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Bharath Kumar asked: Will India increase its focus on other countries too or is it just happy with Pakistan and China?

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  • Rumel Dahiya replies: The question perhaps, points to the several discourses that takes place in strategic circles and in the press, about two of our neighbours, Pakistan and China. This also implies that India is less concerned with other countries including its other neighbouring countries. It is true that China and Pakistan are often in news in India and mostly for wrong reasons. That is only to be expected because Pakistan has always treated India as an adversary and has abetted terrorism against it. People in India are concerned about security implications of Pakistan's continuing intransigence while at the same time commonality of culture keeps their interest alive in knowing about happenings in that country.

    China became our largest immediate neighbour after it occupied Tibet. China and India have fought a war, have an unresolved boundary dispute besides few other serious differences on substantive issue. Yet the economic relations between the two countries are very robust. The combination of security and geopolitical concerns and expanding economic relations make it incumbent on India's part to know much more about China than what it knows so far. As China's Ambassador to India said on 13 December, India-China relations are fragile. They are indeed so because China is perceived to be least sensitive to India's concerns and being an authoritarian state and a closed society its intentions appear to be suspicious. In a way, India is forced to spend quite a lot of its diplomatic energy and military focus on current threat and/or future challenge that these countries present. However, many other countries like the USA, Russia, Iran, UK, Japan, ASEAN countries, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh receive fair amount of attention in government, media and think tank circles. It is true that the focus shifts from time to time, based on events and their seriousness, both positive or negative. While Sri Lanka received greater attention in the strategic community during 2007 and 2008, nowadays Afghanistan and Nepal are rarely out of focus. USA also is very much part of the discourse because of the importance of the relationship between the two countries. Besides specific countries, regional and global issues are often of vital importance to India.