BY: ASHOK CHOUDHARY
India cannot address its economic and security concerns about China in the absence of an enabling strategic environment.
No one in the country denies that we must engage with China. However, it need not be an aimless exercise for the sake of showing continued diplomatic efforts by the government to either avoid uncomfortable questions or to glorify the existence of our diplomatic corps. If we critically analyse the various senior-level talks in the last few years, it emerges that these engagements have failed miserably in achieving the desired results. The prime minister’s visit to China is no exception. The timing of the visit gives an impression of filling the blanks created by the concerned ministry as our leadership lacks credibility and conviction in its last leg and the Chinese will be unable to take it seriously.
It is disturbing to note that our policy has always been reactive and lacks any evidence of long-term planning. Policymakers have become too bookish and developed a sense of inflexibility and arrogance due to their self-acclaimed view of being the only ones who understand foreign policy. The notings on government files, which are analysed and later approved, reflect the same hackneyed view, so they do not tackle dynamic challenges facing the country.
China is an enigma to our politicians and diplomats; so much so that they become incomprehensibly cautious in their approach during every routine or exclusive interaction, whether in-house or at international forums. It is time that our politicians and diplomats got over the 1962 “syndrome” and evolved a national vision to fashion and project our national capability towards ensuring adequate security and economic growth at the level we deserve.
Why are we unable to deal with China as a neighbour with equal reciprocal respect? Why do our leaders and diplomatic corps exhibit an embarrassing inferiority complex while dealing with China? There is an overpowering section of officials who successfully create a façade of likely strong reaction from China and its extraordinary capability, which inhibits the government from projecting our national personality as per our actual standing. Let us avoid overblown scenarios of what might happen if China flexes its muscles. Many such scenarios are grossly overstated and used to support a specific point of view that is neither realistic nor dynamic.
China is an upcoming international power and well understands its place among the comity of nations. Therefore, we need to continue our growth process along with the development of national power to be able to deal with our economic and security concerns with dignity. Let us reflect on the important issues that need to be considered while dealing with China.
First, border management. The world knows, as does China, that we are a …continued »