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The signing of Beca, or the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation, between India and the US, could not have taken place at a more critical time. Recent Chinese hostilities against India along the border have raised the risk of a military conflagration. While a full-blown war is improbable, a limited engagement cannot be ruled out, given the prevailing tensions. And, with China upping its armed deployments, we cannot afford to blink.

On this score, Beca could be of immense value. The sharing of geo-spatial information would give India access to US intelligence inputs on military activities in the Himalayan theatre. If a battle were to break out, this could prove crucial in identifying targets and launching counter responses. Similarly, activities across our border with Pakistan could also be better monitored. For the US, Beca, together with two other agreements it struck with New Delhi to smoothen military cooperation (if need be), could expand its strategic options in containing China. Beijing, of course, will seethe, but then it has only itself to blame for turning the democratic world against it.

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