A new regional engagement is prodded by two things. China’s rapid and increasingly assertive rise challenges India’s own regional dominance. As a foundation for its rise, China pursued a vigorous “smile diplomacy” towards its neighbours that stands in contrast to slothful Indian energies. The smile has sometimes turned to snarl of late (see Banyan). Even so, China’s engagement with its neighbours has allowed it both to prosper and to spread influence.
Our interactive map displays the various territorial claims of India, Pakistan and China from each country's perspective
Second, dynamic India can hardly soar globally while mired in its own backyard. Promoting regional prosperity is surely the best way to persuade neighbours that its own rise is more of an opportunity than a threat. Yet India lacks any kind of vision. A region-wide energy market using northern neighbours’ hydropower would transform South Asian economies. Vision, too, could go a long way to restoring ties that history has cut asunder, such as those between Karachi and Mumbai, once sister commercial cities but now as good as on different planets; and Kolkata and its huge former hinterland in Bangladesh. Without development and deeper integration, other resentments will be hard to soothe. It falls on the huge unloved neighbour to make the running.