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A strike corps on the China border was overdue. Now, push for settlement of the boundary dispute
The government's approval of the army's plans to raise a mountain strike corps on the border with China has not come a day too soon. Exaggerated political fears in the UPA about provoking China, apart from real financial concerns, had delayed the decision for too long. The latest move, which involves raising 50,000 additional troops at a cost of nearly Rs 65,000 crore spread over a few years, was ultimately unavoidable. There has been a significant shift of military balance in favour of China on the long and contested northern frontier over the last decade. The national security consequences of China's rapid defence modernisation, in general, and its dramatic transformation of the civil and military infrastructure in Tibet have been staring New Delhi in the face. India had no option but to respond, irrespective of what China might say.
When deployed, the strike corps should go some distance in narrowing the current gap between the Indian and Chinese military capabilities on the Tibetan border. But the credibility of the ministry of defence on implementing decisions is deeply suspect. Many years ago, Delhi had decided to upgrade its transport infrastructure on the China frontier. But the Border Roads Organisation, supervised by the MoD, has been woefully behind schedule. The current inordinate delay in the procurement of new weapons systems during Defence Minister A.K. Antony's tenure and acute budgetary pressures raise questions on the pace of raising the strike corps.