When K. Asaf Ali, India’s first ambassador to the United States presented his credentials to President Harry S. Truman in February 1947, six months before Independence, he came as the “first Ambassador of the far-famed and ancient land of India and of her 400 million people”. For India, pride, sovereign autonomy and supremacy were paramount in “External Affairs” even before Independence.

The implication of “External Affairs” was given on August 20, 1947, by the Union Powers Committee of the Constituent Assembly. It took its inspiration from Rex v Burgess (1936) 55 C.L.R. 608 which said “External Affairs” implied the “power of controlling in every respect the relation of a country with the outside world”. It includes external representation of the state by accredited agents, the conduct of the business and promotion of the interests of the state in other countries, and extradition.

More than half a century later, this construction still looks valid. But in the post-WikiLeaks and post-Snowden era, it is clear that foreign relations are not determined only by the elected representatives or their accredited agents. Unnamed security agents and strategic consultants, big business, defence lobbyists, non-state actors and vested personal benefits play the lead role in foreign relations.

Ahead of his visit to the US last September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria invoked the premise of many “similarities”. “India and the US are bound together, by history and by culture.” It is ironic that Modi, who invoked history and culture to bind the two countries, should be ignorant of both.

America won independence from England in the 18th century when India was losing it to the English. For the next two centuries, the two had virtually no contact. Communication with the US started in November 1941 when Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai presented his letter of introduction to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Washington reciprocated immediately and sent its envoy to Delhi. But Bajpai was designated as “Agent-General of India” and listed under the British Embassy.

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed Indo-American rivalry in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The US trained and funded the Mujahideen. India supported the Soviet-backed Najibullah, even offered political asylum.

Americans saw India through Kipling’s Jungle Book, through its stark poverty and bizarre religious practices. Most Indians aware of the US thought it “crude, brash and assertive”. After Independence, India went socialist while the US was committed to containing communism. In 1954, it signed a military pact with Pakistan, the arch rival, while India initiated the non-aligned movement.

US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles termed non-alignment “an immoral and short-sighted concept”. India’s first diplomatic engagement with the US was in 1948 on Kashmir where Klahr Huddle, US Representative to the UN Commission for India and Pakistan, termed India’s claim on Kashmir a “self-righteous and intransigent stand”.

There was near total disagreement on everything during the initial decades of Independence and the Cold War environment made it too hot for good relations. Before the 1971 war with Pakistan, Indira Gandhi had noted the secret US-Pakistan-China talks. Fearing regional repercussions of this new alliance, she travelled to Moscow in September 1971 and sealed a 20-year treaty with the Kremlin. She reached out to President Nixon as well in November 1971, only to be lectured on India’s role in the Pakistan crisis.

Indian forces captured Dhaka on December 5, 1971. India recognised Bangladesh the next day. The Indo–Soviet treaty and the Vietnam war kept the Americans from jumping into another war in south Asia. However, Nixon sent the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier Enterprise from the Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal to “evacuate refugees”.

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed Indo-American rivalry in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The US, along with Pakistan, trained and funded the Mujahideen against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. India supported the Soviet-backed Najibullah and even offered him political asylum. While US and Pakistan supported Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and later the Taliban, India, Russia and Iran supported their arch rival Ahmed Shah Masood and his Northern Alliance.

It was a rancorous atmosphere. President George H. W. Bush and, after that, Bill Clinton regularly invoked the Kashmir issue. Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel even questioned the legal basis of its accession to India.

In November 2014, the US confirmed that Raphel was involved in spying and lobbying on behalf of Pakistan for a price. She is the widow of Arnold Raphel, US ambassador to Pakistan who was killed aboard a plane carrying then President Zia-ul-Haq in 1988.

In July 1999, when Pakistan’s defeat at Kargil was imminent, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rang Clinton for help. Clinton invited Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif to Washington. Vajpayee refused. He then offered to send an envoy. Vajpayee refused again, saying Pakistan needed that service more.



odi, denied a US visa in 2005, is no stranger to American double standards. When the US consul-general met him in 2006, Modi reminded his visitor about human rights violations by the US in Abu Ghraib prison, Baghdad, and Guantanamo. The official wrote to his government that “Modi is clearly not going to apologise or back down on the violence of 2002, but we think it is vital for him to hear that we are not going to let the passage of time erase the memory of these events.”

