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Doklam row: India, China's hand-in-hand exercise on cards, says Army chief

The 'bonhomie' between Indian army, Chinese forces was back, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

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Doklam

The annual India-China military exercise will resume, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday, noting that the relationship between the two countries which had turned "sour" after the Doklam stand-off was now improving.

He said the military diplomacy with China worked and the border personnel meetings that had stopped post Doklam stand-off have begun again.

The "bonhomie" between the two forces was back, Rawat said.

"The hand-in-hand exercise with China happens every year. Only in the last year, this exercise was shelved (due to simmering tensions over Doklam), but this exercise is back on the cards," he said in response to a question.

The border personnel of India and China were locked in a 73-day stand-off last year in Doklam.

The disengagement of forces took place in August last year, after hectic parleys between the two countries.

"So the military diplomacy with China has worked and is moving forward and ensuring that there is a thaw in the relations...the relationship had turned sour but I think it is all getting over now," he added.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting China next month and it is likely that the issue could come up for discussion.

The high-ranking visits between the two sides continued after the Doklam face-off ended in August last year. In December, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited India to attend the RIC (Russia India China) Foreign Ministers meeting. He also held bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.

Last month, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale also made a trip to Beijing, where he held talks with Wang.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit China in June this year to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting.

Army expresses frustration over inadequate fund allocation in defence budget

The Army has said it was reeling under severe fund crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurements when it was dealing with an assertive China along the northern border after the Doklam face-off and increasing hostilities from Pakistan on the western frontier.
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The Army told a parliamentary panel that the insufficient allocation to it in the defence budget was going to hit the Army's modernisation at a time when was competing to reach the level of the US and Pakistan bolstering capability of its forces.
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Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Sarath Chand said 68 per cent of the Army's equipment is in the 'vintage category', adding fund crunch will also impact the serviceability of the existing equipment and may even affect payment of instalments for past purchases.
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The Army's frustrations over inadequate allocations of funds in the defence budget for next fiscal figured in a report of the Standing Committee on Defence which was tabled in Lok Sabha today.
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Talking about the new procurement policy, delegation of financial powers to Vice Chief of Army and several other initiatives towards modernisation of the armed forces, Lt Gen Chand told the panel that "the Budget of 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little set back."
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He said, "Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of Rs 29,033 crore for 125 on-going schemes, emergency procurements," he said, adding "Committed liabilities of 2017 which will also get passed on to 2018 will further accentuate the situation."
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Referring to the regional security scenario, Chand said the possibility of "two front" war is a reality and the country needs to pay attention to modernisation of the Army.
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He said the Doklam issue was going on and China has become increasingly assertive.
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"We have seen more and more patrolling and transgressions. Activities in Tibet has also increased over a period of years whether it is the quantum of troops or whether it is the number of personnel undertaking the exercises and also the level of exercises," he said.
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The Army also informed the panel that it does not have adequate resources to even undertake the construction of strategic roads near the Sino-India border.

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 21:58 IST
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