Thursday, September 17, 2009


Nestled between India and China at an altitude of 14,500 feet, and 4 hours bone shaking drive from Leh, lies Pangong Lake (also known as Lukung Lake). 45 kms of this lake lies within Indian territory while the remaining 90 kms lies within China.

Things deteriorated in 1999 after China, taking advantage of the Indian Army’s buildup in Kargil, built a 5-km permanent track into Indian territory along the lake.

The Chinese have led incursions into India because they know that they can – and can get away with it. It’s as simple as that. Our politicians refuse to acknowledge even today the Chinese threat. Reminds one of the 1962 debacle when Krishna Menon ordered COFFEE PERCOLATORS to be made in ARMS FACTORY – thinking that the Chinese aggression is a myth, only to be proved wrong at a catastrophic cost to the country.

In July 2008, an Indian motorboat on regular patrolling duty along the perceived border in the lake, was surrounded by three Chinese naval crafts. Things started turning tense as the Chinese crafts approached the Indian boat (which was sufficiently armed with two machine guns and a 20 -member contingent). The situation calmed down only after the quick thinking operator swung around the larger Indian boat in circles to disperse the Chinese crafts.

The Chinese Navy operates close to 22 armed patrol boats in the lake — mostly smaller vessels seating five to seven soldiers. India, on the other hand, has two patrol boats that are operated by the Army. While these boats are bigger — carrying up to 21 soldiers — the numeric superiority that China enjoys is undeniable.

Stuck in the corridors of South Block is a proposal to ferry in an additional 10-12 boats for better patrolling of the lake.

BACK TO 1962: The Govt of India, with Krishna Menon as Defence Minister, was least interested in defence preparedness. Ordnance factories were manufacturing coffee percolators and toasters, because they had “extra spare capacity”. But as they all shouted in Parliament, “ ------every inch of our land will be defended to the last man.” With what?

The analysts from Jane’s Information Group, believe that the Chinese Communist Party can only continue to rule the country if it maintains economic growth at more than 10 per cent. It is already investing heavily in Africa for food and natural resources but this could lead to a CONFLICT WITH INDIA with the trade route that crosses the Indian Ocean.

Are we ready for this future conflict?

China, historically has been a land power, barring the dynasty of Zeng He in 15th century, when China had famed treasure fleets. Then, it was more for explorations rather than expansions or even guarding any trade lanes. As threat of invasion from north increased, China quickly abandoned its ocean going enterprises – considering them to be expensive.

However 21st century is panning out quite the opposite. China has found itself increasingly dependant on resources and markets accessible only via maritime routes. Where US and Japan are dominant naval powers, China is stepping up its naval capabilities quite dramatically. Chinese navy is seeking to project powers not only throughout East and South China seas but also to Indian Ocean basin and beyond, to West Africa and Latin America.

By 2015 China is expected to have six Jin-class submarines capable of firing the JL2 ballistic nuclear missile that could threaten both the western and eastern American seaboards acting as deterrent to any US intervention if Taiwan or other areas erupted in conflict.

China’s nuclear attack submarine force is expanding “quite considerably” with six T93 hunter killers and more than a dozen Kilo class boats.

Fast attack craft, each carrying eight anti-ship missiles, are to increase from 40 to 100 giving the navy “a considerable capability. There had been a major build up of assault ships including 30 large tank landing craft that would allow long range operations.

2009 – Chinese navy pilots will begin training for aircraft carrier operations, that are expected to become operational early next decade.



Anonymous said...

Is India under attack or Bengal under attack? The Chinese modernisation of their military are the same the way Indian are modernising. Only, the difference are Chinese are upto the period without delay and Indian are lacking always behind.

Anonymous said...

India will lag behind because of our bureaucrats.

China made Olympics possible - but India cant even promise a low key Commonwealth Games.

Come on !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Also Chinese are firing at BSF / Indian soldiers from across the international border and the Pakis are doing the same from Line of Control.

The point is how long will Indians remain as cows !!

On top of this - Israel has warned that a Pakistan-based terror outfit affiliated to al-Qaida, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, is planning to carry out a string of terror attacks across India.

Israel's counter-terrorism bureau at the National Security Council (NSC) in a travel warning for Israeli tourists in India rated the threat as "imminent and concrete", putting special emphasis on the Jammu and Kashmir region.

"The terrorist group that carried out the serious Mumbai attack in India is planning to carry out a number of attacks across India, particularly against concentrations of Western or Israeli tourists," warned a statement from the counterterrorism unit."

IMAGINE A SCENARIO : 26/11 is repeated. China is firing to keep Indian soldiers bogged down so that India is not adventurous against its ally Pakistan.

And India - will it be humiliated again and again ???

Anonymous said...

I like your blog,please update regularly..

