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Modi’s Policies are downgrading India’s Major-Power Ambition in the International System

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India’s aspiration toward achieving a ‘major power’ status will only be achieved with the possibility of building a strong economy not being a contested factor. A stable economy can support with adequate funds to the defense department, stand with the government’s aspiration to strengthen its military but not by ruling the elites’ flaw words. The best example would be the double-digit growth of China’s economy during the 1980s and 2000s, which supported Beijing to allot the required resources to eject millions from poverty, and build a strong military.

The BJP got a clear mandate from the people in the 2014 general elections with the expectations of delivering inclusive growth. During that campaign, Prime Ministerial Candidate Narandera Modi’s large part of the message to the voters was on development agenda based on the Gujarat model. Moreover, he has successfully sold out this story to the Indian voters without explaining what the Gujarat model is. Therefore, he came to power. People of this country have enthusiastically been waiting for the last three and a half years expecting to get benefits from Prime Minister Modi’s administration on the basis of the so called Gujarat model of development; instead they are roasting by imposing of demonetization and without proper preparations they implemented the GST. Now people of this country gradually postulate the Gujarat model and have realized that Gujarat model means continuous lies and giving long speeches without any action. The funny thing was that the voters were completely disappointed while Modi missed his last chance in explaining about the model during the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections. Modi had spoken in more meetings and rallies in Gujarat but dare to pronounce that in any of the meetings about the Gujarat model of development. It undoubtedly demonstrates that Gujarat model is nothing but Modi’s deceived politics. Even the former BJP’s government finance and external affairs minister, Yeswant Sinha, has been rising specific doubts and slammed the finance minister in handling the Indian economy. This mismanagement and the alliance between Modi and the finance minister Arun Jaitley, completely erase the hope of India’s rise.

In this article I am analyzing how the policies of Prime Minister Narandera Modi and his government are downgrading India’s Major Power Ambitions.

Economy

The recent economic survey of 2017-18 under the Modi administration shows disappointments and has devastated the people’s hopes. It gave us a cautious warning and forced to presume that the finance minister had not delivered up to the expected line. P. Chidambaram, the former finance minister of India, underlined the economic survey and said, “It is a depressing report and the future course of the economy is conditional on many ifs.” It indicates the economy is not under the control of this government. This government’s visionary path has no clear agenda. Since the next year will be the election year, therefore, the ruling elites are in waiting to throw away the responsibility on the external environment if the expected growth rate does not reach out in the next financial year. If you look into the report by applying your mind more closely, you will draw a finale that the BJP government’s complete failure on health, education, employment and agriculture. Moreover, they are continuously in preaching on shadow development with extraordinary lies. The recent by-elections in Rajasthan demonstrate that the people of this country are not in a position to completely take these flaw words any more from the BJP leaders.

The recent budget did not consider the important sectors of the country: healthcare and education. A lot of decorations are dancing on the budget without legs. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s magic did not even take off during these four years. He got a wonderful opportunity to prove that he is better than the Congress Party economic captains. But so far the BJP economic manager has failed to attain that title. The announcement of minimum support price to agriculture sector raises many questions. “While China and Pakistan spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, India spends it on the allocation of accounts for just 1.58 percent of the GDP, which is the lowest in 50 years in terms of percentage of GDP” (firstpost.com). Many policy announcements are left without allotments of fund. In the last four years the fall in the global oil price was not allowed to be shared with the poor people of this country whereas it was effectively settled with the corporate tycoons. Hence, the budget considerably fails in keeping the spirit of the people those who have voted for Modi hopefully. This budget especially carries the increase of lip service of optimism but not walk the talk of Modi.

The average growth rate achieved in the UPA government was around 7.5 percent although the world was experiencing the impact of the ‘Lehman Brothers’ melting down in the United States. The economic team in the UPA government did a wonderful job in maintaining the constituency of the growth of the Indian economy. It means the economy was under the control of the UPA economic team, led by the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. For this reason the economy was not distracted; while the external environment, especially the world banking sector, was completely on the down fall since 2008.

