Relations between India and China have deteriorated in recent times. The two Asian neighbours have warned each other over the current situation in Doklam, an area near Sikkim that China claims as its own. India deployed soldiers in Doklam early in June in order to stop the construction of a road by the Chinese Army. New Delhi claimed that the Chinese action has security implications for India. On the other hand, Beijing accused the Indian Army of violating an 1890 border agreement between Britain and China, insisting that no dialogue could take place till the Indian troops are pulled back.

As a result, the situation along the Sino-Indian border near Sikkim is “tense”. The armed forces of the two countries are keeping an eye on each other and it has never been seen before in the history of bilateral ties. Of course, the situation has triggered the possibility of a full scale war between the two nuclear powers. However, it is not clear whether India or China will have any benefit, if the war breaks out. It is for sure that the two sides will have to pay a huge price.

In fact, both India and China are well aware of potential losses (in case of a war). So, it is important for them to resolve the issue through peaceful diplomatic negotiation. However, the problem is that they are yet to resolve the border stand-off through diplomatic channels.

For a long time, India has been worried about the situation in its western front. There is an endless tension with “hostile neighbour” Pakistan and the Indian Army is constantly fighting against the Islamabad-backed militants. Diplomatic tensions with another neighbour, Nepal, are also visible. In such a situation, it will be a huge mistake if India declares war against China.

Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat recently said that the “Army is fully prepared for a two-and-a-half-front war (a reference to China, Pakistan and internal security).” General Rawat is a wise man. It is certainly good for India to have such capability or preparation. It is also important for a country, like India (which lives with the two nuclear-armed neighbours), to be prepared for more than one battleground. The preparations for war are necessary, but not the planning. It is important (not only for India, but also for any other country in the world) to avoid war.

It is expected that both India and China are matured enough to understand the possible outcomes of an armed conflict between them. Despite this, China has asked India to learn “historical lessons” from what happened in 1962 Sino-Indian war. India, too, has reminded China that it is 2017. “India of 2017 is different from India of 1962. Those were different situations,” said Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. It is difficult to say whose message could be more effective in avoiding a war. However, it is not so much difficult to understand what India and China would have to do in order to avoid an armed conflict (in their own interests).

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog – Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]