GeoPolitical Tales Episode 1 | Gignatic flaw in the Geography of India | بھارت کی سب سے بڑی جغرافیائی کمزوری
If you carefully observe the map of India, you will notice a narrow corridor in the north east between Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and China. This narrow corridor connects mainland India with its 8 north eastern states. This corridor is known as Siliguri corridor, named after the nearby city of Siliguri. This corridor is so narrow that at some points it is only 17 – 20 km wide. If this corridor somehow gets blocked, it would disconnect India on ground with 8 eastern states. And there is no sea route to get to these states either. India has to go through the Bay of Bengal if it chooses to use the sea route.
And this route would go through Bangladesh and Burma. These 8 states include Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram. A significant feature of these states is their considerably large area. The combined area of these states is more than that countries of England or New Zealand. And the total population is over 40 million. This corridor is considered to be the greatest geographical weakness of India. That’s why experts often call it as Chicken’s Neck of India.
Lets now discuss why the Siliguri corridor is India’s weakness. India considers China as its greatest rival. The biggest reason behind their clash is mutual border, the McMahon line, which is never recognized by China. China doesn’t even consider the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a part of India and represent it as part of China in their maps. Arunachal Pradesh is one of the larger states of the 8 north east Indian states. Situated in the Himalayas, the total area of Arunachal Pradesh is about the same as that of Austria or Jordan.
India has even fought a war with China over the control of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962. In the 1962 war, China had an upper hand as compared to India. Once again in 1967, both countries faced armed clashes at Nathu La and Cho La pases at the border between Sikkim and Tibet. Due to these clashes, both countries have a strong air of mistrust for each other. The armies of both these countries remain involved in defense exercises against each other. Chinese presence in Tiber, merely a 100 km from Siliguri corridor is a point of deep concern for Indian defense organizations.
Chinese National Army or People’s Liberation Army has been trying to fortify near the Siliguri corridor to win Arunachal Pradesh from India. They are also working to enhance the capabilities of their armed forces. If China ever plans on attacking Arunachal Pradesh, they will first have to cut the supply line of Indian Army in the state. The 3rd, 4th and 33rd Corps of Indian Army are stationed in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The supply line to these corps takes place through Siliguri Guwahati road, Siliguri Gangtok road and Siliguri Tinsukia train.
These roads and train network goes through the Siliguri corridor. In case of a war between China and India, the defense of Siliguri corridor is going to be a very difficult task. On the contrary, blocking this corridor with the intention of cutting the supply line is a relatively easier task. Therefore, Siliguri corridor is a strategic weakness of India, failing to overcome which may result in having to lose Arunachal Pradesh. Lets now discuss the steps taken by India to strengthen its defense of the Siliguri corridor.
Foreseeing any potential aggression by China, India has already increased its military presence in this region. For that matter, India has established two air bases, Bagdogra and Hasimara in the area to counter Chinese attack. In this race of overpowering, International Relations are as important as defense matters. If India successfully partners with Nepal and Bhutan in face of a potential threat, it could be a master stroke in defending Siliguri corridor. Because defense partnership with Nepal and Bhutan would give a much needed strategic depth to the corridor.
In simpler words, India will have more strength in the area against China. Consequently, it will become much more difficult for China to block it. And China might have to fight with Nepal and Bhutan as well. That’s why India has historically kept both of these neighboring countries under its influence. Both Nepal and Bhutan are very small and land locked countries. That means that any trade to these two countries takes place through India and there are no direct sea routes available. That’s why these two countries are heavily dependent on India for their trade and industry.
And that’s how India has been able to use these two countries for its benefit against China. Bhutan also has a disputed border with China and as they say… ‘enemy of the enemy is a friend’. Hence, Bhutan is naturally an Indian ally for its own defense’s sake. Considering this situation India signed an important agreement with Bhutan in 1949. According to that agreement, Bhutan gave India the right to take care of its foreign policy and defense. But times change… In 2007, Bhutan signed a renewed agreement with India considering new constraints of the time.
And they took back the control of their foreign policy from India. However, India still has total control and responsibility of Bhutan’s defense. Indian presence in Bhutan, right next to the Siliguri corridor, strengthens the defense of the corridor and hence the Indian defense. In recent past, China has undertaken a lot of measurement to counter the Indian strategy to defend Siliguri corridor. Nepal has been quite unhappy about the increasing Indian interference in their internal matters. China took this as an opportunity.
One of the core reasons of Nepal’s grievance with India is the alleged attempts by Indian Establishedment to incite the Madhesi community in South Nepal, between the borders of Bihar and UP. In 2015, India tried to use Madhesi community to pressurize Nepal for constitutional amendments. To achieve this feat oil, medicine and other stuff that came to Nepal from India by Madhesi community was blocked. And this blockage was used to pressurize the Nepali government and policy makers.
Experts believe that this act by India resulted in increased differences between the governments of these two countries. And for the first time, Nepal started paying attention to China. To make the most of this opportunity, China initiated healthier diplomatic ties with Nepal. In a bid to bring Nepal to the Chinese camp, President Xi Jinping signed many contracts worht 3.5 billion RMB during his official visit to Nepal in 2019. That made Nepal a part of the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative. Besides, China has heavily invested in 20 different projects in Nepal, in the fields of transport and energy.
Such key steps by China have brought the China – Nepal ties to the highest level ever. That was all about Nepal. Lets now see how China has managed Bhutan. China has started working on developing better relationship with Bhutan and that has got the Indian policy makers worried. China is using its diplomacy to settle border disputes with China. China offered the 495 sq. km the northern regions of Pasamlung and Jakarlung to Nepal and successfully got the south western Doklam plateu from Nepal. It is pertinent to note that Bhutan got a greater area of 495 sq. km in this deal.
Whereas China got a relatively smaller, 269 sq. km of area. Apparently Bhutan got a better deal here but China had a much bigger plan. However, Bhutan stepped back from this deal under Indian pressure. The policy makers of India and China realize the strategic significance of Doklam really well. Military experts believe that Doklam and its nearby Chumbi valley in China are strategically much more important than any place else in Himalayas. Because that’s exactly the spot which can be used a launching pad to initiate an attack on India’ Chicken Neck, a 100 km away.
In 2017, China extended its road network down to Tibet and one road was aimed to reach Doka La. The disputed area of Doka La is under Bhutan’s control. And it’s very close to the Tri-Junction Point, that is the point where the borders of China, India and Bhutan meet. China claims its right on Doka La and Gymochen mountains. Whereas India and Bhutan consider it a part of Bhutan. And as you know, the defense of Bhutan is in India’s control. If the Chinese claim on Doka La is accepted, it would change the location of Tri-Junction Point. In other words, it will shift southwards to Gymochen.
From there via Jhampheri Ridge, China can easily get to the Siliguri corridor, using just the roads in West Bhutan. And it will be done with least resistance. According to Indian Army and Intelligence, China has been continuously increasing its military power in Chumbi valley and in the overall region. China has also established some new cantonments in this region. Military experts claim that due to these recent tactical steps, it will be much easier for China to take over Siliguri corridor in future.
And it is quite possible that China may be able to get hold of Arunachal Pradesh. Or at least make an attempt to do so. Who is going to be the winner of this long, nerve shattering and tense war between the two giants of this region? We can’t decide that today. What’s your view on this matter after watching this video?
Will India, with all of its diplomacy and strategies, be able to defend Siliguri corridor from China? Or do these strategies mean anything for China? Is China capable of reducing all Indian planning to dust with its might? Do share your opinion in the comments section. If you think this video has given you some useful information, please go ahead to Like and Share it. Thank You.
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