Anonymous said...


I have been to Pagong lake.
I heard about an urban legend that the chinks have a sub in pagong.

you take on that?


Anonymous said...


That answer only Prasun or someone like him can give. For a sub to be operational a certain depth and width and other infrastructure is required and am not sure if the lake has all that. But subs come in various sizes too :).


Prasun K Sengupta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prasun K Sengupta said...

Why is it that the Indian Army is being issued with such Interceptor Craft instead of the ITBP, which is the designated CPMF for patrolling the Sino-Indian border areas? Why does the Army, and not the ITBP, launch peacetime patrols in the Panggong Tso Lake throughout the year? Afterall, from the Chinese side it is the PAP and not the PLA that conducts such routine border dominance patrols. Still, if the Indian Army insists on conducting such patrols along the Lake, is it also allowing detachments of the Navy's MARCOS to be embedded within such patrolling operations? Lastly, will all the Army-operated Interceptor Craft be equipped with low-probability-of-intercept marine navigation radars, just as the PAP-operated interception craft? Alas...RM A K Antony is far too depressed nowadays to give coherent answers to such well-meaning queries. Or for that matter Shri P Chidambaram.
Now to the issue of a lurking submarine in the Lake. Deploying any kind of sunmersible in the Lake only makes sense if there is any floating target worthy of being approached with stealth within striking distance of its target which, by the way, should have a draught of some 3 metres. Clearly this is not the case since only waterjet-powered interception craft are utilised by the PAP (and soon by the Indian Army). In addition, the Lake is flanked by dominating heights atop which lightweight field artillery or anti-aircraft guns can easily be sited for effecting fire-assaults below. Therefore, there's no operational need to deploy undersea warfare assets like submarines in the Lake.

Anonymous said...


As usual we get a very clear and succinct reply from you.

But I am a little concerned about what you said. MARCOS in Panggong Lake - what the hell is India expecting???

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@11:27PM: Let me explain further. Ideally, the border policing, boder management and border dominance functions (including routine patrols) along the LAC ought to be conducted by CPMF entities like the ITBP, just as such functions from the other side are conducted by the PAP, and not the PLA as the Indian newsmedia has been mistakenly reporting. Consequently, it should be the ITBP that should be the recipients of the armed rapid interception/assault craft. The Army is a warfighting force and as such should not be undertaking any such kind of routine all-year-round patrolling during peacetime. Yet why is it that the Army is now receiving the GRSE-assembled rapid interception/assault craft? And what exactly is the Army's experience when it comes to operating in what is clearly a maritime environment? If the Army was that well-experienced in terms of undertaking maritime boundary patrolling then surely the Navy would not have deployed its MARCOS detachments in Kashmir's Wullar Lake. The point I'm trying to mnake here is that in a maritime environment, it should be the Navy that should take the lead IF the Govt of India mandates that routine patrolling along the country's maritime boundary be conducted by the armed services and not a CPMF like the ITBP. And the only available infantry forces available to the Navy at the moment is the MARCOS. Obviously I'm totally disinclined to see either the Army or the Navy's MARCOS being deployed against the paramilitary PAP (thereby keeping the opposing deployments to the paramilitary forces-level, instead of escalating it to the military versus the paramiliary-level as India has done so at the Panggong Tso Lake--again something the Indian newsmedia has failed to take into account). I would much rather see the ITBP being beefed up and properly equipped to operate in a maritime environment.

Anonymous said...

As is evident from the CoBRA operation against the Naxalites, our idiotic leadership lacks the will for warfare - vote bank politics and jeb bharna is all that matters. Because if we had the will, we could have sent in the CoBRA much before.

Anonymous said...

India lacks proper leadership such as an Indira Gandhi. Otherwise there is no other reason as to why we get fucked all the time. If someone can identify this leader and we put our weight behind him / her, then and only then this daily mass rape of India will stop. Otherwise we will be brutalized every day and we will say - "koi nai ? Yeh to kuch bhi nahi tha."

Anonymous said...

Thanks Prasun.

Though I would like to see what BuA proposed - take the ITBP further, train Tibetians and send across 50,000 of them well trained (at least 5000 to SAS level) back into Tibet.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@7:47AM: Well, that will never happen as India has already officially recognised the Tibet Autonomous Region as an inalienable part of the PRC. And unlike other failed or failing states, India and China cannot undertake such subversive activities against one another while claiming plausible deniability.

Anonymous said...


If China can arm and train NE terrorists and have some influence over Indian Maoists and major influence over Nepalese Maoists, surely India too can send in Tibetian freedom fighters.

We will give them moral and financial support (euphemism for terrorist training).

Chacko Philip said...

Well, an interesting article on China-India vicious circle. Hoping that our good old babus at Delhi read these......