The Chinese Fire Breather

By Sunil Kumar

Before I forget; let me write about another subject that may escape my attention. The dragon next door; China. After editing an entire book on the nation; the country oozed out of my consciousness for some time.

National emblem of the People's Republic of China

Visit National emblem of the People’s Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But; one of the countless television programs made on this behemoth brought it right back. Present-day China has splendid contrasts; the second biggest economy in the world; and disparity despite its Communist ethos. The industrial centers of Shanghai and Guangzhou are still in contrast to the laidback and underdeveloped portions such as Xinjiang and Tibet.

The Chinese state has jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and two mostly self-governing special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau).

Even though India‘s landmass is less; it has more linguistic states. One of the things we could learn from the Chinese is less strife on petty issues such as language etc. and more focus on economic development, science and technology. The country is not a paragon of virtue; but its progress has been truly remarkable. Both the countries have been connected and been friends for thousands of years; it is only in the late 20th century; that things have changed a little.

The people of China are genuinely interested in India for its multiplicity; diversity, freedom and creativity which is genuinely unmatched anywhere in the world; even the United States pledges allegiance largely to a single faith and definitely one language. Also; the fact that Asian values of respect and discipline are something that both India and China share. Also; quite like India; but lesser in extent; there is corruption in the Communist party, and other instruments of power like the police and the judiciary. Absolute control vests with the Politburo; and regional Communist party chiefs; apart from industrialists and other chieftains. The country is 91.5% Han Chinese; with 55 other minorities; largely miniscule portions.

India’s democracy is both a blessing as well as hampers our trajectory. Some people advocate military rule; but that would not be in consonance with our army’s traditions; which have been largely to keep put of the political cesspool. A case in point would be our neighbor and estranged cousin; Pakistan.

Today; China evokes fear, envy and admiration for its policies. Way back in 1935; when China was grappling with multiple problems; the Indian people rushed in with assistance. Also; after the foundation of the Communist party; India was instrumental in getting that nation a berth in the UN Security Council. The next century would be dictated by a rapidly greying West; the Chinese and the youth everywhere; India and other places. India’s “Look East” policy should be determined by engagement with China, Japan and other Far Eastern countries based on a prudent mix of economic and rational self-interest. Our oil burden could be reduced if like China; we also quickly engage with the altering alternate energy universe.

The next Indian government should have strategic vision globally; and not just focus on internal dissensions and party egos; which are counterproductive in larger national interest.




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