Recent developments in the Maldives and Sri Lanka suggest a need for a re-examination of India’s relations with its neighbours, write Charan Singh and Arvind Virmani for the Hindustan Times.
Some political pundits have expressed concern about China’s build-up on the Tibetan plateau, its plans to build numerous dams on the Brahmaputra and takeover of the management of Gwadar, a commercial port in Pakistan. China’s growing defence expenditures ($119 billion in 2013) — three times that of India’s $40 billion (2013-14) — have allowed it to extend its naval presence into the Indian Ocean, making it imperative for us to use our limited resources more efficiently.
Military and political strategy are generally intertwined, and sometimes buried inside a commercial one. The world respects power. India’s growth acceleration in the 1980s and 1990s created the conditions for a greater role in global politics, but it was Pokhran II that catapulted India onto the world stage. China’s military might, focused mission and astute diplomacy have been successful in resolving many border issues and fostering strategic economic relations with its immediate neighbours.