket team certainly have an advantage over the Indian team as they are already acclimatised to English conditions. The victory over England has given them a shot in the arm. Their morale is very high. India, on the other hand, are short of match practice, but are no pushovers. The World Test Championship final will indeed be a game to watch. As regards Test matches with England, India may have an advantage. Much depends on weather conditions and, if there is sunshine, then Indian spinners will play an important part, particularly in the second innings.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi