The coronavirus epidemic and its fallout globally must also remind us of the economic opportunities that India has not been able to exploit in its undeclared competition with China.
Freedom of speech and the diversity of opinion that it engenders are not a reflection of seditious tendencies endangering state security even if they might threaten the regime in power.
Indian citizens could perhaps learn much from the Taiwanese election campaign, where various civic groups actively fact-checked each candidate’s speech and confronted them in real time over inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
Given that China has both more money than India and diplomatic capacity that matches that of the US, it will remain a significant player in Sri Lanka.
There appears to be a lack of willingness by the Indian government to call China out publicly on its double standards and its unmet promises even as it continues to be obliquely referred to as a concern by several BJP leaders.
India will need to match China with a capable and expanded foreign service working in coordination with political parties, business communities, intellectual elites and its diaspora but also display adherence to values that are genuinely attractive to the peoples of other nations to push an ‘Indian model’ of politics and development that can challenge the Chinese one.
Indian news media while free to publish what they wish to also have a responsibility to their audiences and to themselves to not offer column space to the Chinese (or anyone else) for grandstanding or the misrepresentation or selective presentation of facts.
The Indian and Chinese governments have set their ties a very low bar of achievement talking essentially soft issues like cultural exchanges which are low-hanging fruit but which are unlikely to help repair in a hurry the high degree of bilateral political mistrust
While economic diplomacy is the mainstay, China’s maritime presence in the Middle East is also growing and together these support a clear and strong political message on China’s domestic and foreign policy interests that countries in the region are reluctant to contest.