Friday, July 19, 2024

India’s infra budget on China border rose after 2014: S Jaishankar

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said India’s budget for infrastructure on the border with China was increased significantly after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. India should have learnt lessons from the 1962 war but no headway was made in the development of border infrastructure till 2014, he claimed, adding that the Modi government increased the budget for the same from Rs 3,500 crore to Rs 14,500 crore.

With China, India must have “realistic, grounded and practical policy,” Jaishankar said, interacting with youth at an event titled ‘Why Bharat Matters: Opportunity for youth and participation in global scenario’ here. “China is our neighbour, and be it China or any other neighbour, the border settlement is one kind of challenge.

I would like to dwell upon history here as if we do not learn lessons from history, we will continue to make mistakes again and again,” the minister said. China occupied Tibet in 1950, and then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel wrote to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, stating that he was very disturbed with India’s policy towards China, Jaishankar said.

Patel cautioned that India should not take assurances by China at face value, but Nehru dismissed his concerns and said the Chinese were Asian people and did not harbour any ill-will towards India, he claimed. “He (Nehru) said the Chinese in fact want friendship with India, and went on to claim that it is impossible that China will cross the Himalayas to attack India,” Jaishankar added. While Patel was a practical, grounded and realistic man, Nehru was idealistic and leftist, the minister remarked. “I am talking about history because with China, we have to have realistic, grounded and practical policy every time.

I am taking the clock of history a little ahead as after seven to eight years, China found itself building a road through Aksai Chin and when India realised that they are making a road though our territory, India registered a protest.

First they did not respond but later claimed that it was their land,” Jaishankar said. From 1957 to 1962, when Chinese were building road, preparing for war, the Indian government was busy thinking that India is non-aligned and China is non-western, and both countries have ideological relations, he said.

“We should have taken lessons from the 1962 war. We should have made headway in border infrastructure but from 1962 to 2014, the thinking of the government was not to make any improvements on the border front with China. A then defence minister even said that the best defence is to leave the border without development,” said Jaishankar. When Modi became PM, the budget for infrastructure on the China border was Rs 3,500 crore and today it is Rs 14,500 crore, he stated.

“Just recall that in the last few years, new tunnels, roads, bridges along the China border are made. Sela tunnel was made where the Chinese had reached in 1962. Till the time, we do not make any headways into the border infrastructure, how can we make the border pose a challenge,” he said. Jaishankar said the other serious challenge in connection with China was economic as the Indian market was receiving goods from that nation for the last 20-25 years.

“Because of this, our businesses and labour force were suffering. Till we started manufacturing in India. In the name of environment, manufacturing was being stopped. Even now a renowned economist claimed India does not have the capability to manufacture,” the EAM said. If there is no manufacturing in the country, where will technology come from and how would the nation compete, he asked.

“For me, making vaccines, Chandrayaan, making bridges, making tunnels, creating 5G stack is Bharat. We will have to compete (with China). We will have to make preparations. There is a possibility that country might support some anti-India ideology among some nations,” he said. “But, I can say that today we have clarity in our mind as far as China is concerned unlike in 1950. We want the borders to become stable without any conflict,” he said.

He said agreements between the two nations will have to be adhered to, adding that China, during the Covid pandemic, broke an understanding that both sides will not bring more than 5,000 troops or big weapons to the Line of Actual Control without permission. “But we responded quickly. Indian forces are deployed there and will continue to be deployed.

They will stay there till peace and tranquillity is restored at the border. If there is an attempt to put pressure on us, we will stand up to that pressure and that is what we are doing today,” Jaishankar asserted. Earlier this week, in an interview to Newsweek, prime minister Modi had said that for India, the relationship with China is important and significant, and “we need to urgently address the prolonged situation on our borders so that the abnormality in our bilateral interactions can be put behind us.

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