INCH (India and China) and MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy). This is the new Modi mantra for energising relations between India and China, the two Asian giants which are often portrayed as rivals, but have chosen to be fellow-travellers in the unfolding journey of an Asian century.
A day before China’s President Xi Jinping touches down in India to begin a three-day transformational trip, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled his long-distance vision of India-China relations.
“India and China are bound by history, connected by culture, and inspired by rich traditions. Together they can create a bright future for the entire mankind,” Mr Modi said in a wide-ranging interaction with Chinese journalists a day before he meets the Chinese president in Ahamedabad, the capital of his home state Gujarat which has forged robust economic relations with China.
Setting a positive tone for his first full-spectrum summit meeting with President Xi, widely regarded as the most powerful leader of China after Mao Zedong, Prime Minister Modi forged a new template for the future trajectory of India-China relations. “I would like to give a new terminology to my tomorrow’s meeting with the Chinese President. I call it “Inch towards Miles”. INCH that is “India-China”; towards MILES that is- “Millennium of Exceptional Synergy”. I believe that tomorrow’s meeting will mark a happy beginning towards this goal of “Inch towards Miles”.
“If I have to describe potential of India-China ties I will say — INCH (India & China) towards MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy)!” Modi tweeted after the meeting.
Modi’s interaction with Chinese journalists saw the first systematic articulation of the new Indian leader’s views on a critical bilateral partnership that tend to get shrouded in adversarial constructions and myths of containment.
In a significant forward-looking statement that blended geo-strategy, arithmetic and chemistry, Modi indicated that the India-China relations are moving beyond transactional calculations. “The arithmetic and chemistry of our relations convince me that together we can script history,” said Modi. He also projected stronger India-China relations as conducive to the prosperity of the region and the world at large.
“When India and China strengthen relations, almost 35% of the world’s people come closer and their lives undergo qualitative change. “Arithmetically, when India and China gain, a significant percentage of world’s population gains. But, our relation is beyond plain arithmetic,” said the prime minister.
Invoking a golden age when India and China contributed over 50 per cent of global GDP, the prime minister underlined that the two Asian countries have emerged as hubs of progress and innovation in the 21st century. Weaving history and culture with allusions to India’s centuries-old Buddhist links with China, the prime minister articulated a robust vision of India-China partnership that will be based on mutual synergies and core competencies of the two Asian powerhouses.
“We seek a closer developmental partnership. India can benefit from China’s strength in hardware such as creation of infrastructure and development of our manufacturing sector. These are the areas where India wants to make rapid progress.” “On the other hand, India’s strength in software can help Chinese companies to become more efficient and competitive,” he stressed.
Another trope that figured prominently in his long-range view of India-China relations was the idea of an Asian century.
“There is a consensus that 21st century is Asia’s century. Our two civilisations have shown tremendous resilience and are now once again important centres of economic growth and innovation,” he said while alluding to the tectonic shift of economic gravity to Asia in the last couple of decades.
Amid these grand constructions, Prime Minister Modi also underlined the need for “mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns and aspirations,” and sought progress on issues of concern, because the resolution of these issues, he stressed, will transform the atmosphere in bilateral relations and allow the two countries to realise the full potential of the burgeoning India-China relations.
The September 17-19 trip by President Xi Jinping to India is set to be a milestone, with the two Asian neighbours looking to seal a clutch of agreements in areas ranging from trade and investment and energy to culture and tourism. Both sides have raised expectations: one of the headline-hogging outcomes of the visit is expected to an ambitious pledge by the Chinese leader to invest around $100 billion to shore up India’s infrastructure. The visit will see the two sides unveiling sites for setting up of Chinese industrial parks and Chinese participation in modernising Indian Railways.
The guiding mantra will be, as Prime Minister Modi says, will be to “script history and create a better tomorrow for all of mankind.”
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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