Thursday, October 17, 2013

China and India: Why India must reset the Sino-India Relations

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

In history we will seldom find an instance of two civilizations that existed peacefully and enriched each other getting enmeshed in seemingly intractable problems as is the case between the two Asian giants, China and India. Though I have not been to China, I can say with some certainty that China has progressed both intellectually and economically well beyond what has been achieved in India. With Chinese Universities making the cut both in the Shanghai and Times list and the visibility that Chinese academics have acquired on the world stage, I can say with a degree of vehemence that  China offers valuable lessons and India in the most short sighted manner is ignoring the hard earned lessons that China has to offer. The objective of inclusive growth with economic transformation has been achieved in China and India is still struggling. Though there has been some reduction in the level of absolute poverty, India's social sector is still weak and when it comes to the girl child, India's record to say the least is just horrendous. In India the Press makes a big issue of the One Child norm in China and hold this up as an instance of authoritarian rule. The fact is that after the Emergency, India just abandoned family planning as a growth strategy, and India's burgeoning population is only adding to the problem. While coercion is not required, public education is certainly possible. And India neglected to do this. In terms of health,China has a better coverage of health services and Indian hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand. The privatization of health services through the Insurance schemes has only added to the woes of the average India. India can learn lesson from China and instead of rushing to the Americans, India has a good example at its very doorstep.

The Indian intellectuals make much of India's democracy and nothing can be more erroneous than this. India democracy has essentially degenerated into the rule of criminals who threaten and extort the votes from the electorate. Massive use of money power and muscle power has made Indian democracy a laughing stock of the world. The Supreme Court of India had to intervene to ensure that criminals who are convicted cannot continue in office. Even after this the ruling Congress Party sought to overturn the judgement by making changes in the law through a Presidential Ordinance. The reluctance of the President to sign the document saved the day for India. As far as I can make out, China too has problems stemming from politicians using their clout to make money. The Rule of Law that exists in China ensures that such politicians do not get immunity for their actions and this is a lesson that India can learn.

The construction of high speed railway is an area in which China is the world leader and can be justly proud of her achievement. In India,  even the Rajadhani Express rarely crosses 150 kms an hour and so Indian Railways can use the technology developed in China to improve its services. The New Delhi-Beijing Railway link in within the reach from a technological point of view, but we need the Indian leaders to rethink their policy toward China. Unfortunately, Indian political class particularly the Congress has bought into the American doctrine that China needs to be contained and India in an effective partner. The Indian political leadership needs to be educated on the implications of this absurd doctrine. The Americans are using India to irritate China and unfortunately, Indian political class is unwilling or unable to see the reality. The sale of the two nuclear reactors to Pakistan by China is the direct fallout of the policy of civil nuclear cooperation with the USA. The fact is that until this day the USA has not sold a single reactor to India and China has already signed a deal with Pakistan. Indian Civil- Nuclear Deal with the USA was touted as a great diplomatic victory for Man Mohan Singh, the prime Minister, while the sad reality is that India gave up its military programme without any tangible gains in return. The Nuclear deal has become a symbol of India's embrace of the US strategic doctrine which hopes to put diplomatic pressure on China on every possible front. It is not in India's interest to fall into this trap.

The issues between India and China are not strategic differences or even rivalry on an ideological level. Both Asian civilizations have had a similar past and history has shown that China has always regraded India as a great civilization whose message was that of the Great Buddha. Instead of building up on the historical foundations of Indian and Chinese civilizations, India from the time of Nehru undertook to confront China on every issue. The 1962 War in which India was soundly beaten should have been a wake up call to India and should have resulted in a rethink of the policy. Instead a myth of "great betrayal" was created and India became a prisoner of a self created delusion. Tibet had always been a part of China and it was the British under Lord Curzon who sought to make it a part of the circle of states surrounding the Indian territories of British held India. It is amazing how Nehru did not recognize the historical bonds between China and Tibet and continued to follw the colonial policy while pretending to be the elder statesman of Asia.

Even as Man Mohan Singh makes a visit to China, I think India can learn two things from Chimna (1) reform higher education and (2)  Railway Construction. In both these areas China has an edge and I hope the Indian leaders show wisdom is learning from the experience of China.

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