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June 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       June 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:June' 2017


India's hardball diplomacy

China respects strength. New Delhi seems to display that. With India's assertive postures on the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Sino-Indian relations have reached a vertex, finds Vidyarthi Kumar

In 2014 itself when the Narendra Modi regime took over reins of India, the BJP leadership wanted to draw up certain strategies. Like the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese establishment, under Narendra Modi's grand foreign policy ambitious plans, the saffron party also believes that the new century would belong to Asia in more ways than one.

The Dalai Lama during his Arunachal Pradesh tour Thus, there was a broad hint towards hardball diplomacy of Modi vis-à-vis China while not giving up the intent of goodwill to improve mutual trust. Since then the Modi regime is trying to run the extra mile. Hence dealing with China, Indian's foreign policy engine room has kept the United States as fulcrum while the NDA dispensation has not hesitated in reaching out to players like Japan and Russia, who are also known for strategic rivalry with China. In 2017, the Modi government took a more firm and concrete stand vis-à-vis China and allowed the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh. For long, to the Chinese leadership, Aruanchal Pradesh and also Sikkim have been "unrecognized part" of China.
Former diplomat Lalit Mansingh lauds the Central government's stance vis-a-vis the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April 2017 and said the "stout defence" of the stand is highly appreciable.

Lalit Mansingh Such gestures, he said, were "rare" display of assertiveness by the Indian government with regard to China.
"China respects strength. It does not worry much about good mannerism and humility. Such gestures of assertiveness (on Dalai Lama's Arunachal visit) are rare display of firmness and sovereign rights by the Indian government with regard to China. Otherwise, we are used to timidity and playing things safe," Lalit Mansingh told Power Politics.

Kiren Rijiju When the 81-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader visited Arunachal Pradesh in April, Beijing registered its protest saying, "It (Dalai Lama's visit) goes against the momentum of the sound growth of bilateral relations and will not benefit India in anyway." Braving strong reservation from China, the Indian government stood by its ground making it clear that as a secular country India could not stop a 'spiritual leader's visit' to any part of the country, including Arunachal Pradesh.
Among others, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju says when India has never interfered in Beijing's internal affairs and has respected the "One China" policy, China should not interfere in India's internal affairs or object to the Dalai Lama's visit. "There is no political angle behind His Holiness's visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It is completely religious," he says.
Separately, the External Affairs Ministry said no "artificial controversy" should be created about the Dalai Lama's visit. "The Government has clearly stated on several occasions that Dalai Lama is a revered religious leader, who is deeply respected by the Indian people. No additional colour should be ascribed to his religious and spiritual activities and visits to various states of India," the MEA spokesman Gopal Baglay says.

The Dalai Lama holding a plaque of the Professor ML Sondhi Prize for International Politics in New Delhi For his part, the Dalai Lama also gives credit to the government of India for allowing his visit to Arunachal Pradesh. "Fortunately when I was in Tawang, there was no intrusion...if some Chinese soldiers might have come, then I would have to rush back, but fortunately that has not happened", he says.
In what is seen as an endorsement of tough and assertive stance taken by the Narendra Modi government, in a unique manner, the Dalai Lama says India-China relations are now like between the United States and North Korea. That means - notwithstanding gestures, either side cannot afford to "fight" each other. Delivering a talk after receiving the M L Sondhi International Prize for International Politics for 2016, the Dalai Lama said the Chinese side also realised, "India is not a small country" and "it has military power now".
Therefore, the Tibetan leader said both sides should be ready to make "compromises" -- an obvious for the need for a dialogue to end the long pending vexed relations between two Asian giants.
The Dalai Lama said, China also realises that if they have conflict with India, "they also have to think about situation inside China".
Former Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh endorses the Government's stance quite eloquently: "The particular gesture by the Indian government wherein a Union Minister (Kiren Rijiju) accompanied the Dalai Lama during his stay in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh all throughout is a unique gesture and thus is appreciable".
In this context, he further told me: "The new approach is refreshing as avoiding reference to Tibet by India did not help India's diplomatic cause with regard to China or otherwise".

New mechanism

"The Modi government should realise that the real foreign policy challenge (to India) comes not from Pakistan but from China. India and China have been uneasy neighbours for longer years than India and Pakistan. Unlike Pakistan, China is a big and successful country," says Ram Madhav, a former RSS spokesman and now a general secretary in the BJP.
Many leaders and foreign experts in the ruling BJP endorse him with the refrain that essentially Sino-Indian relation is hit with the lack of innovativeness. Probably, the leadership in Chinese CPC also appreciates the obvious fact that over the last five-six decades both the Asian giants have not able to come out with any ingenious methodology to solve their problems.
In 2014 and aftermath initiatives have been taken for interactions between the BJP's foot-soldiers and Chinese leaders. There has been a welcome deviation from the monotonous engagement between two sides.

Bhagat Singh Koshyari These are, however, not new. In the past too such interactions did take place between top leaders of India's ruling side, the Congress party and the CPC when in August 2008 Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul had visited China. One such BJP delegation had visited China in October 2014. A delegation of BJP MPs led by Lok Sabha MP and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari also visited China. "We in BJP are all for cordial and healthy relations with China," Koshyari told this correspondent.