It has been a year since 20 Indian soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice at Galwan, East Ladakh, to safeguard India’s territorial integrity from Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops who had massed in that geography since early May 2020. These past 365 days have allowed us in India to reflect on China’s moves and motivations, analyse Chinese actions and reactions, think through how India can rise to the challenge and recommend what we need to do in both the short term as well as the longer term. Only a clear-headed analysis of the goings-on in eastern Ladakh over the past year, and a direct and uncomplicated diagnosis for the road ahead that India must traverse to meet the challenge, will serve the memories of our slain soldiers and the interests of the nation.
China’s induction of a large numbers of troops, variously estimated at between 50,000 and 60,000, into the western sector of the India-China boundary in April and early May 2020, did catch India by surprise. Eventually, India made a matching troop build-up with soldiers from the two sides locked in eyeball-to-eyeball situations in several sub-sectors. The important question is why did China make these military moves that violated all the bilateral agreements aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility between the two countries. What were their objectives and were they met?