by Rameen Khan

Ancient civilisations, India and China have remained in close proximity since millennia. The relationship between these two states has been moving like a pendulum i.e. they swing irregularly from the stage of conflict to mutual cooperation. During past years countries in Asia whether on continental landmass or island off the Asian mainland have been influenced or affected by one or both the countries i.e. China or India at some stage.

Geography is one of the important factor considered in International anarchic system which if used advantageously by the states can be considered constructive in acquiring the status of key factor in International system because by increasing alliances and adopting military capabilities and strategies a state has the possibility to grow its relative power and influence in the system. Geopolitics plays very important role in India’s quest to emerge as a regional and global power, according to realism, it could be used by a state to increase its diplomatic relations and seek more power in an anarchic system.

Realism also suggests that the primary goal which each state have is its survival and this geopolitical climate provides a state to achieve survival, power and relative advantage over neighbouring states. The position in which India is located in the region of South Asia is between two nuclearised states and its relation with these states is key for its survival and maximising power in regional politics. The twenty-first century has however witnessed that India is acquiring the status of rising power and it is formulating its foreign policy in such a way to meet the International as well as regional challenges. By looking at the traditional policy which India has focused on during past decades that was of non-alignment i.e. Alignments were avoided by India. But for now, it has expanded its strategic vision and acquired the policy of poly- alignment, i.e. instead of avoiding its alliance with other states it now seeks to get itself aligned with some or each state. This shift from non-alignment to poly-alignment could, however, have a deep impact on China in the regional politics.

India, however, is also trying to increase its economic power in order to counter China so as to gain the status of the dominant hegemonic power of South Asia. As a state develops itself economically or militarily it could also increase its power. In an International system, power is an important factor because if a state acquires power then according to realism it can ensure its survivability in an International system as power could be defined as the ability of a state to influence others to do what they would not have otherwise. It has been observed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing continuous efforts to increase India’s economic power. This would get it in a position for competing economically with other states especially China. Some scholars also suggest that GDP is an important factor which signifies the power that state possess.

The economic strength can be seen through GDP and it could also reveal that how wealth could be utilised i.e. by building up military and technological capabilities by a state to gain its influence. Similarly, it could be seen that this economic power can be utilised by India to influence China though China is regarded as the biggest economy but it could also be analysed that India could surpass China because it is the fastest growing economy in recent years. By seeing the GDP rate of India during years 2016-2017 and comparing it with China it could be seen that it has increased efficiently, it has grown approximately 7.6% whereas China lags to 6.7%. So GDP is important factor for understanding of regional competitiveness and relative power between states, because it could be observed that when China began to expand economic power much attention was given to it and it was able to influence others states through its power now similar approach is being used by India to influence China as well to get itself the status of emerging power by expanding its economic and military power.

As a rising power alongside China, India nevertheless is seeking to increase its capabilities whether naval, air force or missile. In pursuit of the status of regional rising power India has been involved in increasing its defence budget and it orders for fighter jets, naval frigates, and artillery. It has been observed that it is the largest importer of arms since 2010. India’s military with the passage of time is gradually improving against China. China in the region of South Asia’s traditional strategy did not pay much attention towards the competition between India and Pakistan due to presence of nuclear weapons, but in recent years India has started to modernise its capabilities of nuclear weapons i.e. the development of long-range ballistic missiles, the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (or MIRVs) on ballistic missiles, submarine-based nuclear weapons, missile defence systems, and outer space capabilities which had however made a fearful situation for China to narrow down the nuclear gap between them and China however is also influenced that this development may give rise to instability in the region.

India’s navy has also been modernised and it has acquired the position of 5th largest navy since 2009 and 4th largest Air force and it has also been estimated that this position might get better till 2022, because the Indian ocean region has been seen as the important factor for Sino-India competition as China’s presence is increasing in Indian Ocean it is creating greater tensions for India so it has been argued that India is involved in nuclearisation of Indian Ocean in order to have an impact on China and contain its influence as both states are dependent on Indian Oceans for their energy resources that are transported via it. These all factors collectively can put India in a position where it can influence China in regional politics as well as over Tibet issue. India can also change its policy towards China accordingly and it can use realist policy and coerce China to side with her rather than her traditional rivals, to maximise its power and gain more dominance in the region.