India Slumps Behind China During Modi’s First 5 Years

China - India
FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China September 4, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo)

Critics of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrutinized his leadership as they emphasized points which showed that India remained behind China during the first 5 years of his leadership.

Recently, Prime Minister Modi boasted on live TV that India had destroyed a satellite in low orbit and established itself as a "space power" that can compete with the United States, Russia, and China. The leader believes that the missile test was a moment of "utmost pride" for India. The prime minister criticized its predecessor in its failure to counter the long-term geopolitical conflict with China.

However, the achievements of the Indian leader remain in the shadow of China. China conducted a similar missile test in 2007, more than a decade ago. Critics of the government believe that the show of strength of India highlighted the wide difference in the strategic gap between the two nations.

India is scheduled to elect its leaders on May 23. The ruling party headed by the prime minister uses the record of the leader in national security as a key part of its campaign. The party highlighted India's aggressive strikes against Pakistan and the more than 80 trips of the leader abroad which projects the reputation of India as a rising economic power. India rejected the offer of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the Belt and Road infrastructure forum scheduled to start on April 26.

Critics, however, implied that India is falling further behind China over the past five years. China surpassed India in spending power in defense, in the implementation of reforms in its military and diplomatic structures, and in building strategic infrastructures. China also supported Pakistan with defense technology to counter India.

Mr. Vishnu Prakash, a former Indian ambassador to South Korea and consul general in Shanghai, said that it is impossible to keep pace with China because India cannot get into checkbook diplomacy with China and they don't have that kind of economic muscle. Regardless whether the prime minister returns in power or not, India remains inferior in military power because of its aging equipment like its Soviet-era MiG warplanes. It also suffers from a bureaucracy that hinders military upgrades and an undersized diplomatic corps. India is still dependent on the aid of the United States and other countries to protect its territories.

Mr. Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said that a major long-run test for India is to ensure that China does not turn India's own geography against it by encircling it with a string of military bases in the Indian Ocean.

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