China taps in the Bhutanese nail in India’s strategic coffin

From LPG to space, PM Modi seeks to expand India-Bhutan ties beyond  hydro-power | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
[Modi going to inspect a Guard of Honour presented by the Bhutanese Army in Thimpu]

“Who will not want a friend and a neighbour like Bhutan?” an elated Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked rhetorically, after wrapping up his visit to Thimpu, August 19, 2019. “The two countries are living the definition of true friendship.”

He had just concluded a warm, friendly, and successful visit during which 10 Memoranda of Understanding were signed in several fields ranging from space, avaiation Information Technology, power and education. Modi also inaugurated the Rs. 4,500 crore, 720MW, Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant in central Bhutan, one of a series of power projects India has helped finance and build over the years to harness that country’s rivers to the tune of 10,000 MW — a milestone reached last year. It is electricity an energy starved India buys back at remunerative prices in a virtuous cycle of joint Indo-Bhutanese planning, Indian investment and construction, and goodly economic returns for both parties.

Two short years later, it was the turn of Beijing on Oct 14, 2021 to crow that the “deadlock” had been broken in the talks begun in 1984 with Bhutan to settle the border, and that the latest (24th) virtual round — of characteristically interminable negotiations (a tactic the Chinese use to break the opposing side’s patience and resolve), had resulted in Thimpu agreeing to a three step process for final demarcation of the disputed Sino-Bhutanese border, and the establishment of formal diplomatic ties.

Soon India will no more have Bhutan to itself . Wth a doubtless big, fully manned, Chinese embassy in Thimpu contesting the diplomatic space with India, the Chinese will overwhelm the Bhutanese with offers of infrastructure projects and easy credit to built them and, perhaps, a Chinese military training scheme and transfer of armaments to compete with IMTRAT (Indian Military Training Team). Bhutan too will begin doing what other South Asian states — Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives, have learned to do do — profitably play New Delhi off against Beijing. That’s the least of the problems though.

What’s really worrisome is that MEA had no inkling about this development, was caught unawares and was surprised by this breakthrough coming down the pike. For Bhutan, an Indian protectorate in all but name, to keep such an important decision — one to cut a deal with Beijing a secret, suggests Thimpu may be willing to agree to an exchange the Chinese had proposed in 1997: Beijing giving up its claims in central Bhutan for territory in western Bhutan that includes the Doklam trijunction with India. Except, per an earlier three way agreement, any decision on Doklam has to be in consultation with India. It will be interesting to see how Thimpu and Beijing manage this, assuming MEA doesn’t just lay down as is its habit and let the Chinese run a steamroller over its diplomats.

Doklam is where Chinese ingress by way of roadbuilding southwestwards towards the Siliguri corridor — the “chicken’s neck”, had almost sparked hostilities in June 2017. Some 270 Sikkim-based Indian troops alongside two bulldozers had then stopped the Chinese road construction. That standoff did not, however,result in a PLA withdrawal from that area and the Chinese completed the road. Then in mid-2020, while India was preoccupied with the Chinese transgressions in eastern Ladakh, Beijing laid claim to the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in eastern Bhutan. In response, India proposed constructing a road through the Yeti region of Bhutan to Tawang, cutting the distance to Guwahati by 150 kms to enable faster shifting of land forces in an emergency. It is not known whether there’s progress, if any, in this project. And this is where matters stand today.

The historic pattern is that India always reacts and reacts some more, never ever taking the initiative at any time for anything in terms of aggressively occupying contested land, especially where China is concerned. It seems fearful of the inevitable Chinese response, which it apprehends the Indian military will not be able to deal with. The Indian army is silently complicit in this arrangement because it doesn’t — if it can help it — want to tangle with the PLA handing it, in the process, the psychological edge. Signalling in any way reluctance to engage in military action is tantamount to ceding ground.

