India and China enjoyed more than a thousand years of uninterrupted trade and cultural exchanges during the first millennium CE. This enduring engagement flowed across the Central Asian bridgehead, through the Tibetan plateau and the maritime links connecting peninsular India with the eastern seaboard of China. The spread of Buddhism in China became the prism through which China perceived India. India was the western paradise, the birthplace of Buddha and a centre of advanced knowledge and philosophy. This challenged the notion of Chinese centrality and was for this reason rejected by intellectuals at times as an alien influence but this did not prevent its embrace by the populace as a comforting faith. These inter-connections were often interrupted by political turmoil and transitions in both countries as well as in intermediary realms.
However, during the second millennium CE, these interruptions became more extended and relations more distant. Engagement continued but at a lower pitch and often through their peripheries. Even during the 16th century Jesuit missionaries such as Matteo Ricci passed themselves off as monks visiting from India or Tianzhu guo (the western treasure country) since India was still esteemed in China as a civilized and sacred land. They even dressed in Buddhist robes. During the medieval era the port of Calicut maintained a flourishing maritime trade with China. It was described as a pivot point for the 7 voyages undertaken by the Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He who died in Calicut in 1433 at the end of the last voyage. There are interesting descriptions of Calicut and Cambay ports in the chronicles of Ma Huan, who accompanied Zheng He on the voyages, entitled “The Triumphant Visions of the Ocean’s Shores”. They are testimony to the great wealth and cosmopolitan character of these great cities.
The Ming emperor then forbade further maritime expeditions and China descended into studied insularity which continued under the ensuing Qing dynasty under the Manchus. The Qing harboured inherited notions of India as a land of Buddhism lying to the west, but could not reconcile this with reports about a Mughal empire then ruling in that geography. So the geography itself was adjusted to locate India to the south of what was now the Mughal empire. The fall of the Mughals in mid-18th century and the emergence of British colonial rule in India, with all its implications for China, was only vaguely understood.
This is covered in fascinating detail by Matthew Mosca in his landmark book, “From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy, The Question of India and the Transformation of Geopolitics in Qing China”.It is with the Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60 that China was deeply shaken by its vulnerability to a British empire in the east which drew its power and resources from its colonial empire in India. The opium which drained China of silver and enfeebled its citizens and the Indian soldiers who served as the shock troops during the humiliating wars, led the Qing court and Chinese intellectuals to examine the reasons behind Chinese weakness. Associated with this was an exploration of the Indian condition and its role as a springboard for the painful assault on China. There emerged, in parallel, a deeply negative popular perception of Indians from their role as street-side enforcers of British rule in the foreign concessions. There was also the deep resentment of the prominent Indian traders who flaunted the wealth gained mainly from the opium trade in cities like Shanghai.
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Chinese intellectuals, whether conservative reformers like Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao or more radical figures like Chen Duxiu, Lu Xun or Liang Shuming saw India as a “worst case scenario” for China. India’s past as a brilliant and sophisticated civilisation was acknowledged but its more recent history was of special relevance to China if it were to be successful in confronting the powerful Western challenge. Interestingly, though Japan had defeated China in 1894-95, it was seen in China as having succeeded in becoming a modern nation and, therefore, a model to be emulated. Several Chinese students and scholars headed to Japan around the turn of the century to learn from its example. In contrast India was regarded as a teacher by negative example, a failed and fallen country which had been subjugated and enslaved virtually without resistance from its people. As pointed out by the Japanese scholar, Shimada, “reformers and radicals alike shared the anxiety that China not follow in the footsteps of India.”
Kang Youwei was an advocate of constitutional monarchy with the Meiji Restoration of Japan as the model. He became an advisor to the Guangxu emperor and is associated with the “100 Days of Reform” but fell victim to the powerful reactionary clique around the Empress Dowager, Cixi. He went into exile to escape execution and it is during his exile that he visited India during 1901-03 and again later in 1909. It is from India that he criticised the move by some reformers for Guangdong Province to declare independence, adopt radical reforms and then seek to overhaul the reactionary Qing monarchy at the centre. He wrote to his student, Liang Qichao,
“My 4 million compatriots, if you wish to become a fallen nation of slaves, then quickly support the fight for independence in all provinces like the Indian people have done. But if my compatriots, you do not wish to become a fallen nation or an exterminated race, then you should deem useless India’s fight for independence in all its provinces.”
