A many-layered, dynamic riddle can have no single, simple, or permanent answer. India is at this moment presented with a set of fluid questions embedded within more fluid questions, rather like a perverse Russian doll—or shall we say, a Chinese doll? And geopolitics is not a lab science where one can isolate one strand and spend years perfecting the answer. The burning matches you see on this week’s cover of Outlook are a simplification: in reality, this situation has military, diplomatic, economic and geostrategic dimensions. And none of those domains offer complete, permanent answers even within themselves, leave alone any question of them being made compatible with each other. Since ‘status quo ante’ seems out of reach, New Delhi is at present fire-fighting, trying to maintain at least a tenuous status quo, while asking itself some searching questions.
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