On invitation from the International Department of Central Committee of Communist Party of China, India foundation participated in the delegation level exchange from 1st September to 5th September 2014. The objective of the exchange is centred around development of India-China relations as well as international and regional issues of common concern.
Delegtaion representing India Foundation includes Shri Ram Madhav (General Secretary, BJP; Director of India Foundation), Shri Suresh Prabhu (Former Union Minister; Director of India Foundation), Shri Shaurya Doval (Director, India Foundation), Shri Ashok Malik (Columnist and Political Commentator), Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain Syed [PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM (BAR), VSM (BAR)].
Shri Ram Madhav’s Address at Dialogue Exchange in Beijing on September 2, 2014
Your Excellency the Vice Chairman and other distinguished members of the IDCPC, my colleagues from the India Foundation and the officials from the Indian Embassy in Beijing!
I extend warm greetings to you all. It is always a wonderful feeling to be in Beijing and especially in the midst of our esteemed colleagues from the IDCPC. We, the people of India and China, are civilisational and cultural cousins. We are unfortunately estranged cousins due to certain developments in recent history.
We both have started our new journeys around the same time in late ‘40s. Unfortunately our paths were different. And when when we faced each other we did it more as foes than friends. That legacy continues to haunt us. We are so near geographically, but so far politically.
India and China are destined to sail together. There is no other option left for us. We are two big countries with vast resources – both human and material. We both have emerged as powerful countries in the world today due to respective strengths. And we happen to be neighbours.
Historically we had been sailing together, exchanging many things like our civilisational experiences, religious doctrines and intellectual resources. It may be an overstatement to claim that our relationship in the last couple of millennia has been very cordial and friendly. Historical records suggest that we had all along been competing with each other in many areas like trade on the high seas, regional influence etc. But we were only competing and not confronting with each other.
A time has again come for us today in the 21st Century where we are bound to compete with each other. Competition is inherent in our rise and progress because we both have similar needs – we are energy-guzzlers, hunting for resources to satisfy our burgeoning populations. We both are rising economic powers with large markets and ever-increasing purchasing power of the people. All this will certainly lead to a race between our two countries. Obviously our paths cross. A race can be healthy and friendly; not necessarily acrimonious and confrontational. Our history teaches us that it is possible.We should leave no stone unturned to ensure that we compete yet we compliment.
We have to keep in mind the emerging global scenario and understand that our destinies are tied together.
Today the Axis of Power has shifted to the East. It is no longer the Pacific-Atlantic powers that hold the sway; the power axis has now moved to Indo-Pacific region. It is here that the resources – energy, human, intellectual and financial –are situated in abundance. Efforts for control over the resources of the world have always led to great confrontations in history.Similar attempts can be witnessed today in the Indo-Pacific region too.
India and China have to play an important role in ensuring that the region remains free of any confrontation and uncalled for outside intervention. Towards that end we both countries have to develop greater understanding and empathy.
Political parties and think tanks like the India Foundation have an important role to play in this regard. The BJP, India’s ruling party is committed to strengthening mutual understanding between the two countries. Eversince Prime Minister Modi took over there is an upswing in relations between India and China. BJP, like CPC, is an ideology-driven party. We have 40 million members today, but embarking on an ambitious membership drive from November this year and hope to achieve a membership of more than 100 million. Both the BJP and CPC follow the ideology of nationalism. It is important for us to engage with each other at the Party level to discuss issues threadbare and overcome misunderstandings. We can also expand the interactions to include delegation level exchanges of young politicians, political scientists, party cadres and scholars.
I suggest that the BJP and the CPC should also engage with each other at the international and multilateral levels like the UNHRC, UNGA etc in order to help our respective governments. As I stated in my presentation earlier, theIndo-Pacific region throws up major challenges to us today. We need to explore avenues of engagement and cooperation in the region as well. We should not become catalysts for external powers to gate-crash into the region. Our actions should not lead to any tensions and unrest in the Indian Ocean region. All countries in the region, that depend greatly on the oceans, should feel secure and free.
Towards that end I propose that we build ASEAN-level dialogue between the Parties along with that of the governments. All similar international forums in the region – whether it is RIC or SAARC or BRICS – must be used to bring political parties of the member countries together for parallel interactions and discussions with a view to helping their respective governments.
The BJP and the CPC should take the lead in this initiative of bringing not just the governments but the parties in the region together.
Before I conclude I wish to underscore one important issue. The greatest impediment in our relationship is ‘Trust Deficit’. This deficit is caused by the actions of governments, military and bureaucracy. Managing Sino-Indian control line is a major challenge for both our countries. We must not forget that people hold borders as sacrosanct and any violation will be seen as encroachment on one’s sovereignty. Leaders of both our great countries, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping, have promised to address the border issue with utmost seriousness. We look forward to the visit of the leader of the PRC to India later this month and hope that it will herald a new beginning in our relationship.
As two responsible and big political parties the BJP and the CPC should chip in to bridge this deficit of mutual trust. Therein lies peaceful progress of our two countries, peace in the region and progress in the world.
I quote my Hon’ble Prime Minister to say: “Yes! We can!”