Prime Minister Modi’s statement at the All Party Meeting on 19 June ended up casting doubt on India’s own behaviour and claims along the LAC and actually encourages further Chinese assertiveness all along disputed sectors on the LAC as well as the temptation to open up fresh disputes.
China’s influence in Nepal has grown in recent years but in many instances, the Chinese have merely stepped into breaches created either by India’s inability to keep its promises or by its insensitivity.
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.
The pragmatic realism of the kind that the Indian foreign minister appeared to promote at the lecture actually falls short where China is concerned.
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.
In the second Modi term, New Delhi will have to do a better job than issuing statements on the BRI or ignoring it altogether and be willing to offer credible alternatives if it is retain any standing among its neighbours and further afield.
What does the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party say about China in national security terms?