ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Can the Chinese Connection Speed India's Development?

China and India are the world's second largest and third largest economies, respectively. Yet, the engagement between their economies remains modest at best and people-to-people contact is minuscule. Will the various Silk Roads proposed by China including the Bangladesh-China- India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the Maritime Silk Road offer India benefi cial ways to engage with China and the world? How could Sino-Indian economic connectivity help India in achieving its goals of rapid, equitable, balanced, and sustainable development? This essay outlines how the complementary capabilities of India and China can unleash innovation and creativity in both countries, addressing common people's concerns as well as rejuvenating the economies of countries in the neighbourhood.


In 1999, academic institutions from India and Bangladesh, and governments from Myanmar and the Yunnan Province of China, came together in Kunming, China with a view towards setting up a subregional forum comprising China’s Southwest, India’s Northeast, and the neighbouring nations of Myanmar and Bangladesh. This subregional forum—named the Kunming Initiative—set for itself the goal of bringing this hitherto backward and relatively underdeveloped part of Asia into the mainstream of development. The key assumption was that this subregion had rich potential in both natural and human resources, which if connected through modern infrastructure and communication, would result in its revitalisation. The result, the narrative proclaimed, would be the modern rejuvenated version of a region that had once prospered by its overland connection as the legendary “Southern Silk Route.” There are references in recorded history of goods being traded overland from Yunnan to India on a network of trade routes as early as the second century BC.

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