good deal

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 May 2018 12:05:20

IF the world expected Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s China trip to be only of a cosmetic value, it was probably not wrong. But the dramatic manner in which Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping welcomed Mr. Modi and responded to the Indian initiative showed that a lot of surprises can be expected from the new effort of conciliation between the two Asian powers. If there is a hand of friendship extended between the two Koreas, India and China also have followed suit in a manner that is going to flummox at least the United States and its allies. And the credit of this diplomatic achievement of dramatic proportions must go to both, Mr. Modi and Mr. Jinping. And yet, those who understand diplomacy and its intricacies will give one mark more to Mr. Narendra Modi than to Mr. Jinping. For, it was not easy to break through the Chinese wall of inscrutability and open a dialogue on an altogether different plane. Mr.Modi made that possible through his persistence and perseverance. That earns him a mark more than Mr. Jinping.

How many complex considerations have gone into this achievement! Despite the usual Chinese all-too-well-known oneupmanship, despite its greater military power, despite its added business advantage, India persisted in almost equal measures on all those counts -- from business to military, point by point. The finale of this show-down came at Doka La when the Indian Army stood its ground because the Indian leadership refused to budge. Had this happened earlier! But this question did not arise before in the past sixty-five years, thanks to the weak-kneed Indian leadership. And then came the point of difference in the form of Mr. Narendra Modi - and manifested itself at Wuhan, the birthplace of the iconic Mao Zedong.

It is critical to understand the Wuhan metaphor at this point from not just the Indian point of view but also from the Chinese perspective. For, both the nations wanted their say to be heard. Both the nations did not want war. But the Chinese posturing was making any diplomatic thawing impossible. After having tried goodness for decades and after having failed in the attempt, Prime Minister Mr. Modi tried a little meanness. And that worked, and demonstrated itself in that manner at Wuhan. What mattered ultimately was the demonstration of innate strength India had built over years (but was shy of showing it off).

Of course, it is not as simple as this may seem. For, when the other side of the table is occupied by a Chinese, the Indian sitting across has to be equally shrewd and mean and cunning. Mr. Modi personally does not possess these attributes. But when he deals with Indian interests, as he has shown in ample measure in the last four years, he becomes a no-nonsense guy. At Wuhan, only that mattered. But the road ahead is full of potholes. The Chinese are still not the people who can be trusted totally just on the basis of the words they uttered. But the biggest achievement is that both the leaders agreed to tell their respective armies to avoid any Doka La-type situations in the future. This softening of the Chinese stand also underlines the intrinsic strength India has built over time. The term ‘military diplomacy’ comes into full play only in such conditions. Previously, India only talked about in academic institutions. Now, however, it has practised the concept on the reality of the filthily deceptive ground.

We must consider this as only a half-step towards a better environ between India and China. There is only a hope, but not a full promise. If the hope has to be converted into a promise and their an actionable achievement, then India will have to play a bigger and more critical role. For, when detente` has to be achieved, at least one party has to show a greater understanding of the complexities. Destiny has designed that role for India.