The volatile situations at the borders involving neighboring countries of India, like Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, actually date back to the British regime in India. The boundaries of India and its neighboring countries were peremptorily drawn by the British, without taking into consideration any social, political and religious issues. As a consequence, the border situations remain a source of concern to date, thanks to the gross mistakes made by the departing British in 1947. While Afghanistan to the northwest of India refuses to recognize the Durand Line as the de facto boundary between Afghanistan and India, as demarcated by the British,the Chinese have resorted to designating the far northeastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh as ‘South Tibet’, much to the dismay of the Indian government. Such actions of the Chinese only reflect attempts of staking a claim in the said parts of India. The recent Chinese incursion attempts have further deteriorated the Sino–Indian border situation.
The scenario with Pakistan seems to be the worst. The Indo–Pak boundary line in Jammu and Kashmir, known popularly as the Line of Control (LoC), is not any internationally recognized boundary line. Pakistan wants the whole of Jammu and Kashmir to itself, a demand never to be fulfilled by India. So it is always open season for Pakistan across the Line of Control, with a permanent trigger-itch, violating the LoC mandates, taking potshots at Indian outposts, and backing infiltration attempts of the LeT and other terrorist factions into India.
Peace agreements between India and China
In an attempt to clear the smoke and diffuse the volatile situation in the Indo–China border areas, enhanced by the recent attempts of incursion by the Chinese Army, a defense coalition agreement was signed between the Indian Defense Secretary R. K. Mathur and the Chinese Lieutenant General Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of Staff, PLA. This agreement was signed as a gesture to improve the border situations and is supposed to maintain amity and placidity along the Indo–China border. Other than this, several Memorandums of Understanding were signed between the Chinese and our country. The said MoUs include the historical heritage site of the Nalanda University, trans-border river issues, cultural exchange programs, Chinese cooperation in building highways and roads, and import of Chinese power supply equipment. Several Sister City agreements were also signed between the two sides, designating Delhi as the sister city of Beijing, Bangalore as the sister city of Chengdu, and Kolkata as the sister city of Kunming.
The government’s plans of building strategic railroads and highways in the border area to counter border emergencies
As part of the grand design to deal with the volatile border issues with China and Pakistan, the Government of India has envisaged a plan of constructing railway lines and roads in the proximity of the borders of the said countries, to ascertain a smoother and rapid deployment of troops, in case of a border emergency situation. The blueprints for laying 14 such railroads in strategic locations like Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand, are already in place. 73 strategic roadways will be constructed, close to the border areas, covering a distance of 3,812 kilometers. The responsibility of constructing 61 such roads has been given to the Border Roads Organization (BRO), covering a distance of some 3404 kilometers, and the construction of 12 such roads will be under the supervision of the Central Public Works Department. Of the proposed 73 roads, 17 have already been completed. The proposed roads will be constructed in areas like Arunachal Pradesh (27 roads), Uttarakhand (14 roads), Jammu and Kashmir (12 roads), Sikkim (3 roads) and Himachal Pradesh (5 roads). The rail tracks and roads are supposed to run parallel to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the other side of which is China. Such developmental plans have been undertaken to keep pace with the Chinese, who seem to be far ahead of India as far as border security issues are concerned.
The Defence Minister A. K. Antony, during a question-answering session in the Parliament, on the latest incursion bids of the Chinese army into the Indian territory, admitted the superiority of the Chinese as far as laying of the border groundwork is concerned. He explained that the laxity of India in competing with the Chinese in enhancing the LAC infrastructure was a direct consequence of the setback of the Indo–China war of 1962. He added, “I have no hesitation to say that China is in a better position than India in terms of border infrastructure. It is a mistake; it is all of us who are to be held collectively responsible for it. It is historical legacy”. He further added, “Infrastructure is coming up in the disputed areas (along the LAC) also. Patrols are coming closer and as a result, we see there are incursions. They come and go, they come and go and sometimes, situations of face-off also take place. We feel we can go to the areas we feel are ours and they also do so”.
As pointed out by A. K. Antony, India has been consistent in developing border infrastructures in the last decade. However, while China has maintained some restraint in penetrating Indian borders, our trigger-happy neighbour, Pakistan, continues its atrocities. The recent developments of building railroads and motorable roads in the border areas will obviously come as a bad news to Pakistan. Now that India has been proactive in developing border capabilities, attention must also be paid to diffuse explosive situations that often flare in the border areas. The peace agreements with China are a good sign, though Pakistan remains incorrigible.