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India’s Equation with China, Nepal & Pakistan



  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • India is moving swiftly to ease frictions with neighboring countries.
  • However, no neighborhood policy can overlook India equations with Pakistan, which is presently not on desirable terms.

How has India China relationship evolved under Modi?

China –

  • The new regime in 2014 started off the Indo-China diplomacy with much euphoria and personal touch, but things went off track soon.
  • In 2016, China blocked India’s bit to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • This was followed by China blockading India sponsored resolutions in the “UN Security Council” in order to protect Pakistan based terror outfits.
  • Additionally, China stopped sharing hydrological data on Brahmaputra river waters and reports emerged that China is building tunnels to divert water.
  • All these culminated in the 73-day stand-off at Doklam (Bhutan Sikkim China tri-junction), which saw a massive troop mobilisation on both sides.

India’s actions –

  • India vociferously criticised China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) as a project intended to create debt traps.
  • It also stepped with maritime engagements through the annual Malabar Navel Exercise involving U.S., Japan and India.
  • India also played a key role in establishing the Quadrilateral (Quad), which is a security arrangement among India –US – Japan – Australia.

Course Correction –

  • There currently seems to be a realisation on both sides that the risks of the downward spiral ties are in nobody’s interests.
  • Hence, leaders on both sides have moved swiftly to change the confrontational attitude and opt for a more fruitful cooperative engagement.
  • On that note, sustained high level engagements started off almost immediately after the Doklam crisis got diffused.
  • The Indian government was also conscious when it avoided the ceremony that marked the 60th Anniversary of Dalai Lama’s India arrival.
  • Also, Australia’s request for joining the 2017 Malabar Exercise (which took place near Chennai), was turned down to lower the rhetoric.
  • Recently, the Indian PM visited China and for a long and exhaustive informal meet that is said to have covered almost all aspects of Indo-China relationship.
  • Border patrols on both sides are said to have been instructed clearly to improve communications with the other side and avoid stand-offs.
  • Although no progress has been made regarding disagreements on the NSG and BRI issues, a visible softening of the overall equations seems palpable.
  • With three other international summits (SCO, BRICS, and G20) for the year already on the calendar, there is every indication for a sustained engagement.

What is the present situation with Nepal?

  • Modi’s visit in 2014 had generated considerable goodwill but subsequent decisions queered the pitch.
  • India’s public display of unhappiness with Nepal’s new Constitution and support for the Madhesi cause created ill-will.
  • Additionally, tacit Indian support was broadly suspected for the border economic blockade in the Terai region that disrupted essentials for Nepal.
  • All these had fed into an anti-Indian sentiment among them Nepali masses, something that Mr. K.P. Oli capitalised effectively in the election campaigns.
  • The victory of Mr. Oli was indeed a disappointment for India, but the government seems to have swiftly swung into action to undo the animosity.
  • A high profile delegation was sent to Nepal to congratulate Mr. Oli even before he was sworn in as PM, and an invitation to India was presented to him.
  • Oli seems to have taken these positively and had made India his first foreign destination – which is now the tradition for all Nepali PMs.
  • Modi is now expected to go to Nepal soon, which is again indicative of the fact that the tension of the past are fast waning.
  • There are expectations that the stalled Indian proposal for a Ramayana pilgrimage circuit linking Ayodhya and Janakpur in Nepal could be revived.
  • Significantly, while the expectations are being kept low, the optics of positive messaging are evident through the highlighting of cultural connections.

How India’s equation is changing with Pakistan?

