NEW DELHI: A day after the Chinese defence minister warned India that it would defend its territory “at all costs” and that it planned to reinforce its position high in the Himalayas, the vice chief of the Indian army has said that China would continue to remain a threat for the country in the future.
The army vice chief’s views were backed by defence minister Arun Jaitley who informed Parliament that the Indian armed forces are “reasonably and sufficiently equipped” to defend the sovereignty of the country.
“In the North, we have China which has a large landmass, huge resources and a large standing army… Despite having the Himalayas between us, China is bound to be a threat for us in the years ahead,” lieutenant general Sarath Chand said during an event in the national capital. Referring to army chief general Bipin Rawat’s recent comment on ‘two and a half front war’, Sarath Chand said Rawat’s remark was not meant to create ‘war hysteria’ and that he was stating a fact.
On Monday, the Chinese defence ministry had asked India to withdraw its forces from the standoff site in
Sikkim saying, “Shaking a mountain is easier than shaking the PLA.”
The preparedness of the Indian army also reached the Upper House of Parliament, where opposition members raised the issue of critical shortage of ammunition that can last only days of war by citing the CAG report, which stated that the army faces a shortfall of 40 per cent, that is 61 out of the 152 types of ammunition available would just last less than 10 days of a war. The army is supposed to hold stocks of ammunition for 40 days of an intense war.
However, Jaitley clarified that the CAG report has 2013 as the reference point and there have been follow-ups. “Subsequently thereafter, significant progress has been made,” Jaitley said. “Procedures (for procurement of arms and ammunition) have been simplified, powers decentralised and the armed forces are reasonably and sufficiently equipped,” Jaitley said.
But the opposition was not satisfied as Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “For three years nothing was done,” he said, adding that there has been no full-time defence minister in the country and the earlier one, Manohar Parrikar, was a “non-performer”.
In the current year, China has hiked its defence spending to $152 billion, about three times that of India, but the real spend is estimated to be much higher, as the Chinese military does not reveal its actual expenditure.
Referring to Pakistan, Sarath Chand said being a smaller country with a smaller economy, it chooses to needle India unconventionally rather than engage in a full-fledged war and added, “That suits its all-weather friend China.”
The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army are engaged in a face off since June 16, when Chinese troops tried to construct a road through the disputed Doka La Plateau and was physically blocked by Indian troops in the area.