These days, it’s more like a love fest.

The US understands that India is an economic powerhouse and a big market. Therefore, when Modi’s election victory was imminent, it removed the anti-Modi envoy Nancy Powell.

As Gujarat chief minister Modi had expressed strong views about India’s policy towards the US, especially on the refusal of a visa to an elected representative. As BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, he refused to meet a Congressional delegation because of the humiliation meted out an Indian diplomat.

The US understands that India is an economic powerhouse and a big market. Therefore, when Modi’s election victory was imminent, it removed the anti-Modi envoy Nancy Powell. Modi for his part graciously buried his differences and promised a fresh start.

Nonetheless, he has inherited a disputed legacy on the US, which has only recently begun to focus on India in earnest. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first American president to visit India in 1959, 12 years after Independence. But since then, only five presidents (Richard Nixon, 1969; Jimmy Carter, 1978; Bill Clinton, 2000; George W. Bush, 2006; Barack Obama, 2010 and 2015) have visited India.

A simple analysis of the visits testifies to growing US interest after 2000. India liberalised its economy in 1991, excelled in the information technology sector, and made phenomenal economic strides without US assistance or a presidential visit.

Indeed, the Pokhran nuclear test of May 1998 led to a ban on the export of critical defence materials and technologies. By then, however, India was an economic power and sanctions proved pointless. US business leaders started criticising their government for its policy which hurt them more than the
sanctioned state.

In the next 18 months, all sanctions were removed and Clinton, who imposed them, visited in March 2000, a mission to redefine Indo-US relations. That year, trade between the two was about $20 billion with the balance heavily tilted towards the US. American business was finally profiting from India’s market. The signs were good.



hen came 9/11 and it changed everything. It halted America’s economic journey in south Asia. Since then it has viewed everything through the prism of “strategic cooperation” in the “war on terror”.

Immediately after 9/11, Vajpayee offered all kinds of support including a ground strike at al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was a virtual surrender of sovereignty and a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, the location of landlocked Afghanistan spared India a frontline role. The US solicited Pakistan’s support instead. In hindsight, an accident of geography saved India from the sort of disaster that afflicts Pakistan.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have complicated US interests as never before. It wanted an Indian military presence both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Foreign policy hawks in the Vajpayee government were willing but better counsel prevailed. American strategic experts derisive of India’s terrorism concerns until September 10, 2001, started clamouring for Indian participation after September 11. But it has wisely resisted the temptation to join in ravaging a host of countries in the “war on terror”.

US policy makers from the security set-up have expanded the strategic partnership, facilitated the civil nuclear deal in 2008 and tried their best to open up the Indian market. George Bush (Jr.) visited India in 2006 to bring it around to the US way of thinking.

Although Washington declined India’s offer to facilitate a military strike in Afghanistan, it welcomed participation in reconstruction and in engaging it to ensure US homeland security and strategic interests in South Asia. To achieve its objectives, America has provided an array of intelligence inputs, both real and imaginary. Analysis of the Central Intelligence Agency and US military command input over the past six or seven years shows that not all were meant to benefit India. Some unfounded leads were purposely fed, classified information was selectively supplied to heighten Indian paranoia, and some information kept secret. On the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008, the US feigned ignorance though a couple of its agencies were suspected of collaborating with one of the kingpins.

But why is the US exerting itself? The answer is simple—it wants India on board to protect its regional interests. Since 2009, US generals have known the war in Afghanistan was going nowhere. Many allies showed war-related fatigue due to its unending nature and Pakistan had resumed its double game, playing both sides. Ordinary Americans too wanted an end to US engagement. President Barack Obama’s campaign promised that he would resolve the Afghan imbroglio.



fghanistan’s history come back to haunt the powerful. In 1908, speaking at the annual dinner of the Royal Asiatic Society in London, Lord Curzon said: “If the Society exists and is meeting in 50 or a 100 years hence, Afghanistan will be as vital a question as it is now.”

