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Firm handshake across Himalayas

Firm handshake across Himalayas
The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s maiden international visit to India and high-level diplomatic discussions with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh is certainly a re-beginning, and in fact, a possible of ‘rebooting’ of Sino-Indian ties. In addition to taking stock of the ‘lessons learnt’ from the latest military standoff across the Line of Actual Control, or the McMahon Line, the two leaders have expressed intentions to bring in a series of measures addressing the pressing concerns, particularly the ones related to the contentious border dispute as well as sharing the waters of our trans-boundary rivers. Given the fact that the respective prime ministers understand and appreciate that the two most populous nations, mutually housing about 40 per cent of the world’s population, as well as driving up the global growth graph in the context of wider economic stagnation and political turmoil, is reason to cheer and creates a parity in terms of defining the new paradigm of the relationship. In the light of this, it is important to take the association to a higher level by casting a fresh glance at the zones of mutual cooperation and trying to overcome the causes for conflict. India and China have shared cultural ties over millennia and it is time to upgrade it to suit the needs of the 21st century realities, wherein Sino-Indian cooperation, and not competition, holds the key to a peaceful development, not just within the two countries, but encompassing much of the Asian continent as well.

In this context, the agreements signed by the two premiers give reason to delight in a newfound camaraderie that India and China could nurture jointly. It is obvious that economically both the countries have much at stake, with bilateral trade reaching $66 billion in 2012, though potential to take it to $1 trillion is not lost to either party. In addition, China has been exporting manufactured items at cheaper rate and has livened up the Indian market, giving stiff competition to the American manufacturing sector. This has bolstered up the regional developmental block within Asia, which has been able to withstand the fluctuations in the Western economic and financial sectors. Yet, the Li visit also presents a wonderful opportunity to really engage in solving the crucial issues plaguing both the countries. The border crisis has been looming large on the political horizon, and even though no real battle has been fought since the momentous 1962 war, the boundary dispute remains a strategic thorn that needs to be plucked. Reasonable solution to the dispute is the only way to ensure longstanding peace and stability in the reason, and friendly consultations at a ‘cosmetic level’ will not be enough. Nationalist backlashes and anti-China rhetoric and branding India’s cautious approach as ‘pusillanimous’ will not yield the desired result of mutually-facilitated growth. Moreover, the sensitive but significant matter of sharing the waters of Brahmaputra must also be dealt with sincerity on both sides.  
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