Here Kang sought to compare Guangdong with Bengal, which had fallen prey to the British because of the failure of various princely states of India to present a united front under a strong central authority.
Other Chinese intellectuals sought to explain India’s plight as a colonised country on the inherent character of its people. In his earlier writings, Zhang Taiyan argued that Indian people were especially susceptible to British occupation after the experience with the Mongols and then Mughals.
“By the time the Mughals unified the land the Indian people had already pledged their allegiance to a different people. To be owned by the Mughals and then to be owned by the British what difference did it make to them.”
The weather in India was also cited as reason for Indian laziness and lack of vigour.
“Don’t you know in the tropics people do not go cold and hungry therefore people become lazy and things go easily rotten. They are weaker than you (Kang) saw.”
These scholars did not see the irony of their blaming Indian’s supposedly deficient character for becoming prey to foreign rule and ignoring their own country’s history of being conquered and ruled by the alien Mongols in the 12th and 13th centuries as the Yuan dynasty and later by the Manchus during the 17th to the 20th century as the Qing dynasty. In fact, for nearly half of its recorded history, China was ruled by non-Han dynasties including the Liao, the Jin and the Xia before the advent of the Yuan and the Qing. The extensive territories it now claims as its own are mostly a legacy of its conquered past. It has been more expedient to bask in the reflected glory of the conqueror than to identify with those who suffered from conquest just as the majority Han people did. If the Indians were themselves responsible for falling prey to alien rule then were the Hans during the Ming dynasty also responsible for falling prey to the Manchus? Were there similar character faults at play? These questions never surfaced in the Chinese discourse.
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During this phase, even the positive history of Buddhism as a factor of affinity between the 2 countries was re-interpreted negatively. Liang Shuming, for example, said that for the reinvigoration of China Indian influence must be eliminated and not a trace of it be allowed to survive in China. Some years later, Hu Shih took up this theme and argued in an address at Harvard University in 1937 that Chinese weakness in confronting Japanese aggression was due to the “Indianization of China.” Hu Shih said,
“India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.”
But he meant this as a baneful influence on China to be exorcised rather than to be celebrated. It is often mis-interpreted in India as a grateful Chinese acknowledgement of its cultural debt to India when it is the opposite in intent. Rajnath Singh, the Indian Defence Minister in October 2017 approvingly quoted Hu Shih’s remarks as evidence of China’s cultural debt to India only to invite a prompt and angry refutation by the Chinese paper, Global Times!
Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to China in 1924 has been described as a milestone in India-China relations. The suggestion that it rekindled a sense of affinity between the peoples of the 2 countries and promoted solidarity in the struggle against Western imperialism is an exaggeration. He may have been received with polite courtesy and enjoyed respect as a Nobel laureate but his notions of a rejuvenated Eastern Civilisation prevailing over a materialistic and spiritually bankrupt West found no resonance. Eastern civilisation as the Chinese saw it, did not include India though perhaps it may include Japan. Left-wing intellectuals such as Lu Xun, Guo Moruo, Shen Yanbing, Chen Duxiu and Qu Qiubai were all critical of Tagore’s ideas even though they admired his scholarship and poetry. Shen Yanbing said, “We are determined not to welcome the Tagore who loudly sings the praises of Eastern civilisation, nor do we welcome the Tagore who creates a paradise of poetry and love and leads our youth into it so that they might find comfort and intoxication in meditating.”