The US knows that now better than anyone else. Its search for a powerful, prosperous, democratic and stable ally to protect its interests has ended with India. Now it remains to engage India fully, as the enforcer.

Under Obama, the grand plan to make full use of India in securing US economic and strategic interests has gained momentum. In six years, he has made two trips. But the Indian establishment still lacks a clear vision on its own strategic interests. Its US policy, especially after 2000, has been vague at best, responding to trends rather than pursuing long-term goals. It seems eager to become an ally at any cost.

The trouble is that India seems to have decided the US is too big to bargain with and too great to ignore. In recent years, it seems to be surrendering even before the US asks. The Khobragade dispute led to the realisation that the Ministry of External Affairs provides a plethora of special privileges to US diplomats though Indian consular staff in the US get no privileges. The Snowden leaks show that the US runs a huge security surveillance network near Delhi. Indian agencies possess neither the capacity to keep track of it nor do they have a policy of guarding against this surveillance.

India was blissfully unaware that the US augmented its “secure India” policy after 9/11. Indian calculations by contrast are short-term and local. The Department of Defense 2012 report on “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” shows clearly how it pursues its agenda in south Asia.

The Narendra Modi government is pursuing a hydra-headed foreign policy but it lacks, stretching too far without measuring the distance, contours and feasibility of the journey.

The document mentions that the US will invest “in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region”. In other words, India will police US interests against China in the Indian Ocean and beyond. India has no such long-term strategic goals and is therefore vulnerable to the big-power bait.

The US has identified defence and nuclear power as the two big ticket trade items. It is also hard at work to persuade India to counter Chinese influence—an undertaking that could push it towards a zero-sum cataclysm. The Indian strategic community and policy makers are hostage to their Nehruvian disdain. Nehru’s steadfast refusal to accept US
subordination came at a cost as it delayed international recognition of Indian potential and power.



he Narendra Modi government is pursuing a hydra-headed foreign policy but it lacks direction, stretching too far without measuring the distance, contours and feasibility of the journey. Modi is convinced that his foreign spree will secure strategic advantage, resolve regional complexities and remove domestic problems. His ambition to establish India as a great power rests on the premise that it is a “huge consumer market” for the industrialised world.

There is a comical side to these caperings. His energetic engagement of non-resident Indians and his habit of playing to the gallery on foreign soil also creates the impression that he will contest the next election from an off-shore constituency. Only time will tell if his way is the right one, but on the ground, India lacks the capacity and infrastructure to accommodate a multi-pronged involvement of foreign players. 

In August 2014 in Tokyo, he criticised China as “an expansionist country”. A month later, he hosted both Chinese expansion in Ladakh and President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad. Three months later, in January 2015, he signed a “US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region” where he agreed to support US plans to fly over the South China Sea. US planners must be delighted that Modi is walking into their snare.

But considering that the China trade for 2014 stood at $70.59 billion with a whopping $37.8 billion deficit, what Modi will say on his May visit there is something of a diplomatic puzzle.

During his December 2, 2014, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard R. Verma, nominee for ambassador, said two-way trade between India and the US increased five-fold from 2001 to nearly $100 billion and Obama and Modi were committed to increasing it five-fold again.

Similarly, India and China both want to reach $100 billion in trade by 2015. Modi feels 1962 need no longer haunt Sino-Indian relations and that Indians have accepted China as a trade partner. But Vajpayee knew better. Immediately after Pokhran 1998, he sent a secret letter to President Clinton saying the tests were intended to checkmate China. Its explicit purpose was to befriend the US because he thought it was uneasy at growing Chinese muscle. But Clinton leaked the letter, to India’s huge embarrassment.

Now Modi hopes to checkmate China in collusion with the US but publicly proclaims that China is a good trade partner. Policy makers believe that siding with the US would keep at bay Chinese belligerence on border issues and discourage encirclement on land and sea. But it risks gaining little at huge cost. India’s defence budget for 2015 is a mere $38 billion compared to China’s $132 billion and the US’ $584 billion. That makes it hard to match the military-strategic prowess of either the ally or the adversary. This realisation is central to India’s future success.



he government has rechristened the land acquisition policy to facilitate big business in the hope that deals with the great powers will ensure India’s promotion to the big league. That is a possibility but by no means a certainty. India has an extradition treaty with the US but it refused to extradite David Coleman Headley, one of the Mumbai attack’s planners.

Despite Headley’s conclusive admission of involvement, the US kept him at home for a variety of reasons. First, it feared that if extradited, Headley might reveal uncomfortable truths about the functioning of various US agencies. Secondly, he might reveal too much about the ISI, a CIA ally in the war on terrorism. Finally, extraditing such a person would compromise future CIA covert operations and allow the trial of a US citizen in a Third World country. Modi was the only chief minister to visit Mumbai during 26/11. No one better understands the gravity of the attacks but he is a bit naïve about US intentions and attitudes.

For instance, it showed zero tolerance to anyone remotely connected or even just suspect in the 9/11 conspiracy. Scores of people were arrested around the world and transferred to the Guantanamo Bay prison for trial—extradition treaty or not. That is what the US is about.

On January 30, a day after Obama left India, Pakistani foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry invited envoys of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members and of other European countries to the foreign office for a briefing on Kashmir. He said Pakistan would continue to support the “indigenous struggle” of Kashmiris with “unflinching political, moral and diplomatic

On January 27, when Obama was talking to Modi in New Delhi, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif was shaking hands with Chinese generals in Beijing. Sharif said China was a “factor of regional stability”. It wanted Chinese guarantees in case India achieved anything on Kashmir with US support.

They have got all that and more as President Xi, in his April 20-22 visit, announced $46 billion of infrastructure projects as well as plans to sell submarines. So whatever happens with the US, Pakistan is provided for, and China has secured the friendship of India’s greatest adversary.

China considers the border dispute a “huge undeniable” fact. Recently when India extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Arunachal Pradesh, its foreign ministry demanded that India should resolve such issues through joint efforts. During Xi’s India visit, many deals were signed and huge investments promised. But China is still studying the Indian legal system before investing a single rupee. On all issues, Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh, the US or China, Pakistan or Afghanistan, India is walking a tight rope and seems unaware of it.

China now shows increasing interest in Ashraf Ghani-led Afghanistan’s efforts to resolve internal strife and to develop the economy. It is a subject that strikes a chord especially as it has signed an agreement that gives it virtual carte blanche over Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province for the next 40 years. Work on the Silk Route project connecting China with the Central Asian market is already fast-tracked.

When China’s maritime links with countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Seychelles are reinforced by its overland relations with India-China neighbours, a strategic encirclement automatically takes shape.

The encirclement debate is almost a perennial topic of discussion in Indian academia and the strategic community. It’s been going on for at least 20 years. But the reverse, an Indian encirclement, never comes up. The reason is simple—present capacity means India can just about defend itself. It could occasionally be assertive but only with outside support.

In any case the encirclement debate is an exercise in futility. Such a policy is militarily untenable and any victory would be Pyrrhic. It is little more than a show of power meant to awe the enemy. The military encirclement of a country as large as China calls for a degree of logistical planning and coordination that would be hard to sustain during a war.

For example, the nuclear warship Enterprise of the US Seventh Fleet could not stop India from forcing the surrender of the Pakistani military in erstwhile East Pakistan nor could Pakistan take advantage of its distant installations there. Similarly, wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan fought thousands of miles from home conclusively failed to achieve their objectives despite an assured encirclement strategy. Nor could the British Empire hold on to its scattered installations in its colonies across the globe.

It should be noted that Chinese overtures to maritime countries in the Indian Ocean Rim are mostly linked to energy security, with a small military element. Likewise, its overland relations with common neighbours are not about encircling India. Rather, they are a result of Indian inertia in initiating a similar policy in those countries. But growing Chinese economic clout around the Indian Ocean as well as among India’s neighbours are likely to make policy planners fearful of its intentions and start a debate on encirclement that will dominate strategic discussion.

