India is incapable of starting a trade war with China, and a recent locust plague has made that point even clearer.
According to media reports, the worst locust invasion in decades has hit India and may cause famine, with many seasonal crops destroyed. Even the Indian capital, New Delhi, is now on high alert after huge swarms of desert locusts swept the neighboring city of Gurgaon on Saturday.
Given the impact of similar locust attacks in the past on other countries, this locust plague, which is more severe than expected and requires great efforts to control, will probably cause significant economic and agricultural losses to India.
The locust attack is not the only threat facing the Indian economy. If anything, the coronavirus outbreak, which appears to have been out of control, has already had a devastating impact on the country. So far, India has become the worst-hit COVID-19 nation in Asia, with cumulative cases approaching 530,000 as of Sunday. Over the past months, almost all of the major ratings agencies have downgraded India’s sovereign rating to the lowest investment grade, while cutting its outlook to negative due to the downside risks of the coronavirus outbreak.
To add insult to injury, the locust plague may deliver another blow to the Indian economy, which may also lead to the deterioration of its other social problems, such as poverty and wealth inequality in the country.
Under such circumstances, even if some in India are still calling for tough economic actions against China by boycotting Chinese products and investment, there is no denying that their nation is actually incapable of waging a trade war with China.
It is sad for us to see India’s poor struggle under the devastating impacts of the coronavirus lockdown, a heat wave and now a locust invasion. We still hope tensions can be eased between China and India, allowing China to offer India some much-needed help. After all, no one wants to have too many disputes with their neighbor and the recent border clash is not what either party wants to see.
We also understand that some Indians have a strong sense of national pride, but it should be understood that both sides have suffered casualties and losses in the border dispute, and it is time to call for rationale and solutions to de-escalate, rather than flare up nationalism and make things worse.
Some anti-China groups and politicians are now trying to distract public attention from domestic difficulties by using the nationalist sentiment to hype up a tough stance toward China. But they ignore the fact that the Indian economy cannot afford such outbursts of nationalist pride, which will only see its economy and people suffer more. Anyone in India that is pragmatic enough needs to recognize the fact that its economy cannot sustain economic confrontation with any other country at present.