How one wishes for a dashing General Sagat Singh to emerge from somewhere, take charge, and get a fist up PLA’s nose, as he did as GOC, 17 Division, at Nathu la in 1967.

Meanwhile, with Bhutan in the bag China has about finished its grand geostrategic design of encircling India, and confining it to its subcontinental strategic coffin. Circlement and counter-encirclement are at the core and the very essence of Chinese military maneuvering and strategy. It is something the strategically dim-witted Indian government has historically been unable for some incomprehensible reason to even envision, let alone practice. So, while India’s neighbourhood is now palpably under Chinese control with Pakistan posing as Beijing’s stalking horse, the Chinese periphery is terra incognita and, owing to Indian diplomatic and military passivity, is getting beyond India’s political-military reach. In this respect consider the heavy weather the Indian government has made over the last 20 years of merely transferring Brahmos cruise missiles to Vietnam when this should have been A-1 priority. Indulging periodically in Malabar naval exercises with the US and other navies in the seas WEST of the Malacca Straits is not going to cut it.

Ah, yes, but as I have always reassuringly reminded everybody, there’s fortunately Pakistan to berate and beat up on, and threaten more Balakots with — no matter that the original Balakot aerial excursion, as I had mentioned in a post soon after that “operation”, was a bad joke, a non-event. (Refer my March 19, 2019 post — “IAF goofs and Delhi’s post-Pulwama debacle: A post mortem” at https://bharatkarnad.com/2019/03/19/iafs-goofs-and-delhis-post-pulwama-debacle-a-post-mortem/)

Pakistan, I suspect — Home Minister Amit Shahji please note — would welcome your verbal “sturm und drang” topped with such harmless military Indian actions!

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific, Asian geopolitics, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, China military, Culture, Decision-making, Geopolitics, geopolitics/geostrategy, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indo-Pacific, Maldives, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, Missiles, Nepal, Pakistan, Pakistan military, SAARC, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Sri Lanka, Strategic Relations with South East Asia & Far East, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Tibet, United States, US., Vietnam, Weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to China taps in the Bhutanese nail in India’s strategic coffin

  1. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Too much glorification of Indian army by Modi and his fellow BJP toadies has turned the armed forces into arm chair warriors on print/electronic media rather than confront the Chinese on the battlefield.

  2. Tony says:

    This government run by brown sahibs is a total train wreck in every direction , rumour also is there is something big happened in forrests of Kashmir which media under pressure of government is covering up , but this is total betrayal by bhutanese and I have no doubt that Chinese have bought and planted in house spies there , clock was ticking from last few years now it lies broken.

  3. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The following is an ‘Op-Ed’ on Global Times;

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202110/1236431.shtml

    Loads of comments on the article. A couple of samples;

    Delhi/india will show its true colors soon. King Jigme, the royal family, cabinet members, and Bhutanese generals, will soon be rounded and placed under house arrest. Bhutan will be administered by a governor from Delhi.

    Thimpu will be wise to sign a protectorate or a defense agreement with China/Beijing without delay. A defense pact that assures a Chinese counter-attack on india if Delhi/india forcibly annexes Bhutan. Like Sikkim.

    Not just as yet, as this is the first step it will ruffle many feathers at Delhi, or what one would say a Ph test ! I believe Bhutan’s ruling Elite and the Bhutanese have been in bondage long enough and can see a light at the end of the tunnel for Bhutan’s redemption on the road to progress, prosperity, which are long deserved on this paradise at the foot of majestic Himalaya mountains. It wont be easy as we all are witnessing what India are doing to destabilize Afghanistan with all its possibility and by any means. India possibly could send its military boots into Bhutan, which she could not do in the case of Afghanistan.

