The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced India to accept foreign aid – including from the Chinese Red Cross – for the first time in 16 years. For Indians of a certain persuasion, there is a particular shame in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Indian government having to seek foreign aid. For their worldview comprises a mix of various resentments against the perceived outsider – Muslims, Westerners/Christian missionaries, Chinese/atheists. Indeed, the strength of articulation of the vishwaguru trope lies precisely in this reality and the need to have something that is apparently of India’s ‘own’ to offer.
Presentation: “Indian Public Opinion and Sino-Indian Relations: Causes and Consequences,” India-China Interface, Department of Foreign Languages – Chinese, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, 10 January 2011.
Summary: Former Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi’s statement reiterating the Chinese claim over Arunachal on the eve of his President, Hu Jintao’s visit to India in November 2006 might have been the unintentional starting point for a new phase in Sino-Indian relations. Unintentional, because the play that the Chinese envoy’s ordinary, entirely unsurprising statement received in the Indian media, marked the beginning of a heightened popular Indian awareness and engagement with China, that now has perhaps begun to contribute or inform to some extent to New Delhi’s engagement at the higher political level with Beijing. The impact of popular opinion on Sino-Indian relations is nothing new however. In the run-up to the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962 and subsequently, popular feelings played an important role constraining the government’s freedom of action and in encouraging political players to make rash statements and promises. There are of course several differences with the present and it is these differences – their reasons and their implications – that will be examined in greater detail.
- Public Opinion pre-1962
- Government Clampdown post-1962
- China’s Rise
- India’s Rise
- Rise of Indian Television Media and the Globetrotting Indian