The recent clash between India and china at Galwan Valley has nosedived relations between the two Asian nations. With the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, there is simmering anger in India against China. There has been a call for the economic boycott of China. Instead of becoming emotional about the so-called betrayal, we need to have a cool analysis of the historical mistakes committed by India. This is necessary so that as a nation, we understand where we are vis a’ vis China, which nations can be our potential allies. What strategies we need to adopt to balance growing asymmetries between India and China. It is very much important for a nation aspiring to be a permanent member of the Security Council.
Let’s have a look at the mistakes by India:
Historical Mistakes by INDIA:
1. Failure to protect TIBET
India and China got independence at almost the same time. India had much of the goodwill among the west due to it being a democracy. China, on the contrary, was facing western hostility for choosing communism. The first thing that Mao’s China did after coming to Power was to invade Tibet.
After a brief fight, Red Army liberated Potala Palace. Many army commanders had warned Nehru about Chinese intentions in Tibet, but he did not make any efforts to protect it. Even Sardar Patel in a letter warned Nehru about the loss of Tibet’s sovereignty and its future impact on India’s defences. However, Nehru not only ignored all this but also formally gave up all the special rights, which India had inherited since British times in Tibet. He also recognised Chinese claim over Tibet.[Read Here]
2. Ending of Isolation of China and giving it formal recognition
India was the first country outside the communist world to officially recognise the PRC. This simply emboldened PRC, while weakened the case for Taiwan led by Chiang Kai Shek. This was a major victory for China as it could claim to represent all the Chinese people. All this happened in the midst of the Korea war, which China was waging against the west, through its proxies in Korea. [Read here]
3. Demanding Permanent Representation for China in UNSC
This was the height of foolishness, and ludicrous to say the least, when India demanded, China to be made permanent UNSC member. Instead of fighting India’s battle to get UNSC seat, Nehru was busy lobbying for China. This has cost India dearly. Till today China has not appreciated India’s efforts for its UNSC seat. Instead, it has left no stone unturned to ensure India gets no representation at the global institutions. Be it NSG or UNSC, the loudest voice against India’s membership comes from the Middle Kingdom. [Read here]
4. Failure to strengthen India’s Defence
India under JL Nehru , failed to improve its armed forces for a future showdown with China. This was in spite of the fact, that all army generals, had warned about Communist CHINA’s expansionist Designs.[Read here]. Rather we were busy chanting “Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai”.
Failure of India’s China Policy came to the fore during the 1962 India China war. Poor leadership provided by political leaders and hand-picked generals ensured that India faced a humiliating defeat. The quality of leadership can be gauged from the fact that India did not use its Air force to attack invading red army and cut their supply lines in Tibet [Read here] The ostensible reason for not utilising powerful Air Force was that it might escalate Indo China war. This is nothing but bunkum. War had already been escalated by the Chinese and India had to use its forces to protect its sovereignty. However, incompetent political and military leadership allowed the country to be humiliated rather protect its national interests.
Instead, panicked Nehru rushed to the US, seeking help to bring India out of its miseries [Read here]. The US though did help, but it took its own pound of flesh. It forced Nehru to negotiate with Pakistan on Kashmir. Though nothing came out of the negotiations, yet it showed what might be in store for India in future.
After the 1962 defeat, VK Menon was made the scapegoat. The fact was just the opposite. It was Nehru’s lack of real politick, that did not allow him to look into the communist threat. The communist in Nehru ensured the sacrifice of national interests.
Mistakes after 1962:
Indian leaders after 1962 made some amends, but they did not completely change the course, which could have made India a stronger nation vis a’ vis China.
After 1962, India launched a massive expansion of its armed forces and strengthened its defences. This immediately showed its results. While Pakistan faced two consecutive defeats in 1965 and 1971 war, the victorious Red army of 1962, got a bloody nose in 1967 Indo China war. China had heavy casualties which further dissuaded Chinese to indulge in any misadventure against India, for at least the next two decades.
India has a habit of crying over spilt milk. India again went into a lull after breaking Pakistan in two parts in 1971. It, neither carried out any economic reforms, nor strengthened its border Infra across LAC.
China, on the other hand, was carrying out massive economic reforms under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping. Its improved relations with the USA ensured it had access to the US market for its industrial goods. Investments made by US companies ensured that China emerged as Factory of the world.
Major Mistakes by India in new millennia:
India has not promoted indigenisation of its weapons platforms. In spite of making loud proclamations of” Make In INDIA”, it still purchases a large number of its weaponry from foreign countries. This has an economic, strategic as well as militaristic implications:
a. First, it results in loss of economic opportunities for India.