Qu Qiubai was more even more dismissive describing Tagore as a man of the past whose advice was irrelevant. The claim made by the Japanese scholar Shigenobu Okura had greater resonance among the Chinese, when he said, “Of the nations of Asian civilisation today, I consider Japan to be the greatest. Next is China. As for the people of Babylon and India, even though their cultures could be admired in bygone days, now they cannot even be compared.” The Chinese audience might have contested the Japanese claim to be number one but would not have disagreed with his proposition on India.
Individual Chinese interactions with Indians sometimes produced a more favourable impression. Zhang Taiyuan became interested in Buddhism during the 3 years he spent in prison. His extended conversations with an Indian friend in Tokyo led him to believe that Indians and the Hans should work in solidarity to rid their peoples of British and Manchu alien rule and that China could draw inspiration from India’s own struggle for freedom. There were other Chinese individuals who were deeply influenced by Tagore and accepted his invitation to live and teach at Santiniketan. They included well-known scholars like Tan Yunshan and Wu Xiaoling and artists like Xu Beihong.
The Chinese republican leader, Sun Yatsen avoided the open disparagement of India but argued that the British were a threat to China only because they had colonised India-“after occupying India they can enjoy the benefit of China which after occupying China they cannot enjoy the benefit of India at the same time.”
Chiang Kaishek, China’s wartime leader was sympathetic to the Indian independence movement but was disappointed that the Congress Party was not ready to support the Allied counter-offensive against Japan in China. When his Kuomindang (KMT) forces were defeated and Mao established the People’s Republic of China, India’s prompt recognition of the new regime in Beijing soured whatever goodwill may have remained. And despite the Indian gesture, PRC leaders remained suspicious and initially dismissed India as remaining under western influence despite its independence.
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Wherever there were opportunities for direct engagement and conversations the more prejudiced notions could be contested. Unfortunately, much of Chinese and Japanese readings of India during the first decades of the 20th century were derived through translations of British colonial literature which were openly and crudely racist in their depictions of India and its people. It is these mediated perceptions which have remained entrenched in Chinese attitudes.
As pointed out earlier, Chinese popular attitudes to India and Indians during this period was influenced by the use of Indian soldiers and policemen in the British depredations in China. In a Chinese novel from 1904, quoted by T.H. Barrett, we have the following passage,
“Shibao looked closely at these people and they all had faces black as coal. They were wearing a piece of red cloth around their heads like a tall hat; around their waists they wore a belt holding wooden clubs. Shibao asked the old man: are these Indians? The old man said yes, the English use them as policemen. Shibao asked, why do they not use an Indian as the chief of police? The old man answered: Who ever heard of that? Indians are people of a lost country; they are no more than slaves.”
Later in the story some of those wearing red hats are seen to be Chinese and this was warning of what may happen to Chinese people were they to fall prey to foreign rule.
Another example of India serving as negative example.
Did things change after India gained independence in 1947 and China achieved liberation in 1949? Did these attitudes from the early decades of the 20th century persist or was there a change in the Chinese discourse on India? In reviewing India-China relations over the past 7 decades we see the following pattern. When India-China relations are in a positive phase, for whatever reason, there is an invariable harking back to the shared Buddhist heritage and the history of dense trade and cultural exchanges. There may be references to mutual sympathy and support during the more contemporary period of India’s struggle for independence and China’s liberation though the evidence for this is more limited. However, whenever relations have become strained and contentious, the disparaging and negative narratives of the more recent past surface not only in Chinese media but also in records of Chinese leaders’ conversations with foreign interlocutors.
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Negative media reports concerning India and Indian leaders are well documented. Before the Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai phase in the early 1950s, India was considered as an instrument of western imperialism. Its independence and non-alignment were said to be only in name. The Tibet crisis in 1959 led to another phase of very negative reporting on India including the infamous People’s Daily article, attributed to Mao himself entitled “On Nehru’s Philosophy”. But it is in the record of several private conversations which Chinese leaders had with foreign interlocutors that the attitude of contempt against India comes out most clearly. I will cite here some of Zhou Enlai’s observations about India and Nehru in conversations with Kissinger in 1972:
Zhou referred to Nehru’s Discovery of India, saying that Nehru was thinking of a great Indian empire, but “”actually India is a bottomless hole.”
