In Sino-Indian relations, it would appear that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Or do they?
2012 was still young when another ‘visa issue’ cropped up between China and India. This time the Chinese refused a visa to an Indian Air Force officer from Arunachal Pradesh slated to leave for China as part of a 30-member Indian military delegation. Contrary to expectations, however, the visit actually carried on with the delegation being halved in size and the IAF officer in question one of the 15 who were dropped. One can wonder about the wisdom of deliberately including an Arunachali in any delegation to China when the person is sure to run into a (great) wall. But perhaps this was, as is normal in the practice of statecraft, simply a testing of the waters? Read more
I never imagined that there would come the day when I would go to Kerala, my home state, for a conference on Sino-Indian relations – which come to think of it, is rather strange given the long historical connections Kerala has had with China. (But it is maybe not so strange when one considers the poor quality of higher education in Kerala.) The initiative for the conference held in December 2011 and supported by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Ministry of External Affairs and the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), was taken by a senior of mine from the Centre for East Asian Studies, JNU, Dr. CR Pramod, now a lecturer at the Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, which hosted the conference.
I suppose it’s a sign of the pace of change in Sino-Indian relations or at least of the quantum jump in the level of interest in China in India, that conferences on Sino-Indian relations are being held in places so far from New Delhi. In fact, I believe the future of China Studies in India and any hope for balance in Indian perceptions of China, lies in taking China Studies outside Delhi to the other metros and smaller towns, so that more ordinary Indians have a chance to participate in the making of China policy, and a greater variety and number of views and ideas are generated – more on this, at some point in the future.
For now, the presentation I made at this conference was an attempt at conceptualizing Sino-Indian relations since 2005, when the landmark Agreement on Guiding Principles and Political Parameters was signed between the two countries. I argue that Sino-Indian relations have since then entered a period of flux certainly but for all that they remain on even keel. At the same time, there is a real element of learning and progress in the relationship – what I call shifting equilibrium.
For a slightly modified version of the the presentation I made, largely in bullet points see JabinTJacob-SinoIndRelations2005-ShiftingEquilibrium