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  • BRICS: In Search of Unity?

    While their growing economic clout has brought Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa together, translating the hand holding gestures at the end of each summit into real unity is likely to remain a daunting task.

    April 03, 2012

    China’s Defence Budget 2012: An Analysis

    China’s Defence Budget for 2012 continues to follow anticipated trend lines in keeping with its plan of carrying out Revolution in Military Affairs in a calibrated, coordinated and comprehensive manner.

    March 28, 2012

    Is China Edging Towards Political and Economic Uncertainty?

    As China heads towards leadership changes after the 18th Party Congress, there is uncertainty both as regards economic policy as well as internal dissidence.

    March 20, 2012

    Chinese Engagement with the Maldives: Impact on Security Environment in the Indian Ocean Region

    This article explores the objectives of China's engagement in the Maldives and how the current administration of the country is responding to it. The article also looks at how the Maldives has been used by major powers in the past. On the basis of these analyses, it envisages the path that Maldivian foreign policy is likely to follow in the future and its likely impact on the security environment in the Indian Ocean region.

    March 2012

    New Delhi BRICS Summit: New Prospects, But More Challenges?

    The real challenges for the New Delhi summit are issues that are linked not only with the future of BRICS but also with the conduct and approach of its members towards each other.

    March 19, 2012

    The Chinese Disaster Management Mechanism

    Geographic position, climatic features, and geological structures cause natural disasters in almost cyclical order in China. Man-made disasters such as the SARS epidemic add a new dimension to the over all woe of a nation which is home to 18.5 per cent of the world population. The paper explores the extent of the face lift achieved by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from once being known as the “Land of Famines” and the “Land of Death”, and, in particular, the positive contribution of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the whole gamut of disasters.

    January 2012

    2008 Sichuan Earthquake and Role of the Chinese Defence Forces in Disaster Relief

    The People’s Republic of China has been afflicted by natural calamities right from its inception in 1949, including severe river flooding, excess snowfall, cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes. The consequential human suffering is further aggravated by the heavy population density. The mammoth 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province and the resultant loss of life and property exposed the ill-preparedness of the Chinese government machinery like never before. Nevertheless, the Chinese State Council rose admirably to the occasion.

    January 2012

    Amol Shinde asked: Is Myanmar's democratisation in India's favour vis-à-vis China ?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: The democratic transition underway in Myanmar is a happy augury for India, the world’s largest democracy. Yet, India does not advocate the ‘export’ of democracy. Besides, a democratic movement which is indigenous (but is open to fresh ideas from outside) has greater chances of success. The initial attempt at democracy in 1988 (and the 1990 elections thereafter) did not fructify as it was suppressed. As the West imposed sanctions (taking the high moral ground), China seized the opportunity to make inroads into the country with heavy economic and military aid and investment.

    A new era dawned in Myanmar with the new 2008 Constitution, the November 2010 elections, and the new parliament, which holds the prospect of reconciliation among the three stakeholders in Myanmar: the military, the political parties and the ethnic groups. Myanmar’s democratisation will help the country break out of economic isolation. Second, military assistance would help wean it away from China’s clasp. Democratisation in Myanmar would restore the balance in its polity and help address the issue of developmental neglect in minority dominated border provinces (adjoining both India’s northeast and China). Internal stability in Myanmar (with improved inter-ethnic relations) would render greater autonomy to the country in its external relations (evidenced in the suspension of China-led Myitsone dam project recently). While it appears unlikely that China’s other mega-projects (such as Kyaukphyu port development and the dual pipeline and railway line starting from the same port) would be adversely affected, it will introduce alternative players into the fray. As the ASEAN members (and the world community) take note of China’s assertion in the South China Sea and China’s access to the Indian Ocean, a growing interest in Myanmar’s democratisation process is a welcome development.

    The New Year Saga: China Dampens Tibetan’s Celebration

    The Chinese New Year celebrations formally began on Monday, January 23. China has become 4710 years old as per its lunar calendar. This year will be known as the Year of the Dragon, which symbolises strength and prosperity. The New Year celebration is one of the longest and the principal festive season for the Chinese: the official holiday itself extends over a week or two. Tibet and Tibetans, however, have to wait a little longer for their New Year celebrations.

    January 24, 2012

    Anil asked: Why India does not support democratic movements in China, Tibet, Pakistan, etc? Isn’t it in India’s long-term interest?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: India's establishment as a liberal democracy was the third great moment in the history of liberalism, the first two being the American and French Revolutions. There is no doubt that India favours democracy taking root among its neighbours as well as the spread of democracy throughout the world. However, India does not believe in imposing democracy on any country at the point of a bayonet. Instead, it prefers to serve as an example that other countries can emulate for their own benefit. India's past experience in promoting greater democracy within the sub-continent clearly demonstrates the limits of what can be achieved. India helped in the liberation of Bangladesh and its establishment as a democratic state; but democracy there was soon overthrown. Indeed, the latest attempt at a coup in Bangladesh partly stems from forces that do not favour better or closer India-Bangladesh relations. Similarly, through the 1980s, India attempted to convince Sri Lanka of the imperative of evolving a federal democratic polity (as opposed to Sri Lanka's preference for a unitary polity) that would address the grievances of its minority Tamils in particular, but failed to move Colombo. Even today, Sri Lanka refuses to see the merits of the Indian democratic model and is seeking to evolve a 'Sri Lankan' model in the wake of its 'victory' over the LTTE.

    The limits of what India can achieve in this regard are even starker when it comes to countries that are adversaries or rivals. Overtly promoting democracy and democratic movements especially in countries that are adversaries or rivals is not a prudent policy for two main reasons. Firstly, the very fact of extending such support will delegitimise or help to delegitimise these movements because of perceived support from the Indian adversary/rival; thus, detracting from the long-term goal of enabling these countries to become democracies. Secondly, a policy of overtly promoting democratic movements in countries that are adversaries or rivals will simply add another point of conflict to an already troubled relationship and further vitiate bilateral relations, something that needs to be avoided especially when India's principal focus continues to be on internal socio-political-economic development.