Zhou: “India is a highly suspicious country. It is quite a big country, sometimes it puts on airs of a big country, but sometimes it has an inferiority complex.”
Kissinger: It has been governed by foreigners through most of its history.
Zhou: Yes that might be one of the historical factors.”
Zhou: ….Nehru invited me to a tea party in his garden among the guests were 2 people in costume. There were 2 Tibetan lamas and suddenly there appeared a female lama. Do you know who she was?
Kissinger: Madame Binh?
Zhou: Madame Gandhi (laughter). She was dressed up entirely in Tibetan costume. That was something that Nehru was capable of doing…. I was speechless confronted with such a situation. It was impossible for me to say anything.”
For Zhou, Mrs Gandhi donning a Tibetan costume while he was present was proof that India coveted Tibet! That India,too, is home to communities who share Tibet’s culture and way of life may have been difficult for Zhou to understand
This exchange just goes to show that it is not India which is a highly suspicious country but China.
During my second tenure in China from 1983-86, relations between the 2 countries had already taken a positive turn. There were exchanges of high-level visits, a regular dialogue on the boundary issue and an expansion of trade and economic relations. It was in 1984 that the first-ever visit to India by a high-level delegation from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences took place. It was led by its then President Ma Hong, a most distinguished economist credited with the introduction of market-oriented reforms in China. His delegation was in India for nearly 2 weeks visiting several cities. He also made a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya. I had invited him and some senior members of his delegation to dinner on his return and sought to learn of his impressions of India. While he praised India’s development and gave high marks for its economic self-reliance, he could not resist remarking that, on the surface, India appeared chaotic and disorderly. He and his colleagues were puzzled, he said, how the country was still functional.
He narrated an incident that occurred on the delegation’s car ride from Patna to Bodh Gaya. Their car had to stop as there was an angry demonstration blocking the road. The police in the patrol car accompanying the delegation begged and cajoled the demonstrators to give way to their vehicles and they grudgingly agreed because there was a foreign delegation travelling . The demonstrators were not at all afraid of the police. This, Ma Hong said was unthinkable in China. The authority of the state was indispensable to political stability and he wondered whether this was not a weakness in India. A more positive reflection was about the strength of Indian culture. Despite the fact that India, unlike China, had been open to the world, its classical music maintained deep roots and its women still favoured the elegant saree. With the recent opening up of China, there had been a wholesale rush towards Westernization, he complained. Chinese children wanted to learn how to play the violin and the piano, not the Pipa or the Qin.; Chinese women wanted to wear western skirts, not the traditional qipao. On India’s economic prospects he conveyed scepticism because of its bewildering diversity and lack of community spirit. Even in these observations, politely conveyed, we see echoes of the earlier perceptions and critiques of India.
Post the clashes in eastern Ladakh we again notice a relapse into abusive language. One recent article, translated by our colleague at ICS, Hemant Adalakha, calls Indians “big time thieves”. The author goes on to make blatantly racist comments:
“While talking their gestures such as shaking of head, gesticulating, touching mouth, shaking eyebrows, making signs etc and so on, however without harmful intentions these are no doubt unnerving”.
The same article makes a strange and utterly false claim concerning the 1962 border talks:
“During the early negotiations in 1962, the Indian side even proposed Tibet belonged to India, that Sichuan province be declared a demilitarized zone and last but not the least they even demanded the Indian Army be permitted to be stationed at Chengdu in order to monitor the implementation of the demilitarized zone. The Chinese representatives were stunned.”
Indeed so are the Indians!