Instead of getting trapped in a pointless debate, opinion makers could identify Indian priorities and strengths and invest in countries where China is present or doing business. If China has Gwadar, India has Chahbahar port in southern Iran. But Chinese development of Gwadar is almost complete while India is lagging behind in Chahbahar as it keeps debating Chinese encirclement.



t an international conference on terrorism organised in Jaipur by the India Foundation and Sardar Patel University of Police on March 18-21, nearly all federal policy makers and global thinkers descended to debate on terrorism and Indian policy. There was consensus that India’s Pakistan policy was challenging—difficult to avoid but impossible to adopt. The condition of our western neighbour is dire indeed, and a serious threat to India and other countries.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval advocates an “offensive defence” policy to deal with Pakistan. India would adopt a tit for tat strategy that includes inciting trouble in its already volatile Baluchistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, choking off its shadowy sources of funds, countering its diplomacy, paying with the same coin at the Line of Control and using the Deoband school against Pakistan. This new strategy, he feels, would neutralise Pakistan’s nuclear deterrents and its proxy war in Kashmir. Only time will tell if this way works but India is on the verge of being sucked into another round of geopolitical confrontation. 

Doval is against Pakistan’s “disruptive monopoly”, where it decides the course of peace talks, initiates war (all four wars were initiated by Pakistan), and has the sole monopoly on border tensions and terrorism. He believes it is necessary to derail the sources of Pakistan’s destructive strength: international civilian-strategic funding, use of Afghanistan as a terror springboard, American and Chinese strategic-diplomatic support, and denial of international forums (like the UN and SAARC) to rationalise its aggression on the pretext of Kashmir.

Modi may have been led to believe that on Pakistan, only complex strategic options were available. He was misled as ceding strategic ground to his generals made durable conflict resolution impossible. As a result we have a dangerous and disruptive situation right now. He might have been better off using his stature to resolve the tangle but he fell into the short-term, myopic, no-gain precipice.

Pakistan, on the other hand, seems bent on self-destruction. At government institutions (medical colleges too) students are schooled in anti-India propaganda. Its democracy comes in a military cage. The army is the only ruler in the country. When Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif defiantly attended Modi’s swearing-in last May, he was probably trying to push back the ISI-Army complex one step at a time, but India did not recognise this gesture. He may be incapable of resolving the Indo-Pak conflict but by travelling to Delhi, Nawaz Sharif displayed statesmanship while a little later, Modi remained a captive of his own generals.

Despite the crackdown on militant groups after the Peshawar school massacre, it has spared India-centric terror infrastructure. Terror modules with a Pakistani footprint are regularly busted in India. The army chief Gen. D. S. Suhag says the Pakistani army regularly sends terrorists across into Indian soil.

Pakistan-based India-centred terror organisations are under tremendous pressure to prove their worth. If they don’t they may be cut adrift. One way would be to bleed India on a spectacular scale by disrupting its economic march.

The Lahore high court’s decision to free Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, could have an impact here. The criminal justice system is dysfunctional and judges are often intimidated by the terrorists. Indeed, a couple of Pakistani journalists  report that the army is secretly holding 6,000 terrorists in mountain prison camps for fear that if they are presented in court judges will let them off for lack of evidence.

As the military has not yet decided to initiate a meaningful dialogue with India talks will not reach anywhere. Nevertheless, India is continuing to tell the world that it is willing to be patient on Pakistan.



n Afghanistan, Pakistan has exploited every option to neutralise India’s footprint. The government of Ashraf Ghani tilts heavily towards Pakistan so it is involving China to push India further to the margins. The battleground has shifted from Kashmir to Kabul. A by-product of this tussle is that talks with the Taliban are not orchestrated by the US but China.

In November 2014, Qari Din Muhammad and Abbas Stanakzai, two Taliban officials, travelled with Pakistani officials to Beijing. In December, China, the US and Afghanistan held a trilateral meeting to discuss the future. Present at the meeting was Sun Yuxi, China’s special envoy to Afghanistan. Sun travelled to Peshawar to meet Taliban representatives earlier last year.

