Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Indian Army is working on honing the negotiation skills of soldiers mandated to communicate and hold bilateral talks with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops. This comes amidst the increased interaction between the soldiers of the two countries and also anticipation rests that this will increase in future.
A source said, “negotiation technique courses are in the conceptual stage,” keeping the way talks have been taking place at various levels so that they are handled better.
The need was felt after the Chinese side resorted to either stretching the meeting for long hours “to wear out the other side during the talks” to its advantage or behaving erratically and raising voice to play with the minds of negotiating team. “This sensitization will include soldiers who come in contact with the PLA troops.” Said the sources.
The whole gamut of responses along the Line of Actual Control has been under review since the standoff of May 2020. As reported by TNIE, Lt Gen MK Pande in October said, “In terms of our larger guidance, strategic guidance in terms of dealing with the situation on the LAC is to respect the mutually agreed protocols and agreements, and that has been our effort, notwithstanding what has been the action or response from the other side. Consequent to what happened and what we need to do in the future is something I reckon is being looked at a higher level.”
Also, the Indian Army has formalized a course on Tibetan language and culture to “amalgamate its troops well with the people of Tibet.” The Course run by the Indian Army and Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies (CIHCS) and Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Sikkim aims at making Indian soldiers understand the nuances of the culture and arm them with the language so that they can mix with the Tibetan population living on the Indian side of the LAC. This will wean the people away from the Chinese propaganda, he said. There are people of the same tribes living on both sides of the LAC.
The need has been felt due to increased frequency of meetings, talks and hotline communication between the two sides. As per the old agreements, nine Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) are held between the countries every year on ceremonial occasions. Five of these are held on the Indian side and four on the Chinese side.
On the Indian side, they are held on January 26 Republic Day, April 14 being Baisakhi, May 30 to mark the day when BPM’s began at Bumla in 1990, August 15 on Independence Day and on Diwali. On the Chinese side they are held on January 01 new year, August 01 which is the raising day of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), October 01 coinciding with the day China declared Independence in 1949 and October 30 when the two sides started BPM’s on the Chinese side in 1991.
Till now there have been 51 BPMs on the Indian side at Bumla since 1990 and 49 BPMs on the Chinese side since the point was set up on their side since July 16, 1991, another officer on the ground said.
As for the hotline, in August this year, India and China established their sixth hotline. The latest one is between Kongra La in north Sikkim and Khamba Dzong in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The other five hotlines are established along the meeting points at the LAC that are five in total at Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) and Chushul in Eastern Ladakh, Nathu La in Sikkim, and at Bum La and Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh.
As reported earlier by this paper with the prevailing standoffs at eastern Ladakh since May 2020, there has been an increase in the communication between the PLA and the Indian Army in order to resolve the protracted tensions along the LAC which led to deadly duels in Galwan which claimed lives on both sides.
Other than talks at the various levels, the hotline was used extensively. There have been frantic talks which used to be up to five hotline calls in a day. “The Hot Line talks between May 2020 and till July have been 1450 times.” said an official.
There have been 13 meetings between the Corps Commanders (Senior Higher Military Commander Level: SCML), 10 between the Division Commanders (Higher Military Commander Level: HCML) and 55 Delegation Level (Sector Commanders or Brigadier Level).
Both the armies have troops deployed in standoff mode at Hotspring, Gogra, Depsang and Demchok. Disengagement took place at Galwan, Gogra and from both the North and South Bank of Pangong Lake.