Dealing with China on security and economic issues is crucial for India but even if “we are no pushover, we cannot get provocative,” asserted Centre for Policy Research New Delhi Visiting Professor G. Parthasarathy.
China is surrounding India with huge economic investments to strengthen its presence. Sri Lanka is in a debt trap after China funded mega infrastructure investments. Sri Lanka has handed over the Hambantota port in a debt-equity swap, which now poses a huge threat to India; in Pakistan, Nepal and Africa too China is investing in large infrastructure projects.
Pakistan could well go the way of Sri Lanka following the US $ 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which runs partly through a stretch that India claims as its own. Even Pakistan’s nuclear programme is essentially that of China’s, he said here on Saturday at an interaction organised by the Chennai International Centre.
China’s economy is five times India’s gross domestic product (GDP); it spends six to eight times more on defence.
“We should understand the challenge of China but it is not wise to confront any neighbour. For the next two decades we should focus on economic development,” he felt.
“Do what you have to do on security but avoid jingoism. Display strength without showing off,” he said.
India too has its strengths on the international stage such as in ASEAN, links to Japan including the trilateral India-Japan-US relations. On the western frontier it is perhaps the only country with good relations with all major players in the region including Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt. It has amicably settled maritime boundary issues with its neighbours.
But China’s claims on its boundaries are untenable under the international laws.
China recognises the need for economic interaction and understands it needs manufacturing facilities here. But our decision-making processes need to be speeded up. “We could lose a lot on the economic front because the Chinese move fast,” he said.
Sri Lanka relations
India has supported the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka with an unprecedented US $ 15 billion aid. It has provided Sri Lankan Tamils over 50,000 houses, 500 tractors, 10,000 bicycles, 90,000 farmer kits, 200 fishing boats and supported the SSI units, established rail links and renovated airports.
Indian media has to visit Jaffna to realise “what India has done for Sri Lanka”.
Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen have a tale of woe caused by the fishermen in Tamil Nadu. They lament that large trawlers from here disrupt their fishing grounds.
It is unforgivable that the Sri Lankan Navy killed a fisherman from here, he acknowledged.
Indian coastal states have a huge access to the Bay of Bengal. These states should develop their own deep sea fishing industry, which the centre is willing to support. “What can be achieved by daily confrontation?” he asked. The public has to be enlightened on this issue by the media, he felt.
(The Hindu Business Line)