NEW DELHI: Worry is writ large on the Dragon’s face. Its fiery breath once singed the Elephant now and then. But the writing on the wall has changed since. The Elephant is playing the game with strategic patience, making guarded moves to isolate the Dragon globally. China is closely watching India’s economic and diplomatic rise and is wary of its potential at being a ‘vishwaguru’ – in leadership and spiritual progress.
Earlier it was confident. “The Indian state is hamstrung by endemic budget deficits of big subsidies and limited taxation. The good news for India is that the private sector is ready to step in. But it seems that the private sector won’t act until it is more confident about politics,” wrote Geoffrey Garrett, an Australian political scientist.
“The new Indian government of Narendra Modi is committed to changing all of this. The prime minister has made infrastructure a top priority. He wants to raise revenue through a GST (goods and services tax) that would be hard to evade. He wants to reduce the sand that Indian federalism currently throws into the wheels of Indian economic development. He even wants to loosen up Indian industrial relations,” he argued in an article titled ‘3 Reasons India Isn’t the ‘Next China’’.
He went on to add in the article published in the Wharton Magazine in 2015: “But the early returns on PM Modi are that his great plans and powerful rhetoric are yet to translate into real change on the ground. One reason is that the government does not control the upper house of India’s Parliament.”
Need for rethinking
In January this year, American academic Walter Russell Mead wrote in The Wall Street Journal that China will need to rethink its approach to regional and world politics when, and if, its gap with India closes and the balance of power in Asia starts to shift. “Rickety infrastructure, expensive and unreliable electric power, complicated labor and land laws, and a frustrating bureaucracy prevented India from joining previous waves of Asian industrialization.
Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and of course China all outperformed India in the race to industrialize,” he wrote. “Today, however, a confluence of international and domestic factors is giving India a chance to catch up.
Internationally, manufacturers are looking to reduce their dependence on China. Domestically, the populist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants broader prosperity than the cyber economy on its own can provide,” he stated.
Forcing into debt trap
Exasperated at India’s growing influence, China forced nations like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives into debt traps and then coerced them to fall in line. No wonder, ships with advanced listening devices were moored near the shorelines of India’s neighbours.
The Dragon also sensed a defeat with India forming a powerful quad with Australia, Japan, and the US. China roped in Russia, Iran, and Pakistan to form its own platform. However, it was soon evident that this grouping was based more on specific regional interests than any diplomatic principles. The Dragon is thus wary that its earlier singe is missing. But it is not giving up.
Leave a Reply