The expected growth rate of the last financial year was not achieved. Hence, there is no policy guarantee that the projected growth rate will be reached out in the next financial year. The policy of demonetization killed more than 100 innocent people and destroyed local businesses, which led millions to be kicked out from their jobs. It fails to serve its purpose but Modi has not yet apologized to the people of this country with regard to the imposition of demonetization. The large youth that once supported Modi’s development model are now pushed to sell ‘Pakodas’. Modi had promised to the youth of this country during the campaign that his government will produce two crores jobs annually. The Congress Party raised this question in the parliament but no direct answer was given from either Arun Jaitley or Modi. Instead, Modi unleashed a one-hour preaching session with wrong inputs from history. But the youth of this country are asking for jobs and not unwanted words. The civil war in Syria leads to 10 lakhs of its citizens to migrate to Europe as refugees. The poor administration of the BJP ruling states leads to internal migration, shoving the daily wage workers to get away from their home states for their livelihood, forced to work for lesser salaries and in a low quality of work atmosphere in other states.

Continuous False promises and deception politics

Who said this government is free from corruption? Modi had promised that his government will be free from corruption. Mr.Yediurappa, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, is facing serious corruption charges however; the BJP has proposed him as the chief minister candidate for the upcoming 2018 assembly elections. The ill-advisedly implemented demonetization itself is an organized loot. Urging to implement unsustainable port projects is raising serious doubts on its economic feasibilities. How has Amit Shah’s son’s profit increased to 300% in these three and a half years? Modi had said all the black money from the Swiss Bank will be brought to India and 15 lakhs will be deposited in every poor Indians account. What happened to this promise? Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi and now Nirav Modi are allowed to loot India’s banks under this administration and show a smooth exit to escape from this country. The former Union minister, Kapil Sibal, says, “The banking system is drift, core baking had escaped the SWIFT and depositors are truly miffed.” Why the increase in Rafael deal has no answer from the Prime Minister? Scams after scams darken the face of this government. Therefore, they are declining to face the opposition’s questions with regard to corruptions.

The BJP government is run by bureaucrats and not by elected representatives. It is really funny that a minister who has failed to achieve to improve India’s exports is appointed as Defense Minister. You cannot simply say by appointing a woman, it means she’s equal to Indira Gandhi. It is true that the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi said in his interview to the National Herold – the BJP led NDA’s ministers capacity cannot be compared with the Congress led UPA’s minister’s capabilities. Commonsense, rationality and wider consultations are missing and replaced by ill thoughts, arrogance and foolishness. ‘Gau Rakshaks’ are getting more respects than a investor in the BJP ruling states.

China Factor and Immediate Neighbors

Trade deficit with China is an issue but this government doesn’t have a solution since 2014. The way the Dokulam standoff was diffused indicating our vulnerability. Why do Indian troops withdraw first from the tri junction? We are still receiving information that the Chinese deployment in the tri junction was not completely windup. Modi’s recent visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh was reacted by the Chinese mouthpiece but amicable response from New Delhi would not be a strategic response to the assertive China.

Last three and a half years ceasefire violations have been demonstrated by Pakistan and we lost more brave soldiers. I can strongly accuse this administration without any hesitations by saying Modi has allowed the cross border trade to be replaced by increase in cross border terrorism. The BJP’s highly politicized for political gains ‘surgical strike’ should have been demonstrated again. Why the government did not go for another ‘surgical strike’?  Does the prime minister have any policy to contain Pakistan? Under Modi’s leadership witnessed India’s relations with Pakistan completely down to an unprecedented new low.

Maldives crisis would be an opportunity for India to demonstrate to the world that we are serious to gain our scores in the international power system.  So far the Maldives issue is concerned that the Modi government’s approaches are not commendable, and gradually spares spaces for the Chinese to intrude in the East Indian Ocean, which is a big policy mistake. This is the Chinese provocative approach. Any part of the Indian Ocean is not part of the disputed South China Sea. This is our theater and it is our responsibility to uphold the law and order in and around this region.