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We see that a line runs through the negative and derogatory perceptions of India and Indians that took hold during the British colonial period. While India’s past glory as a great civilisation was conceded, in contemporary times it became an example of a failed and fallen country. The reason for this decline was said to be the slavish character of its people and the lack of a strong central political authority to mobilise the people to resist foreign aggression. The depictions of Indians bordered on being racist. These impressions were also derived by translations into Chinese or Japanese of writings by British colonial authors who justified British colonial rule as a civilizational mission of redeeming a race which had lost any civilizational attributes it may once have had and lacked any ethics or scruples. India was thus held up as a teacher by negative example. India’s present then was the future that would await China if it did not reform and modernise, if it did not unite and maintain a strong central authority. These negative attitudes persist and surface whenever relations start to worsen. During more positive phases, these attitudes are masked and the rhetoric harks back to the ancient period of civilizational engagement between the 2 countries though even in this case the spread of Buddhism in China from India was regarded by some as a baneful external influence which must be thoroughly exorcised to allow the true Chinese spirit to emerge. There are positive strains of thinking about India particularly among those who have had more sustained encounters with its people but they do not constitute the dominant category.
In dealing with the China challenge India needs to analyse these deeper strands in Chinese perceptions of India and the prism through which the Chinese mind interprets Indian foreign policy behaviour. These perceptions are mediated through third party sources not direct experience of India and Indians over an extended period of time. Indian perceptions of China are also coloured by images and imaginings purveyed by others but in the main the English language discourse on China. This is a discourse which has at times romanticised the China story and at times disparaged it. Currently, we find that China is increasingly assessing India through the prism of its fraught and worsening relations with the U.S. India is not regarded as having independent agency. For the Chinese pessimist, the future could relive the past in which India became the platform for an assault on China and hence needs to be neutralised well in time. Its people and leaders cannot be trusted because they are by nature (and not by calculation) given to petty intrigues and trickery. Sometimes, as we have seen, history may be rewritten or reinterpreted to fit preconceived notions about an adversary’s character.
This points to the need for more intensive China studies in our country in particular on its history, its culture and society and the patterns of thought that are ingrained among its people. This exercise has 2 advantages. One it points the way to slowly but steadily removing the sludge of prejudice which animates much of Chinese behaviour towards India. Two, it opens the way for chipping away at our own prejudices and uninformed notions about China and the Chinese people thereby making a more productive India-China engagement more likely even if not inevitable. Both sides need to shed the stereotype images they harbour about each other.
This is based on Shyam Saran’s speech ‘India As Teacher By Negative Example: Chinese Perceptions of India During the British Colonial Period and Their Impact on India-China Relations’ delivered on 7 October at the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi. It was part of the V.P. Dutt Memorial Lecture.
Views are personal.
Yes India/ Indian are little lazy but not as trickister like China since 1947 Indian independence These so called Chinese have always back stabbed in ever corner of global platform!! It’s a mistake of our Cheap political system of that time & Cheap Character of INC/ Communist parties of our Nation who had sold our nation for penny under British Raj!! But Now we grown to Wake / Make up India under leadership of great Human MODIJI ! Making India a self Reliant Nation is Prime objective of our leadership in well defined means “SABKA SAAT SABKA VIKAS””YES INDIA has to learn many thing from Many Nation and even China but not at Expansionist policy of Neighborhood!! Once a great said We can change our Friends but not our Neighbours this one Mantra i would personally suggest to China!! Co-operation with Mutual Respect will be in favour of both the Nation Instead of this Everything in NONSENSE!! DON’T TRY WITH INDIA?? After all every lesson in your country is written by our Own TEACHER!! Buddam sharanum Gatchami!!
Yeah but the Chinese fought to bring down the mongol and manchu dynasty. And they succeded as opposed to the Indians who mostly failed to bring down thd Mughal or the British. Also the Chinese didn’t adopt the language of the manchu and mongolian.
The strength of Indians was mostly eclipsed by “cultural unity but political diversity”. Strength is inherent in Indian mind dynamic people
The strength of Indians was mostly eclipsed by cultural unity but political diversity. Strength is inherent in Indian mind dynamic people.
Without much resistance? India gave the best resistance to the british which possibly no other country could have given.
