In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, there is an incident where Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, advised Apple to sell all its assets and pay out its shareholders. That, in his opinion, would be Apple’s biggest service to the owners of the company. Infuriated, Steve Jobs, had a large image of Dell projected on a screen in the Board Room with a big target sign on it. And when he would end a meeting, he would point at the picture of Dell, and say gleefully, “We are coming after you, Buddy!” This was Jobs’ way of motivating his teams. Identify the enemy. Focus relentlessly on him and with a laser-sharp intensity, go guns-blazing. This, more than anything, created what Apple is today. The ability of its founder, greatest leader and visionary, to zero in on one or two things and pursue them with singular passion.
Such is the moment in front of India today. Again. It blew its chances when Tibet was annexed by China. In 1962. In 1971. After 2003. It must not do so again.
A clear identification is needed. And then the articulation. It needs to be stated unequivocally, “China is the enemy.” Or rather, the Communist Party of China (CPC), that controls the country with undemocratic hegemony, is the enemy. We need to enunciate this in our ministries and secretariats and in boardrooms and in the town squares and the village chaupals.
It is time that India stood up for its dharma. And stop giving in and giving up, mistaking weakness for harmony, spinelessness for a higher calling and cowardice for spreading world-peace.
Quietly, firmly, as it did at Doklam, it needs to tell the bully, “We will not be cowed down. And we will reverse the salami slice on you.” The bluff needs to be called, systematically, methodically.
Such a process has already begun. Almost a hundred apps have been banned in India. Huawei is out of the reckoning. Investments and imports from China are being held in great Indian tamasic strategy. Self-reliance is being pursued, in manufacturing as well as pharmaceutical industry, in defense as well as in technology. The process must continue. And India must do much more. It needs to take a stand.
It must demand that China return all the land it has illegally annexed since 1947. Nothing less than that will do to restore normalcy in bilateral relations among the two countries. Until then, keep hitting where it hurts. Cut the head of the dragon. And the head of the dragon is its economic monopoly.
India must unequivocally demand that China stop supporting Pakistan in international forums, whether at the Security Council or with Financial Action Task Force shielding it from repercussions against its exported terrorism.
And India must insist that China return Tibet to its people and withdraw from its territory. This is the toughest ask it must make but this is where the men will be separated from the boys or nations from have-been civilizations. In the same breath, it must assert that China withdraw from South China Sea, abandon the artificial islands it has created and stop appropriating resources illegally.
Finally, it must demand that China give up its claim on Taiwan and follow through on its promises to UK when it took back Hong Kong. This is bound to infuriate CPC but the whole country must learn to stand its ground, no matter what the consequence.
India must dismantle completely the insidious structure that China has built in India through supply chains, Confucius Centers and political and socio-cultural influence. The tentacles need to be chopped off.
All this does not need to happen at once. Slowly, by investing in the security quadrangle with US, Japan and Australia, by supporting the countries in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, by supporting the Dalai Lama, slice by slice.
But this cannot happen unless India stays strong and keeps building its core. It should spend all the money in defense on indigenous production as it seems to be wisely doing. Unessential imports can be slowed, banned or held with immediate effect. Essential items can be sourced from other countries. New opportunities can be created. New challenges like the one that was recently made in app developments for the entrepreneurs among us. Covid and China have been shots in the arm for us. From the same source. We need to harvest this bounty for the next few decades.