Monday, October 25, 2010



I have been in receipt of the following comments from a reader of Indian origin based abroad of my articles on the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I agree with him that academic and intellectual exchanges between the PRC and other countries in East and South-East Asia have been increasing while exchanges between India and these countries, including China, have been stagnating. Despite our continuing differences with China on issues such as the border dispute and their support to Pakistan, it should be possible to promote academic and intellectual exchanges with the PRC. There are hardly any exchanges between India and the South-East and East Asian countries more due to lack of Indian interest than the other way round. Continuing suspicions of academic and intellectual exchanges with China stand in the way of Chinese scholars being able to get visas to attend seminars in India. It is easy to organize a national seminar on China, but not an international seminar involving the participation of Chinese scholars from abroad----whether from China or from other countries. It should be a common core interest of India and China to find ways of promoting such exchanges and encouraging transparency in policy-making. One of the reasons for the misunderstandings between India and China is the lack of transparency in policy-making for which both the countries have to share the blame----B.Raman



First of all, thank you very much on your thought provoking articles on PRC. Let me provide a different perspective to PRC related issues from an academic point of view.

Due to my professional /academic activities I visit Taiwan (ROC) and SE countries frequently, and it is really astonishing to see how PRC is binding these countries through numerous educational programs. It is amazing to see educators, researchers, planners from the top universities of these other countries are visiting PRC on a regular basis, and PRC scholars are reciprocating by visiting these countries too. Looks like PRC is setting aside a dedicated amount of money to woo scholars from the neighboring countries under various regional conferences, meetings, exchange programs, etc.

Irrespective of whatever political differences there may exist between PRC and ROC, the academic exchange programs between these two countries are growing exponentially. Though the current ROC President Ma Ying Jeau is soft toward PRC,
even during the time of more apparently hostile past President Chen Shui Bien, academic exchanges were cozy between these two countries. The flow of business visitors and tourists between PRC and ROC too is eye popping. My Taiwanese colleagues
say that they regularly coordinate regional/international academic meetings in consultation with their PRC counterparts. All the major hotels in Taipei (especially the Grand Hotel, once owned by Madam Chiang-Kai Shek) have huge boards
placed near the main entrances welcoming visiting delegates/tourists from different provinces of PRC. And this is going on year-round. Overcoming the strong opposition from DPP (Chen Shui Bien's party), ROC govt has now opened the door for PRC students to attend ROC universities. Without this, many ROC
university officials say, they can't survive financially.

Nearly similar things are happening with Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia. My colleagues from Thailand go to conferences and meetings held in PRC, but not to those in India. What's wrong with us? I don't see India's foot print matching even 10% of that. Needless to say, this will have a long term effect in favor of PRC at the cost of India.



Bill Clinton came to India in 2000 a year after the impeachment proceedings against him in the US Congress in the Monica Lewinsky case had failed. The scandals in which he was involved in the US did not affect his popularity in India. His popularity in the Indian political class was high as seen from the roaring success of his address to the joint session of the Indian Parliament. He was surrounded by the admiring Members of Parliament. Everybody wanted to shake his hand and be seen on the TV shaking his hand.

2.The Indian hero of the Clinton visit was not Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Indian Prime Minister. It was Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who had managed to convince many US businessmen that Naidu’s was the political face of the future. The focus was Cyberabad as Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh came to be called.

3.Naidu was projected as the epitome of the new Indian leader---IT savvy, more a CEO than a traditional politician. Clinton made it a point to visit Hyderabad at the suggestion of US businessmen to see the emerging new Indian leader, who had won the admiration of the American business community. Where is Naidu now? Where is Cyberabad? A businessman of Andhra Pradesh, who played a key role in bringing Clinton to Hyderabad and making Naidu the toast of the US journalists who came with Clinton, is now in jail fighting allegations of business fraud.

4.The second focus of the Clinton visit was on the computerisation of Indian villages. He was fascinated by the so-called advance of IT into the Rajasthan villages. He was shown on the TV admiring the way little-educated villagers of Rajasthan were operating computers and running the village affairs. What happened to them? What happened to those computers?

5.The focus of the George Bush visit in 2006 was on how the Indian Muslim has kept away from Al Qaeda and the international jihad. What happened to that picture of India which is as true and as valid today as it was when Bush came? Why that picture is not being projected today as Barack Obama gets ready to visit Mumbai and to recall Indo-US counter-terrorism co-operation. If the Americans and Obama are wise they will try to learn from the Indian civil society as to how the Indian Muslim has kept away from Al Qaeda and its associates. Obama chose the Al Azhar University of Cairo last year for his famous address to the Muslims of the Arab world. His advisers should have suggested to him to choose Mumbai for an address to the moderate Muslims of India and their co-religionists in South-East Asia. They should have told him that Indian Islam is different from Pakistani and Arab Islam. It is soft Islam, which has influenced the culture of the Muslim communities in India and in the countries to the East of India. Westerners are still fascinated by the fact that the Mumbai Muslims refused to bury the nine Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists killed in Mumbai during the 26/11 strikes. The focus should have been on how the Indian Muslim continues to be different from the Muslims in the rest of the world. He is angry---even more than in the past, but refuses to fall into the trap of Al Qaeda and its allies.

6.Obama’s agenda has been prepared by the bureaucratic establishments in the two countries without imagination, without a sense of history, without understanding the benign face of Indian Islam totally different from its face in Pakistan and the Arab world.(25-10-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )