India’s Strategic Articulation: Shift in Thinking

To do a reality check, for example the economic ties with China have only deepened and the two-way trade is expected to touch $100 billion by 2015. This is despite efforts at stalling so far China’s entry into the SAARC and opposing a Regional Trade Agreement (RTA). Significantly, many of the fears seem matters of the past. India is no longer shying away from accepting Chinese proposals though with desired scrutiny. The recently signed Border Defence pact is a case in point. The prospects of a RTA, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and proposal for setting up industrial zones are being looked into.

No longer fearful of China’s forays, India is talking on the concepts and alignments of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor. China has outlined several other overland projects to connect India from east. In the north, there seems no escaping from the impact of China’s development plan in Tibet and Xinjiang on South Asia. The Golmud-Lhasa railway had already knocked down the Great Himalayas. A rail line to Shigatse and then to Nepal, Bhutan and eventually to India will soon become a reality. By 2017, a parallel railway line is expected to come up even along the Tibet-Xinjiang National Highway No- 219 that runs through Aksai Chin. The Economic Corridor Secretariat in Islamabad overseas the proposed $18 billion road, rail and an energy pipeline link between Kashgar and Gwadar. But, if Pakistan remains volatile, China will prefer to make more investments in India.

To be sure, if these projects get implemented, the dynamics of the region will transform in the coming decades. India hasn’t so far responded in many articulated ways. India is already absent in all the major trans-continental East-West connectivity projects. It is time that India crafts an equivalent smart strategy. Surely, India has its own designs. Why can’t it simply put them on the table, instead of waiting for China to propose them? There is absolutely nothing wrong taking lesson from how China is spurring internal development with global linkages.

It only proves to suggest that India is thoughtfully responding to the changing global strategic landscape. What it means essentially is that embracing the cold-war perception or adopting any containment strategy is unlikely to be enduring in the longer run. Both China and India recognise that they have more overlapping than conflicting interests in this uncertain global environment. India and China should resolve the unresolved boundary problem quickly and team up to expand the strategic opportunities further.

-By P. Stobdan

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.

Originally published by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses ( at [India’s Strategic Articulation: Shift in Thinking]

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