How India should deal with China

So, how should India deal with China and its iron-brother Pakistan?India needs to build Comprehensive National Power to counter threat from China and its iron-brother Pakistan. Here are 19 ideas on how national power can be built. Every Indian can contribute.

by Sanjeev Nayyar

The last boundary talks between India and China ended without any meaningful results. Around then, there were Chinese incursions in Uttarakhand and Tawang. Recently, an Indian diplomat’s mike went silent at UN conference while criticising China’s BRI. Also infiltration by terrorists from Pakistan and killings in Kashmir have gone up after a lull.

Shiva and Parvati, Mural, Kizil Caves, Kucha, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, c. 6th Century CE, China. Pic by Benoy K Behl.

So, how should India deal with China and its iron-brother Pakistan?

At the outset India must accept that as long as China and Pakistan exist in their current form they will not want to see India progress and allow it to live in peace.

China is an autocracy, India a democracy. If India can deliver results for its citizens, Chinese people will ask why no democracy? India has to fail so the Communist Party of China can prove the need for autocracy.

The Chinese know, probably better than Indians do, how much India had contributed to their civilization so understand India’s potential and see her as a rival. Further, China sees India as a roadblock in its quest for leadership in Asia. China will settle the boundary dispute when it believes it is strong enough to have its way.

Pakistan was born in 1947 because of the hatred, a section of Indian Muslims had for the Followers of Dharma. A nation born out of hatred requires to continuously attack the object of hatred to justify its existence. Jammu and Kashmir is only an excuse. If India succeeds, Pakistan fails.

Both China and Pakistan hate losing. Thus, they will relentlessly purse their goals.

So how must India counter them? India must build Comprehensive National Power. Here are some ideas.

1. India must focus on economic growth. Resulting surge in revenues shall help the government spend more on social sectors and modernise India’s defence.

India need not ape any other country’s model but create its own, i.e. based on the Indian reality.

If people of India are progressing, thanks to growth, they will argue less.

2.Build infrastructure projects that increase productivity and reduce consumption.

For example the Mumbai Delhi Expressway shall reduce travel time significantly and fuel consumption. Being made in concrete creates demand for core sectors of cement and steel, which shall have a multiplier effect on the economy. Reduced travel time shall promote tourism to destinations enroute.

Invest in assets that increase efficiency for e.g. ports that reduce ship turnaround time.

Create infrastructure that shall eventually reduce the cost of operating in India.

3. Identify industries where India already has scale or ability and look to become the world’s most reliable supplier for e.g. in pharma.

Mixing geopolitics with pharma supplies is wrong. Trust once broken is difficult to rebuild.

At the same time do not be dependent on any country for crucial materials for e.g. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients from China.

4. Avoid jingoism, focus on actions and subtle messaging.

Government can place information before the people. It can also show how elections are held in India and compare with other democracies and autocracies. Nationalist Indians globally shall share and drive home the truth.

Remember this popular slogan during the Emergency–Talk less, Work more.

Let us not expect results overnight-Be patient.

Indians must learn to accept failure. One cannot praise M.S. Dhoni to the skies one day and stone his home the next.

5. Even as we watch Pakistan’s moves, stop being obsessed with it. Instead, consistently support existing movements that could divide Pakistan for e.g. Baluchistan, Sindhudesh, Pashtunistan (uniting Pashtuns on both side of the Durand Line i.e. in Afghanistan and Pakistan). Remember, negativity cannot sustain.

Do not trust Pakistan or China or ever let your guard down. Every time an olive branch is extended for e.g. cease fire by Pakistan in early 2021, look for deeper intent.

The world must know that Pakistan has made terrorism an instrument of state policy because of Chinese support.

No need to play the Tibet card bluntly. Let it linger on. Instead ensure that an appropriate person is Dalai Lama’s successor and let all know of the Indian roots of Tibetan Buddhism. See movie by art historian Benoy K Behl Here

Make Arunachal Pradesh such a developed state, that the already nationalist Arunachalis refuse to become a part of Chinese Occupied Tibet. Indians must support schools run by the Ramakrishna Mission and Vivekanand Kendra in Arunachal.

China might, in a surprise move, try to snatch Tawang from India. We should be prepared for multiple attacks simultaneously and reduced supplies of key materials.

6. Ahimsa is a spiritual concept and pass in geopolitics. India must love all but we can love only those who respect our right to co-exist.

7. Modernize equipment used by armed forces.

G Parthasarathy, former diplomat, wrote that “China is expanding its maritime presence across the Indian Ocean. China is also building the Bay of Bengal port of Kyaukphyu in Myanmar. While India has two nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, it needs to strengthen its fleet.” A senior defence analyst says India needs, “Long range strategic bomber, Tri-services Integrated communications network, Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) network covering entire land border-with ability to see 100 kms inside Tibet- Xinjiang, Military satellite constellation to cover border areas and High Altitude Long Endurance drones with ISR payloads.” This requires resources that can come from economic growth and better compliance.

At all times, remember that other countries can aid but India has to fight her own battles.

India must withstand pressure from other countries whilst buying arms like from the U.S. on the S-400 deal with Russia.

India’s newly corporatized ordinance factories and private sector must follow the Bajaj Auto model–produce for domestic and export markets. Improves quality and reduces per unit cost.

8. Every country to be dealt based on evolving mantras for e.g. China is cooperate and compete, U.S. cooperate and promote business, Sri Lanka/Nepal/Bhutan/Maldives we are always there for you even if you occasionally go against our national interests, Russia let us continuously find ways for our friendship to grow, Afghanistan allow us to help you, Europe explore how we can grow in a mutually beneficial way and Pakistan a rogue nation that needs to be kept under pressure 24 by 7.

9. India must reduce population growth and control illegal immigration. If not done, it will eat into the fruits of growth and disturb the social fabric.

10. Find ways to reduce India’s FUEL bill.

Focus on alternate sources of energy say ethanol based on agricultural waste/corn, electric vehicles and green hydrogen.

11. Our opponents might use the Water card, sooner than later.

Government policies must encourage consumption of millets and traditional rice. They consume less water.

Focus on water conservation, interlinking of rivers and re-charging of ground water.

12. Let the world know about presence of Indian heritage in Central Asian countries, Xinjiang, Afghanistan, Mongolia and South-east Asia. Motivate more Indians to travel there and discover facts themselves. Again no Akhand Bharat and bragging please, focus on cultural unification.

13. India must create an ecosystem that respects science, allows the number of graduates to increase and innovate within India itself.

14. India’s dreams could remain dreams if the judicial, education and healthcare sectors do not reform.

15. India, inspite of its myriad problems, is not a push over. Believe in Yourself, Love Yourself and Love India. Stop being over-critical.

16. If India’s sukarmas result in Gilgit and Baltistan becoming a part of India, it will share a border with Afghanistan and Central Asia. This shall change the regions geo-politics forever.

17. We need a Constitution i.e. based on Indic not European concepts. That will align it with Indian people and traditions.

18. Encourage public-private partnerships like seen with Bharat Bio-tech for Covid19 vaccine and hopefully in the Space sector too.

19. Every village must be digitally connected. Digitization should become a national mission.

At all times, have an open mind to accept the best that the world offers.

Some Indians should, seeing the state of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Xinjiang, stop trying to play the demographic game.

This decade is critical for India. We need to put our heads down and work.

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