India, China, USA

If one looks at the evolution of India-China relations ever since the Chinese Revolution of 1949—India had won independence two years earlier—one must not fail to note that the relations have been marked with hostility more often than not. The border dispute is a legacy of the British days and the Chinese never accepted what the British had imposed on them. In India, there are still references to the 'Chinese aggression' of 1962, but it is a matter of common sense that no aggressor country unilaterally withdraws its troops from another's soil. The outcome of the battle was a humiliating defeat for the Indian army and about 3000 Indian soldiers were taken prisoners; they were later released unilaterally. There was a talk by some middle-class people that China withdrew her troops for fear of US intervention. These people unwittingly suggested that India had become a client state of the USA. The fact is that India was not a client state, although the pro-American lobby in the government and the ruling Congress was most vociferous in their hostility towards China, and as revealed by later studies on the subject, this lobby's intransigence was largely responsible for the precipitation of the conflict. In the aftermath of the border clash, India's hobnobbing with the USA grew significantly, and the Government of India, possibly sometime in the immediate post-Nehru period, allowed the CIA to install a plutonium instrument on the Nandadevi mountain peak for espionage on China.

Despite occasional thaws, the situation seems to have remained basically the same, whether the Chinese cat is white or black. As the situation stands today, India is increasingly getting tied up with US global strategic interests. Joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean are meant to bar Chinese entry there. Modi and his government perhaps think that if they can pose as big enemies of China, the US masters will reward them. Again, it is difficult to judge how much of the Modi government's intervention in the affairs of Balochistan is directed against the state of Pakistan and how much against China. China's ambition is to get access to the Indian Ocean through the Sinkiang-Balochistan road and Narendra Modi, if he is to remain loyal to the anti-Chinese strategic plan of the USA, has to help create trouble for the Chinese in this regard. This is, however, not to deny that the role of the Pakistan Government regarding Balochistan is an oppressive one. In truth Balochistan historically was not an integral part of British India. The way Pakistan annexed it after 1947 is almost a rerun of India's Kashmir mission. Today or tomorrow, the rulers in Pakistan will have to address the question of self-determination of Balochistan. But the theocratic junta enterprise of Pakistan is ruthlessly suppressing the Baloch resistance movement. But it is difficult for Narendra Modi to participate in the US scheme in a full-fledged manner. There are at least three good reasons for this. First of all, countries like Singapore, Malayasia and Indonesia are unlikely to cooperate, given their present trade relations with China. Secondly, India has a large trade deficit with China, and this is a barrier to full-scale confrontation with the latter. Thirdly, the Indian big business houses are not united in their support for such a policy of subservience to the Uncle Sam because they are interested in tapping China's burgeoning market.

There is an additional reason. The Chinese, being the long-term strategists as they are, have already opened railway networks to Central Asia, Russia and Europe, thus reducing the importance of the Indian Ocean.

If, however, Narendra Modi persists with his pro-US, anti- China stand, this, to be sure, will have disastrous effects on the country. Rabid chauvinism may help him temporarily, particularly in electoral battle, but that will be counterproductive in the long run.

Vol. 49, No.10, Sep 11 - 17, 2016