The DRDO effort to fast-track development of ‘Made in India’ strategic nuclear and conventional missiles – it has tested a missile every four days over nearly a month – comes against the backdrop of China’s refusal to step back from the Line of Actual Control.
China’s People’s Liberation Army had first clashed with Indian soldiers on the northern bank of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso lake on May 5 this year, setting up a stand-off that rapidly expanded to four locations in East Ladakh.
The stand-off escalated into a bloody clash in June that killed soldiers on both sides. It was the first time that the two countries had lost soldiers on this border in four decades. A little less than two months later, shots were also fired when Indian soldiers occupied the heights on the north bank of the picturesque salt water lake spread across 700 square km.
The two countries have held numerous rounds of negotiations at the level of diplomats, military officials and ministers; another round is scheduled on Monday. But China has been reluctant to go back to the positions it held before stepping up tensions.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has held up Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aggression on the border with India as an example of the Chinese communist party’s “bad behaviour”. The US estimates China has mobilised about 60,000 troops in-depth locations across Ladakh.
The DRDO was quietly told to fast-track its missile programme in the early part of the standoff because the Indian government had doubts about China’s commitment to peace on the border, a missile expert associated with the projects said.
This is the first time that so much of efforts are being done by DRDO, Government agencies to fulfil “Make in India” initiative. This also sends a message to China and Pakistan that India is ready to give a bitter reply to both the countries at one time if the situation is of a two-front war.