Military veterans slam Modi’s ‘56-inch chest’ boast, S Jaishankar’s comment on China

Several military veterans have castigated foreign minister S. Jaishankar’s statement that India cannot pick a fight with China because the neighbour has a bigger economy, questioning the “muscular” nationalism of the Narendra Modi government and the “56-inch chest” claim.

Reacting to Jaishankar’s statement, former navy chief and 1971 war hero Arun Prakash tweeted: “If relative size of economies is seen as arbiter of int’l relations, how come nations like Cuba, N Korea & Iran thumb their noses at the USA or Vietnam at China? India, as a democracy, nuclear weapon state & significant economic & mil power must stand firm against hegemony.”

Major General Shail Jha (retired) tweeted: “Mr Jaishankar should know that its not India but China which is picking the fight.”

The veteran added: “Economy or no economy, if we bow down to a bully, we are abandoning our self-respect. Is it acceptable? What a shame. And the guy is being hailed as the greatest FM. It’s cowardice.”

Anil Duhoon, who retired as a lieutenant colonel, said in a tweet: “China is a bigger economy, we cannot go to war with China. That’s why @narendramodi gave clean chit to China? Na koi ghusa hai….. 56 inch and LalAnkh?? Surrendered.”

In an interview with ANI, Jaishankar had said on Wednesday: “Look, they (China) are the bigger economy. What am I going to do? As a smaller economy, I am going to pick up a fight with the bigger economy? It is not a question of being reactionary, it’s a question of common sense….”

Speaking to The Telegraph, a former lieutenant general said Jaishankar’s statement was shocking and a sort of “unconditional surrender”.

“What happened to the so-called muscular nationalism that this government projects in election speeches? Modi’s self-declared muscular nationalism has now capitulated to Chinese aggression and bullying.”

The Chinese army, he said, has been sitting well inside Indian territory at multiple transgression points since May 2020 and “we are calling it disengagement”. “Instead of asking the Chinese troops to retreat to their side of the Line of Actual Control, the New India under Modiji agreed to create buffer zones within Indian territories in eastern Ladakh as part of the disengagement agreement, thus ceding further territory to China,” he said.

A retired colonel said Jaishankar’s defeatist statement spoke volumes about Modi’s China policy. “Where is Mr 56-inch Modi’s muscular nationalism when it comes to China?” the former colonel asked.