Can war and pestilence come together? A pandemic is already upon us, akin to a haemorrhage for the body of systems and resources that make up a nation. A war is no less severe: the blood loss it entails is of another (if equally real) sort; the debility it causes gradually leaches into the economy too. Can the body even take two extreme stressors, two co-morbidities, at once? India came close to testing that proposition this week, with the violent India-China face-off at Galwan in eastern Ladakh making world headlines. No bullets were fired, but so blood-soaked was the episode that it was described as the biggest military confrontation between the two countries in over five decades. Even as New Delhi claimed military and diplomatic engagement had de-escalated a testy situation, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers, armed with iron rods and batons wrapped in barbed wire, attacked Indian troops in an unprecedented and brutal combat, killing 20 of them.
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