The overall mood has changed. A pall of weariness threatens to engulf India, even as dark clouds of aggression at the border make us squirm apprehensively. One of the many sly-cum-strategic goals of China seems to be on the verge of unnerving us.
The unequivocal focus right now in our nation ought to have been economic revival and growth, along with fighting the pandemic. Plausible plans were set afoot to wean a generous slice of the global manufacturing cake from China’s clutches and refurbish our own weak manufacturing base. The mood was upbeat. Initial strokes of optimism and determination-to-grow had just graced the canvas, and China played its master-stroke.
The signs which looked bullish in April now look grim. The battle with Corona is nowhere near conclusion and China strategizes to wean our precious resources away from our economic agenda. Companies which wanted to pull out of China and were just about considering India are now wary. The economy is teetering precariously at the brink of being cast aside feverishly as ‘junk’. China will go all out to thwart an ambitious and strong India. This was the mission. The overtures clearly hint at a psychological battle of nerves.
Yes, China keeps its skirmishes and aggressive nuances active at multiple fronts, while also keeping its pockets full so that scholarships, funding of health and infrastructure programs and debts may be doled out where aggression is a waste of energy. In more than two dozen instances, it asserts territorial claims aggressively and in another two dozen instances, it seeks to firmly solidify its all-pervasive soft power status. It’s one hand is dipped in its pocket full of money, and the other is at the trigger. If there are any obstacles or opposition on the way, which threaten its ambitions, a honey-laced debt trap clears the path, or else, the trigger is pulled and shots fired.
China’s concerns for the happiness of its own people; its armed personnel; the human rights and freedoms of its own people or concern for larger global values and worries– pale (if there is, in fact, even an iota of such concerns) in comparison to its giant and inexhaustible geo-political ambitions.
The Doklam standoff in August 2017 too was timed cleverly, so that India’s refusal to join the Belt Road Initiative did not encourage other wavering nations to follow suit and to ensure that our stand did not place us on a moral high-ground in international politics. There was aggression; there were menacing overtures and brazen accusations in that standoff too. One wonders, though, if China really believes that it can and that it would engage in an actual all-out war? With another nuclear-power? China may be accused of slyness, certainly not naivety.
The key to counter China lies in focusing not on the action that is happening right in front but the key is in not falling a prey to its subversive strategies by dropping our ongoing socio-political and economic activity at all fronts and spending all energies in countering the claims, threats and jingoism.
The aggressive posture and sinister threats over Galwan Valley are timed strategically so that any attempts made by India to grow robust and put its economy back on track are derailed big time. Mercifully, the PM and the key Cabinet colleagues are not falling into the booby trap by not resorting to jingoism. The PM has asserted our stand and the armed forces have instilled confidence by signaling its readiness but thankfully, a political tamasha has not been allowed to hijack what ought to be our plan of action. Later, even if electoral compulsions at some time demand the jeering and sneering and sloganeering against China, the train would have moved ahead. Right now, we need to quietly and confidently assert our stand. We need to take tough economic measures to correct the adverse GDP-debt ratio. We need to go on doing all that we can to revive our industry and business. There is a lesson or two which can be learned from China itself. Right now, they would not be the least bogged down by what is happening at the border with India. Unmindful of how the world is currently perceiving China in the midst of this pandemic, they would be going about, brusquely pushing their economic and territorial agenda all over the world, flooding the world with masks, ventilators and the usual million other items, while also flushing millions in the media and think-tanks the world over and not neglecting one bit its iron grip over domestic politics, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Their media is not raising any rhetoric on the Galwan standoff. Their citizenry certainly hasn’t lost a wink over it. This art of just going about doing what one must, on a war-footing and staying focused, oblivious to any distractions, is the strategy we ought to master.
Strengthening our diplomatic overtures with the big powers and those others which are being hassled and aggressively pushed to the wall by China, while focusing more steadfastly than ever on reviving the economy—can salvage us and up the ante in this battle of psychology.
Author: Navniit Gandhi
The Author is an academic, freelance feature writer and an author. One of the books authored by her is titled: National Security: Emerging Dimensions and Threats.