The current ‘standoff' between India and China over the border area in the western sector has generated a jingoist feeling among the media, opposition political groups and certain circles of enlightened people in this country. In fact, the way India's conduct in foreign affairs in recent times is causing harsh reaction to come out from various domestic quarters, it seems a certain paranoia has engulfed us. From China to Pakistan to Sri Lanka to Maldives to Bangladesh and even Italy, we are perceiving threat from ‘enemies' all around.
Is India asserting its bravery or hit by panic?
But such panic-stricken reaction is not desired from a nation which aspires to be a superpower in near future. If we aspire to play a bigger role on the world stage, then we must understand that the elevation in status will come with a price tag.
It is particularly disappointing to see the role this country's mainstream media plays while dealing with sensitive issues, including the foreign policy. Foreign policy isn't a matter of muscle-flexing and machismo as some of our self-enlightened news anchors and opportunist politicians believe. They feel they are doing a great job by putting the government under pressure on foreign issues, but in effect, their tantrum is actually doing more harm by polarizing public opinion, confusing the decision-makers and encouraging chaos. Foreign policy doesn't feed TRPs but the Indian media is making it fit the bill. It is an atrocious attempt.
India and China share a massive trading relation today and there is no point to believe that the two neighbours will earn a great deal by going into a war. Thus, why the belligerence?
There is no doubt that a sense of Sinophobia, which had set in our minds post 1962, is yet to recede. And no matter how much we try to project ourselves as a nation competing closely with the Chinese, it is a foregone conclusion that we are too far behind our neighbour to even think about overtaking them. Hence, more the hollow sound.
Border issues in south Asia have always been controversial
If we keep to the basics, it can be seen that history and geography have had serious repercussion on the borders of south Asia. India's boundary issues with Pakistan and China are least likely to be settled because there have always been disputes about settling them in the post-colonial era, for historic and geographic reasons. And as nationalisms hardened with each passing day across the borders, the ambiguity over borders remained a pressing issue.
India and China have no real border marked on the ground and straying into each other's territory remained a common consequence. The two sides only banked on talk mechanism to prevent these transgressions of vague boundaries from escalating. But this strategy seems to have hit a hurdle this time and the consequence could be seen from the media and opposition pressing the panic button.
We look for defence and security instead of political solution
A pertinent problem with the south Asian politics is that whenever there is an issue evolving over border clashes, defence and security become the watchword instead of finding a political solution. The same is happening in the current situation as well.
The new Chinese leadership has attached much importance to the country's relation with India and at a time, when China is witnessing headaches near its other borders like North Korea and Japan, there is really no justification to give rise to another volatile frontier with India. China will also not like India to move further close to USA by escalating tension in south Asia. If the latest incursions are perceived as threat to India's territorial integrity, it is always wise to take the proper channels of diplomacy and politics to address the issue.
Have the Chinese won without even firing a bullet?
What we are doing instead is giving the Chinese a sense of victory, a strategic one, without even firing a bullet.
India has recently changed its ultra-defensive policy of not setting up infrastructure along the border unless the enemy finds easy access. It is laying roads and setting up airbases to catch up with the Chinese infrastructure near the border and it could also fuel a reaction on the Chinese side.
India's reactivation of an old landing strip at Daulat Beg Oldi after nearly 50 years could propel the Chinese to make counter moves. Hence, the latest incursion could be an assertion by China under a new leadership after India tried to show its resolve to Beijing, feel experts. They feel as long as the two sides do not have an agreed boundary, these issues will keep coming up.
If the govt has termed the incident a 'local' one, there is no harm in it
There is also no point in attacking the Indian government for describing the Chinese action as a ‘local' one. It is really shocking to see that the media and the opposition are misleading the common man by projecting that the Centre is trying to underestimate the matter. It is indeed a local matter involving local military brains. There is yet no signal that these incursions have been directed by Beijing with a motive to declare a war on India.
The Indian government can not be accused of ignoring the matter if indeed it is playing it down. Will it be wise to allow all the media projection and opposition's brouhaha to turn the incident into a massive crisis? Our politics has been reduced to such a sham that even national stability is readily put under threat to score some short-term point.
Our democracy has given us a licence to talk excessivley. But does it ensure a capacity to think more effectively?