India’s large educated workforce faces unemployment while our precious wealth is used to generate work in the west. This is modern Drain of wealth, happening largely due to our own incompetence and lack of long term thinking. [Read Here]
Besides, India also loses the opportunity to emerge as a defence export hub. Had India by now developed LCA Tejas, it would have surely been more than a match for F16, and Sukhoi. It would have had clientele in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam. But due to our craze for expensive foreign weapons, we have failed to develop a homegrown weapons system. India has paid a very heavy price for such sightedness.
Another connected thing which flows from this, is India’s inability to leverage its defence deals to achieve strategic objectives. Take, for instance, US Saudi relationship. The US provides a security umbrella, sells billions of weaponry to Saudi Arabia. In return, Saudi Arabia helps the US in checkmating Iran, and also keep a lid on radical elements.
If India had developed a similar relationship with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, it would have easily checked both Pakistan and China. Many Indian terrorists would not have found shelter in the gulf.
b. Constraints in the operation of Foreign policy:
Continuous dependence on foreign defence platform ensures that India has to placate one or the other major Power to get weapons supply. A case in point S-400 missile. India had to do hectic diplomacy to placate both Russia and US when tension between them was souring. [Read Here]
Economic Hara Kari:
India has failed to understand that a strong economy is the basis of a strong state. Instead of weakening China economically, India played an important role in strengthening it, without getting anything significant in return.
China became a member of WTO in 2001. It was a long-drawn process, and India as a founding member of WTO could have thrown a spanner in China’s entry to WTO. However, India wholeheartedly welcomed China’s entry in WTO in the hope that India would get access to the Chinese market. But the Chinese are masters of deception. They ensured the Indian market was flooded with “Made in China” products, while India got a big Zero from China.
This can be seen from the increasing trade deficits between India and China. It stands at a whopping $48 billion. [Read Here]. This is akin to paying our own murderer. China, through the process of currency manipulation, regulation, and opacity ensured large export volume to India . At the same time, denying the same market to India in China.
India continues to make strategic blunders against China repeatedly. A case in point is India’s acceptance of Tibet as part of PRC in 2003 [Read Here]. This was a significant deviation from earlier policies. India should have used Tibet to pressurise China to fall in line. However, it failed to do so. It has never made strategic use of His holiness Dalai Lama. A wiser India could have made life difficult for China by recognising Dalai Lama as the official head of Tibet. Instead, India started discouraging Dalai Lama from any Political activities. India’s appeasement would have surely brought tears in the eyes of Neville Chamberlain who was on a bigger peace mission with Natzi Germany. China, on the contrary, continued to bleed India by hook or crook.
It has repeatedly supported Insurgencies in India, be it Assam or Mizoram [Read Here]. The fugitive ULFA leader Paresh Barua continues to find shelter in China. Similarly, by providing nuclear weapons to Pakistan, China ensured India had a permanent headache to deal with. India, on the other hand, has failed to provide support to Xinjiang, or Tibetan activists. Instead, it continues to surrender whatever leverage it has in the hope that china becomes reasonable.
India has been needlessly sticking to “one China Policy” and has not established full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Indians must ask themselves what they have got in return by sticking to this out-dated principle. It benefits no one except China. China has not recognised Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India.
On the contrary, it continues to make claims on Laddakh, Arunachal, Sikkim and various other Himalayan regions. India never even tried to have “One India Policy” as reciprocal for “ One China Policy”. Result of this lacklustre policy is in front of us.
Similarly, the policy of not developing infrastructure on border areas has come back to haunt India. This was done to ensure that the invading Chinese army would have a hard time attacking the Indian Territory. However, the Chinese were far-sighted. They developed infrastructure in their border areas and started making regular incursions in Indian Territory. They chipped away small pieces of India by salami-slicing while India was debating whether or not to develop infrastructure in border areas.
This suicidal policy was changed with the coming of Narendra Modi in 2014, and this has increased the pace of infrastructure development. This is the main cause of increasing conflicts between India and China.
Failure to build up a global alliance against China:
India has time and again failed to build and join the global alliance to take on China. There has been much talk of QUAD ( INDIA, AUSTRALIA, US, JAPAN) to make coordinated economic, military and strategic policies to counter China. However, it has become a non-starter due to India’s reluctance least it might hurt Chinese sensitivities [Read Here].