In all these issues the world and the other major powers in the Asia region and in West are seriously watching and keeping their eyes on us about the way we demonstrate our responsibilities in maintaining the order in our region. If we fail to restore democracy in Male, this will send an unprecedented wrong wave that if anyone of these nations dethroned their democratic setup would be safe without any third party interference because New Delhi has no strategic trajectory to respond China.

Conclusion

Keeping the 2019 general elections in mind, Modi has started generating new lies. Now he has shifted his goal post from Gujarat Model to ‘New India.’ Again no one knows what he means. However, this new catchphrase has lost its sound due to the recent Gujarat state election results. The Prime Minister failed to understand a stable economy only support a country’s defense posture not by his blank narratives. His long sermons are now boring the youth of this country and all of his holiday visits abroad will not give any breakthrough in keeping India’s interest alive in the international power system. Inadequate funds to defense modernization, loss to the exchequer in the major defense deals, scientific loots, and incapable ministers in the Modi’s cabinet gradually expose its inability to face the challenges. Now the point is very clear – in these four years Modi’s government and his political managers proved they are the kings of verbal singers not suitable for policy articulations.

Finally, to sum up our discussion on the above analysis demonstrating that Modi’s deception politics will not stay longer: Soft speaking approaches with wise policy implementations are more trust worthy than deceptive loud speaking voices in the international system. The flaw policies of this government causes heavy damages to the economy, the assurance of corruption free governance is under scanner, continuous false promises like ‘Ache Din’ to ‘New India’ slogans, trust deficit created to security matters in maintaining tranquility and peace in our western borders, setbacks in articulating diplomacy in responds to China and the failures in keeping our immediate flocks closely with us have proved the ruling elites incompetence to run a government. Hence, under this government the projection of India’s ‘Major Power’ aspiration is really downward sloping.

Antony Clement is a Senior Editor (Asia-Pacific), Modern Diplomacy an online journal. He is a researcher in Indian Foreign Policy. He consults on academic development and he is currently working on two books - “Discover your Talents” and “Diplomacy in Tough Times”. His research centres on India’s diplomacy & foreign policy and extends to domestic politics, economic policy, security issues, and international security matters, including India’s relations with the US, the BRICS nations, the EU and Australia.

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South Asia

Pakistan should ‘Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick’ in response to India

M Waqas Jan

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With the 73rd United Nations General Assembly currently underway, tensions in South Asia once again seem to be building up to yet another verbal battle between the delegations from Pakistan and India. As the Pakistani Foreign Minister and his Indian counter-part both arrive in New York, the mood between both sides remains sour owing to the recent cancellation of the proposed meeting that was to be held between the two on the sidelines of this summit. Thus instead of talks, the age-old issues surrounding Kashmir, terrorism and cross border violations are once again expected to take center stage in both Ministers’ speeches to the General Assembly.

However, it is worth noting that despite the appearance of escalating tensions, Pakistan is in a much better position diplomatically in light of the recent steps taken by key officials in India. These include the Indian Army Chief’s sudden sabre-rattling over the weekend, coupled with the confusion and inconsistency in the contradictory statements issued by the Indian Foreign Office.

The case of the latter arises from the fact that Pakistan’s offer for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA was at first accepted by India. It was then suddenly rescinded within a day, along with a strongly worded statement that not only questioned Pakistan’s motives, but accused it of harboring ‘Evil Intentions’ from which the ‘true face of its Prime Minister was revealed.’

Even in the long history of Pak – India tensions, the wording of this official statement marks a fresh departure from established diplomatic norms between the two countries. It harks back to the rhetoric employed by the hard-line Iran regime against the Bush led US Administration. Or the kind of statements made by the North Korean leadership as part of its carefully crafted narrative of defiance and belligerence to the world status quo. Both present examples of where international sentiment went against such fiery rhetoric as opposed to supporting it.

Coming from India however, the statements made by its army chief as well as its external affairs spokesperson appear at best as an over-reaction. At their worst, they come off as a grave miscalculation that has in fact played right into the narrative being posited by Pakistan. This narrative is linked directly to the unabashed and hard-line approach taken by the Modi government, in placating its vast political base of far right nationalists. Pakistan has long accused the Indian government of pushing forth an anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda, harking back to the days of Mr. Modi’s stint as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The rise of religious intolerance and widespread political divisiveness in India are often cited as a direct result of Mr. Modi’s inability to promote peace and diversity within the region.

