A peaceful neighbourhood is unquestionably a utopian concept. There will always be that one neighbour who would occasionally give you a really hard time. Initially they would come home and play nice so you think they like you. Wait another week and they would start nagging about the leaves that fall off of our tree in their yard. They would not once miss an opportunity to show off their fancy belongings to suggest how better equipped they are as compared to you. But you cannot simply cut ties with them because a) they will continue to live next door no matter what and b) it is them who provide you with a bowl of sugar when you need it.
India also has one such lovely neighbour. Except they’re saying that the falling leaves are much similar to those growing in their garden and therefore by that logic the tree in our yard is also theirs. In fact, it has even started issuing stapled visas to the residents of Arunachal Pradesh which is a direct attack on India’s territorial integrity. They have proven to be difficult in several other instances. Despite India’s objections, they have been building dams on the Brahmaputra river at their end, which is causing major floods in our country. They went ahead and built the CPEC that passes through PoK without India’s consent thus questioning India’s sovereignty. They also may have deliberately blocked India’s entry to the NSG.
Most recently, there was a nail biting standoff between the two neighbours at Doklam. Although a peaceful settlement came through, the event raised the question whether India could wage a war against its mighty neighbour. The answer is definitely not in affirmative. The costs of war are high obviously, but more importantly it’d leave a huge hole in the heart of our economy, it being India’s largest trading partner. Rationally speaking, we cannot afford to go to war, however, if we were at war, the Indian armed forces are well-equipped and well-trained to defend our territory. Our newly acquired modern defence equipment, the ballistic missile system, nuclear warheads etc can tackle all sorts of adversities.
Similarly, it would be foolhardy for our big neighbour to start anything close to a war with us. If it initiates the attack, the international community would matter-of-factly sympathize with the defender. It would give the USA, the defending champion of the superpower tournament, an excuse to interfere. Moreover, it too gets a significant amount of business from India which it wouldn’t want to loose out on. It may have an upper hand in terms of military strength, but it knows war is at all events off the table.
With this I want to bring to light the anomalies in the international system where there are sufficient conditions for the war to break out, but interstate peace prevails. Several causal factors may be at play.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that one dialogue from the movie Once Upon A Time In Mumbai -“Jab dost banake kaam ho sakta hai toh phir dushman kyun banaye?” (When we can get the work done as friends then why should we make enemies?). It is in everyone’s interest to use diplomacy as a means for preserving peace against war.