Without more liberal and empathetic minority policies China’s periphery will continue to be its Achilles Heel. Now that Hu will no longer be there, can one expect a policy change in a positive direction? Xi has not given an indication on this subject so far either at the November Party Congress or subsequently. He seems to believe like other Han leaders that rapid economic development and integration will weaken separatist sentiments. Tibet has shown that this is unlikely to happen.
Without showing an open interest in developments in the Tibetan areas, India has to find ways of quietly working for more empathetic policies by the new Chinese leadership.
There have to be two constants in India’s relations with China. We must continue to expand and strengthen the economic bridges with China and the regional co-operation mechanisms with which both countries are associated. Secondly, taking advantage of the more nuanced Chinese attitude to India in relation to the border dispute, which is less contentious as compared to its attitude to its sovereignty disputes in the East and South China Seas, we should be exploring the possibility of mutually acceptable border adjustments in the Arunachal Pradesh Sector instead of depending on an eternal status quo.
China prefers the status quo presently because its military position in Tibet, while steadily improving, does not give it overwhelming superiority against us. It should be the objective of our military policies that China, either on its own or through its increasing presence in Pakistan, is not able to achieve such overwhelming superiority. China’s interest in the status quo and in peace and tranquillity across the Himalayan border will remain only so long as it has no asymmetric advantage over India. To deny it such an asymmetric advantage should be the aim of our quest for new dimensions of strategic relations with the US, Vietnam, Japan, and Australia. Our head-start over China in the Indian Ocean Region has to be maintained in co-operation with the US and Australia.
How to achieve a new web of strategic relationships without weakening the present momentum towards better bilateral relations is the challenge before our diplomacy and military strategists as we seek to engage the new Chinese leadership.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
If one sees Tibet, one does not see, a pearl, in a string to threaten India. Tibet is important to China, because they see Tibetan's as Chinese. To say, that Burma, Nepal, etc., are strings in a pearl to threaten India, might be concerning, if China feels this is paranoia, which cannot be influenced, positively. China must have understood, that Burma is not even a part of China, and Burma has a government. Also, the icon Suu Kyi, would she not want to befriend both China, and the West, in diplomacy? It would seem, the relation with the west would be extremely meaningful, if China was also a strong influence in Burma.
On a light note, the Siachen glacier might be close to Muzzafarabad, due to global warming. Why not find some sure rock footing? The glacier might also be near Baramulla, if we cannot control the movement.
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