A whiff of fresh air is blowing across how India is perceived in China in recent days but it is a reminder that India can ill afford to lower its guard on the border with China. China’s Minzu University is offering the country’s first master’s degree in Yoga, signalling how soft power is set in motion to reactivate China-India ties in the post Doklam phase. The China Youth Daily has reported that the Kunming-based university is accepting applications on China’s first master’s degree in Yoga. The programme is being sponsored by the China-India Yoga College at the university and India’s Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana. The degree programme was officially approved by China’s Ministry of Educational in January, 2017. At Minzu University, the three-year Yoga master’s degree will comprise two-year studies in China and the final year in India. Classes will cover lessons on Yoga asanas, yoga physiology, yoga anatomy, yoga therapy as well as meridian theory. The curriculum also includes language courses for Chinese students studying in India and courses related to Indian culture.
The viral videos of the visit to border areas in Sikkim, including Nathu La, by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and greeting of Chinese troops, appears to have set in motion a mood of goodwill at the popular level. In an editorial titled, “Sitharaman greeting sends warm signal,” the Global Times observed that the Defence Minister’s gesture to the Chinese soldiers “conveys her hope for peace on the Sino-Indian border and unwillingness to see a new standoff”. It added: “This is commonly regarded as the attitude of the Narendra Modi government.” Sitharaman’s charm offensive might help break the ice between Chinese and Indian public opinion,” the daily observed. But while the atmospherics look promising, past experience has shown that the tide can turn anytime, which underlines the need to exercise caution and not get euphoric. The rivalry between the two Asian giants remains, the border dispute is a reality and the China-Pak Economic Corridor is a sore point with India with a challenge posed to India’s territorial integrity and its influence over hinterland states in the Indian Ocean.