India, China should leave the baggage of history behind: Dr. Deshpande

Both countries can benefit if they cooperate, says history professor.

By Rajiv Theodore

NEW DELHI: Dr. Anirudh Deshpande, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi, a passionate Sino-Indian watcher, in an exclusive interview to The American Bazaar, spoke about Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India.

Excerpts from the interview:

For Li the visit is hinged on trust building with India. What are the difficulties in Sino-India relations that hinder the forming of this trust?

The greatest difficulty is ultra-nationalism on both sides. There is not much rationality in actions of the two countries but largely driven by jingoism. There is a great of what I term as “imagination of territorial nationalism”.

Is there a possibility of China and India increasing their co-operation?

Sure. India and China can greatly benefit from co-operation through Information Technology (IT). They could combine Beijing’s manufacturing might with New Delhi’s expertise in software sector. The other key area is infrastructure; road building is an important sector where Chinese expertise could be used to India’s advantage. So are co-operation in oil and gas, management of hydro-electric power. Even Agrarian cooperation will benefit India to a great degree with China’s success of 40-45 years in the field. We can also learn a lot from their ship building and sea faring techniques. India is also the largest market for project exports from China. As per Chinese figures, cumulative Chinese investments into India till December 2011 stood at $575.70 million, while Indian investments into China were $441.70 million.

What is causing the trade imbalance with China?

India has a deficit trade balance with China. Over the past 15-20 years, China has marched forward and touched great heights in industrialization. China has a far more varied basket of exports not only to India but to the rest of the world. India’s share is insignificant compared to China’s. India will have to put its house in order.

Is the festering border dispute going to affect Sino-India relations?

Both the countries have to sit down and show willingness. They have realized that a vexatious border dispute is not in their larger interests and cannot be solved by military means. Both sides should sit together and analyze their strengths and weakness.

It must be recalled at this juncture that China was not invited by the British in 1914 when the colonial rulers demarcated the boundary between India and Tibet; they (British) did it for their own interest. Since India failed to rectify the situation, it led to the war of 1962. Similarly, China in the 1950s incorporated Tibet and reconfigured the border dispute from a position of strength. Now, both have to step back and leave the baggage of history behind.

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