- Students’ Column
- War and Military
|Elephant v/s Dragon|
India’s successful launch of long range missile has given new lease of life to speculations of rivalry among India and China. Given the nuclear capable missile’s range, it was claimed that even Beijing and Shanghai can be hit by the missile. Talks of Indo-China rivalry are not new. They were pitted against each other since 1991, the year when India opens its economy. China already opens their doors for foreign investment in early 80’s. Since then both countries are competing with each other to attract better and more foreign investment.
The world is watching a new power rivalry among India and China breathlessly. These two giant countries have shared many similarities in terms of territory, population and richness of civilization. World’s one third of population is living in these countries. Both countries are armed with nuclear warheads and have one of the largest armies in the world. Making case worse both countries had fought a war in 1962 over land dispute. The land dispute has not solved yet. Adding to India’s headache, China’s growing fondness with ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan makes Indian diplomats worry. Despite the skirmish in 1962, the two countries on their long border, there is little animosity due to ethnic reasons or historical reasons.
Enormous growth of the Chinese economy has been used as a tool in geo-political issues by Communist Party of China (CPC). According to Vietnam, Philippines, North Korea, Japan China is behaving like a bully in the south sea region in the matters of land dispute. Now these countries are increasing tactical partnership with China’s biggest rival India to limit Chinese aggressive moves towards them. Current collaboration among India and Vietnam for oil exploring in sea disputed area is one example.
China is miles ahead than India if we are calling it race. China already replaced Japan as the second biggest economy in the world. Now they are giving nightmares to U.S. in many geopolitical matters like Iran and Syria. Chinese central power system allows them to make fast decisions. China has spread its wing in Africa and Latin America by buying mine and building infrastructure there. China’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has expanded 1.80 percent in the first quarter of 2012 over the previous quarter. And this is just glimpse of China’s expanding economic reach as evinced by Beijing’s port-enhancement projects in Indian neighbourhood Pakistan (Gwadar Port), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar are giving goose bumps to Indian think tanks.
In the cold war era U.S. and Soviet Union were not geographically proximate like India and China. Due to 1962 skirmish there is emotional baggage in the Indo-China relationship. Soviet Union- U.S. cold war was based on ideology conflict (Communism vs. Capitalism). In contrast India- China rivalry is totally based on pure geo-political interests.
China and India have never acknowledged their rivalry openly, but it seems this competition with China is a win-win situation for India. Indian elites hate it when India is compared to Pakistan which is poor and chaotic country. Comparisons with stronger and richer country like China give Indian elite’s a moral boost. You can see the China obsession in Indian elites on social platforms. India media is too much obsessed with China and hell bent on comparing their nation with China, and in some extent war mongering on border dispute with China. These Indian elites and media forgets that majority population is living under below poverty line and Maoists threat (Indians blame it on Chinese support to Maoist).
Though Chinese economy factors are vital for world economy, China has their own set of internal and external problems. Lack of democracy and absence of basic rights to citizens put up iron curtains around China. Unrest in Tibet and Xingjian province is adding miseries to China’s nightmares. Chinese transformation from hardcore communist country to dream destination for capital investors has created a wide gap between rural China and urban China.
In other hand India is the biggest democracy in the world. Though it may sound chaotic sometimes there is kind of raw energy in Indian democracy. People from different cast, religion, ethnics, and states can raise their voice in parliament. Though Indian pace of economic reforms are painfully slow, democracy gives them solid base to expand their horizons. But India needs to take care of their poor and unemployed populace in order to become next big thing on world platforms.
It would be interesting to see symbolism in Indo-China rivalry. India has symbolised as an elephant and China as a Dragon (Though Dragon is an imaginary entity). Elephant has been known as slow and sluggish animal, he is also known for his immense strength. Dragon is powerful fire spitting giant who can fly and act fast. These symbolisms are totally apt for both countries.
As long as the Sino-Indian relationship is constrained by a geopolitical and economy factors, still there is mystery revolved around the impact it will have on south Asian and pacific region.