    India is a colony of white man. It has no interests except that of London and Washington. India is the traitor of Asia with a psychopathic politicians on payroll of Washington to sow destruction in Asia for the benefit of its white colonial masters

  4. By Email from Lt. General PRAVEEN BAKSHI, former GOC-in-C, Eastern Command
    Mon, 18 Oct at 1:22 pm
    Dear Bharat,
    For the record, the Chinese had not come to make a road upto the Dolam (Doklam) Plateau….they always drove up to the Plateau anyways; the intent was to extend the road further till Jampheri Ridge, skirting the Torsa Nala, in the bargain effectively pushing the Tri-Junction of our boundaries to Geymochen, which was theiractual intent. They were effectively stopped from doing so, with force-on-force (not with 270 as you suggest) till they retreated. My information is that road has to date not fructified (as you seem to suggest), and the Tri-Junction remains firmly where we want it to be, as hitherto fore. I have always maintained, building some structures on the Plateau is pure optics for the uninitiated, has limited military value and would not last the first hour of a tactical battle. But it has value in strategic messaging, which it probably has succeeded in.
    Best Wishes
    Praveen

    • Sankar says:

      Gen. Praveen Bakshi@ — Sir, Here is a piece of past news that contradicts your claim here:
      “China and India end standoff after India gives China sovereignty over disputed territory in Bhutan”
      https://americanmilitarynews.com/2017/08/china-and-india-end-standoff-after-india-gives-china-sovereignty-over-disputed-territory-in-bhutan/
      Could you please inform us of your source?

    • San Mann says:

      But Prof Karnad,
      On the one hand, you always keep claiming that Pakistan is “small fish” for India, too small to worry about – but then here you’re saying that China’s putting the nail in our coffin. I assert as always, that India isn’t really over-powered against anybody, certainly not against Pakistan, and of course we can’t even manage smaller Bhutan in relation to China. So there’s no use for us to keep our noses in the air imagining that we’re the big fish who doesn’t have to bother with small fish. The price of security is vigilance, and we should be alert without seeing any threat as too small.

      • San Mann@ — two very different things. Pakistan is not, never has been, and can never be a credible security threat. One has to differentiate the threats or else, as has happened, we’ll be preoccupied with the trivial while ignoring the genuinely dangerous — China.

  5. Amit says:

    Professor Bharat,

    The fact that India is reactive is a cultural phenomenon. We have grown up glorifying Prithviraj Chauhan, who fended off Mohammad Ghori 16 times, but lost on the 17th. Ultimately he was a loser. But we glorify him. He could have finished Ghori off once and for all so many times (or so we are told), but we glorify his magnanimity. His defensive strategy seems to be ingrained in India’s mind set.

    We know a lot less about the campaigns of the Cholas, the Marathas and Ranjit Singh, who were offensive. Maybe a 1000 years of history is hard to wash off in a few decades. Maybe it will take a few more jabs from China to change India’s mind set. After all the Pandavas bore so many insults before they won the Great War! Maybe that is the ‘India way’ after all!,

  6. Ash says:

    Let’s fight with Chinese …they are emotional people and connect everything…meaning they connect the logic that because they are military powerful that means everyone should bow down and when India doesn…they get surprised….we don’t think like that…let’s pick a small fight somewhere with our time choosing and kill some of them brutally….and then let’s leave to them what they make up of it …their connecting logic will mean they will connect it to oh my god Indians are crazy and also they may try to hurt us again somewhere …when this goes on tit for tat that’s where Indians are awesome at….it gets their juices and Mood flowing…let’s start this…pak is done and dusted all

  7. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad:

    1. Could you please comment on the following ‘bravado’ by a retd General:
    “… China published video of Indian soldiers captured during the Galwan clash on the night of June 15-16 last year. India too had captured PLA prisoners that night including a PLA Lieutenant Colonel.. ”
    http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spotlights/bhutan-will-china-have-its-way/

    2. To my knowledge, in 1956(?) Chou-en-Lai and Nehru had signed an agreement that the “boundary” of Tibet at the tri-junction with India-Bhutan-Tibet, which means Doklam area, cannot be unilaterally decided – it stipulated all three states India-China-Bhutan must concur for any resolution of the matter.
    If that is correct, then why is Delhi keeping mum diplomatically in the matter now? It is perplexing how the other General here wants to decide the boundary issue on the basis of what suits (?) the Army.

