India should join the Belt and Road initiative: experts

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/15 15:29:36

India should rethink its position on the One Belt and One Road initiative (BRI), one Indian expert told the Global Times, emphasizing that China, Pakistan and India should address disputes and find innovative cooperative solutions after some Indian media outlets reported that the country chose not to attend the ongoing Belt and Road Forum (BRF) over territorial concerns.

Indian business news website reported that India is boycotting the Belt and Road Forum due to worries over “sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

“The main reason behind India staying out of the first Belt and Road Forum is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of which passes through the disputed territory of Kashmir,” Sudheendra Kulkarni, the chairman of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai who attended the two-day Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Kulkarni said that China, Pakistan and India should address this issue collectively and find an innovative and win-win solution to the issue which will be acceptable to all. 

Kulkarni suggested that two major connectivity initiatives should be built, an India-China Economic Corridor and an India-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and these three corridors should be connected in a way that Kashmir becomes a bridge, rather than a barrier, between India and Pakistan.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in a statement on Saturday that China sent India a formal invitation to participate in the six separate forums organized as part of the BRF, and he said that “India is of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.”

India will deprive itself of huge benefits if it stays out of the inter-continental, collaborative agenda mooted by China and endorsed by almost the entire world, Kulkarni said, noting that “The BRI is going to be the most powerful economic growth engine in world history.”

He also pointed that the BRI cannot ignore India as the latter's domestic growth and external links could make it an indispensable partner in the BRI.

Srikanth Kondapalli, chairman of the Center for Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said during the Thematic Session on Think Tank Exchanges of the Belt and Road Forum on Sunday that China and India can cooperate on low-carbon industry and the construction of a smart city and that the BRI can also make contributions to education, public health and gender equality.

Kulkarni also said that “India and the BRI are made for each other” and "India and China need not be rivals, but can actually become allies for the good of South Asia and the world."

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