PACHU MENON, MARGAO
INDIA has every reason to view the growing Chinese influence across the world with a fair amount of trepidation. Yet there has not been any discernable change in India’s mannerisms at countering the Chinese threat. In the vain hope of invigorating the highly-hyped ‘Hindi Chini bhai bhai’ relationship which was nothing more than a convenient political pretentiousness even then, India continues to tread an impetuous path vis-à-vis its relations with China just as it did in 1962. So as not to have a repeat of the great ‘Himalayan blunder’, India ought to come down off its high horse to have a more realistic approach to the problems that beset the long and tricky ‘frenemyship’ between them. While India’s myopia to all other considerations – except for those that have a direct bearing on territorial disputes involving the two – has led to the nation’s near blindness to affairs involving China in countries in the neighbourhood, it is the ‘surprises’ from this front that will assail India very soon. The manner in which money is being pumped into Sri Lankan developmental projects dispels any doubts over the island nation being anything but a coveted trophy for China. Simply by being oblivious to the economic infrastructural support sought by its ‘strategic partner’ after coming out of a bloody civil war that lasted nearly 30 years, India has risked losing a longstanding ally of its. Likewise, assured of a generous support for the Himalayan kingdom’s development endeavours, the construction of a railway linking Kerung and Kathmandu may further tilt Nepal towards China. India also needs to be equally weary of the China-Bangladesh ties which have undergone dramatic transformation from a formerly adversarial relationship to an enduring strategic partnership. India should be well aware, at least now, that the use of coercive diplomacy severely dents bilateral relations. Now God forbid any drift in relation between Bhutan and India! By isolating India, it is as if China has facilitated its unhindered movement into the country by aligning itself with erstwhile buddies who are miffed at India for their foreign policies which prevented due recognition of their needs and demands.