Free Trade, Not Isolation, Can Help India Rise To The China Challenge
The MSC Camille container ship, operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), left, on the dockside at the Port of Felixstowe Ltd., a subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., in Felixstowe, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Free Trade, Not Isolation, Can Help India Rise To The China Challenge

India needs to have “aatmavishwas” (self-confidence) and engage with more countries, not turn away from trade agreements, to take on China, according to Gautam Bambawale, former Indian ambassador to China, Bhutan and Pakistan.

India can take the lead at forming some of these agreements at a time when most countries are inward looking, Bambawale said.

Unfortunately, India’s track record on trade agreements is nothing much to write home about, according to Vishnu Prakash, former Indian Ambassador to Canada and South Korea. “I don’t know of any country in the world, which is so averse to free-trade agreements or preferential trading agreements,” he said.

The former ambassadors were speaking on a panel discussion at the law economics policy conference titled “Strategic Patience and flexible policies: How India can rise to the China challenge” and organised by INET.

Other panellists included Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, research director at India Development Foundation; and Manjeet Kripalani, executive director at Gateway House.

Investment in education and health is crucial if India hopes to capitalise on its demographics, said Gangopadhyay. Which means, he said, states have to be empowered and incentivised to invest in human capital.

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