The political establishments in both India and China must coolly think about a serious question: Is there a military solution to the boundary dispute? The answer is obvious. Neither China can realise all its territorial claims by defeating India in a war, nor can India do the same. Any war will be calamitous for both countries. When this is the unalterable reality, the only option is for the political leaders in both New Delhi and Beijing to engage in sustained a dialogue not only on how to arrive at a permanent settlement of the boundary dispute, but also how to expand and deepen win-win cooperation?
After all, cooperation creates trust, and trust helps in finding solutions to contentious issues. We must also remember here that, as two ancient civilizational nations, both India and China have inherited a large reservoir of spiritual wisdom. This wisdom, if only we care to tap it, will surely guide our two countries in the right direction. It was Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation and one of the wisest men the world has produced in modern times, who wrote in 1942: “I long for the day when a free India and a free China will co-operate together in friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the good of Asia and the world.”
Not ‘Two Front War’, we need ‘Two Front Peace’
The primary yardstick for judging the soundness of any foreign policy is whether it helps a nation overcome its historically inherited problems with its neighbours. Sadly, on this touchstone, the foreign policy of Narendra Modi’s government has been a spectacular failure.
If we look at the trajectory of India-Pakistan and India-China relations, it is obvious they have descended to a dangerously low level since Narendra Modi’s ascent to power in 2014. He has in fact reversed some of the positive moves his two predecessors, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh, had made to improve relations with Pakistan — especially by trying to find a fair and out-of-the-box solution to the Kashmir issue. The dictatorial and patently unconstitutional manner in which his government has revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bifurcated and downgraded the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and is now attempting to change the demographic profile of Kashmir, has worsened the situation in the state.
Indeed, the Modi government’s singular “achievement” is that, with its constant and belligerent talk of India being ready for a simultaneous “two-front” war, it has contributed to the strengthening of Beijing-Islamabad axis against New Delhi. Worse still, it has assiduously welcomed an outside power — Trump’s America — to meddle in the problems of our region in the delusional belief that this would contain China’s rise.