The recent India-China border dispute which heated up since April-May, reflects the history — a contract image through — of the situations in 1962. Around 58 years ago, China mounted simultaneous assaults on Indian posts in different sections along the Line of Actual Control (LoC), ending months of constant disputes in the area. Even though these are the valleys, posts and areas around which the conflicts took place, bearing a resemblance to the troubled past, India’s response this time has brought out the difference.
When compared to 1960’s dispute, India emerged stronger at least in part due to the unfavourable impact of the Cultural Revolution on China’s economy and the practical consequences of the Green Revolution for the Indian economy.
Moreover, India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finds itself in a better military and diplomatic space, which is superior to that in the run-up to 1962. PM Modi is benefitting from S Jaishankar’s mature advice and Rajnath Singh’s quiet leadership. India’s relations with the Quad countries (an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India) have added diplomatic muscle to an adequately competent military frame.
However, if we look at the other side during the clash in 1962, India had a much robust economy, which was at par with the Chinese economy. Though China didn’t acknowledge the same, objective circumstances and material reality offered adequate reasons for India to believe so.
Nonetheless, currently, India falls far behind when compared to the Chinese economy. Though post Independence, India had grown a lot, the pace of the development when compared to that of China lags several folds. China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1962 was 4,720.94 crores USD while that of India was 4,216.15 crores USD, which affirmed that both the economies were at par.
However, China GDP Purchasing power parity(PPP) in 2019 was 27.31 trillion dollars, while that of India was 10.51 trillion dollars. This clearly shows in 2019, China’s GDP is 4.78 times greater than India. On a PPP basis, the GDP of China is 2.38x of India. China crossed 1 trillion dollar mark in 1998 while India crossed nine years later in 2007 at an exchange rate basis.
Moreover, in terms of Comprehensive National Power (CNP), which includes scientific and technological power and human capital formation, China out-ranks India several times.
Though the Chinese economy had to face a crunch due to the pandemic, its pace in bouncing back on track has surprised the world. For India to reach such a level in terms of factors above said, it needs to continue focusing on the domestic economic capability and human capital.
The current conflict, between the nuclear-armed neighbours, have failed to de-escalate tensions as both sides accuse each other straying into their territory, which have sometimes resulted in clashes. Both the countries will have to face tremendous set back if they intensify the tension in the border amid an ongoing battle with pandemic.