While regular border peace meetings between the two armies are taking place and no “major border skirmishes” were reported in the last few month, there are no indications from the government how long it would take to normalise the defence relations between the two neighbours.
The defence ministry is in no hurry as it felt that the controversy was unnecessarily triggered by Beijing, which should take the first step in resolving the crisis. Shadows are still cast on the third edition of Sino-Indian army exercise, scheduled to be held in India in 2011. Dubbed as the biggest military-to-military confidence building measure between the two neighbours, the hand-in-hand exercise was held in 2007 in Kunming province and in Belgaum in 2008, but there is no bilateral exercise – proposed to be an annual affair – in the last two years.
Officials admitted that India was raising two mountain divisions – each comprising more than 10,000 troops – for the north east as a component in securing the borders with China. These divisions will be attached to either 3 corps at Dimapur or 4 corps at Tezpur or 33 corps at Siliguri.
At the same time, trials are going on for two artillery guns – 55 mm, 39 calibre ultra low howitzer and 155 mm self-propelled guns. If inducted following a successful trial, these guns – first long-range artillery guns since Bofors – will give more firepower to the army to protect the border.
Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, India spent Rs 1.75 lakh crore in acquiring arms and ammunition. In the last fiscal, the capital expenditure budget was Rs 51,000 crore, which could go beyond Rs 60,000 crore in the current financial years.
A significant portion of the money is being spent on upgrading the roads and airfields for quick troop mobilisation. Heavy-lift planes and helicopters are also coming for the same purpose. At least 20 major defence deals are in the pipeline.
While emphasis is being given on capability upgradation particularly due to the threat perception from the Chinese side, the government is also taking steps to increase the number of young officers in the armed forces who will lead the troops.