Towards peaceful heights
The announcement that the Siachen region is now accessible to tourists comes with fresh scope and insight into the region with respect to its geography. Travelling from Siachen Base camp at Partapur at 11,000 feet to Kumar Post at 15,000 feet will no longer be the exclusive privilege of those who don the uniform and those who wield power at the highest levels and the arduous climate and difficult terrain of Siachen glacier can now be experienced by anyone who wishes to undertake the challenge independent of the annual expedition organised by the Army from the base camp to Kumar Post. Marking this development as a boost to the tremendous potential of tourism in Ladakh, the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge at Shyok River in Ladakh and highlighted that "Better connectivity in Ladakh would certainly bring tourists in large numbers." This new bridge will be one to provide all-weather connectivity in the region as well as act as a strategic asset in the border areas, and 36 other bridges and road construction will of tremendous help to both military and civilians for swifter movement. With this major infrastructural development also comes an impetus to Sino-India ties as the load capacity the bride is 70 tonnes and it will serve for better road connectivity from Drabuk to Daulet Beg Oldie (DBO) in China. Presumably India shares cordial relations with China and that "there are perceptional differences between both the countries on the boundary issue but the issue has been handled with great maturity and responsibly", the Defence Minister explained, adding that both the countries have prevented the situation from escalating. The government's move to open Siachen glacier to tourists is a welcome decision in terms of some very crucial aspects. The world's coldest and highest battlefield has been a cause of contention between India and Pakistan on the issue of demarcation of the actual ground position line. Siachen never ceases to take a toll on soldiers even in the absence of hostilities given the inhospitable weather and treacherous terrain. Allowing tourists to experience the brutal weather and terrain will most likely sensitise them further and more strongly to the challenges the armed forces endure to safe guard the nation for its people. Keeping warm, heating food, avoiding frostbite, and countless other health conditions and obstacles are just daily routine for the soldiers deployed in Siachen. Also that the newly transformed region of Ladakh as a Union Territory will stand to gain revenue from tourism to Siachen, a more valuable nation will be instilled in people that peaceful borders are actual things that benefit all the stake holders on all sides. India's northern region measures peace and normalcy by the footfall of tourists and Siachen will be no exception.