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India And China Can Change Global Governance Through Cooperation

Anti-China protests
Social media and even in the streets of India, as an expression of anti-Chinese sentiment, a campaign is going on to stop buying the Chinese products as it will cripple the Chinese economy.||Source: Business Standard

Since the global financial crisis of 2007-08, the economic backlash against globalisation has been increasingly evident. However, India was an exception as Mr Modi, the poster boy of the cultural backlash against globalisation, rose to power and prominence while retaining his image as the “Davos man”, the image of a globalized elite. Whether globalization is a boon or a bane is a controversial issue, but India has accepted it with ecstasy and has strived over the years to lift millions out of poverty by integrating the economy of India with the economy of the world.

The 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), exemplifies the fact that India has lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016. Apart from the two backlashes against globalization—economic and cultural, in India, each time there is a military confrontation between India and China, a huge public reaction erupts against the Chinese products. As a military confrontation is going on the LAC, the same anti-Chinese sentiment is reigning supreme over the mass as a mark of nationalistic fervour.

India and China had been the lighthouses of civilization for centuries when Europe and America were shrouded in darkness. Europe rose to glory during the industrial revolution and America dominated the world in much part of the twentieth century and continues to enjoy prominence even in the twenty first century. If nineteenth century was the century of Europe, twentieth century the century of America, then certainly twenty first century is going to be the Asian century. The Asian century, a vision suddenly conjures up the names of two Asian giants – China and India. The cooperation and conflict between the two regional powers will define the Asian century and its course.

The relationship between the two countries is as old as history. The cultural, intellectual and trade ties go back to the days of the silk road. To forge an Asian partnership, the Prime Minister of India, immediately after the establishment of People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, evinced the vigour and not only set up diplomatic ties with PRC in 1950, but also pleaded for the PRC’s membership in the UN. Yet, the issue of Tibet emerged like a thorn in the rosy relationship between the two neighbours.

India and China signed an Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India” on April 29, 1954, which is known in the public memory as the historic Panchsheel Agreement to elevate the relationship to a new plane by resolving the bilateral disputes. These were the heydays of Indo-China relationship which was soon to plummet to new lows in 1962 with the Chinese invasion on India. The history of Indo-China cooperation and conflict is a chequered one, replete with instances of strong friendship and bitter enmity.

As China and the United States came closer after 1972 and India perceived a threat in the China-U.S.-Pakistan axis, it got attracted to create a strong relationship with former Soviet Union to balance the axis. It was in 1988, Rajiv Gandhi’s visit broke the ice and a Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to explore solutions to the vexed boundary dispute.

Diplomatic talks between India and China during former PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to China, 2013

Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China in June 2003. The Joint Declaration expressed the view that China was not a threat to India. Special Representatives were appointed in order to provide momentum to border negotiations that had lasted for more than two decades, with the Prime Minister’s principal secretary becoming India’s political-level negotiator, replacing the India-China JWG. During  Manmohan Singh government also the relationship went on in an upward trajectory.

India China Dispute
But the last five years have seen increasing tension in Dhoklam and now in Ladakh, however, the rising tension has also been accompanied by political will to resolve the conflict and not letting the differences to escalate into dispute.||Representational image

But the last five years have seen increasing tension in Dhoklam and now in Ladakh, however, the rising tension have also been accompanied by political will to resolve the conflict and not letting the differences to escalate into dispute, the finest examples are two informal summits, first in Wuhan and second in Mamallapuram.

China is India’s largest trading partner, but China enjoys a huge surplus while India is having a trade deficit. In fact, the United States of America also has a huge trade deficit with countries like China and India. In a globalised world where economies have been intricately linked as never before, self-sufficiency is not something the nation-states strive for.

Trade enables a country to specialize in one aspect and bridge the gap in the domestic market by importing from other countries. Trade deficit with one country is not always a sign of weak economy. Trade deficit with China simply signifies that Indians buy more Chinese products than vice-versa. However, continuous trade deficits across all countries increase burden on the foreign exchange reserve and demonstrate a country’s inability to produce anything.

Social media and even in the streets of India, as an expression of anti-Chinese sentiment, a campaign is going on to stop buying the Chinese products as it will cripple the Chinese economy. But a close observation at some statistics proves this compelling argument illogical because while:

China accounts for 5% of India’s exports and 14% of India’s imports, India’s imports from China (that is, China’s exports) are just 3% of China’s total exports. More importantly, China’s imports from India are less than 1% of its total imports. The point is that if India and China stop trading then — on the face of it — China would lose only 3% of its exports and less than 1% of its imports, while India will lose 5% of its exports and 14% of its imports. (Indian Express)

Therefore, the idea of crippling Chinese economy is only a mere rhetoric without any substance; rather it will affect the consumers and producers in India adversely. Consumers would be affected because of the unavailability of the low-cost goods and producers will have to bear the burden because they can no more obtain the intermediate goods. Ultimately, the deterioration in trade ties will exacerbate the overall relation and confrontation will be more frequent than before on the frontiers.

Trade locks the countries in the web of dependency and assuage the tension; use of trade as a means of negotiation will give India more bargaining power. But if the mass sentiments on the streets of India are allowed to influence the foreign policy decision, then it will worsen the relationship and will have short-term and long-term negative consequences for India.

Foreign policy is designed to advance the interest of a State but never fashioned to gratify the voters on the street. Efforts to score brownie points will only take India and China closer towards a warlike situation, and the dream of an Asian century characterized by partnership between the two Asian giants will only remain in words in journals and academic text books.

To let the vision of Asian century see the light is a responsibility of both the powers and only a strong partnership between the two giants will determine the fate of Asia in the world. Nationalism is a rising phenomenon across the globe, which propels the country to look inward shaking off the global responsibility. It’s a critical period in the history of global governance where traditional powers are going more inward; but like every crisis, this also provides an opportunity where India and China can rise to the occasion and can transform their position from rule-takers to the rule-makers.

Coordination between the two countries will determine the fate of global governance and the role of Asia in it. Being Aatmanirbhar is always a great vision, but it shouldn’t come as a cost to the flourishing relationship. The policy makers in India have to remember that that the partnership between the two ancient civilization will give us the cockpit of global governance, however, China should also ensure that it rises peacefully.

The article was first published here. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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