From Denial to Punishment: The Security Dilemma and Changes in India’s Military Strategy towards China

This article argues that China’s rise and its growing military power have intensified the Sino-Indian security dilemma. For a long time after the 1962 war, India’s military posture along the India–China border was mostly defensive in nature and could be characterized as imposing “deterrence by denial.” However, over the last decade, China’s growth trajectory coupled with rapid modernization of its military called into question the efficacy of this approach. India now feels much more vulnerable to China’s increasing military power both on the land frontier as well as in the maritime domain. The increasing intensity of this security dilemma has informed a consequent shift in India’s military strategy vis-à-vis China to one of “deterrence by punishment.” Theoretically, this article examines how changes in the severity of a security dilemma can lead to changes in military strategy. While doing so it explains India’s current military strategy to deal with the challenge posed by China.