Based on the above, the recent cancellation of talks between the two countries’ Foreign Ministers is thus widely perceived to have been carried out within this same context. Especially with the Indian elections looming just ahead, many have pointed out that escalating tensions against Pakistan would greatly help in diverting the Indian electorate’s attention away from domestic issues. Channeling such anti-Pakistan sentiments, the incumbent government can thus position itself as the only credible deterrent to the bogeyman that Pakistan is being made out to be; In effect, uniting a fractured and divisive polity against an age-old historic enemy.

Considering how India has often accused Pakistan’s foreign policy of being made hostage to Civil-Military tensions and more or less defined by hawkish generals; it is extremely ironic to see how India’s own foreign policy is here being made hostage to local communal and political tensions amongst its own populace. While Mr. Modi may perhaps achieve some semblance of a political victory domestically, one wonders whether it is worth India losing its credibility as a key regional power internationally.

Based on this scenario Pakistan here has a unique opportunity in claiming the moral as well as diplomatic high ground by merely exercising restraint. Instead of playing into the bellicose rhetoric and being goaded in to a tactical misadventure, Pakistan should continue to push for talks emphasizing the need for peace and restraint. This should be done in spite of the inherent weaknesses on display within the Indian government and military.

Therefore, drawing on the century old dictum espoused by visionary US President, Theodore Roosevelt, Pakistan would do well to “Speak softly and carry a Big Stick, ”in response to the increasingly bellicose rhetoric being espoused by India. While much has been made of the ‘Big Stick’ in the form of nuclear deterrence on the international stage, it is the diplomatic finesse required in ‘Speaking Softly’ that is to give Pakistan the edge within the current debates unfolding at the UNGA.

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Prospect of peace process between India and Pakistan

Adeela Ahmed

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The Sovereign States frame their foreign policy to set political goals that enable them to interact with the other countries of the world to promote their national interest, national security and enhance national power. The Government of Pakistan along with other challenges is focusing to formulate a vigorous foreign policy. It is a Herculean task but they are motivated to set the foreign policy preferences.  It has adopted an approach of conflict resolution to review their relations with not only with Eastern and Western neighbors but also with Muslims world and Great powers.

It is foremost goal of Pakistan not to confront any country but there would be no compromise on its national interests and national security. However, the incumbents at the helm of affairs are taking significant steps towards improving Pakistan’s relations with the neighboring and significant geopolitical countries like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India, and Afghanistan.

Pakistan is well aware of the fact that the improvement in relations with neighbors would reduce hostility in the region which would benefit not only Pakistan but also bring prosperity to the region. Pakistan is on the track of bringing peaceful relations with India and Afghanistan as peace in neighbors is peace in the Regions.

The international system is moving towards multipolarity. So, it is in the strategic interest of every state to develop good relations with countries to avail new opportunities and counter all the challenges for economic prosperity, regionally and globally, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

South Asia has significant Geo strategic importance in the world politics.  The sea lanes in the Indian Ocean are considered among the most strategically important in the world which makes South Asia more important region for trade and global security. Pakistan Government took a big diplomatic step to initiate the Peace Process. The vision of Peace Initiative is to develop cordial relations on equal footings to improve trade and commercial ties. Such diplomatic move is beneficial for both countries and can reduce poverty and economics crises. With such positive proposals, Pakistan realized to avail the international platform of 72th Sessions of United States General Assembly to engage with India for regional connectivity and prosperity.

Keeping aside all the hurdles imposed by US and India to isolate Pakistan at the regional and international level Pakistan wrote letter to Indian counterpart.  The hurdles executed by US and India are as they have placed Pakistan in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by the global financial watchdog and the United States has frozen aid to Pakistan for the country’s alleged failure to take serious steps in fighting terrorism and extremism. And on top of all that, Pakistan’s relations with neighboring Afghanistan are once again returning to the usual blame-game by Afghan Government due to India propaganda and subversion.

