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S Jaishankar Explains Why Force Deployment On LAC With China Abnormal

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S Jaishankar speaks during the release of the Bangla translation of his book ‘Why Bharat Matters’


External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said that the deployment of forces at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China is “abnormal” and the security of the country should not be disregarded.

At an event organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) here, Mr Jaishankar said India responded to the Galwan clash by counter-deployment of forces there.

“After 1962, Rajiv Gandhi went to China in 1988 in many ways that were the key step towards normalising the ties (with China)… there was a clear understanding that we will discuss our boundary differences but we will maintain peace and tranquillity on the border. And the rest of the relationship will carry on,” he said.

Since then, it has been the basis of the relationship with China, he said.

“What changed now is what happened in 2020. In 2020, the Chinese, in violation of multiple agreements, brought a large number of forces to our border and they did it at the time when we were under COVID lockdown,” he said.

A total of 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action in the Galwan Valley clash, regarded as the worst in over four decades at the India-China border.

Mr Jaishankar said “India responded by counter deployment of forces” and for four years now, forces have been deployed ahead of the normal base positions at Galwan.

“This is a very abnormal deployment along the LAC. Given the tension between the two countries… As Indian citizens, none of us should disregard the security of the country… it is today a challenge,” he said.

There is also an economic challenge, he said, which is due to “neglect of the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors in the previous years”.

“Why is Indian business buying so much from China… Is it good to be dependent on some other source?” he asked.

Mr Jaishankar said there is a big economic security debate in the world.

“Countries feel today that many core businesses must stay within the country. The supply chain should be shorter and reliable… In the sensitive sectors, we will be careful… There is a national security obligation,” he said.

Regarding Russia, the External Affairs Minister said India’s relations with Russia had been positive.

There is also an economic factor as Russia is endowed with natural resources such as oil, coal and metals of various kinds that India can obtain, Mr Jaishankar said.

He said what the country achieved in the past 10 years is extremely commendable, with the GDP poised to touch $5 trillion in the next few years.

Proper focus was not given to manufacturing and infrastructure sectors earlier, and the erstwhile licence and permit Raj had created hostility to growth, he said.

“Many states including this one (West Bengal), there had been a culture of hostility to growth while job creation has become a challenge,” Mr Jaishankar said.

Mr Jaishankar said, “Today, the economic growth rate is a source of hope for all. India has returned to a high growth path and emphasis has been given to building infrastructure and revival of manufacturing”.

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