    3. To my understanding, Bhutan has been historically in a very similar situation as erstwhile Sikkim in their connection with India as a “protectorate” which derived from the British Raj. If that is a correct view, what could prevent India now from integrating Bhutan with the mainstream of Indian states as it has happened with Sikkim in the past when Indira Gandhi took the decisive step? I have read (unconfirmed) news that in the recent past Bhutan had its army somewhere in the western part which PLA overran by a skirmish. Bhutan had asked for India’s help then to defend itself, but Modiji reneged.

    • Sankar@ — (1) Lt Gen Prakash Katoch is right –some PLA men were captured on the Galwan and subsequently swapped. Can’t make sense of GOI not making noise about this when China is going to town over having held some Indian soldiers captive.
      (2) As mentioned in the post, India will have to concur in any solution to resolve the border in the Dokla area.
      (3) That’d have been easier to do when Sikkim was incorporated into the Union but will be difficult to do now.

  8. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Another timely article by Mr Karnad.

    1. Considering the current situation in Bangladeshis with regards to Hindus there there are now strong voices coming out from Indian strategic and defense community to bifurcate Bangladesh by annexing some parts of Northern most part of Bangladesh and creating a state for the oppressed Bangladeshi Hindus over there.

    2.The proponents of this move also hold that implementing this proposal would eventually help India to resolve the Chicken’s neck problem of itself.

    What are your thoughts on this particular proposal floated by members from Indian strategic and defense community with strong connections to present dispensation.

    • Assuming it is feasible, and short of catastrophic developments in BD, redrawing maps is bad politics and even worse strategy.

      • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

        But Mr Karnad we did redraw the map of Pakistan 50 years back so why can we not redraw the map of Bangladesh after 50 years of 1971 ?

        This will also boost chances of Mr Modi in 2024 elections because I believe much of his core voter base will support this.

        What is your take on this ?

      • Those circumstances and that milieu aren’t there.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Denanjan Banerjee- Bifurcation of Bangladesh is nothing but a drama created by BJP for electoral gains in the Indian elections.

      Bangladesh will never allow its division. This leaves only the option to do it forcefully.

      Indian establishment has been unable to deal with China and inspite of all the bravado and chest thumping against Pakistan, India hasn’t been able to accomplish anything regarding getting back so called POK.

    • Bener12341 says:

      Debanjan Banerjee@ — That should be one of the most hare brained delusions put out by sanghi chickenhawks. Your kind is clear evidence of a braindead foreign policy. All bark, no bite. China mocks your kind.

      Btw, the Bangla regime seems to care more for its hindu subjects than the Indian regime does for its muslims. You think the world does not notice?

      I would say, shame on you, but are you…?

      If Bangla should even get a whiff of what is brewing, would they not holler for support from China, and perhaps even Pakistan?! Then there would be the inevitable situation of another implacable enemy to the east, as there is on the west and north. You think the other tiny nations would take such an aggression in their strides? … “No biggie, India will never do that to us!” Oh, yeah?

      I am sure that Karnad is smart enough to understand the chicken folks he has to deal with here, and also out in the hindu rightwing world. But, given the limited exposure to his rightwing hardline views (based on comments here at least), he does seem to go out of his way to overlook such bile, with laughably mild admonishments, like, “Those circumstances and that milieu aren’t there.” Or, he actually wishes for this to come true? If yes, he is just as responsible for getting India isolated in its own neighbourhood.

      All quite amusing actually, if somewhat nausea inducing.

      • Sankar says:

        @Bener12341:
        “…the Bangla regime seems to care more for its hindu subjects than the Indian regime does for its muslims” –
        How have you come to that conclusion????

