Joining B&R can help India diminish domestic poverty

By Zamir Ahmed Awan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/6 22:08:39

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a two-day official visit to China in late April and held an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province. Hailing the sound development of bilateral ties, Xi said that the two countries have forged a closer development partnership and made progress on exchanges and cooperation in various fields, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The highly anticipated meeting was well-received worldwide. Being optimistic, any improvement of relations between India and China will help the entire region to attain peace, stability and development.

But Modi did not consent to join the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, as a strategic policy for future cooperation and development for the region. It may take more time for India to understand the importance of the B&R. India wants to improve its infrastructure and develop its economy,  for which India depends on the West.

It is true that some Western technologies are more advanced than those in China. But the investment India needs is huge, and no other country can provide this except China.

A recent example involves a high-speed train line, which India, based on a political decision, awarded to Japan. Japan may have the technical capacity to assist India to build such trains, but when it comes to money, Japan may not have enough. As a result, a multinational consortium was established.  China alone can execute this project technically as well as financially, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a purpose-built lender to help Asian countries improve connectivity and infrastructure. It would be unwise if India delays its understanding of the B&R.

Although there are grounds for optimism about the outcome of the Xi-Modi meeting, some observers think India has a track record of hostile relations with all of its neighbors and prefers to strengthen ties with countries that lie across the ocean. India has often suggested that it wants better relations with neighboring countries but never achieved this goal.

India is a country with the highest number of people living under the poverty line, with insufficient food, inadequate housing, meager healthcare, no clean drinking water, and no basic sanitary facilities.

Minorities and low-caste members are the targets of much bad treatment. Outdated infrastructure, a poor transport system and a deteriorating environment have aggregated the situation. Domestic politics and internal conflicts are the real cause of suffering of people in India.

If India joins the B&R initiative and really works hard to promote harmony, peace and stability in this region, it will definitely support its drive to wipe out domestic poverty and help others throughout the region.

The author is a sinologist and researcher with the Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.


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