1.Evaluate the Ladakh crisis, keep China at bay


Over more than a year, the standoff between India and China at Eastern Ladakh region didn’t find any solution. No output came from the series of talks held by the two nations over the issue. It is resulted in lowering the bilateral relations between two countries. Recently, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has made clear, the relationship is conditional on quietude on the border.

Ladakh crisis offer 3 India key lessons to in managing the intensifying strategic competition with China.

Revamping strategies

  • Military strategies based on denial are more useful than strategies based on punishment.
  • Military’s standing doctrine calls for deterring adversaries  which did not prevent Chinese incursion but the Indian military’s highwater mark in the crisis was an act of denial — its occupation of the heights on the Kailash Range on its side of the LAC in late August.
  • This action served to deny that key terrain to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and gave the Indian Army a stronger defensive position from which it could credibly defend a larger segment of its front line. By bolstering India’s defensive position, rather than launching an escalatory response, such a strategy is also more likely than punishment to preserve crisis stability.
  • Over time, improved denial capabilities may allow India to reduce the resource drain of the increased militarisation of the LAC.

Political costs

  • China is more likely to be deterred or coerced with the threat of political costs, rather than material costs.
  • A permanently hostile India or an accidental escalation to conflict were risks that China, having achieved its tactical goals in the crisis, assessed were an unnecessary
  • additional burden while it was contending with the instability of its territorial disputes and
  • pandemic response.
  • To the extent that China adjusted its position in the Ladakh crisis, it did so because it was responding to the cumulative effect of multiple pressure points — most of which were out of India’s control.
  • Against the rising behemoth, only coordinated or collective action is likely to be effective.

Indian Ocean Region is key

  • India should consider accepting more risk on the LAC in exchange for long term leverage and influence in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • At the land border, the difficult terrain and more even balance of military force means that each side could only eke out minor, strategically modest gains at best. In contrast, India has traditionally been the dominant power in the Indian Ocean Region and stands to cede significant political influence and security if it fails to answer the dizzyingly rapid expansion of Chinese military power.
  • Ladakh crisis prompt India to defer long overdue military modernisation and maritime expansion into the Indian Ocean.


  • Faultline have been already created at LAC and India can not be seen to be passive on the border.
  • Rebalancing India’s strategic priorities will require the central government, through the Chief of Defence Staff, to issue firm strategic guidance to the military services which will overcome entrenched bureaucratic and organisational cultural biases.
  • If India’s leaders honestly and critically evaluate the crisis, it may yet help to actually brace India’s long term position against China.

2.Not all crises are opportunities for reforms

Background – The year 2021 marks 30 years to the LPG reforms which altered structure of Indian economy by every possible means. Still, some macroeconomists asks for more boosters for the economy in the contemporary time as it is under crisis.

Role of Crises

Crises provide opportunities for radical changes as they break down the legitimacy of existing policy approaches. Crises thus create a space for new proposals and possibilities, which could have far reaching consequences for the economy and society.

rises can generate increased demand for change and that could be the opportunity for which they would have been waiting.

The argument for converting a crisis into an opportunity to reform arises due to three factors.

  • Group relations and modes of interactions change.
  • Authority replaces rules, which makes it easier to push the polices.
  • The legitimacy of prevailing rules and routines diminish

Difference between 1991 and 2021

1991 Crisis2021 Crisis
Endogenous i.e. result of factors operating within economy. Limited to India. Needed India specific policiesConsequence of external factors like pandemic. Engulfed most global economies. India specific policies will have to be tempered with the dynamics of the rest of the world.

Uncertainties in tackling situation –

  • Uncertainty with regard to the government’s own revenues.
  • The unpredictability of global factors, as India’s dependence on the global economy increased manifold after the 1991 reforms.
  • In its recent research report, Pew Research Center observes that a large section of India’s population would be pushed into poverty as a fallout of the economic crisis driven by the novel coronavirus which accounts for nearly 60% of the global increase in poverty.


  • All crises do not inevitably lead to possibilities for reforms, even though some do create opportunities for fundamental changes.
  • All the three clusters of actors who are crucial agents in the policy process — political leaders, policymakers and implementers, and the relevant stakeholders — need to have a shared vision.


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