by Sunil Sharan in Strategic Insights, India
My recent article, India must quit Quad, in this paper, incited a lot of anger. I was called a traitor, a Chinese spy, a Chinese agent, and told to forthwith quit my native land. My parentage was obligatorily called into question. I feel compelled to respond to such kind comments against me.
Many years ago I was struggling in university and wanted to drop out. My friend insisted that I stay in school but I wouldn’t listen to her. She took me to a nearby pond and said that you can take a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink it. I dropped out, to my eternal regret.
As I went through the multitude of allegations leveled against me, I discovered a pearl of wisdom. It said something to the effect that the author (me) was the only sane person in the article and the rabid attacks that I was facing were from uneducated people. I suspect this person was a foreigner.
Now he or she was wrong. The attacks that I faced were not from an uneducated lot. In India, whoever speaks English, even pidgin English, is considered to be educated. Indians feel tremendously proud of their ability in English, but when I saw the comments, I wondered if that pride was justified. Certainly there are great writers in English from India, but about the vast majority of Indians who claim to speak English, I am not so sure.
Perhaps it is the urgency to troll with two thumbs that leads to many typos and misspellings, but they never seem to appear in the abuse. Let’s talk about the topic at hand once again: India’s relations with China.
I am the very epitome of the struggling author. The starving author. As such, I would love to be on anybody’s payroll, even Xi Jinping’s. A few loaves of bread never hurt anybody. Unfortunately, Xi is not so kind. Perhaps I should approach him. Certainly, after the article appeared, Chinese media hailed me as the only sane journalist in India. I received many kind comments from China.
Many Indians blame the 1962 war that the Chinese launched against us due to their utter perfidy. Nehru was saying Hindi-Chini bhai bhai and the Chinese stabbed him in the back. A few years earlier the Chinese had invaded Tibet. Mao Zedong said that power flows from the barrel of a gun. Nehru had few guns but he believed that he had a lot of power. His globetrotting ways had endowed him with a lot of hubris.
Nehru gave refuge to the Dalai Lama. The Chinese were provoked and attacked. Sixty year later, the Dalai Lama still lives in India but is a global icon. The West wants to build him up to irritate China. In 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the prime minister of India, visited China and accepted China’s suzerainty over Tibet. India acknowledged that Tibet was an autonomous region of China. The Chinese made no such commitment on India’s claims over Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, although implicitly they seemed to have agreed that these regions were part of India.
Now they mouth only polite inanities whenever it comes to the Dalai Lama, Ladakh, or Arunachal Pradesh. The status quo is that they have lived with the Dalai Lama needling them for over sixty years and can continue to do so for some more years.
The Chinese economic miracle, and the suddenness of it, has startled the West. In 1986, my brother returned to India with a book written by the much-maligned Richard Nixon in which Nixon predicted that China would become the world’s next superpower. Nixon was a foreign policy genius, even though growing up in India, I remember fun being poked at him as being Henry Kissinger’s puppet.
At that time, no one could even think that China would be where it has reached today. There was the German economic miracle after World War II, then the Japanese miracle, then the South Korean one, but the Chinese miracle is so gargantuan and seems so durable, that the existing powers that be of the world (read the West) are left scratching their heads on what to do.
Israel and America’s oppression of the Palestinians in part led to 9/11, which made America go berserk, only to launch war after war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, only to be bested in each effort. The Chinese meanwhile have refused to be drawn into war with adversaries like Japan and India and have in effect prevented their puppet, Pakistan, from provoking India needlessly. The Chinese have studiously built up their military, but not used it, well knowing that the projection of power is often more significant than the exercise of it, a lesson that America seems to have forgotten.
It was during the regime of the incompetent George W. Bush that America said that it would build India as a counterpoise to China. The establishment in India was delighted. Thus the Quad was born. But as I implied in my previous column but perhaps did not explicitly state, the US is in no position to take on the Chinese right now. If the US lost to the Afghanis, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Syrians, the Yemenis, all almost toothless tigers when compared to the Chinese, how is it going to take on the might of the Red Dragon?
Just as Pakistan will give India a bruising blow in any conflict, so will India deliver a bloody nose to the Chinese. That bloody nose will stall, but not stop, China’s progress. As of now, the US is flailing around what to do with China and would be delighted with it getting a bloody nose. The US will not engage China directly. The Japanese are vassals of the US and under its security umbrella. If the US doesn’t engage China, the Japanese can’t do so on their own.
So America will fire its guns off India’s shoulders. If India delivers a bloody nose to the Chinese, can you imagine what the Chinese will hand out to India? A knockout blow. There, I am Chinese spy or an Indian patriot. Take your pick.