Rethinking the China-Pakistan-India Triangle

It has been suggested that New Delhi’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was an ‘extraordinary exercise in realpolitik’, that the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘is not easily rattled by disapproving noises at home or abroad’. One analyst referring to China’s opposition put it rather colourfully that Beijing behaved ‘not as an enlightened power but as a strategic small-timer, with the petty, perfidious and short-termist mindset of a Pyongyang dictator or a Rawalpindi general’.

Not being ‘rattled’ is a good thing and as it should be. However, the ‘exercise in realpolitik’ is not all on the one side and nor indeed, the petty behaviour of a ‘strategic small timer’ with a ‘short-termist mindset’. India is just as guilty and another Indian commentator has, in fact, analysed the NSG episode as an example of India lacking in Kautilyan attributes.Read More »

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Of Perceptions and Policies

Book Review: Shishir Gupta, The Himalayan Face-Off: Chinese Assertion and the Indian Riposte (Gurgaon: Hachette India, 2014).

Shishir Gupta says clearly at the beginning that the ‘book is not about China but its policies and mindset towards India as perceived by the top Indian leadership, political parties and the public’ (p. xi). Within this framework he tries to give an organized picture of the ebb and flow of Sino-Indian relations during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. While the coverage ends sometime in 2013 well before the UPA regime ended its tenure, the change of regime in New Delhi does not materially alter the nature of relations with China and Gupta by highlighting in his title, the fact that there has been an ‘Indian Riposte’ to ‘Chinese Assertion’ deserves full credit for standing out from the crowd and differing with general public perception of the UPA government’s tenure as being one of inaction and incompetence when it came to China policy. Whatever the UPA’s sins of omission or commission in its domestic politics or in its foreign policy in general, on China policy at least, a combination of focused political and military leadership and competent bureaucratic support ensured that the new NDA regime will find little to change except to provide greater direction, resources and speed and perhaps, with the backing of majority in Parliament, bolder engagement or even, out-of-the-box solutions to resolving ‘The Himalayan Face-off’.Read More »

What the Henderson Brooks Report Really Says

Originally published as जबिन टी. जैकब, ‘नाकामी पर नई निगाह’, Dainik Jagran (Delhi), 23 March 2014, p. 10.

Large sections of the Henderson Brooks-Prem Bhagat Report of the inquiry into the Indian army’s 1962 defeat were recently released online by Neville Maxwell, a former India correspondent of a British newspaper. The release affords us an opportunity to reconsider some questions about both the Indian conduct of the conflict and the nature of policymaking in this country.

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Sino-Indian Relations: Beyond Symbolism and Beyond Belligerence

Published as जैबिन टी जैकब, ‘युद्धोन्माद से परे देखें भारत-चीन रिश्ते को’, Business Bhaskar, 13 November 2013.

Original text in English follows below

भारतीय प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह की अक्टूबर मध्य में चीन की यात्रा और चीनी प्रधानमंत्री ली केक्यांग की मई में भारत की यात्रा पर गौर करें तो यह पहली बार हुआ है कि दोनों देशों के शीर्ष नेता एक ही साल में एक-दूसरे के यहां गए हैं। ली की यात्रा के समय देपसांग में करीब तीन हफ्ते तक जारी घुसपैठ का मामला सामने आया था,

तो सिंह के दौरे के समय दो अरुणाचली तीरंदाजों तीरंदाजों (खिलाडिय़ों) को चीन में एक प्रतिस्पर्धा में हिस्सा लेने के लिए जाते समय नत्थी वीजा दिए जाने का मामला सामने आया। लेकिन सच तो यह है कि भारत-चीन रिश्ते को न तो इस तरह के प्रतीकवाद और न ही युद्धोन्माद सही मायने में पेश करते हैं।

उदाहरण के लिए यह याद रखना महत्वपूर्ण है कि चीन में कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के महासचिव और चीन जनवादी गणतंत्र के राष्ट्रपति के रूप में शी जिनपिंग का ओहदा ली केक्यांग से ऊंचा है। इसी प्रकार यह तथ्य भी ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि चीनियों ने मनमोहन सिंह का अच्छा स्वागत किया है जिनकी शायद प्रधानमंत्री के रूप में यह अंतिम चीन यात्रा साबित हो।

यह तथ्य किसी से छुपा नहीं है कि सिंह ऐसी सरकार का प्रतिनिधित्व कर रहे हैं जो अपने घर में विश्वसनीयता के संकट का सामना कर रही है, इसे देखते हुए भारत एवं चीन के बीच किसी तरह की सौदेबाजी कठिन और दुष्प्राप्य थी।

दोनों महाशक्तियों के बीच रिश्ते को स्थानीय घटनाओं, क्षेत्रीय पर्यावरण और वैश्विक परिस्थितियों, इन सबका एक साथ असर होता है। Read More »

Rising India’s Foreign Policy: A Partial Introduction

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, “Rising India’s Foreign Policy: A Partial Introduction,” in D. Suba Chandran and Jabin T. Jacob (eds.), India’s Foreign Policy: Old Problems, New Challenges (New Delhi: Macmillan, 2011): 1-22.


Current Indian foreign policy is informed by a realization that a combination of economic reforms and the end of the Cold War has steered India into a position of some considerable influence in the post-9/11 world. This is influence of a kind that India did not have in the years following Independence. What India had then was a moral standing which it could make little use of, boxed in as it was by the contingencies of a Cold War division of the world. This division allowed very little leeway for the Indian policy of non-alignment, which ended up being not so much an alternative as a means of holding the line, until India could find itself in a more favourable geopolitical situation. Further, unlike in the post-Independence phase, India today often appears reluctant to exercise what influence it has outside South Asia and sometimes even within the region, keenly aware of the several continuing limits on its capabilities and having suffered from blowback on the few occasions it did, as was the case most tragically, in the assassination of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Even as some old problems continue to keep India off-balance in international affairs, notably the issue of Kashmir, the world has also not stood still and new problems – both traditional and non-traditional – have emerged that have required India to step up and take a position on. These have included the fall of the monarchy and the ascension of the Maoists in Nepal in the immediate neighbourhood, the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme in the extended neighbourhood, and issues of global import such as climate change. And all this, even as the Indian foreign policy establishment remains woefully ill-equipped and understaffed to meet these challenges. What then are the patterns of Indian foreign policy behavior in the new century?

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