India never existed before 1947 in the first place. If not for Britishers there won’t be “India” as a nation
If someone wants to think about today and perhaps future. What’s been development for India is to rob resources of Western Maharashtra and to throw its peace loving people into abyss of Delhi type pollution by destroying the beautiful Sahyadri. If the 100 crore heartland couldn’t bring any modern changes in their own territory in past seven decades, what make people think giving these stupid people any controlling power in decision making is going to bring any good. I don’t know how hard it is for Maharashtrians to sense the weak potential of this stupid civilization and what’s their definition of hope.
The suggestion inherent in the lengthy and largely accurate analysis above only works when China and India sit at a table as equals. A long term solution perhaps. In medium term the only thing that can bring balance is economic and military deterrence. In short term the only thing that can maintain a no war detente is diplomacy, threat of reflective costs and sheer dumb luck.
Great insight. Only an experienced and high caliber intellectual could have scoured so deep and analytically and cleared the fog which is unknowingly ingrained in the minds of both the people. A delight to read and a lot to ponder over. Hope it goes to high desks which matter the most.
Foolish Indians, they never learn they always react to their emotions. No country want to be like china?? You are literally trying everything you can to be China but you forgot one thing you’re not Confucious descendants, you’re stupid and one more thing you lack wisdom, your culture is joke, you’re little slaves of the west, you adapted democracy but is Narendra Hitler Modi a democratic leader, you look stupid with you stupid clothes of CLOWNS you fools.
go to hell
You just got justification for your name….. CHILD 😂
Thanks for an incredible details and about history we hardly get these kind of details these days anywhere in paper or news.
To add, Tagore was praised for noble prize.
However I am ashamed of singing national anthem now as I have uncovered the meaning of it.
Our anthem extols king George and sings paeans of British rule.
It says from length and breadth of India and it’s people we say jai hai to bharat’s bhagya vidhata who is none else than king George.
This is enslavement of minds and psyche 100 years in running.
We should be agitated and disturbed by it but we proudly sing it and wear it as a badge of honor.
No wonder Chinese got everything about Indians right.
This is bogus — Tagore himself repeatedly said it was not
Your imagination is as dumb as your intellect. Some British reporter spinned a story and people like you believe that fake news even after 100 years. ‘Bharata Bhagya vidhata’ was never the British emperor. Mr. Tagore has clarified it many times.
This song was written to welcome king George.
This was sung in honor of king George.
Who was the adhinayak of India?
Who was bharat bhagya vidhata?
Please enlighten aam Janata who are they saying jai hai to.
I would rather switch to Vande matram by Bankim ji which was also the majority view of the constituent assembly in 47.
Utter lack of exposure ( not knowledge which is a distant cry for such fools) to Vedas and Upanishads makes one to generate venoms and to unashamedly spew it. Please make a sincere effort to learn them by heart and head.
Vedas and Upanishads are obligatory pre-requisites to understand many of the creations of Tagore, in particular, the ‘ Jana Gana Mana’.
Vidhata means The Almighty God, not King George to correct a mistake interpretation above.
Tagore was the biggest slave of the British! That good for nothing big mouth only talked the talk, never walked the walk! All his life, he never worked but lived on grandfather’s zamindari provided by the British and sand for his British master!
It refer to all mighty and not tiny
King George! And if you want to
believe otherwise, nobody can
It is a great article with in-depth and objective analysis. I hope the Chinese and Indian people can one day cross the gap of mis-understanding and engage peacefully in this world.
Well written article. The only way to deal with the Chinese threat and perceptions is rise economically. Our political leadership is not educated enough to envision and implement policies that will take us there. As another reader commented, we are frittering away our demographic dividend. It is really not so relevant what Chinese perceptions are today. We want to shape what happens tomorrow.
Reforms are in orders. We need to change our character as a nation. We are still brown sahebs. Enslaved intellectuals. All it takes is to watch our English News Channles that bring in Western folks as experts. All it takes is to look at our Historians and intellectuals that quote, cite and refer to western interpretations of India. Hell we still acknowledge and teach the Aryan Invasion Theory to our children. We do not teach any of our ancient Philosophies to our Kids. We think that is not secular. Should we look at the presense Islamic and Christian faiths that stop the majority of the nation to look at its past? The ones that want to are branded Right Wing Hindutva crowd…
Till these attitudes change we will be slaves of the WEST!!! China is right to view us as such!!!
