May 14, 2015 : JABIN T. JACOB
Indications are that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not just push an economic agenda, but will also try and craft a strong politico-cultural plan during his visit.
Mr. Narendra Modi will make his first visit to China as Prime Minister from May 14 to 16. He is unique among Indian political leaders in possessing some significant experience of China before attaining office. In fact, despite — or perhaps because of — the differences in world views and how he has gone about understanding China, he is probably the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru capable of shaping a unique approach to China. His forthcoming visit will be one of many such opportunities to do so.
The differences between the two Prime Ministers also show how both China and the Sino-Indian relationship have changed over time. For one, until the defeat of 1962, Mr. Nehru looked at China in anti-colonial and anti-imperialist solidarity and so, promoted communist China’s membership of international organisations and participation in international affairs. This is not to say that he did not understand the geopolitical challenges posed by another large country next door that had a length of history and greatness of civilization equal to that of India, a population of similar size, and, importantly, a different political ideology. But Mr. Nehru also believed that India and China had the potential to do much together to reshape the world.