India has to invest massively in software, design and critical technologies like drones, hypersonic missiles and quantum computing if it has to fend off the challenge from China. India also has to invest in cyber-security to gain asymmetric advantages over China.
Speaking at a seminar on the looming Chinese challenge organised by the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy (CCAS), former president of NASSCOM Kiran Karnik said that just like maintaining geo-strategic relations, India will have to build technological alliances with friendly countries like Taiwan, Europe and the US.
Karnik added that China has gained such a headstart in technology that it is now trying to rival the US. He added that India is dependent on Chinese companies in power and telecom which have a lot of electronics due to which these sectors can be manipulated if the Chinese investment continues in these sectors.
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Giving an insight into why China has been belligerent, Jayadeva Ranade, president CCAS, said that China’s comprehensive strength has risen that is why it has attacked India and has been aggressive with other nations. Another area where India has to work on is the trade balance which is highly skewed in China’s favour. Ranade said that India is importing a lot of non-essential items like umbrellas, lamp-shades and idols which can be easily produced in the country.
Ranade added that it is time India drops its defensive attitude towards China and begins to name the country. This was a sentiment which Lt. Gen. Rakesh Sharma, distinguished fellow Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) also spoke about. Sharma said: “Our politicial hierarchy has laid a lot of restrictions, which include not crossing the borders, not going till Skardu … or not opening up another front”. He added that we need to increase our defence budget and also need to prioritise on how we spend it.
To a question on whether India will protect its western border or its north-eastern border in the situation of a conflict with China, Sharma said that India is a sovereign nation. “We will fight everywhere and protect both the glacier and also the north-east”.
Giving an insight into the GDP of a country, C Raja Mohan, Senior Fellow at The Asia Society Policy Institute, said that Japan had the third-largest GDP but it did not matter as the country restrained itself in military expenditure and defence matters. But now that situation is changing.
The panelists were of the view that the GDP comparisons between India and China are not as relevant because of the role of technology, asymmetrical warfare and the role of alliances in future conflicts.
Also read: China mounts pressure to keep US and India apart, says Pentagon report