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Hindu nationalist organization wary of Modi gov't's moves to boost ties with China

Surendra Kumar Jain speaks in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun in New Delhi on May 15, 2018. (Mainichi)

NEW DELHI -- A Hindu nationalist organization supporting the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keeping a wary eye on India's moves to strengthen ties with China.

Prime Minister Modi apparently aims to secure economic cooperation from China as he prepares for a general election next year. However, if India cooperates in China's "One Belt One Road Initiative," a modern Silk Road economic belt plan, it could trigger domestic opposition over concerns the move could harm national interests.

In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on May 15, Surendra Kumar Jain, a senior member of the nationalist Vishva Hindu Parishad, or world Hindu council, described the One Belt One Road Initiative as a threat to India's security. Jain pointed to the need to counter this initiative if Beijing maintains the same line.

Vishva Hindu Parishad is affiliated with the national volunteer organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which also supports the Modi administration. The ruling Indian People's Party is effectively the political wing of the RSS.

While expressing satisfaction with Prime Minister Modi's achievements, Jain warned India against compromising with China.

Tensions between China and India ran high last year as their armed forces confronted each other in Bhutan, which both countries border, over a period of more than two months. Now, however, India is rapidly strengthening its ties with China, and Modi visited China this past April to hold talks with President Xi Jinping.

Alka Acharya, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, noted that improvement of New Delhi's relations with Beijing was the most important issue for the Modi government. But he pointed out that India cannot accept China's support for Pakistan or participate in the One Belt One Road Initiative.

Acharya said the Indian government is likely to pursue cooperation with China in limited spheres including economic ties.

(Japanese original by So Matsui, New Delhi Bureau)

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