[op-ed snap] What not to learn from Doklam

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“India should not overestimate its own military strength, and the support of other powers, in a conflict with China” Critically comment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-China relations



  1. Article talks about the lessons India should learn from the Doklam stand off and and the necessity to be prepared for further threats

Lessons for India

Indian military strength

  1. Indian armed forces really don’t outmatch the Chinese in a conflict scenario.
  2. Even at Doklam, India did not have the military capacity to defeat the Chinese
  3. It had sufficient military strength to only hold on to its positions and inflict heavy casualties on the Chinese army for a short period of time.
  4. Even in its strongest areas, the Indian deployment is oriented towards defending territory. 

Indian military preparedness.

  1. Delay in military modernisation schemes — only 32 fighter squadrons or just 13 submarines or poor air defence profile
  2. Army’s ammunition reserves are not stocked for a 10-day-long war is also a worrying sign.
  3. It is designated to be prepared for a two-front collusive threat from China and Pakistan
  4. Indian armed forces cannot afford to fulfill their role successfully if they are not properly equipped and stocked.

Impact on Bhutan

  1. Even though Bhutan has been a strong Indian ally and has stood by New Delhi during the standoff, there are voices in Bhutan which seek a “balanced foreign policy”, that is, opening of ties with China
  2. The Chinese offer of a swap for Doklam with disputed areas in the north is bound to be renewed, an offer which has always interested Thimphu.
  3. As China starts courting Thimphu and as Bhutan starts seeking greater ties with Beijing, it would be unfair to expect Bhutan to choose between India and China

International support for India against China.

  1. Besides a tentative statement by the Japanese ambassador, most other countries — including the United States — asked New Delhi and Beijing to resolve the situation peacefully.
  2. While most countries were happy that India was standing up to China, their own relations with Beijing made it very difficult for them to state their support openly.
  3. India handled the Doklam crisis single-handedly and will have to be prepared to handle any such situation similarly in the future.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China
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