On January 18, as part of the NDISC Seminar Series, Professor Šumit Ganguly presented “The Global Significance of Sino-Indian Rivalry” at Jenkins-Nanovic Hall. For those who were unable to attend, here is a brief overview of the discussion. You can also listen to the full audio recording of Professor Ganguly’s speech by clicking here.
Šumit Ganguly is Emeritus Professor of Political Science and Tagore Professor of Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University Bloomington. He specializes in international and comparative politics of South Asia. His most recent book (edited with Mr. Chris Mason) is The future of US-India security cooperation (Manchester University Press, 2021).
Professor Ganguly began the seminar with the history of Sino-Indian rivalry and the legacy of British colonial rule in Southeast Asia, so that those unfamiliar with the conflict can be informed of the background. He detailed how mapping issues in post-colonial India and Tibet led to border disputes with newly communist-ruled China. These disputes and the fear in China that India was trying to take over Tibet led to the ongoing Sino-Indian rivalry – there was a tenuous peace between the two until India granted refuge to the leader spiritual of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. Tensions escalated.
Fast forward to today and India’s rapid economic growth and nuclear testing over the past three decades have heightened tensions over existing border disputes – it’s important to note that China has never officially recognized India’s nuclear program as legitimate.
Professor Ganguly then spoke about the importance of the Sino-Indian rivalry for the United States. He gave four specific reasons why the Sino-Indian rivalry matters to the United States:
The United States and India are working much more closely together than in the past. The United States and India hold more military exercises per year than any other country.
India, Australia, Japan and the United States have joined a partnership under the name “The Quad”.
Much of the United States’ attention is placed on the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, but this has led to a lack of focus on the Sino-Indian rivalry. Professor Ganguly thinks that’s a mistake.
In his view, this is the area in the world most susceptible to accidental military escalation.
Questions and answers
Once Professor Ganguly’s presentation was over, the floor opened for questions. Here are some of the questions asked by members of the public. For the complete list of questions and answers visit our Twitter Account.
Q: Would India develop a nuclear policy beyond first non-use?
OS: The no-first-use policy is already watered down. If India is first attacked by a weapon of mass destruction, India can see this as justification for turning to nuclear weapons. Caveats have been inserted into the policy.
Q: Do you see Southeast Asian countries getting involved?
OS: Absolutely, but they waffle. They want to avoid conflict. Given the presence of the Quad and China, they are literally caught between the devil and the big blue.
Q: What would it take for China to recognize India’s weapons program? Would that change anything?
OS: My hypothetical answer is: a decade of double-digit economic growth. Steady economic growth for a decade would get a much better response from China.
We would like to thank Professor Šumit Ganguly for taking the time to come and give a presentation on such an important and relevant topic. To find more sessions from our Seminar Series, please see our Events Calendar.
Originally posted by ndisc.nd.edu to February 02, 2022.at