In a gesture to Beijing, Afghanistan has transferred several Uighur militants to China. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was in Pakistan in February, said China would help mediate between the Taliban and the government. Subsequently, Pakistan’s army chief Raheel Sharif visited Afghanistan and told Ghani the Taliban had signalled their readiness for talks.

Amanullah Saleh, former director of Afghanistan’s National Security Directorate, informed his audience in Jaipur that Pakistan wants four major concessions. The first is the eviction of India: total eviction of Indian companies, a halt to security cooperation, and reduced economic cooperation. Pakistan wants security cooperation on the scale of India and also cooperation with the Taliban in parallel. It wants land access to the Central Asian market and denial of the same to India. It wants special privileges for Pakistani companies and estriction of Afghan trade to the Wagah border. Finally, it wants extra-constitutional provisions for the Taliban along with an extra-legal protection clause.

The terrorist landscape of Pakistan now threatens the entire region because in its “war on terror”, the US made all sorts of tactical blunders. It did not acknowledge Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan until 2007. Then, after it learnt of the sanctuaries, it asked Pakistan to fight the Taliban. The generals made a pretence of it but provided safe haven to the Taliban in Quetta, Karachi and Islamabad.

Pakistan is home to nuclear weapons, Islamic militancy, army-sponsored jihadis, a crumbling economy, and a dysfunctional democracy. Extremism and terrorism have been transported not only to India and Afghanistan, but many other parts of the world as well. Surprisingly, the rest of the world seems unable to see the elephant in the room, much less talk about it.  



iagnosis is one thing but finding a way through the thicket is a complicated task. There is no ideal solution as the options have to be identified within the existing framework and in the present era.

One point to note is that relations with the US are decided by individuals who rarely have time for outside opinion or wisdom. That is why something like the Khobragade case can can assume existential proportions. Similarly, if one individual decides, relations soar sky high. There’s a lack of reflection and little thought for concrete long-term goals. In the US, foreign policy priorities are decided on its definition of self-interest and timeframes are long-term. For instance, Obama would not have quit Afghanistan if the general consensus had favoured staying on.

Above all, India has to get out of the “Great White Master” mindset while dealing with the US. At present its policy is essentially led, owned by and centred on American concerns. Our decision makers need a fundamental reorientation before anything else. National interest and the perpetuation of sovereign rights have to be the lodestone, which is not the case today. India must treat the US as a partner not as a master.

Pakistan evokes mixed feelings among Indians. Personal interaction is marked by unbridled bonhomie. But history inevitably ensures official interactions reach nowhere. Its Kashmir obsession and terror policy are serious obstacles to a mutually beneficial outcome, but policy makers should be ready to engage on any issue at any place. The core of the problem is the choice of arbiters. India sends its civil-political-bureaucratic arbiters but their real concern is foreign policy. Pakistan’s arbiters on the other hand toe the military line. Its politicians just don’t have the capacity to take these decisions. The truth is that agreements like the Indus Water Treaty and Shimla accord work because they are backed by the military.

Perhaps India too could send its military commanders. It has been noted that ceding ground to the generals is a recipe for failure. But if they go with a precise, unalterable mandate decided by the government it might produce a solution. 

China presents perhaps the largest conundrum and the basis of a solution lies in matching Chinese capacity, military and economic, before entering any competition. Pakistan’s nuclear capacity is often cited for its deterrent effect on India. In the same way, Pokhran 1998 was meant to neutralise China. As India builds up its arsenal of long-range missiles the strategic threat from China will correspondingly recede. Fears of a looming Chinese hegemony are mostly self-inflicted.

But it needs to be assertive at every opportunity. In the Daulat Beg Oldi incident, it landed a Hercules on the world’s highest airstrip in a show of force after Chinese incursions into Ladakh in April 2013.

At the same time the government must do all it can to reach economic parity and create its own version of strategic relations with common neighbours and maritime countries. Once that happens, Chinese belligerence on Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh or any other territory it claims will fade.