According to insiders present at that meeting, some of the members of the CCS wanted to leave the decision to the next government but better sense prevailed and days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first UPA government went ahead and sanctioned raising of two new Mountain Divisions for deployment in India's north eastern State of Arunachal Pradesh, an area claimed by China as South Tibet. In addition, the Indian Air Force was given the go ahead to reactivate half a dozen Advance Landing Grounds (ALGs) spread all along the Arunachal-Tibet portion of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries and base additional squadrons of Sukhoi-30 combat jets in Assam.
The goal was to plug existing gaps in India’s preparedness along the Arunachal Pradesh-China frontier. The two new divisions were to include a squadron of India’s armoured spearhead—Soviet-built T-90 tanks--and a regiment of artillery.
Now four years later, the two mountain divisions have completed their recruitment, equipping and orbatting in the North-east. One of them--the 56 Mountain Division--after being raised in Nagaland's Zakhama area has been placed at Lekhabali, north of the Brahmaputra adding teeth to Indian Army's presence in East and Central Arunachal Pradesh. The other new Division--71--headquartered at Missamari in the plains of Assam, will enhance troop deployment beyond Tawang in West Arunachal Pradesh in addition to the 5 Mountain Division already stationed at Tenga.
However one lacunae continues to persist. Road links to forward areas remain tenuous The China Study Group (CSG), which controls India's policy on China had sanctioned 72 tactically important roads to be built in the tough, mountainous terrain along the China border in the Eastern and the Western sectors. The roads are being built by the quasi-military Border Roads Organisation to enhance connectivity. But a combination of lethargic BRO, obstructionist state governments and ministry of environment and forests has meant that these roads are nowhere near completion. Similarly, the half a dozen ALGs in Arunachal Pradesh are also stuck in red tape (See this: http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/india-matters/recalling-1962-50-years-on/251438)
The recent incursion by Chinese troops in Ladakh's Depsang area should serve as a timely reminder to the government that timelines for infrastructure development along the Chinese frontier and plans to boost military capability do not have the luxury of slippages.
- Insist with Beijing the need for exchanging maps for all sectors immediately so that each side knows the other's claimed LAC and border negotiations can resume
- Bring the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) under the operational control of the Army to ensure uniformity in border management
- Ensure timely and effective information sharing mechanism with Indian media and through them the Indian people rather than let different stake holders speak in different and some times discordant voices during times of crisis
- Educate and prepare the Indian people on the need for give and take on border negotiations in the future