The result of the difference-in-difference estimation shows that, India’s military spending increases every year. The fact that India has a shared border with China due to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and subsequent signing of the Panchsheel Agreement cost Indian tax-payer about US$ 7.16 billion annually, on average.
For countries like India, which according to the latest World Bank report, is the lower-middle-income Nation (The World Bank, 2019), the annual amount of US$ 7.16 billion or INR 54,395.8 crore is not small.
According to the report from India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), the Central Government of India allocated Rs. 16,335 crores to ICDS program in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The annual US$ 7.16 billion that India had to spent for military purposes solely because of China’s continued occupation of Tibet could fund ICDS for about three years.
Similarly, this amount can be utilized to eradicate poverty in India by investing in building the human capital of India and thus making India strong from within. Alternatively, this amount can also be used to address the ever-increasing trade imbalance between India and China.
While the recent Galwan Valley incident is highly distressing, unfortunately, as long as Tibet remains under the total control of China, it’s almost certain that such an incident will happen again.
A 2010 confidential document for the US Department of State leaked by Wikileaks indicates that infrastructure development by the Chinese in Lhoka prefecture of occupied Tibet, which according to China, includes Tawang, was in part to prepare a ‘rear base’ should a border clash arise.
While China appears to be economically influential at the global stage, we must understand that the Achilles heel of China lies in Chinese occupied territories like Tibet.
As rightly noted by Sardar Patel in his last letter to Nehru, “Throughout history, we have seldom been worried about our north-east frontier … We had a friendly Tibet, which gave us no trouble …” All these issues can be sorted out much quickly and even permanently if Tibet is free and Tibetans have more significant say on Tibetan plateau. Similarly, Indian tax-payers do not need to spend an average of an additional US$ 7.16 billion annually for India’s military expenditure.
Hence, it is high time for India to reconsider India’s Tibet policy and officially recognize Tibet as occupied territory. Doing so will greatly benefit India’s basic national and security interests.