IDFC Institute hosted a Conversation with Shyam Saran, Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research on Friday, 15th September. The discussion centered around a host of topics, touching upon his experiences while serving in the foreign office as well as on themes discussed in his latest book, "How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century." The main focus of the talk was on India's relations with China.
Key points discussed
With regard to India–China relations, there are areas of convergence as well as divergence. India and China need to work together on issues where there is convergence – such as trade and promoting the interests of emerging markets on global issues of climate change.
Although China is asserting itself on the global stage, it is still way behind the United States - economically, militarily and in technological advancement.
China has been aggressive in its lending through its one-belt-one-road infrastructure project to countries in South Asia as well as countries in Africa. Countries (such as Sri Lanka) could potentially become heavily indebted to China and thus ultimately come under its geopolitical influence.
The fact that both India and China have strong leaders is an asset and they have a played a stabilizing role in the relationship – especially in diffusing the situation in Doklam. The economic trade between the two countries is an issue of interdependency rather than a one-way pressure point.
On the issue of relations with Israel and Palestine, India shouldn’t be defensive about its relationship with Israel especially if there are real tangible benefits. With regards to Syria, the region is important to us but since we can't do much to resolve the issue, India will not intervene.
Shyam Saran served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Nuclear Affairs and Climate Change and as Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board. In January 2011, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to civil service. He is a trustee of the India International Centre and the World Wildlife Fund (India), a member of the National Executive of FICCI and a member of the Governing Board of the India Habitat Centre. He writes and speaks regularly on foreign policy, climate change, energy security, and national and international security related issues.