May 16, 2010:
India's decision to build more roads near its northeastern border with China has run into problems with the infamously intransigent Indian bureaucracy. Getting permission to build roads, especially in large swaths of state forests along the frontier, is delaying construction. For decades, India tolerated this lack of roads along the border, believing this would delay any invading Chinese force. Then it was noted that the Chinese had built a road network on their side of the border, making it possible for the Chinese to mass a much larger force on the border, and seize a lot of Indian territory before Indian troops could get there.
India then made it clear that it was preparing for possible war with China, especially along a contested border in the northeast (the state of Arunachal Pradesh). Thus in the last year, India has sent Su-30s jet fighters to Arunachal Pradesh, along with upgrading thirty air bases in the area, to support the new aircraft. Two mountain infantry divisions are being sent to the area. Most of the new Akash anti-aircraft missile units being formed will go to face China, rather than to the west, to face Pakistan. The new Agni III ballistic missile, with its 3,500 kilometer range, is meant for only one potential target; China.
The northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh has long been claimed, by China, as part of Tibet (although when Tibet was an independent nation a century ago, it agreed that Arunachal Pradesh was part of India.) Arunachal Pradesh has a population of about a million people, spread among 84,000 square kilometers of mountains and valleys. The Himalayan mountains, the tallest in the world, are the northern border of Arunachal Pradesh, and serve as the frontier, even if currently disputed, with China. This is a really remote part of the world, and neither China nor India will have an easy time of it if they went go to war over this place. But the two countries did fight a short war, up in these mountains, in 1962. The Indians lost, and are determined not to lose again if there is a rematch. But since the 1960s, China has done more to build up military forces on its side of the border, than India has.
So the Indian Defense Ministry is appealing to the senior government leadership for help in getting past bureaucrats from other ministries, to allow hundreds of kilometers of new roads to be quickly built.