Tag Archive for 'Kargil'

Redundancy for Survival!!

My first assignment after basic training in the Army in the year 1967 was at Kargil with the Border Roads Organisation [BRO] .  I was responsible to provide maintenance and second line repair support to the fleet of vehicles, earth moving and snow clearing machinery and a host of other equipments.  I had to visit frequently many units of the BRO spread over more than 200 miles on the Srinagar – Leh road .

I remember the interesting and creative management  technique adopted by the Commanding Officer of a Pioneer Company located at Chainikund near Kargil.  Chainikund provides a good view of the Suru River turning North and flowing towards POK [Pakistan Occupied Kashmir] beyond the LC [Line of Control] and many VIP ‘s traveling  by road to Leh used to stop over at Chainikund for a break and the Pioneer Company was always called upon to look after these VIP visitors.

The Commanding Officer, an ex-serviceman from the Army Engineers used to boast to every visitor that his company is ready for a VIP visit with “No prior Notice” and he really meant it. I saw this many times and really appreciated the high standard displayed. The spick and span and order displayed in the lay out in tents, cleanliness and discipline was exceptional considering the cold climate and all the visitors appreciated this.

Once I knew the Commanding Officer well and we became good friends over time, I ventured to ask him to spell out his secret.  He declined initially but eventually confided. What he told me bowled me over totally. He had literally TWO Companies co-existing – one demonstration company for the visitors where selected men move in on orders only and another Company for his day to day existence and work which was quite shabby and in disorder always because of the work pressure faced by his men  – mostly unskilled labor.

I learned a great management principle there in Chainikund.  Practice Redundancy for survival !!

Line of Control – LC and Line of Actual Control – LAC

LC and LAC are the de jure or de facto names used to explain the political – military  border  between India and Pakistan and India and China respectively. Both these are still under dispute in spite of many round of talks at the government level during the last 40 years or more .

In the era of globalisation of business and soft borders in Europe , this situation in the Asian context is an anachronism and the lack of trust and ego clashes translate many times into cross border terrorism in the case of India and Pakistan and alleged  encroachments in the case of India and China . This situation also necessitates large scale deployment of Armed Forces at great costs in difficult terrain on permanent basis and frequently tests the nerves of politicians on either side.

The situation on the ground and the human drama played out during peace time on the LC or LAC is quite different .  During 1967 when I was posted at Kargil , I saw Pakistani  villagers being permitted to cross the LC and fetch water for daily use by the Indian  villagers. The troops at the LC never objected to these daily forays . I also saw a  house at the LC in the Rajouri sector where one window was on the Indian side and another window on the Pakistan side. Of course , this house was abandoned .

Thanks to no delineation of border north of NJ  9842  in Ladakh region, the Siachen conflict happened . While we have some world records to boast in terms of heights and costs of military operation at this sector , stalemate continues . In NEFA or Tawang sector in particular , there is also a standing dispute  on the McMahon Line on the Water shed separating India and China . The Chinese still depend on vintage maps of  ancient dynasties to claim territory and there is no meeting ground anywhere .

Where do we go from here? Many opportunities for  durable settlements of border were lost in the past either due to lack of foresight or sufficient knowledge of ground realities .  Do we continue to harbour such mistrust and commit enormous funds to maintain  a fragile status quo or get on to business assimilating the new paradigm on International relations and live in harmony as good neighbours in the future? . A tall order for the politicians on either side indeed- but not  unsurmountable.