Unfortunately, on 22 September India rejected the step of peace initiative taken by Pakistan government arrogantly by making an excuse of the issuance of stamps of Kashmiri freedom fighters. Although the stamps were issued on July 24, a day before the general elections were held, the issue was raised by Indian media within 24 hours after New Delhi agreed to the meeting.

Actually, it is in the Strategic interest of India to cancel the talks for their domestic political advantage. The reality is that India did not want to engage with Pakistan and to hide its intentions by using old tactics of blame game and fake propaganda. Ridiculously, they criticize Pakistan intentions as “the evil agenda of Pakistan” and nullified the importance of dialogue.  It disappointed Pakistan as the resumption of the peace dialogue is the need of time.

India wants its supremacy in the region by suppressing and isolating Pakistan but Pakistan new government diplomatic tactful moves of improving ties with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran and revive strategic ties with China, Saudi Arabia, and UAE annoys them. They cannot perceive Pakistan growing and flourishing economically. They try to use the political card of “military adventure” on Pakistan but Pakistanis have warned that any misadventure may turn into a disaster. Pakistan will not bear it.

In South Asia, India and Pakistan are Nuclear power states and it put more responsibility on both states to make strategies that will keep safe the interests of the entire region.  The role of rational decision makers who can act pragmatically in the time of crises and conflict without any pressures is like heart line. In that context when we analyse the current situation, the attitude of Indian media, the public pressure is so severe and their domestic politics instigates decision makers to bend and issued harsh irrational statements. Such an attitude is not only against diplomatic norms but also interrupts the conditions of deterrence equation which build stability between nuclear adversaries. Military adventurism is a dangerous step which can cross the threshold and the result would be drastic.

Pakistan Government use the international platform to draw the attention of world about Indian human rights violations against and oppression of the people of India-held Kashmir along with Indian stubbornness in Peace talks with Pakistan. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated at 72th UNGA forum that Pakistan’s principled position of being open to dialogue and firmly believes that it’s the only way forward to ensure regional peace and stability. Globally it should be noted that India aggressive policies did not want peace and despite Indian belligerence, Pakistan always makes efforts for peace and stability of the entire region.  India has once again wasted a serious opportunity to change the dynamics of the bilateral relationship and has unleashed the hate among the rivalries. It is high time both the countries should realize that the only way forward is regional connectivity through amicable ways as their region is becoming the centre of world economics.

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China’s narrative in South Asia

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Recently, China’s consular general in Kolkata, Ma Zhanwu, while speaking at a function, proposed a bullet train connecting Kunming (Yunnan Province) with Kolkata, the capital of India’s Eastern state of West Bengal. Said the Diplomat:

‘With joint efforts of India and China, a high-speed rail link could be established between the two cities,’

It would be pertinent to point out, that the proposal for a bullet train connecting Kunming had been discussed earlier at the Greater Mekong Sub region meet in 2015. Enhancing connectivity between India and China through the Kolkata- Kunming multi modal corridor/Bangladesh China India Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIMEC) (which covers a distance of 2,800 kilometres) has been under discussion for over 2 decades, through the track two K2K (Kolkata-Kunming dialogue). During Former PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s China visit in October 2013, sister city relations were established between Kunming and Kolkata.

In recent years, China has been pro-actively reaching out to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and has invited her to visit on repeated occasions, though she has been unable to visit (she was all set to visit in June 2018, but her trip was cancelled at the last moment ). Apart from this, a number of Chinese investors have expressed interest in investing in West Bengal and even attended the Bengal Global Business Summit 2018.

Given the increasing emphasis on connectivity with South East Asia, through India’s North East (one of the key aims of the ‘Act East Policy) it was believed, that BCIM Corridor would tie in neatly with India’s vision for connectivity.

Tensions between India and China, as a result of Doklam, and the insistence of China to include BCIM in BRI, at least for the time being, New Delhi’s interest has waned in the project. The Rohingya crisis, and tensions between Bangladesh and Myanmar are also a major impediment to the project.

