A complete picture
Inconsistencies in the recent developments in the Indo-China story must be clarified
The tension between India and China has been witnessed through the decades, especially over border fronts. Over decades, discussions were ongoing, tiffs and compromises were usual, but the ruling government back then was able to move towards peaceful settlements through dialogue. India and China had eventually built up a progressive relation for mutual growth and development over these years. Then what triggered the mishap on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) this year?
Did China want to take advantage of India fighting COVID-19? Or maybe it was a gimmick to alarm India to not join hands with The USA? Or was it something else; something more politicised and curtained than it appears?
The Government owes an explanation. The public sentiments may not be directly related to the border tension, but as a country we do pray for our soldiers, county's future, economic growth, scope of Government support, etc. and all these aspects of concern demand a rightful, crystal clear explanation.
These questions must be answered: can the Government tell us why relations with other countries have become only transactional? Why are there only trade deals, or monetary handshakes, why has the Government given a clean-chit to China and portrayed that China did not intrude into our territory?
After liberalisation, it was an era of development, economic progression, diplomatic peace initiatives and cooperative technological enhancement; which were all initiated by the Congress party government. India emerged as a powerful economy and improved relations with several countries. These were 'socio-political' and comprised of 'healthy nation-supportive deals'. This was working in favour of the country. The focus was on flourishing relations with all neighbours, to grow simultaneously, and side by side diplomatic missions were handled, too. History has seen how Rajiv Gandhi got a 'Digital Revolution' along with upgrades and advancement in the telecom industry. This revolution eventually fostered the country all through these years and brought it to where it stands today, a strong and powerful global IT hub.
Pandit Nehru took to the situation fairly while it was just 15 years after Independence, but the government today is leading India while it has been 73 years since Independence, yet the situation and relations have gotten worse. Last six years have witnessed a downfall in terms of 'progressive relations'; just shaking hands with one country and promoting it on television will not make it an achievement. The question is, after so many years, why has India suddenly is facing tension with neighbours? India's relations see a tinge, and a hint of friction now, with China, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Bhutan, which were moving toward a peaceful direction.
It seems like there has been confusion on how India should deal with China during the past six years. From the Chinese President's visit at Ahmedabad to the Doklam standoff are all an example of weak diplomacy. Similarly, after the Doklam standoff, going to Wuhan was an assertion of weakness too. More importantly, refusing the RCEP after years of negotiations reflects indecisiveness and hesitation. Not to miss out, we dumped SAARC and tried BIMSTEC ultimately focusing on ASEAN, which further led to a collapse of multilateral diplomacy and the creation of unfriendly relations with our neighbours.
We must think twice about falling into the US trap and analyse if it can be of any real help. The aim should simply be to avoid war with China for mutual benefits and global peace. What is needed is strong and successful diplomacy and statesmanship.
The Government has been playing a recorded series of breaking news on biased channels, which talk about everything, leaving apart the Indo-China situation or the reality of COVID-19 in India. We have a disadvantage of a very high illiteracy rate, most of the population believe what they hear, and thus, making the best use of this, the Government has projected the picture of - "China intruded one day, our army gave it back to them another day, few lives were lost, injuries caused, we blocked their digital applications, and one fine day they ran away". Is it practically possible and realistically true?
Most of the media doesn't show the real videos of the Galwan Valley/Siachen Post, where tension and discomfort are still prominent. We want to give direction to the eyes of the public who is unable to see reality. Not one news piece or announcement from the PM has seemed factually correct with respect to the border issue. Over so many years, the cordial relationship was maintained; now suddenly blocking applications and playing the tit-for-tat game is not going to benefit India. Harmony and progress had to come hand in hand or by planned eco-political ways, not with abrupt decision-making.
If we recap the whole situation, the Government was informed in February about the Chinese intrusion and the activity that was likely to happen. The Chinese encampment on the Indian side of the Galwan Valley with around 40 to 60 Chinese troops was not something to be ignored. The simple question is, 'why did we wait', 'why were we not prepared for this settlement', 'why did the situation become so tense that soldiers lost their lives, and the tension became big enough to invite war-like situations, especially when the nation is fighting against the deadly Coronavirus.
There has to be a very significant reason as to why China was given a 'clean-chit' and proclaimed to not have entered the Indian space. With this extreme ongoing situation, all that the PM said was the "enemies of India have seen the fire and fury of our forces", and warned that "India's commitment to peace should not be seen as its weakness". But the question is, was there a need to let the situation drift to such dreadful combat?
The Chinese digital applications have been banned proclaiming it to be a proud move to let China know that India is strong enough to answer back. Is this even a realistic move with a thoughtful economic motive? Out of the total import of $442 billion, India imported goods worth $62.3 billion from China during April-February FY 20.
Prime Minister's Atmanirbhar Bharat mission is still in infancy. Instead of proclaiming and announcing endlessly about Chinese digital-application blocking, India should have rather silently become 'self-reliant' in every aspect of trade and digitalisation, and then come out as a bigger, better and sturdy economy in front of the entire world.
Apart from imports, China is also a major destination for India's exports. Every year, India earns over $15 billion by exporting its goods to China. During April-February FY20, India exported goods worth $15.5 billion to China, which was 5.3 per cent of India's overall exports. Mineral fuel, mineral oil, and aquatic products are the main products that India exports to China. Considering the size of trade and cost competitiveness, a complete ban on Chinese products could end up raising costs for many products in India. Even if India becomes self-sufficient in these areas, such rebellious decision-making may not take India anywhere in the long run.
Clearly the Government has not applied any factual intelligence while taking such decisions. What seems like the future for India is a trade locked, border deadlocked, struggling to become a developed country, if we continue to implement such decisions.
Views expressed are personal