Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The situation along the China-India border in Ladakh region is still tense. The disengagement process is proving difficult, and the latest meeting of the Corps Commanders has not resulted in any demonstrable progress regarding troop disengagement/de-escalation.

China’s objective

  • It appears that China is intent on managing the ground situation to its advantage, and bring about a realignment of the LAC.
  • If China does succeed, it could be for the first time that China has a foothold on the west side of the Kongka Pass.
  • What prompted China’s aggressive behaviour is unclear, but it had the effect of shredding the painstakingly devised Border Agreements of 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013.
  • China has shaken off its image as a ‘status quo power’, is intent on dominating the geostrategic space in its neighbourhood and across Asia, before embarking on its ambition to displace the United States as the Global ‘Number one’.
  • China has been inclined for long to nibble at territories in the western, middle and eastern segments of the border.

Raise the divisions

  • India should not be taken in by Western propaganda about China’s territorial ambitions, for China is well aware that it cannot be certain whether it will emerge a victor from an all-out conflict with India.
  • India’s strategic thinkers and planners should implement the plans to set up the Mountain Strike Corps divisions, which had been inexplicably shelved.

Go on a diplomatic offensive

  • India must go back to the drawing board and consider what are the ‘subtler tools’ of power available to it.
  • It is important to maintain a strong military but it is even more important to know when or how to use it.

Options:

  1. One of the options is Diplomacy – which is an equally indispensable instrument of a nation’s power.
    • Exploiting the current widespread opposition to China, India must embark on a diplomatic offensive to create international opinion in its support regarding border violations.
    • A diplomatic offensive, involving different Ministries of the Central government, business leaders, persons of international standing, etc., can achieve a great deal in convincing international opinion that India is right and China is wrong, as also in conveying a message about India’s peaceful intentions vis-à-vis China’s expansionist ambitions.
  2. India should also revitalise cultivation of foreign leaders with a view to draw their specific attention to China’s aggressive policies and designs. (India’s relationship with NAM needs to be revitalised.)
    • India previously also had a programme of helping countries across Asia and Africa through a well-designed technical aid programme which possibly still exists, but may need to be upgraded.
    • Such programmes not only provide an enduring link between India and these countries but also help contrast India’s ‘untied aid’ with that of countries such as China whose aims are political and economic subjugation.

Way Forward

  • At this time, India must pay particular attention to relations with countries in its neighbourhood, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, and allies such as Iran and Vietnam, which seem to have frayed at the edges, with India being more intent on strengthening relations with the West, especially the U.S., and bodies such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), or the informal strategic dialogue between the U.S., India, Japan, and Australia.
  • Smaller countries of Asia, which constantly face China’s aggressive interference in their internal affairs, have not received much support from India, and this needs India’s attention.
  • India’s true strength, over and above all this, is its unity in diversity – and China has not comprehended the innate value India attaches to reaching out to leaders of different religions, in particular the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, with no strings attached.
  • Simultaneously, India would do well to take pole position in propagating ‘Himalayan Buddhism’ which China has been seeking to subvert to achieve its ends.

-Source: The Hindu

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