New Delhi: China can be India's good economic accelerator and job creator, and a greater mutual engagement between the two can give New Delhi easier access to Southeast Asian markets, the "most dynamic" at present, said an expert on India-China ties.
Emphasising that better economic engagement was in the national interest of the two countries, Ravi Bhoothalingam, a fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies here, said that just four per cent of China's foreign reserves could increase India's growth rate by half a per cent.
"India will gain from China and Asean through their markets which are most dynamic today. This will significantly reduce the gap, and in one sweep India will get deeply integrated into two large growing markets," Bhoothalingam said while delivering a talk on Monday evening as part of the Changing Asia Series lecture by Delhi-based Society for Policy Studies (SPS) in association with India Habitat Centre.
Bhoothalingam said strong India-China cooperation could also fulfill the colossal unemployment gap in India.
"India-China economic engagement is not only well below potential, but rather ironically it is China that could be a strong accelerator that can help India achieve rapid growth and full employment."
Urging India to move fast in terms to grab the opportunity, he said: "India has a serious unemployment problem. Where can a large number of jobs be created, including unskilled? There are industries that are going out of China to places such as Bangladesh but not to India. But, there is a window for India before automation of robots makes this sector unviable for human employment. We have to move fast."
According to Bhoothalingam, old disputes, incursions at the Line of Actual Control -- a de facto border between the two countries - and other irritants have clouded political relations between India and China.
Currently, the situation is such that India-China trade relations stands at $76 billion, which is just one-third of trade between China-South Korea at $236 billion and not even that of China and Vietnam which is $100 billion.
Mentioning tourism as one of the key areas where the two neighbours have extremely low engagement, Bhoothalingam said 700,000 Indians visit China annually while only 200,000 Chinese come here.
However, it is just a drop in the ocean in comparison to 84 million Chinese travelling overseas while 80 million Indians travel overseas yearly, he said.
"There is a huge gap in tourism potential which can be bridged with the government and industry in India aggressively bidding for the Chinese market. Sadly we are missing this process," said Bhoothalingam.
Emphasising on economic ties, globalisation and innovation as key areas where India and China need to strengthen ties, he said while India was not able to leverage its resources despite having the potential, it should seek opportunities with China as in the coming years it would emerge as the global pole of innovations.
"In this environment, how well is India positioned in undertaking research and development will prove its growth. The latest trend indicates that if we look at patent filing, research and development, sourcing high-quality talent, investment in science and technology, then it is China we should look at.
"It shows China will emerge in the next 10 years as the global pole of innovations. India too has the sources of manpower, IT, but we have not been able to leverage it to its full potential," he said.