Big Brother India

The presence of the heads of state/government of India’s neighbouring countries at the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2014, appeared to have sent out a strong signal that it was going to be a new era — one of bonhomie between neighbours (“Losing the neighbourhood”, May 18). However, in the past two years of NDA rule, it seems to have gone flat like a bad film script. A souring of relationships was inevitable with India playing the role of big brother to the hilt. While India-Pakistan relations have touched a nadir, what is noteworthy is that even smaller countries like Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have become extremely resentful. There is an air of frostiness, where trust has taken the place of suspicion. India has begun to be viewed as a disruptor. New Delhi has to overhaul its foreign policy.

C.V. Aravind, Bengaluru

India must stop bullying its smaller neighbours especially when there is a power like China which never loses an opportunity to exploit the situation. We cannot be the “U.S.” of South Asia. Taking the India-Nepal issue to the European Union was clearly unwarranted. Chest thumping after a security operation in Myanmar was embarrassing. Incidents like these only hamper our strategic relations. We must remember that we can never change our neighbours. The strategic diplomatic ballgame must be left to seasoned diplomats to shape.

Gaurav Singhal, Rewari, Haryana

Peace and stability in the neighbourhood are always in India’s interest. Being the largest nation in the region, it is New Delhi’s duty to ensure that the boat is on an even keel.

A. Ramkumar, Chennai

High-handed posturing and meddling in the internal affairs of our neighbours has led to alienation rather than integration. India, unlike China, does not have the economic wherewithal to back its aggressive posturing towards its neighbours. To counter China’s aggressive pursuit of our neighbours, recourse to subtle and soft power diplomacy is the only way forward.

Rahul Krishna Jujjavarapu, Visakhapatnam

I wonder why India needs to be held culpable for unpleasant developments in its neighbourhood. The troubled politics in some South Asian nations are the outcome of internal squabbles rather than external instigation. The Nepal crisis was precipitated by a non-inclusive Constitution that leaves out marginalised communities. The Nepali media’s attempts to project India as the agent of trouble have only concealed the failure of the political class there. In Sri Lanka, the defeat of Mr. Rajapaksa was only a reflection of resentment against his authoritarian rule. However, the chest-thumping following the hot pursuit of Naga militants in Myanmar could have been avoided.

Our neighbours, barring Bhutan, are habituated to using the “China card” to silence India on crucial issues. Nepal’s intransigence on concluding the most uneconomical transit route agreement with China, and the Maldives’s decision to let in China despite Indian sensitivities are cases in point. Unjustified tolerance is the most undesirable trait of diplomacy. Lastly, the spirit of “neighbourhood” lasts only as long as there are mutually beneficial policies.

Premsai Srinivas Amudhala, Tirupati

Relations between India and its neighbours will never evoke euphoria. And, China’s assistance to these countries will never be an act of benevolence and will be solely aimed at countering India. India’s position is unique in more than one sense. Notwithstanding some shortcomings, democracy and the rule of law as instruments of political governance are well entrenched in India. In relative terms, India can arguably be considered the most stable country in the region, moving ahead on the fast tracks of development. Our neighbours should realise this.

Amit Jha, Lucknow

Despite Mr. Modi’s focus on foreign relations, it is its ties with China that are affecting things. It should be seen against the backdrop of China opposing India’s membership to the UNSC and the NSG and tensions over territorial issues. Better ties with China will take care of many problems.

Karan Dange, Allahabad

It is odd that we are wary of our smaller neighbours playing the China card. These countries need to understand our security needs. The new assertive type of diplomacy by the Modi government will take time to show results.

Hari Arayammakul, Kozhikode

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 5:27:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/big-brother-india/article8617015.ece

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