Similarly, India has not provided Military support to Vietnam for fear of antagonising China. It could have supplied it with Brahmos, and other modern weaponry to tackle Chinese threat in the south China sea [Read Here].
China, on the contrary, has no such qualms regarding India. It considers India as an enemy which needs to be crushed ruthlessly. This can be seen in its support to MassodAzhar in UN. Similarly, China is the main hurdle in India’s entry to NSG(Nuclear Suppliers Group). Simultaneously it provides massive support to Pakistan in the form of the economic package, military hardware and nuclear weapons.
Chinese String of pearls strategy and OBOR(One belt One road) is the natural extension of its desire to impose hegemony and be the global power centre.
If India desires to have a rightful place in the comity of the nations as wished by our founding fathers, it must make quick corrections in its China policy. It urgently needs to adopt a comprehensive policy to work on economic, strategic, social, and political fronts.
Kautilya in his famous treatise “Arthashastra” has rightfully said कोष मूलो दण्ड. The stronger the economy, the stronger is the nation. One of the reasons behind the rise of China is the solid foundation provided by the powerful economy. India can adopt the following economic measures to bleed China:
The policy of Economic Boycott
This has been the time tested measure to weaken an adversary. From Napolean Bonaparte to present-day China, all have used this tactic to hit their adversaries hard. In fact, some years ago, China banned the export of rare earth metal to japan to arm-twist it. Japan had to fall in line over the issue of senkaku islands. [Read Here]
India should learn some from Chinese playbook. India urgently needs to control rising trade balance vis-à-vis China. CAIT (Confederation of All India Traders) has prepared a list of 500 Chinese items, which can be immediately replaced with Indian ones. This will massively hurt China. These substitutes of Chinese products must be propagated at war footing. Later on, this trade war can be extended in other areas as well.
Restriction to Chinese Firms
Both Union and state government have an important role in developing physical infrastructure. The simple measure of banning Chinese firm will go a long way, hitting China where it hurts the most. Suitable conditions can be incorporated in the tenders to disallow Chinese Companies. Some naysayers will say it may escalate the cost of infra development, China will drag us to WTO, blah blah. A careful analysis will reveal these concerns are not valid ones.
Let’s look into higher cost argument. Every Chinese company that bags a billion rupee contract, create jobs in China. While Indian youths remain unemployed, GOI (Government of India) also loses on revenue to Chinese companies. Thus, it carries a hidden social and economic cost, which we are not figuring.
Next comes the WTO (World trade Organization) argument of not providing level playing field. First, it must be understood that in times of Corona, WTO is already on ventilator. As all the major countries are closing their economies, WTO is nothing but a dead horse.
Supposedly, if China takes any trade matter to WTO, due to unfair trade practices, India can retaliate by citing denial of Chinese Market to Indian IT companies, and unfair trade practices.
India can prolong the justice process in WTO. It takes close to 15 months to finalize appeals in WTO. India can drag it further. By that time China would have been brought to its knees and dare not mess with INDIA. The whole point of economic warfare is to bleed China to make it incapable for any future mischief.
Complete Banning of Chinese apps
One wonders what stops the Indian government from developing a home-based ecosystem to produce indigenous TIK- Tok, Twitter, and MI Browser. Whole Indian Bureaucracy is using China-made Cam Scanner like anything and going gaga over giant strides made towards “Digital India” [Read Here].
We consider ourselves very smart while our whole scanned information is going into the hands of Chinese day in day out. We may or may not have achieved the objectives of “Digital India mission” but China must have succeeded in its “Leaking India Mission”.
Apps like Cam Scanner, TikTok act as an espionage tools and extract information from Indian Users. GOI (Government of India) must urgently host Tech Fests across India and develop an alternative to these Chinese Apps. It must support these newly developed indigenous apps to the hilt.
This will ensure the coming of a New Generation of self-made Technopreneurs. Besides this, it will provide data safety to Indians as well as increase revenue for the nation. It will fire animal spirits of Indians who will develop more and more global tech products.
Securing Indian Communication
Huwaei is the global leader in communication Technology. Before Corona epidemic, there were even whispers in government circle of allowing it in the trial of 5G communication technology [Read Here]. If that had happened, it would’ve been suicidal for us. Whole security of communication network would have been compromised. Huwaei is nothing but the front of the Chinese Communist Party. India must develop its own indigenous 5G Technology. With government support, it can be done within a reasonable period of time. Such indigenous Technology can also be launched in African and Latin American Countries bringing in significant revenue and generating goodwill for India.