        According to official data Bangladesh at this point in time has 8-9% of Hindus in their population, whereas at the time of partition (1947) it (nee East Pakistan) had 30% Hindus among them (the reality could have been much more than official figures). How do you explain such a sharp decline of Hindus in Bangladesh? In contrast, the percentage of India’s Muslim population has increased steadily from 1947 to present-day 2021.

        Furthermore, India’s constitution says the State is secular, i.e. no religion is preferred over others. However, Bangladesh’s constitution says that Islam is the State religion but other religions could be practiced (subject to State’s approval?). What will be your interpretation here?

        Your statement “.. he is just as responsible for getting India isolated in its own neighbourhood” cannot go unchallenged.

        It seems you are oblivious of Myanmar (nee Burma) which has a border with India in the east. To my understanding, the best interstate relationship India has among all her neighbors is with Myanmar – isn’t that so Professor Karnad?

        Myanmar allows Indian security forces (army, BSF etc) to cross border and enter Myanmar virtually without permission to destroy the bases of the insurgents against India there – India has to simply inform Myanmar. And this is going on for years now!

        In any case, India is a too big Nation-State to be isolated strategically or otherwise in South Asia. I repeat, there has never been a glitch in India-Myanmar (Burma) relationship in history to date, and there is no sign of that going wrong in the future.

  9. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    It is an image that will haunt relations between India and Bangladesh for years to come. The body of a slain Border Security Force (BSF) jawan tied to a pole and carried like an animal carcass.

    Accompanying it were the grisly visuals of trussed up, mutilated and brutalised bodies of 15 other BSF personnel killed in the Boraibari incident on April 18. Understandably there was a national outrage.

    Excerpts from the following;

    https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/neighbours/story/20010507-barbaric-killing-of-bsf-jawans-puts-india-bangladesh-relations-under-severe-strain-776193-2001-05-07

    This too happened under BJP government and Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister couldn’t do anything against Bangladesh.

    • Sankar says:

      @Gaurav:

      Credit for a timely post whose theme is buried in the forgotten past, and a reminder for Modiji who has been planning the 50-year commemoration of the 1971 Indo-Pak war with great fanfare by visiting Bangladesh in the coming December (16th?). I guess, he wanted to be in the limelight on the world stage for India’s valor in standing up to China (and the US?) without mentioning the sterling role of Indira Gandhi in that epoch-making event. Unexpectedly, someone has thrown a spanner in his works. It remains to be seen which way he will be turning with all BJP’s “Hindu rhetoric”.

  10. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The Centre has opposed a petition seeking electricity connections for 200 Pakistani Hindu migrant families, who are currently residing in North Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar, and in a reply told the Delhi High Court that the camp established by them at Delhi Jal Board Maidan is an illegal encroachment on defence land.

    From the following news link;

    https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-pakistan-hindu-migrants-adarsh-nagar-centre-court-electricity-encroachment-7583580/

    How did they manage to encroach the defense land in the first place? Isn’t the government responsible for settling them under decent living conditions?

    The current Indian establishment proclaims itself as the savior of Hindus from Pakistan & Bangladesh.

    In reality, this is the way they are treated, put up in filthy slums without even electricity and water connections.

  11. Major General AK Bardalai, Veteran says:

    Dear Mr Karnard,

    Enjoyed reading your article. Having seen it from the close quarter from both sides and for more than two years, I thought I should put across a slightly different view.

    Apprehensions of the Indian citizens fearing Bhutan drifting away, as mentioned in a few media reports is understandable. Given the strong bond between Bhutan and India, the past boundary negotiations between Bhutan and China were the product of a consultative process between India and Bhutan.

