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- On July 21, 2020 External Affairs Minister of India Sh. Jaishankar had said,“India will never join any alliance system in the future too just as it never did in the past. He also said that the growth of China in the past more than three decades was much more rapid than that of India and that this “gap” between the two countries has certain “implications.” He also conceded that there was an element of bipolarity between the United States and China in today’s multilateral world.” Later on 23 July 2020 while speaking at the India Idea Summit with Mike Pompeo the EAM had said, “The US really has to learn to work in a more multipolar world with more plurilateral arrangements, go beyond alliances with which it has grown up in the last two generations.” Mike Pompeo responded by highlighting the Chinese aggression. He responded by saying that, “India and the US are the oldest and most prosperous democracies with common stakes in the Indo – Pacific and it’s important that democracies like ours work together.” While the statement of our External Affairs Minister does not convey our willingness to joining a US led alliance in so many words, it does leave a scope for a more robust arrangement between India and countries disposed favourably towards India. On the otherhand to appease China we have stated our opposition to the idea of alliances. Are these mixed diplomatic signals to world community? If yes then we need to do a rethink. Even the minister suggested that the world order post COVID has rapidly moved towards bipolarity with China emerging as the opposing pole to the US. Given India’s new normal relationship of “No War No Peace” post the Galwan incident, India probably needs to redefine its future course of action as far as our international relations are concerned. This becomes even more vital if we take into consideration the Chinese internal mood reflected in the Global Times news item of July 29, 2020 which states that move to decouple the economy from China will be self-defeating. It goes on to add a veiled threat to India when it states that economies such as the US and Japan due to their inherent technological strength may be able to overcome the Chinese dependence but would be counterproductive as far as India is concerned. While the statement may be true in the short-term it needs to be viewed from a long term perspective. Remember we were isolated post the 1998 Pokharan blasts but emerged out of it more stronger and robust economically as well as in rocket technology. We need to find new partners and alliances and build our indigenous capability.
- Continued intransigence on the part of China, veiled economic threat and deceptive military position with reference to disengagement and de-induction does not offer a good prognosis as far as India – China relations are concerned. We need to find an alternative to the USD 100 billion bilateral trade. Options in form of Japan, South Korea, Russia, Europe and the USA have to be pursued in right earnest. For this to realise we may have to cut corners in the beginning but stand firmly on our resolve to become China independent economically. As far as managing the current crisis in the short term, we need to look for strategic signals whether he wishes to remain through the winter along the current line of occupation or withdraw just before the onset of winters as for China to sustain through the winters it needs to make additional preparation. Activities to do so by the Chinese must remain in our surveillance radar or else we get surprised once more. In any case we need to cater for the worst case scenario and assume that the Chinese are going to stay put and accordingly prepare ourselves. We need to go beyond the existing policy vis a vis China of competition, cooperation and conflict to no war – no peace mode or should we say managing a cold war between India and China. Indian must look at firming in alliances, decoupling the economy with China by approaching alternative partners and building critical military capabilities related to land, air and maritime systems. Such actions can best be achieved through alliances and not through balancing. At the same time we must firm in our strategic capabilities and plans to meet any eventualities. We should not get caught off guard as has been the case in the past, sometimes due to repeated strategic intelligence failures and sometimes due to excessive trust on our adversaries; who are well known to go back on their words and written commitments. It is time now that the nation decides whether our balancing act will hold good or we need to go for alliances when clearly the dragon is building one against us. We must watch out for a Chinese action either in Arunachal or Bhutan or even through their all-weather vassal state Pakistan in J&K or the rest of India. In the same breath we need to be careful of any maritime misadventure by China with Hambantota, Gwaddar and soon to be under its control Chabahar ports coming under the Chinese influence. Bottom line, we should not get surprised once again.