cross-border issues

Narendra Modi may have been surgical with Pakistan, but can he be clinical with China?

The surgical strikes may have made India proud, but will people accept capitulation at the hands of Islamabad's Beijing bodyguard?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had an odd history with Beijing.

As chief minister of Gujarat, he was said to be a close friend of China's, visiting the country a couple of times and securing Chinese investment. Later, when he became prime minister, one of Modi's earliest interactions with a leader outside the neighbourhood saw him strolling along the banks of the Sabarmati with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Yet, over the course of 2016 this relationship has begun to crumble.

First India turned its bid for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group into a core item on is foreign policy agenda, only to be stonewalled by Beijing in June. China also was the only country in the 15-member United Nations Security Council to object twice to India's efforts at declaring terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a UN-designated terrorist. This weekend, at the BRICS summit, it became even clearer that Beijing will continue to shield Pakistan from New Delhi's attempts to label it a global sponsor of terrorism.

"We oppose terrorism of all forms," said China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, after Modi referred to Pakistan as the "mothership" of terrorists at the Brics summit. "[But] we are also against linking terrorism to any specific country, ethnic group or religion. Both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism. The international community should respect the enormous efforts and sacrifices made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism."

Goan grumbles

The Brics summit – which brings together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – was supposed to be another platform where New Delhi could build on its effort to globally isolate Pakistan after the Uri attack last month saw 19 Indian soldiers killed by cross-border militants. The summit-concluding statement, labeled the Goa Declaration, was supposed to include a strong message that could only be read as a rebuke to Pakistan.

Instead, the declaration sticks to broad platitudes about terrorism but doesn't mention the "cross-border" kind.

"We strongly condemn the recent several attacks, against some BRICS countries, including that in India. We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons."

Somewhat pointedly, and despite India's efforts, the declaration includes references to Islamic State and a Syrian terror outfit, but not Jaish-e-Mohammad. “I guess it doesn’t concern all the BRICS countries,” said Amar Sinha, India's chief negotiator at the summit. "Perhaps, that’s why we couldn’t get a consensus on naming these groups."

To make things worse, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping used his time at the Brics summit to suggest that terror could be addressed through a political solution (read: Kashmir) and China's foreign ministry later reiterated its stand that both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism. These positions diverge sharply from New Delhi's effort to single out the Pakistani establishment as a sponsor of terrorism, one that uses the Kashmir conflict as a fig leaf.

Surgical strikes 

When the Indian Army said it had carried out "surgical strikes" along the Line of Control last month, delivering "significant casualties" to militants in the process, it gave the Modi administration a shot in the arm. Uri had left many feeling helpless, since it was yet another attack by cross-border militants that couldn't be responded to with military retaliation for fear of escalating conflict.

The announcement of the strikes changed all of that, giving both the government and its supporter base the feeling that India had managed to break out of a vicious cycle, even as Pakistan denied any major incident. What this means for the long-term equation at the LoC remains to be seen, but the strikes certainly addressed a feeling of despondency in the polity as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party's seemingly trigger-happy base. More than anything, ahead of important assembly elections next year, the strikes represented a major domestic victory.

Indians don't hate China nearly as much as they do Pakistan. A Pew Research survey in 2014 found that only 15% of Indians had a positive view of Pakistan, while as many as 30% viewed China favourably.

That's probably a good thing for the Indian government, because while the surgical strikes may have shored up its anti-Pakistan credentials, taking on Beijing would be much harder.

For one, India needs Chinese cash, which is why Modi has been wooing Beijing even as his nationalist base spreads messages about boycotting goods from China. Second, India is already heavily dependent on Chinese products, and attempting to pivot away from them would cause much pain to Indian industry.

Thirdly and most importantly, China and India are simply not comparable. Although they're often spoken of in the same breath as being Asia's two populous fast-growing economies, China's Gross Domestic Product is almost five times India's figure. China's sphere of influence and trade ties reach all over the globe – including India's own backyard. And the Chinese military is far larger and much more advanced than India's, despite (or actually prompting) New Delhi's status as the world's biggest arms importer.

Bhai bhai

China may not be allowing militants to use its territory, but its own Army frequently provokes India by crossing the disputed border and maintains that much of Arunachal Pradesh is "south Tibet." Despite India claiming Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as its own territory, China is building a massive economic corridor through it.

As Carnegie India Director C Raja Mohan puts it, "India must move away from from the idea of parity with China to finding ways to cope with the consequences of the growing gap in material capabilities." The government seems to recognise this. Despite what could be counted as blatant pushback from China, both at the NSG and over Masood Azhar, New Delhi has refrained from blaming Beijing or using the kind of rhetoric that appeals to nationalistic sentiments.

Yet it is not easy to ride the patriotic tiger.

The government, hoping to not unnecessarily antagonise Beijing, has stayed away from #BoycottChina but the feeling is evidently popular. And the more signs emerge of China protecting an unrepentant Pakistan, the harder New Delhi, or at least the BJP, will find it not to respond – especially ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections. Caste, religion and plenty else will take centre stage there of course, but if surgical strikes are to be the selling point, then following those up with capitulation at the hands of Islamabad's Beijing bodyguard will not assuage a charged crowd.

In a year's time, China will be the hosting the BRICS summit. How New Delhi's relationship with Beijing progresses between now and then will give us a much more definitive sense of whether Modi's bold decision to carry out, and then vocally announce the surgical strikes was part of a new pro-active neighbourhood strategy that goes beyond just pre-election chest thumping.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.