The China-Myanmar Economic Corridor: Why New Delhi should pay close attention

While a high speed train is an ambitious project, New Delhi can not be closed to the BCIM and should pay close attention to the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (the MOU for this project was signed on September 9, 2018).  While this project has been under discussion for some time, there have been numerous debates with regard to the economic implications for Myanmar (the Kyaukphyu Deep Sea Port project as well as Special Economic Zone have been contentious). The increasing debate on the issue of ‘debt trap diplomacy’ has only increased apprehensions within sections of the government, who have voiced their concern (the stake of Chinese conglomerate, CITIC in the deep sea port, has been reduced from 85 percent to 70 percent, due to domestic pressures). Myanmar has also made it clear, that it would not like to depend only on Chinese investments, and the MOU categorically states, that  third party investments from Japan, South Korea and Thailand in CMEC projects. Interestingly, an article on CMEC in Chinese media acknowledges some of the apprehensions vis-à-vis CMEC, and also bats for closer cooperation between China and other Asian as well as western countries.

Interestingly, the proposal for the bullet train connecting Kolkata-Kunming came days after the agreement had been signed between China and Myanmar. China would like to extend this corridor till India (while speaking about rail connectivity between Kunming and Kolkata, the Chinese diplomat also spoke about an industrial cluster along the route)

How should New Delhi play it

While New Delhi’s objections to the BRI are valid, it does need to shed blinkers. It is free not to participate in those components of the project, with which it is not comfortable. There are projects like BCIM, where it can easily find common ground with China. This will give a boost to India’s infrastructure in Eastern and North Eastern India, as well as complement it’s Act East Policy. If third countries are allowed to invest in CMEC, Indian companies should explore opportunities, this will enhance their presence in Myanmar, while also bolstering the ‘Act East Policy’.

China’s narrative in South Asia

Post the Wuhan Summit, there has been a clear change of narrative from the Chinese side. China has expressed its keenness to work jointly with India in Afghanistan – in capacity building projects. This was unthinkable a few years ago.

China’s burgeoning economic relationship with Nepal has sent alarm signals in New Delhi. China’s decision to give access to it’s ports (Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang) raised the hackles in New Delhi. Pragmatists realize that New Delhi can not dictate Nepal’s ties with China, and the fact that Kathmandu would like to benefit economically from it’s ties with both China and India.

Interestingly, China has been urging Nepal to strengthen economic ties with India. During his visit to Beijing, PM Oli, made an unequivocal pitch for strong ties between Kathmandu and New Delhi, as well as Kathmandu and Beijing. He stated, that the economic progress of both countries, was an opportunity for Nepal, and stated that Nepal wanted to emerge as a bridge between both countries, and would not like to get embedded in zero sum geo-political games. Former PM Prachanda, during his visit to India, also referred to the need for close ties with both India and China.

India should also keep in mind a few other points.

While many in New Delhi are pointing to Mahathir’s stand against Chinese projects, it is important to keep in mind, that the Malaysian PM has scrapped a few projects, and yet reiterated the relevance of the China-Malaysia relationship (there is need for nuance). Second, it is one thing to point out the shortcomings of the BRI project, but India needs to prove its own track record in big ticket connectivity projects (New Delhi has been extremely sow when it comes to the implementation of connectivity projects within the neighbourhood). Third, there are areas where India is already working with China, so rigidity and paranoia, do not make much sense. If even Japan is willing to participate in certain projects of BRI, there is absolutely no reason, why India should at least be open to elements of the project. It is also important to look at connectivity from an economic dimension and not a narrow security prism as large sections of India’s strategic community do. Finally, New Delhi can not put all its eggs in the American basket. While India’s strategic relationship with the US has witnessed an improvement, and Washington has repeatedly spoken about the need for greater connectivity within the ‘Indo-Pacific’, US is not likely to invest significantly in economic connectivity projects. India thus can not be totally dismissive of China led connectivity initiatives.

While New Delhi needs to exhibit pragmatism, Beijing on its part needs to address the concerns of India, and other countries, with regard to the BRI. Perhaps Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad’s straight talk may have forced a rethink.

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