Essay on India’s Frontiers



India's location on world map is like a city walled on all sides for security purposes. High mountain ranges on Notch, North-West and North-East frontiers form on unconquerable wall and the oceanic waves wash the entire southern shore. So long as scientific research were not exploited for purposes of war, India's frontiers were held invulnerable and invincible both on land and on sea. This created a sort of lethargy and indifference towards defence. But the progress of science changed the whole situation; India's frontiers are now no longer invincible. All the incursions into India were either through land routes in the Himalayan ranges or through oceanic routes. Infact, instead of being pillars of strength and sentinels of defence, they proved to be impediment in national defence, in these times today when our borders are alive with hectic enemy activities and infiltration and clouds of war hang ominous over our heads, we cannot afford to aside, leaving ourselves at our fate.

The impending danger of indo-Pak war any time, the potential China threat, the US and French liberal military aid to Pakistan and the confirmed news of Pakistan possessing Atom Bomb act as an incendiary. For­tunately, the government and the Armed Forces of India are in the grip of the situation and they have been bracing and equipping themselves with latest weapons and tactics to defend India's frontiers and particularly, to withstand the pressures of two arch-enemies, China and Pakistan.

India's frontiers are grouped as natural and political borders. India's frontiers on land are 16,168 Kms long and the coastal line is 5,689 kms. The North, North-West and North-East frontiers com­prise natural physical Himalayan ranges stretching from West to East over 5,425 miles in length. They have great significance in the political, social, religious, mythological, artistic, literary and military life of the country. The Oceanic borders stretch over 3,535 miles along the coastal length on three sides, South, South-East and South-West. Then, there are the political or man-made borders stretching over 4,000 miles along West Pakistan.

India's frontiers have both advantages and disadvantages, strategically. The advantages are: (i) The structure of the mountain ranges and slopes, making it difficult for an aggressor to gain advan­tage; (ii) dense forests; (iii) mountain passes, difficult to cross; (iv) Physical situation of the frontiers, ideally suited for de­fence position; (v) no need of forts, battlements and ramparts for defence; (vi) the area being known to own troops, our army can be deployed easily and they can harass the enemy in case of aggression. This will disorganize the enemy forces and affect their morale adversely. But they have some, obvious disadvantages too, and this has been proved time and again with each war that India has fought against a foreign invader. First, undue reliance on geogra­phical feature created a spirit of lethargy, indifference and compla­cency in our minds. This led to defence unpreparedness and utter neglect of vital interests in India's defence. It is primarily this factor that accounted for India's square defeat at the hands of China in 1962. Secondly, her frontiers, in a way, isolated India from the rest of the world. Still, the Himalayan borders serve as a barrier and as a defensive wall, they are better than man-made barriers.

India has always endeavored to foster and promote inter­national peace and understanding. As such she has always tried to form and maintain friendly relations with her neighbors, based on the policies of 'Panch Sheel' and non-aligment. Except China and Pakistan, India has succeeded, more or less, in maintaining friendly relations with her neighbors. India's friendly neighbors are —Afghanistan, Nepal, Sikkim, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka. The two hostile countries are China and Pakistan. They are on terms of constant hostility and pose a potent threat to India's security.

Afghanistan is a sparsely populated land-locked country on the North-West of West Pakistan. India has always adopted a very friendly and sympathetic attitude towards the Pakistan issue over which the Afghanis feel highly agitated. India and Afghanistan have been co-operating with each other in the field of science, indu­stry, education and other cultural activities. With the phased with­drawal of the Russian troops from Afghanistan, her future is being watched with great interest and concern in India. Nepal is our other neighbor. After the conquest of Tibet by China, Nepal has become a buffer state between India and China. Nepal being the only Hindu dominion in the world, she and India—have many common bonds — religious, cultural, racial and historical, which bind them together. Whenever some difference crop up, India tries to sort them out through mutual consultations. Sikkim is a very small state bounded by Nepal, China, Bhutan and India. With Sikkim's accession to the Indian Republic, for all purposes it is part of the Indian territory. Bhutan is yet another close ally of India, India recognizes her strategic importance as a buffer state. Though, she has Indian prote­ctorate, yet India helped Bhutan to become member of the U.N.O. She is guided by India in her external affairs.

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, she owes her very birth to the great sacrifices done by India. India is the only country that has stood by Bangladesh in her greatest hour of crisis and need. The brutal murder of Sheikh Muzibur Reman and the Chakma refugees issue have resulted in a great set back in Indo-Bangladesh relationship. Sometimes, Bangaladesh seems to be swinging back into the lap of Pakistan. In that case, it would mean the opening up of another warfront. India is very cautious in her relations with this country. Burma is another neighbor of India. This name brings to our minds nostalgic memories of Subhash Chand Bose. India and Burma have good friendly relations. They have already signed an agreement to decide the international border. Burma co-operated with India by expelling the Indian Naga and Mizo rebels from her territory. The recent agitation in this country has made her a caul­dron of politics and India is watching the situation with great concern.

With Sri Lanka, we have at the moment quite friendly rela­tions based upon mutual understanding in consequence of the India Sri Lanka Treaty. There have in the past, been small disputes and differences, ethnic and boundary issues, but they seem to have been cleared now. Both the countries are active members of the Colombo Plan and the Non-Aligned Movement. Because of Sri Lanka's rela­tions with the U. S. A. (with a US military base at Diego Garcia) and her strategic importance in the Indian ocean, India cannot afford to spoil relations with her.

However India, has been so fortunate in her relations with Pakistan and China. As for Pakistan, the very birth of this country was the outcome of M. A. Jinnah's Two-Nation Theory. Bitterness, jealousy and hostility with India are the very brick and mortar of Pakistan's structure The cardinal principles of Pak foreign policy are hating and baiting India. In the U.N.O., in other international conferences and with the country itself she has always taken an anti-India stance and poured venom against India. The two wars of 1965 and 1971 that Pakistan imposed on India were in pursuance of that policy. She has not learned any lesson from her setbacks and is still itching for a show-down, backed by patrons U.S.A. and China; On the other hand, India has always extended generously the hand of peace, goodwill and mutual friendliness and understanding towards Pakistan, knowing full well that it would be futile, like offering milk-oblations to adders and serpents.

As far as China is concerned, there was a day when the slogan of 'Hmdi-Chini Bhai Bhai' rent the air in both countries, Nehru's India was the first to accord recognition to Mao's China, there were mutual visits of Nehru and Chao-En-Lie. India even went to the extent of recognizing the Chinese suzerainty over Tibet in a treaty signed in 1954. But China stabbed India in the back by launching a massive attack on India on 28th October, 1962. Thereafter, in spite of India's repeated attempts at friendly relations and solving all the differences through peaceful negotiations have been foiled by China. Instead of responding to India's sincere attempts at peaceful co­existence, China has all along been inciting trouble by helping the Naga and Mizo rebels, by arming the Khaltstani commanders and inciting and equipping Pakistan against us.

Thus, we may conclude that leaving aside Pakistan and China the two hostile neighbors, India has maintained good friendly relations with all other neighbors. Let us hope that the initiative taken by Rajiv Gandhi, our youthful Prime-Minister to establish a relationship of detente with both China and Pakistan will bear fruit and India's frontiers will once again become strong and secure. But eternal vigilance and military preparedness is the price of sovereignty.