    China in past offered different options including the bartering of areas between northern Bhutan and western Bhutan to conclude the boundary agreement. Since it did not work, China always blamed India for interfering with the boundary talks. Lack of progress in the boundary talks affected Bhutan most directly and India indirectly. Even though Bhutan lost the Doklam plateau to China in 2017, PLA is now more vulnerable to the Indian Army which is occupying the ridge in western Bhutan and the Tri junction as noted by Gen Bakshi. China has claimed the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary located in the west of Arunachal Pradesh. In April 2020, unknown to the world earlier, it came out that China has built a village inside Bhutan.
    (https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/05/07/china-bhutan-border-villages-security-forces/)

    Elsewhere, whether in and around the India-China boundary or Indo-Nepal boundary, rifts over disputed areas resurfaced between India and China, and India and Nepal. China considers India as an irritant and responds to the irritation in different ways at different places. Recent events are the side effect of the inability on part of China to replace India in its special place in the Himalayan kingdom.

    But to state that Bhutan is drifting away from India is an expression that is based on a lack of adequate inputs. Bhutan, its government, and its people love their Kings, and it is in the interest of Bhutan to remain close to India. But sandwiched between two Asian giants, to be able to survive is a challenge, which is difficult for the common citizens of India to understand. Media reports referring to such agreements as a sign of disloyalty is hence a counter to the vital role of people to people to contact in strengthening the bilateral relationship between two Asian neighbours. Even the statement of external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, who said during a regular news briefing to a question about the MoU – “We have noted the signing of the MoU between Bhutan and China today [Thursday],” does not help to allay such feelings.
    (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cautious-response-from-india-as-bhutan-and-china-sign-mou-on-boundary-negotiations-101634229770387.html)

    It was and still is in the mutual interest of both India and Bhutan that the boundary between China and Bhutan is demarcated. Had it been done earlier, the territorial loss of Bhutan and now PLA occupying the Doklam plateau would not have happened. What the PLA is likely to do to offset its vulnerability in the Doklam plateau should worry us more than the current border agreement. Signing the MoU cannot be a unilateral decision but again as part of the consultative process between India and Bhutan. Therefore, India’s encouragement to Bhutan to speed up the boundary negotiations with China (which I am convinced) displays maturity on part of both India and Bhutan.

    The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has stood by India in the past and continues to do so. Bhutan will never let us down. My appeal to the citizens of India is to trust Bhutan and the King of Bhutan and learn the meaning of friendship and humility from the people of the Himalayan kingdom.

  12. Prasad says:

    Your oft repeated advice, or longing, that India should sell Brahmos to Vietname is not practical for the simple reason is that Brahmos is a JV between India & Russia & would require Russian assent which would not be forthcoming.
    Also, it is not known whether India possess know-how of all the components ( for eg seeker) for it to be produced for export.
    And, Bharat, it is always educative, reading your articles, irrespective of whether I agree or not (Not that my disagreement would matter)

  13. Deepak says:

    Finally last trusted neighbor Bhutan also proven to be backstabber and big intelligence failure of Modi govt which is not even discussed in TRP driven Indian media. Himalayan blunder from east to west starting from Tibet in North,Bhutan in the east,Nepal in the center, Aksai Chin in the west, Gilgit Baltistan and POK in the northwest made India vulnerable against China.Indian leadership thought these areas will serve as a buffer state between India and China and decided not to merge these areas into India when opportunity was there in the past to merge these areas except Tibet which was an Independent Country.Now all these areas have become problematic for India due to lack of strategic thinking,lack of vision, weak leadership from the time of independence till date almost without any exception.

  14. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad:

    Could you please fill in for us some concrete info on the Nathu La incident (1967) – very little, if at all, is available on the internet? To my recollection, there were two clashes, one in 1967 and the second in the following year 1968 – is that correct, and what had PLA planned for to have a go at India then? I once travelled to Sikkim, but could not go to Nathu La due to heavy snowfall which blocked roads but was able to be as far as the ‘Baba Mandir’ not far from Nathu La. There were heavy troops present on the road one could see. Some info points at that Jelep La was abandoned by the Indian Army then, but a Major-Gen has contradicted it in a conversation with me.

