Don’t let challenges turn intractable | HT Editorial
Crisis management is an integral component of Statecraft. Often, these issues get resolved with a degree of give and take, adjustments in policy, inducement and coercion, and imposing the democratic State’s writ. But there are also times when certain issues assume the air of intractability. The Indian State is currently confronting two such issues which don’t lend themselves to easy solutions.
On the external front, China’s aggression at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh is now in its ninth month. There has been bloodshed. The entire framework of the India-China relationship stands disrupted. And the ground situation has not changed. China remains in Indian territory and Delhi has put up a strong counter-mobilisation. But its favoured strategies — international partnerships to pressure China, economically restrictive measures on Chinese capital, and dialogue — have not yielded dividends. Internally, the State faces a challenge from farmers of Punjab and Haryana — whose siege of Delhi is in its second month. Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail. They have remained rigid on their demand for a repeal of laws, which the government has made clear is not an option at all. On January 26, farmers have planned their own parallel rally as a symbol of protest.
Both the China ingression and the stance of the farm unions are disparate issues, born out of their own specific histories. But they bring home the limits of the power of the State. While time may moderate negotiating positions on all sides on both issues, it could well entrench positions further. The government must find creative ways to resolve both its most serious internal and external challenges.