Why India must embrace inequality with China.

India missed the bus decades ago – I will let Statistics do the talking

As you can see from the chart below, in 1987, GDP (Nominal) of both countries was almost equal. But in 2019, China’s GDP is~5 times greater than India. On ppp basis, GDP of China is 2.38 times of India. China crossed $1 trillion mark in 1998 while India crossed 9 year later in 2007 at exchange rate basis.

Both countries has been neck-to-neck in gdp per capita terms. As per both method, India was richer than China in 1990. Now in 2019, China is almost 4.61 times richer than India in nominal method and 2.30 times richer in ppp method. Per capita rank of China and India is 72th and 145th, resp, in nominal. Per capita rank of China and India is 75th and 126th, resp, in ppp.


Picture credit: Statisticstimes.com

This post will not do a deep dive on why we missed the bus (though I do plan to write a post on that). We will instead focus on why we must embrace this inequality to our advantage and prosperity.

Before we delve further, A Panchtantra Story : Monkey and Two Cats

Panchtantra: A collection of stories with animals as central characters, the collection of stories is said to be ~3000 years old. Each story (originally in the ancient language of Sanskrit), ended with a moral.

Two cats were prowling in a neighbourhood when one of them saw a big piece of cake. However, the other jumped up and picked it.

The first cat said, “Give me the cake. It is I who saw it first.”

The other cat said “Keep away from it. It is I who picked it up.”

They were fighting and fighting. But there was no solution. Just then, a monkey passed by. He came to the cats and said in a loud voice. “Don’t fight. Let me share the cake with you both”. The cake was handed over to the monkey.

The monkey split the cake into two parts. He shook his head and said, “Oho! One is bigger. One is smaller”. He had a bit of the bigger and now said “Oho! This has become smaller now”. He ate from the other. And thus, he went on eating from part to part and finally finished the whole cake.

The poor cats were disappointed.

Moral: When two friends quarrel, someone else gains.

First of all : China is NOT out there to get us

My opinion on this is pretty strong – I don’t think China has any intentions to grab Indian territories at this point. Of course there will be contentions regarding disputed regions but China already has enough on its plate.

Also, China will not go to war with India. Though the disparity betwen India and China in defence capabilities has increased significantly, Chinese know that India is very much capable of raising the cost of war significantly higher, despite losing the war.

Just in case you don’t know, the personnel monitoring India China border, on both sides, DO NOT carry weapons. This leads to situations where in case of skirmishes, soldiers on both sides exchange punches and stones

This is clearly an indication that both sides are very much aware that the other side has no expansionist ambitions (other than the disputed region).

China is a very development oriented company that will NOT foray into doing things just for “pride” that can damage its growth and prosperity.

Even though the trade is not balanced, China has a lot of investment in India. Deep within, it is cognizant that there is one embedded similarity in the mindset of these two countries – Both are progressive economies that won’t indulge in maverick activities.

What will be the benefits for us (India) ?

More realistic resolutions of issues: In my opinion, the fact that we do not make headways in negotiations and talks with China is because we refuse to accept that these talks are not between equals.

“Often, accepting that you are weaker party in negotiation can help you get a more realistic and better deal” – Chanakya

Get help on building infrastructure: We don’t need money from China for our projects but let us accept the fact that Chinese are the masters of building Logistics infrastructure.

In my perspective, no nation can become a developed nation until it builds a world class logistics infrastructure.

Ease expenditure on defence: Does not need much explanation. If we embrace the two facts -One that China does not want to grab Indian territory and two that we can never defeat China in a full scale war, it allows us to direct much needed funds into making sure that we can also build an economy as thriving as theirs.

Skills transfer like the world has not seen before: The terrain between China and India did not allow for much cultural exchange for thousands of years, which is one of the primary reason for mutual apprehension between these two countries. Now that both countries have the capability to build infrastructure to connect, I cn’t put a limit in my mind to the skill set exchange between these two countries. Both countries have deep tech expertise and imagine the status of joint ventures floated by Indi-Chinese companies on global landscape.

Minimize outside interests in the region: The fact that India and China do not align very well on many issues is obviously something that leads to countries like US leveraging India as a counter against China in the region. With its current mindset, India believes that having a strong Western power will deter Chinese incursion and annexation. The annexations will never happen and as far as incrusions are concerned, the border was never defines so these incrusions do not means Chinese are out there to get us.

Chinese would love to have good relationship with us: War mongerers keep on highlighting the fact that China is leveraging Pakistan against India.

Yes…it is ! But that is a natural response to India aligning with US. The day we build a level of trust and relationship so deep that a express train runs betwen Beijing and New Delhi, believe me, China will shun Pakistan in a heartbeat.

Every country needs to secure their interests and make moves based on the evolving Geo political atmosphere and that is exactly what China is doing with Pakistan right now.

There are no all weather friends in International Politics


Views strictly my own.

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