Indian states, Chinese provinces should interact more: Ramesh

Kolkata : Terming Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh’s ongoing and Vice President Hamid Ansari’s just-concluded China visit as “significant”, former union minister Jairam Ramesh said Thursday India needs to “deepen the political dialogue” and that Indian states should engage with provinces in the neighbouring country.

“So far we have had institutionalised form of political dialogues which is very important and has been a major contributing factor to managing a complex relationship. In the next phase, over the next few years, we have to further deepen the political dialogue at provincial levels in the case of China and at the state level for India.

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“We have to bring in more states of India in touch with the provinces in China. This would be a major confidence building measure,” he said during an interaction on China and 60 years after the Panchsheel Treaty (Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence) at the Observer Research Foundation here.

Ramesh reckoned from recent political happenings, like Chinese foreign minister’s visit, that India will be pragmatic in its relationship with the country.

“But what will actually happen on the ground is far too early to say,” he said.

Terming border issues with China as the “crux of relationship” with India, the Rajya Sabha MP said the current scenario has turned “tricky” due to China’s claim on the Tawang belt in Arunachal Pradesh.

“When the original Panchsheel was signed, Tawang was not an issue. But now in any discussion on the border, Tawang is an issue and this is an issue on which India simply cannot barter away its interests. The dialogues will continue but Tawang will remain a tricky issue,” he said.

He also called for a “full-fledged dialogues” on water resources to address concerns regarding water sharing and use issues. In addition, stimulating investments to counter the trade-deficit is necessary.

“We should also invest in academic engagement with China. The China relationship is going to be the single-most important foreign policy challenge for India. We must take this challenge up and make the necessary change in our systems of thinking in order to deal with this successfully,” he said.