The Broken Chords of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai

Thomas (Special correspondent)

There was a time when Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai was recited like a sacred mantra. Unfortunately, it did not last for long. The diplomatic ties were broken long ago, and the ascending Asian superpowers remained frenemies until border disputes threatened national security.

China is luring and using India’s border nations under strings of pearl strategy. The long-lost friend has built ten airbases along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand amidst the diplomatic talks. Years of efforts and strategic meetings had ended up in violence, standoff and quest for peace and power. India’s naval authority is a threat to China’s eye for power. Considering the latter’s economic prowess and expanded geography, can India break the strings with necklace of diamonds?

Necklace of Diamonds for Strings of Pearl
Much has happened between Zhou Enlai, former Premier’s first visit to Delhi in 1954 and Xi Jinping’s aspirational visit in 2019. The Tibet uprising in 1959 lit the fire. In 1962, the East Asian country attacked the Indian military across the borders, leading to a month-long battle.

China now has set up military bases to vie India’s naval power and invade the country. There are military bases in Chittagong in Bangladesh, Gwadar port in Pakistan, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in Maldives and Kyaukpyu in Myanmar. Most nations are falling into the debt trap, giving China authority over the military base closer to the Indian Ocean.

India has a defined strategy to crush the strings with a garlanding approach. Under the Necklace of Diamond strategy, India is expanding naval bases and building strategic ties with Singapore, Indonesia, Oman, Iran and even the United States, among other countries. The Narendra Modi government has signed multiple contracts to build bases in countries except the US.

Galwan Valley Skirmish, a Wakeup Call
In 2020, the world witnessed – what is said to be the deadliest clash – between India and China in 45 years. The combat was followed by a military standoff, a violent conflict in Pangong Lake area and 11 diplomatic talks, marking an unofficial end to the Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai mantra. The invasion was a clear threat to national security and according to Defence Ministry, China used unorthodox weapons in operation and they continue to do so.

The unethical invasion was a wake-up call for India. Many anticipated and the leaders hinted a repetition of 1962 war. The Sino military continues to conduct drills along India border as per the latest media reports. Their support for LeT and JeM using Pakistan is the biggest weapon so far. Engaging India in border disputes is also a strategy to shift the country’s focus from overall socio-economic development. Ten-pronged strategy and years of effort have not paid off. Trade and economic exchange between the countries have deteriorated.

Despite the tension, India’s trade with China saw a record 62.7% rise in the first half of 2021. Yet, there has been no positive sign from China to strengthen the economic ties. Our land, naval foothold and socially and culturally pertinent borders are on Chian’s checklist. What’s next? Push India to a tier lower and capture the whole land? If the invasion goes into a war – hope it may not – are we equipped to claim victory?Leaving it for a healthy discussion.