Ties with major powers to help India tackle China: Saran
New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) India's burgeoning ties with major powers like the US and Russia hold the key to how effectively New Delhi manages the "China challenge" in the years to come, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran said Wednesday, even as he advocated mutually beneficial relations between the Asian giants.
"The stronger India's links are with these major powers, the more room India would have in its relations with China," Saran said while delivering the second lecture in memory of K. Subrahmanyam, India's prominent strategic thinker.
The annual commemorative lecture was organised under the aegis of Global India Foundation (GIF), a think tank.
"...how India manages its relations with other major powers, in particular, the United States, would also be a factor. My own experience has been that the closer India-US relations are seen to be, the more amenable China has proved to be," he said.
He was delivering the lecture on 'China in the Twenty-First Century: What India Needs to Know About China's World View'. The lecture was chaired by M.K. Rasgotra, a former foreign secretary.
In a lecture that delved deep into the troubled past of the India-China relations that led to the 1962 war and looking ahead at the trajectory of this crucial relationship, Saran said the two nations looked set to have an adversarial relationship due to their competing ambitions, but it would not lead to a military confrontation in the changed geopolitical landscape.
Saran, a former envoy of the Indian prime minister on the India-US nuclear deal, also debunked a notion floated by sections of the strategic community in the West that "a closer India-US relationship leads China to adopt a more negative and aggressive posture towards India".
Saran added that India should take care to sustain its relations with Russia and added that the 1971 Indo-Soviet treaty deterred China from launching an attack in 1971 when the US was trying to persuade it to do so to relieve pressure on Pakistan.
"I also believe that it is a question of time before similar concerns surface in Russia as well. India should be mindful of this in maintaining and consolidating its already friendly, but sometimes, sketchy relations with Russia," said Saran.
The lecture was attended by many strategic thinkers, diplomats, students and admirers of Subrahmanyam, who was a pioneer in helping create a culture of strategic thinking in India.
In a pragmatic vein, Saran said the simultaneous rise of India and China could generate tensions, but that should not preclude them from forging a collaborative relationship on a host of issues.
"China is the one power which impinges most directly on India's geopolitical space. As the two countries expand their respective economic and military capabilities and their power radiates outwards from their frontiers, they will inevitably intrude into each other's zone of interest, what has been called over-lapping peripheries," he said.
Saran urged the Indian foreign policy establishment and strategic community to develop a deeper insight into the Chinese strategic thinking and mindset to deal more effectively with the China challenge.
"It is not necessary that this adversarial relationship will inevitably generate tensions or, worse, another military conflict," he said.
"...but in order to avoid that, India needs to fashion a strategy which is based on a constant familiarity with Chinese strategic calculus, the changes in this calculus as the regional and global landscape changes and which is, above all, informed by a deep understanding of Chinese culture, the psyche of its people and how these, too, are undergoing change in the process of modernisation," he said.
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