BRICS summit in China: Opportunity for India

Devsagar Singh

New Delhi: There is no gainsaying that India must make good use of China’s predicament on hosting the BRICS summit later this year. A desperate China is looking for Prime Minister Modi’s participation in Beijing realizing that the summit will have little meaning without India’s presence.  Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi made an unannounced visit to New Delhi last week to meet his counterpart S. Jaishankar in an effort to persuade India to join the BRICS summit. Beijing has proposed more senior level meetings to bring back normalcy in India-China relations.

India plays hard diplomacy

That India has begun to play hard diplomacy with China is evident. Wang Yi must have been disappointed that he could not meet Prime Minister Modi before returning to China. Foreign Office politely told Yi that the Prime Minister was busy and could not spare time for the visiting dignitary. The hint could not have been lost on Beijing.

Dr Jaishankar made it clear to the Chinese foreign minister that normalcy between the two giant neighbors  was contingent upon China withdrawing its troops from the line of actual control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh where the two countries face off for almost two years.  China has suffered trade losses, India  being a mass importer of  a range of  goods and commodities.  

Added to this now is the Russian situation  which begs of China and India to play a pro-Moscow line on Ukraine. India has so far walked a tight rope though its predicament is apparent. President Putin has good relations with India and must be counting on New Delhi’s support. But there is no diplomacy without a give and take. Is it not time for India  to ‘exploit’ the situation for its own advantage? Putin looks for India’s support on Ukraine. Xi Jinping needs PM Modi at BRICS.  India will have no better opportunity to settle the current border row in eastern Ladakh. With considerable influence on each other Putin and Xi  could be waiting for New Delhi to express the obvious.

Some strategic experts  believe that India, China  and Russia are natural allies because of their geographical location. The geo-political situation, according to them, demands that they remain together. Russia, they point out, has been a dependable and time tested ally and if the three join hands they will make a formidable force no power can ignore. This prognosis may look far-fetched and impractical in the short run, primarily because of China’s overbearing and expansionist designs. But nothing is impossible in diplomacy and politics. The trajectory of contemporary politics in the three giants is not too dissimilar.

The bigger things can wait, however. Of immediate relevance for India is to get out of the border row with China. It has its tasks cut out. The country has to grow faster  economically . This requires undivided attention on development on all fronts. Ultimately, Modi’s  mantra is  development (vikas). He has to show that the country is growing under him. 2024 is  not too far away when the Prime Minister  will be required to give his progress report of the country before going to the general elections.     

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