Book review: Kanti Bajpai, India versus China: Why They Are Not Friends

AuthorJaved Alam
Published date01 April 2023
Date01 April 2023
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 131
Kanti Bajpai, India versus China: Why They Are Not Friends. New Delhi:
Juggernaut Books, 2021, 284 pp., `599 (Hardbound). ISBN 978-93-9116-
DOI: 10.1177/23477970231152035
Bajpai’s new book is about elucidating a paradoxical relation where India and
China cooperate on one front but at the same time seek to outdo each other in
achieving a great power status. Kanti Bajpai’s book India versus China: Why
They Are Not Friends explains this puzzling relation between India and China.
The author argues that the hostile relations between India and China is because
of the given set of four key reasons. These reasons are basically based on 4Ps:
perceptions, perimeters, partnership and power (p. 2). Chapter 1 argues that to
understand why India and China are not friends the question of perception
becomes imperative. Bajpai has divided the notion of perception being held by
India and China of each other into three broad categories. The first category
chooses to investigate the notion of perception during the pre-modern times.
According to the author, this pre-modern period of interaction was based on the
spread of Buddhism (p. 10) and the trade relations both the countries followed
(p. 13). As per the author, this pre-modern period was more or less peaceful and
both the countries held positive perceptions of each other.
The second category deals with the direct relation/interaction between India
and China. This period linked India and China through trade, but the communica-
tion happened via colonial powers. This phase starts in the nineteenth century and
ends in the early twentieth century has been, according to the author, one of the
most important periods of interaction that replaced the somewhat positive percep-
tion into complete contempt perception of India and Indians in the eyes of the
Chinese (p. 16).
The third category which Bajpai argues is about the contemporary times. The
1980s period is taken into consideration to understand how China views India
before it embarks upon the extraordinary economic journey (p. 25). The second
period, the early 2000s, is about how the remote corners of China view India
(p. 28). Lastly, the period covering 2008 to 2011 seeks to recognise China’s view
of India in a more urban, developed and up-market setting (p. 29). To understand
how India views China, the author has looked into the findings of Pew Surveys.
Bajpai has also dealt with the common parlance being used by both peoples to
refer to each other (p. 38). Bajpai after investigating all of the aforementioned
elements of perception concludes that both Chinese and Indians typically view
each other negatively (p. 41).
Bajpai has also looked into the context of the international system or the
‘worldviews’ as he refers to it. While explaining India’s worldviews and China’s
role in that view, the author has stated three worldviews of India. The first one
which is the classical view tends to work on the principles laid down in
Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Kamandaki’s Nitisara. The second one, cosmopol-
itan view, goes back to the work of Vivekananda, Tagore and Gandhi. The third
which is a Great Power view has been understood from the writings of Nehru,

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