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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 12:27 GMT
India - regional bully or friend?
By Brajesh Upadhyay
BBC Hindi service

India Republic Day parade
India shows off its military pride on Republic Day
To many in the rest of the world India is an emerging economic success story and a working secular democracy.

But ask people in its neighbouring countries for their views and you may well get a much more hostile response.

Culturally, India and its neighbours are more similar than dissimilar. It's hard to tell an Indian from a Pakistani, a Nepali, a Bangladeshi, or a Sri Lankan.

The food is similar, the music comes from the same scales, in films they have the same tastes. They even share holy places.

Many in Pakistan thought that Indian help during the October 2005 earthquake was a gesture of friendship. Others saw it as a ploy to gather intelligence over Kashmir.

To some India was capable of providing the solution to last year's political crisis in Nepal. Others say India was the problem, interfering where it was not wanted.

India played an active role in the birth of Bangladesh. Today Bangladesh refuses to sell gas to India.

Back in the 1980s, the Indian army became involved in peace-keeping efforts in Sri Lanka which went badly wrong.

Should India's neighbours still view it as a threat? Is Indian industry a big shark waiting to chew up the smaller fishes?

As part of the BBC's India Rising week, the BBC Hindi Service is hosting a regional debate Indian television's NDTV channel in both English and Hindi.

"India - Brother or Bully?" is the theme.

An audience comprising diplomats, politicians, artists, industrialists and students in Islamabad, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Colombo will join a panel in Delhi through satellite video-link.

The Indian panel will feature former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha and vice-chairman of telecom giant Bharti Enterprises Rakesh Mittal.

The radio broadcast will be on 11 February. It will be televised on 17 and 18 February. You can participate by sending in your questions or views for the panellists by 8 of February.

Use the form at the top right-hand side of this page. Below are a selection of comments sent so far.


If India is not a bully, then why is it embarked on the largest weapons purchasing spree the world has ever seen?
Mohammad, Pakistan

MY QUESTIONS TO THE INDIAN PANELISTS 1- what is the difference between freedom fighting and terrorist activities? 2- Where do you put your country in Bangladesh/East Pakistan independance activities i.e. whether you fought with freedom fighters or you were with terrorists?Please explain grounds and relate with Kashmir, though U.N. has given verdict on it. 3- Do you think U.N. has any role to play in future as "might is right" is being adopted by the stronger nations throughout the history and it is totally becoming ineffective. Is it right?
muhammad shuaib, pakistan

In response to Harsesh, firstly "India" has only been a unified land mass in its current state for approximately 300 out of the past 5000 years, which makes his post inapplicable. Furthermore since India gained independance it has fought 3 wars with Pakistan, invaded Goa, Hyderabad and Jungardh and has fought several insurrections within its own borders. India is a bully to its neighbours and to marginal groups within its borders, as it tries impose itsself as the sole power within the region.
Omar Majid, UK

A recent article by the BBC points out to the fact that muslims in India live poorly than even the low caste hindus.This is an example of inhouse bullying although muslims are 15% of the population. Due to its sheer size and manpower India has always been a bully for its surrounding countries ever since partition.The occupation of majority muslim Kashmir is the perfect example of bullying going on for more than half a century now.
Rahul Roy, India

India has never been a bully. But perhaps she can be a bit more responsible in dealing with neighbours such as Iran and Burma. So far it has failed to take advantage of its friendly relations to influence change in either. As an Indian, I'm most ashamed of our government's uncritical friendship of the Burmese regime.
Raj, Uk

It is inevitable that neighbours see India through the prism of self interest. Integrated economic interests are the only way to reduce their fears. Look at Canada-US relations to understand this situation.
B. R. Ravishankar, Canada

In it's entire History, as a nation or as a land called India, Has never invated any country, has excepted all the wolrd relesion with same dignity . Find a country that can mach this ?
Harsesh Patel, USA

India can be a "regional friend" as long as the neighbouring countries really want this friendship. It has to be a two way street. Frienship usually blossoms out of mutual trust and this is really lacking at the moment in South Asia. This might be the reason why India is also considered as a bully by a few in the neighbourhood. India has had its fair share of being "bullied" by its neighbours e.g supporting terrorism!!
prakash, USA

I believe India has always tried to do good when ever possible, but whenever India has entered into an another territory and with a good intent, it became a very good example of situational irony. India has alwyas tried to do good, but has screwed up a lot of times, and other orginasitations are taking advantages of the screwups and are making their people go against it, best example would be the torrosists in kashmir, they are thinking that India is a country which is trying to destroy their religion, which is not true at all
Ravinder Singh, india

To the panel: Why should the regional states fear India since they have distinct border and have their own problems I do not think they have to fear India since India has also has its own internal problems
krishnamurthy, USA

This question should be asked about China not India.
krishna, US

India looms large over its neighbors. This creates a sense of insecurity. This is only heightened by Indian economic success and the increasing reach of Indian cinema which threatens indigenous culture. An insulated nation like Bhutan feels less threatened by India, because of a lack of cultural colonization. India is more of an unwanted friend who often bullies the weaker friend.
Jvalant Sampat, Denmark




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