Shun the One China Policy
India should urgently shun “one China policy”. Instead, it must establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Naysayers in Delhi will oppose it for fear of antagonizing China. But hasn’t China already been antagonized with India’s rise and its refusal to submit to China’s diktat. It must be understood that no national policy is cast in stone. It changes in accordance with nation’s requirements.
Revocation of “One China Policy” by India will send loud enough message to Beijing to mend its ways.
Let’s make a quick analysis of likely consequences of reversal of “one China Policy”
First, Middle kingdom will indulge in bravado; it will issue warnings of dire consequences. Then, there will be one or two defense deals with Pakistan. Next, Beijing’s Paid hirelings in Indian media will run a report or two about coming downfall of Narendra Modi, and India’s immediate take over by Red Army. After that, Chinese mouthpiece “Global Times” will call for economic retaliation against India.
All this is nothing but bunkum. Beijing has already been trying all the tricks against India. At most it will try to break off diplomatic relations and impose some trade restrictions on India. If and when that happens, it will be a blessing in disguise for India, while China will pay for its follies.
How it will happen, let’s check it out:
First, it will free India from WTO obligations and reduce India’s trade with China. That will hurt China more than India. As of today, India’s trade deficit with China has already crossed $48 Billion Dollar.
As it is said every crisis is an opportunity, Indian manufacturing will get a boost by being self reliant.
India will get a huge investment from Taiwan which has remained very limited due to little diplomatic contacts between the two. This will make “Atmanirbhar mission” achievable. Indians will also be able to set up shop there. Thus, it will be a win-win situation for both.
Next, it will expose China in international diplomacy as nothing but a bluff. China will be like that of Bakasur of Mahabharat who would kill people by threatening them. But as soon as Bheemsen challenged him, he turned out to be a rat. By taking a cue from India, other nations will also recognise Taiwan. This will end its global isolation and weaken middle Kingdom Further.
Besides this, India may also get a market for its defence products like Brahmos, LCA in Taiwan. This will open a new front against China and help India gaining a foothold in Taiwan.
Last but not least, an internationally integrated Taiwan will always be an eyesore for China. China will consume its major energy to bring it down and integrate it. This will take away pressure from India. Meanwhile, India can focus on economic growth and development. This will also reduce the nuisance value of Pakistan as it will be economically bankrupt without China’s Support. Chances of its future misadventure will be significantly reduced.
Make strategic alliances
India needs to learn some lessons from history. Napoleon Bonaparte could not defeat the combined European forces. His empire came to an abrupt end. Similarly, India needs to join hands with other nations to checkmate China. It must sink its out-dated Non Alignment policy in the Pacific Ocean to join the pacific country club of Quad. This club of INDIA, AUSTRALIA, US and Japan will work as a check against rogue China.
Some old Nehruvian hawks would make a hue and cry against any suggestion of joining the US-led alliance. But we must remember that it’s the best way to challenge Chinese.
India must completely come out of cold war distrust of the US and think of the 21st century. We must also remember that in politics, interests are permanent, neither friends nor enemies. India and other QUAD members will jointly formulate policies, to safeguard their interests.
Make Enemy’s Enemy your ally
India should put Chanakya advice of making friend of enemy’s enemy into use. It must extend its relations with Vietnam, and Korea. Vietnam has been demanding Brahmos Missiles from India. India should start supplying Brahmos to Vietnam. Tackling a supersonic missile nation will be a major headache for China.
This relationship can be further extended by exporting LCA TEJAS, DHANUSH artillery guns, PINAKA rocket launchers and marine ships.
This also makes economic sense for India. India will get a huge market for its newly developed defence industry. These defence products can, later on, be supplied to other interested, friendly nations. Think of billions of rupee and millions of jobs being created at home by defence exports.
Collaboration to tackle Water War
World’s major rivers like Brahmaputra, Mekong, and Irrawaddy originate in Tibetan Plateau. World’s 1/3rd population is dependent on these rivers. In essence, these rivers act as a lifeline for people in India, China, and South-East Asia. China, through its dam-building spree, has been trying to change the course of these rivers. China has also been trying to use water as a weapon to flood Lower riparian states. This has caused great resentment in Myanmar, Vietnam etc.
India should make full use of this opportunity by working in sync with these states. A beginning can be made by sharing real-time satellite data about rivers with these states by India. Intelligence about Chinese activities in Tibet can also be shared. Later on, these states can be persuaded to join hands for the economic boycott of Chinese products. This will act as a check against imperialist China and stop it from further controlling river flow.