While we have much to learn from China that is positive there are also negative lessons to be taken away. Some of the latter are a result of the difference between our nations as a result of the different philosophies of our founding fathers, Mao and Gandhi.
Good article but missing is how much of China’s thinking of Indian was influenced by Communism in the 20th century and added to the negative perception and whether, this additional negative perception was contributed by Indian communists since the demonstration blocking the roads is a typical trade union encouraged by Communists phenomena.
The gist from this article is quite clear and Chinese impressions are accurate.
Indians were slave for thousand years. Mongols, Arabs, Turks, British all ruled over Indians.
Instead of washing the tag of this enslavement we celebrate it by extolling the marauders, rapists, tyrants.
Unless we get rid of this mindset we will continue to be slaves.
A society which feels ashamed of its heritage and culture and on every occasion celebrates mongols mughal British tyranny deserves it.
There is nothing unusual to accepting rulers whose origin was foreign as part of ones nation’s history. The British do not treat the Normans as foreign occupiers and the Chinese regard Mongols and Manchus as part of their nation. All those foreign people who came and for some time ruled India have added to the the wonderful fabric of our country.
Very intelligently and wisely said. If only the stupid hindutva can understand this.
The biggest difference between China and India is that the Chinese have readily taken up the role of the workshop of the West. A choice that Indira Gandhi refused when Robert McNamara made it. It is true that the Chinese have taken up more readily to Western influences be it Marxism, architecture,music to even the choice of clothes. If you walk into any Chinese city most are copies of Western towns and cities. In the process of becoming strong and powerful China has lost it’s own cultural moorings if they ever existed. Add to this environmental destruction on an industrial scale. Indians on the other hand although ruled by ‘foreigners’ never let go of their roots and are now engaged in a process of rediscovery.
Nehru and our diplomats (Shyam Sharan definitely included) always had deep fascination for China. What he spoke was known even in 1950s and is not something of a revelation now. Any one visiting China and moving around in different places gets a sense of Chinese attitude towards India or read any book by the Chinese regarding Hinduism, India etc to understand their deep (but irrational) animosity against India. In fact, it is well known that both China and Japan looked down upon India and never counted it as a country of any consequence.
We were never practical in our international relations and clouded our vision with idiotic romanticism.
Luckily, post Galwan, Modi had to change India’s stance and become practical, realistic and transactional. India will deal with China firmly and squarely. Just like surgical strikes and Balakot bombings, Galwan and martyrdom of Col Babu and 20 soldiers has changed the calculus for India.
Whatever be the past, India will now deal with China squarely and will lead the world in blocking China’s predatory ambitions.
Of course, we will notice that many China lovers like Shyam Saran will cane their tunes in line with changing times!!!
Forget China’s history. Also India’s, for that matter. Focus on the recent past, what China has done right, notably since 1978. Where we have been unable to build upon the promising reforms of 1991. Till the economic gap is bridged, the world will not refer to the two countries in the same breath. We are allowing our demographic dividend to melt away.
One should remember that china ushered economic reforms in 1978 ,while India did it in 1991.Now the PPP GDP ratio of China vs India is 2.24,i.e., China’s GDP is two and a quarter times more the India’s.So by another 13 years I think India’s GDP will be same as China’s present GDP.So the rate of GDP is not much different.But of course to catch up with China we have to grow faster.
And we look at them now and say “We don’t want to be China” despite those city scape facades that is pushed as development. A cheap clone of paris, clone of timessquare and cheap clones of everything in the world. Unfortunately no country on Planet Earth wants to be a clone of china despite them shouting from the roof tops. Oops!!. Sorry I misspoke. Some one wants to be clone of china. That is “Pakistan” and “North Korea”. What a great company to be in?
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