  • With Pakistan too, the Modi dispensation began its rule with a positive outreach, which also attracted a good response from the Pakistani PM.
  • Subsequent cross border terror attacks by Pakistani based terror outfits turned the initial friendship sour.
  • Also, the seeming reluctance of the Pakistani state to reign in the activities of anti-India forces on its soil further ruined the relationship.
  • The September 2016, India launched ‘surgical strikes’ to target terrorist bases in Pakistan (along the border), but this operation too proved ineffective.
  • Firing across the Line of Control (LoC) also intensified leading to higher casualties on both sides, both civilian and military.
  • The encounter killing of Hisbul Mujaheedin Commander Burhan Wani in Kashmir fuelled local radicalism in J&K – Pakistan is said to have aided this.
  • India stalled the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit since 2016 in protest against Pakistan’s actions.
  • The Trump administration too seems to be largely sharing India’s outlook towards Pakistan, which has brought some cheer to Indian policy makers.
  • Minor fumbles in according comfort to the posted diplomats recently blew into a big controversy that saw actions and retaliations – which is concerning.
  • Elections are likely in July 2018 in Pakistan – but Nawaz Sharif is disqualified by the Supreme Court and there seems to be no strong alternative.
  • This only strengthens the Army’s position in determining the immediate political realities in Pakistan.
  • Significantly, Pakistan Army Chief Bajwa has been emphasising the need for improving relations with both India and Afghanistan.
  • The stalled “Track II Neemrana Dialogue” has been revived recently, which is a positive for both countries – which needs to be sustained till its logical ends.
  • Pakistan needs to address India’s core concerns like – 26/11 investigations, curtailing JeM and other anti-India groups and the Kulbushan Jadhav case.


India and Pokhran- II



  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • India celebrated two decades of the success of Pokhran- II nuclear tests conducted in 1998.
  • India more or less achieved the envisioned strategic goals, but the road has not been smooth.

Why India pursued nuclear status?

  • A future India with nuclear weapons, which would provide for a strategic and military leverage, was hotly discussed in the 1980s.
  • The primary idea was off-set conventional Chinese military superiority and neutralise its nuclear arsenal.
  • Hence, India conducted 5 nuclear tests at Pokhran over 2 days in May 1998.
  • While the envisioned purpose has largely been achieved presently, the road hasn’t been smooth as multiple sanctions and restrictions had to be overcome.

What happened afterwards?

  • While several global powers reacted to Pokhran-II with fury, the permanent members of the UN Security Council were divided.
  • The US, China, and the UK were critical of India’s nuclear tests, but Russia and France were not in favour of sanctions.
  • Other notable powers who joined the US in imposing sanctions were -Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Sweden.
  • The skilful diplomacy of Indian delegates and the political dispensation help India tide over the hostile international climate.
  • Soon, the high officials of the US had come to the realisation of the inevitability of India’s nuclear pursuit (considering its neighbourhood).
  • Notably, India has fought wars with China and Pakistan and there were clear indications that developing nuclear deterrence was the only option for India.
  • India also declared that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons – but asserted that its retaliation to a nuclear attack against it will be furious.
  • The implied that India’s nuclear arsenal will become active only when it has been attacked with nuclear bomb (No First Use Policy).
  • By around 2000, almost all international ties of India had normalised, which was an informal acceptance of India’s nuclear status.
  • Talks with the US began almost immediately after the 1998 tests, and the 2008 Indo-US nuclear deal can be called the comprehensive end of nuclear isolation.
  • India subsequently got the NSG waiver in September 2008, which was largely due to USA’s lobbying among NSG members.
  • Hence, India posses a nuclear arsenal (and hasn’t signed the NPT), but yet managed to gain entry into international civilian nuclear trade.

What is India’s current status?

  • India is now a member of three out of four multilateral export control regimes namely – MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group.
  • It has been trying hard to gain entry into the “Nuclear Supplier’s Group” (NSG), which the export control block for nuclear resources and technology.
  • The adherence to the non-proliferation regime (by own volition) has improved its international standing over the past two decades.
  • 20 years after Pokhran-II, India has demonstrated moral, political and legal standing to convey to the world that it plays by the rules.
  • India’s stand on issues like – “Paris Climate Accord, South China Sea dispute or counter-terrorism initiatives, also project it as a responsible power.

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