India needs to urgently adopt both offensive and defensive measures to tackle Chinese threats.
Infrastructure Building in Border Areas
India must fasten the pace of infra building in border areas. With the coming of Narendra Modi in 2014, this has been a major focus area for GOI. One of the major reasons for the clash in Galwan valley is India’s fast infra push there. India needs to quickly provide railroad air connectivity to border areas.
This will ensure faster troops mobilisation and allow armed forces to quickly respond to any Chinese incursion.
Develop a home-based Indigenous defence system
Purchase of foreign weapons platforms like Rafale, S-400, etc. has been one of the major weaknesses of the Indian security system. India must become Atmanirbhar in Defence. No nation which aspires to be a superpower can afford to have the distinction of Second largest arms importer in the world.[Read Here]. It should start a long term program of development of critical weapons technology.
Armed forces must be clearly told not to chase expensive foreign toys. Instead, they should provide man, material and machine support for local weapons development. It is only due to Armed forces’ apathy to DRDO, that India has not become self-sufficient in weapons technology.
India must make the best use of available weaponry. We must remember the old adage that the best weapon is not, which your adversary has, rather the one which you have. This was recently proved when a 2nd generation Indian MIG 21 shot down 4th generation F16.
Exploit China’s Achilles’ heel
India must make full use of China’s internal weakness. Tibet and Xinjiang are China’s Achilles’ heel. India has never made full use of it. Instead, India has discouraged talking about Tibet in order to please China.
India must raise the voice of Tibetans across the Globe, by providing logistical, monetary support to Tibetan freedom Fighters. Thus, India will be able to turn tables on China. Chinese army will be busy in quelling dissidents in Tibet. This will give India enough breathing space to strengthen its defence and economy.
Similarly, India must provide support to Xinjiang or East Turkestan freedom fighters. Some may object to this as it has radical Islamic underpinnings.
But we must understand that no Islamic country in the world is worried about them. It is all power play, pure and simple. India must join this game to hurt China. However, It must be done carefully least it brings further radicalism in India. India should start giving refuge to Xinjiang dissidents with the condition that they do not indulge in any religious or political activities inimical to Indian interests.
Such support will further add fuel to separatists’ fire in China. This will further drain out Beijing’s energy.
Cultural diplomatic measures:
China is the only remaining major autocratic country. Some people may name Russia, but it’s at the most a semi-democratic nation. People brought up in Stalin’s time would find today’s Russia to be a heaven.
China maintains an iron grip over its people’s voice through control over the internet, and social media. With the following of economic war, its economic growth is likely to suffer. This is bound to promote social unrest.
India’s biggest allies in the fight against China are common Chinese people. They are the biggest victims of corruption and thuggery of Chinese Thug Party (CTP). [Chinese communist party is nothing but party of thugs which indulges in thuggery, and robs its own people.] However, this dissatisfaction has not reached critical mass. This is because CTP is able to purchase people’s loyalty by giving them promise of prosperous lifestyle. Whatever opposition remains there, it is managed by goons working in judiciary, police and media. To break this alliance, India needs to adopt a grand social strategy
Liberalised Visa regime
India has already liberalised its visa policy. It needs to be made more attractive. [Read Here].They should visit the whole of Buddha Circuit sites. This will help in building cultural connect in a common Chinese with India.
Aggressive promotion of India’s soft power
India needs to aggressively promote Yog, Ayurved, classical Music, and Samskrit in China. Indian embassy should get millions of mandarin translated copies of Mahabharat distributed in China. This will again increase India’s soft power quotient in China. In a way, this will strengthen more than a thousand-year-old bond between India and China.
Promote Mandarin and develop think tanks
India does not have many mandarin speakers and Chinese think tanks. Mandarin learning should be promoted in schools and colleges. This will help in getting deep insights into China. Development of think tanks will further help in formulating long term strategy.
As and when China’s economy slows down, massive social unrest will arise there, which will internally weaken China. Such mass uprisings will pose question mark over CTP’s existence. It might pave the way for a reformed China free of deadly power poison. Such China will be much better for the world. In essence, India needs to understand the reality of Power in diplomacy and international relations. It must do everything from launching economic warfare to causing social unrest, to strengthening armed forces to joining hands with Xinjiang separatists, in order to secure its interests. This duel is going to be a long one which will also cost Indians. We must also remember that no nation has become greater without the sacrifice of at least a generation of its Citizens. Surely, a nation of billion people deserves much better than this.