    Apropos Doklam, If PLA has occupied much of the plateau now, is it not just academic that India, Bhutan and China, all three countries have to agree where the boundary of the trijunction has to
    set and the Nehru–Chou-en-Lai agreement as good as defunct?

  15. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    I have reasoned in the below article why for India, Bangladesh could be a potentially more formidable opponent than Pakistan in South Asia.

    https://wonderfuldistractions.substack.com/p/bangladesh-could-be-more-formidable?justPublished=true

    I would welcome your most informed views Mr Karnad on this matter. Others in this forum are also welcome to share their views on this article of mine.

    Thanks and regards with best wishes
    Debanjan

    • Amit says:

      @Debanjan,

      You make some good points about why Bangladesh could emerge as a formidable competitor to India in South Asia. However, to characterise it as an opponent assumes that the areas of cooperation and common interests are subsumed by religious divisions. Bangladesh has the same problems as India in managing minority interests. The Hindu population is substantial there. So it is in Bangladesh’s interests to manage harmony within the country. Unlike Pakistan where Hindus are and have been around 1-2% of the population for a long time.

      Also, problems like Teesta can be resolved if there is a change in Govt in Bengal. Additionally, regarding trade and influence of China in Bangladesh – this is a good thing. India is a reactive country and will make positive changes only when there is threat of competition.

      However, managing social harmony within India will have an impact on its relations with its neighbours. So the trajectory of minority relations in India will have spillover effects in its neighbourhood. But for India to become an opponent of Bangladesh, India will have to slide significantly relative to it economically AND socially. While this is a possible outcome, I think it is not very likely – as India is doing some things right on its economic front and is also making efforts to improve connectivity and trade with Bangladesh, while the Indian population has displayed a healthy opposition to divisive policies like the NRC.

      • Major General (Dr) AK Bardalai, Veteran says:

        Great to hear such mature views.

        The key is the operative sentence of your analysis “However, managing social harmony within India will have an impact on its relations with its neighbours.”

        Best regards

      • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

        Thanks so much for your prompt feedback.

        I will answer some of your points in next article of mine on this question of Bangladesh-India relations.

  16. Concerned Citizen says:

    Mr. Karnad,
    I would like to know your comments on the latest policy paper ”India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift” by the group of people that put out Non-Alignment 2.0 ? Do you agree with their ideas? Should India change its’ SAARC policy?
    https://cprindia.org/research/reports/india%E2%80%99s-path-power-strategy-world-adrift
    Thank you
    A concerned citizen.

    • Absolutely correct assessment.

      • Amit says:

        I was watching a YouTube interview yesterday about this very system and the reaction it has generated in the US. The US apparently has no counter to this system and is taking this threat quite seriously. As is the US reaction to such things, there was talk about taking out all such Launchpad sites in China.

        Professor, how much of this system and the threat it poses is hype versus reality? Does having this one weapon system which has no defences against it so game changing? Or is it hype from China in terms of the difference it might make?

  17. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/yogi-adityanath-sedition-charges-celebrating-pakistan-win-t20-world-cup-1870375-2021-10-28

    With leaders like this, the country is surely doomed.

    What difference does it make whether one cheers for nation x, y or z?

    Watching sports is just a time pass, leisurely pursuit. One’s cheering doesn’t have any impact on the end result of a game. A person indulges in it just to experience a ‘feel good’ factor.

    Indians settled in England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia openly cheer for Indian cricket team during Indian squad’s games over there.

    By Adityanath’s logic, governments of the above mentioned nations should also invoke treason charges against such Indians and deport them back to India.

    • Rj says:

      Gaurav Tyagi@ — Go to Pakistan and try to do same for India, you will get answer

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Rj- You surely must be a member of BJP, which has an understanding with the Pakistan Tourism Board to act as promoters of tourism in Pakistan by asking everyone to go to Pakistan.

        Send me the flight ticket to Pakistan. I live in China, it’s no problem for me to visit Pakistan.

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