Topic of the day:-“Dilemmas of checkmating”

The current Indian strategies to ‘checkmate’ China seem more zero-sum and less efficient. To be sure, New Delhi has chosen to adopt an unequivocal U.S.-centric strategy to deal with Beijing, most recently the Quad. There are several problems with this approach: the U.S. is a quickly-receding extra-regional power whose long-term commitment to the region is increasingly indeterminate and unsure; U.S.-China relations are far more complex than we generally assume; and Australia is caught between the U.S. and China. While India may have shed its traditional reticence about a strategic partnership with the U.S., it would still not be what Japan is to the U.S., nor should it. The second broad policy direction seems to be to compete with China for regional influence in South Asia. Let’s be realistic: trying to match the powerful yuan, backed by vigorous political support from Beijing, with our humble rupee is a losing battle. Military preparedness to offset any potential Chinese aggression is something that India can and should invest in. But again, Chinese military aggression has really not been India’s central concern, but a China-dominated region in which India is hemmed in and forced to play second fiddle. Military preparedness, in which we will inevitably lag behind China, alone cannot address such a concern. Some have suggested that India should use its $70 billion-strong trading relationship with China as a bargaining chip to check Chinese behaviour. However, doing so would hurt both sides. While it is true that India-China bilateral trade is heavily skewed in favour of China, let’s not forget that China’s exports to India comprise under 3% of its total exports (and India’s exports to China is 3.6% of its total exports). Boycotting Chinese goods would also mean Indian consumers paying more to get them from elsewhere. Clearly then, trade as a bargaining chip vis-à-vis China is just a popular urban myth. So what then are our options? Adopting a straightforward balancing strategy (which is what states normally do when faced with a stronger neighbour) may become costly, counter-productive, and not deliver the desired results. Bandwagoning (jumping on board the wave of the future, in this case, China), on the other hand, may be both undesirable and insufficient for obvious reasons. Neither of these two mutually exclusive options are ideal for serving India’s current and future interests vis-à-vis China. Hence New Delhi would be better served by adopting a more nuanced balancing strategy, a strategy of ‘smart-balancing’, towards Beijing, one that involves deep engagements and carefully calibrated balancing, at the same time.


1) Inscrutable

Meaning: Impossible to understand or interpret.

Example: “Guy looked blankly inscrutable”

Synonyms: Unreadable, Impenetrable

Antonyms: Expressive, Transparent

2) Revisionist

Meaning: A supporter of a policy of revision or modification.

Example: “the revisionists who sought to replace it were long denied”

3) Rivalry

Meaning: Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.

Example: “there always has been intense rivalry between the clubs”

Synonyms: Competitiveness, Contention

4) Brazen

Meaning: Bold and without shame.

Example: “he went about his illegal business with a brazen assurance”

Synonyms: Bold, Immodest

Antonyms: Timid, Shy

5) Embittered

Meaning: Make (someone) feel bitter or resentful.

Example: “he died an embittered man”

Synonyms: Sour, Anger

6) The limelight

Meaning: Public attention and interest

Example: She’s been in the limelight recently, following the release of her controversial new film.

Synonyms: Prominence, Exposure

Antonyms: Obscurity

7) Prudently

Meaning: In a way that shows care and thought for the future.

Example: “we must act prudently to safeguard jobs”

8) Biding time

Meaning: To wait calmly for a good opportunity to do something.

Example: She was biding her time until she could get her revenge.

9) Power vacuum

Meaning: A condition that exists when someone has lost control of something and no one has replaced them.

Example: She was quick to fill the power vacuum that was left by the sudden death of the managing director.

10) Reluctant

Meaning: Unwilling and hesitant; disinclined.

Example: “today, many ordinary people are still reluctant to talk about politics”

Synonyms: Unwilling, Disinclined

Antonyms: Willing, Eager

11) Spheres of influence

Meaning: A country or area in which another country has power to affect developments though it has no formal authority.

Example: “there was increasing friction between Russia and Germany concerning their respective spheres of influence in eastern Europe”

Synonyms: Extent, Scope

12) Harbinger

Meaning: A person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another.

Example: “witch hazels are the harbingers of spring”

Synonyms: Sign, Indication

13) Unhindered

Meaning: Not hindered or obstructed.

Example: “an exhilarating walk unhindered by walls and fences”

14) Coalition

Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “a coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union

15) Dispatching

Meaning: Send off to a destination or for a purpose.

Example: “he dispatched messages back to base”

Synonyms: Send, Ship

16) Assertion

Meaning: A confident and forceful statement of fact or belief.

Example: “his assertion that his father had deserted the family”

Synonyms: Declaration, Statement

17) Implications

Meaning: The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated.

Example: “the implication is that no one person at the bank is responsible”

Synonyms: Suggestion, Inference

18) Stemming

Meaning: Stop the spread or development of (something undesirable).

Example: “an attempt to stem the rising tide of unemployment”

Synonyms: Stop, Halt

19) Checkmate

Meaning: A situation in which someone has been defeated or a plan cannot develop or continue.

Example: “if the rebel forces succeed in cutting off the road, they will have achieved checkmate”

20) Zero-sum

Meaning: Used to refer to a situation in which any win by one person always means a loss to another person involved.

Example: The stock market is now a zero-sum game, in which one party gains what the other loses.