Explains Sujit Dutta, senior fellow, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (idsa): "The recent exchange of maps is a move towards resolving the Barahoti (falling in the middle sector) problem." Adds Prof Manoranjan Mohanti, director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi, "My understanding is that the central sector in Uttaranchal is the place easiest to demarcate while the western and the eastern sectors are heavily disputed."
The lac came into existence following a ceasefire between the two countries at the end of the 1962 war. Then, the Indian Parliament decided not to accept any territorial claims of the Chinese. But without calling it a formal border settlement, the two countries are now the closest they have ever been to finalising contentious border issues. "No one is calling it a settlement of the national border but that's really what it is," says Prof G.P. Deshpande of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.