China & India
C N Anand
Two of the world's oldest, greatest and neighboring civilizations, India and China, never coveted other's lands. Both were culturally and materially rich and did not have to maraud to acquire wealth. Both exchanged ideas when Hien Tsang visited India in the 6 th century BC. Simple living, eschewing ostentation to live in harmony with nature, were ideas that both shared. While Copernicus and Galileo were reviled and incarcerated for their theories on heliocentricity, Indian and Chinese astronomers mastered it centuries ago.
Both India and China were seized with protecting what they had from the drooling hordes of Central Asia. While India had the Himalayas for protection, China built a wall. But both the obstacles were breached. A few of the hordes carted away riches to carry on with their nomadic and plundering way of life, but most stayed on to be assimilated by the rich cultures.
Before the 17th century, both countries produced steel the Western world could not match in strength and durability. Ideas on Paper currency and printing were brought to the western world by Marco Polo. Use of gunpowder for rockets in warfare was experimented with. There was nothing that Europe produced which was wanted by India and China, but there was plenty that India and China produced that Europe desired.
While the marauding raids from Central Asia had an immediate cathartic effect, it was not corrosive in the long term. It was the rapacious multinationals that came from the sea that poisoned both countries, the effects of which last till today. The most powerful was the British East India Company, armed with powers to wage war, sue for peace, make laws, and mint money in the lands they subjugated. They had nothing to offer China and India in exchange for tea, spices, silk, Indigo and muslin.
They had to show profit and with a sword in one hand and ledger in the other they cleared the decks in China by fight the opium wars. They subjugated Bengal and Bihar of India, the main opium growing states. They secured the sea route between China and India by acquiring Hong Kong and Singapore and dominating the Malacca straits. Free opium was distributed in China for the habit to take root and then opium from India was dumped in China.
The profits enabled the East India Company to take home indigo, tea, spices, silk and muslin. Some of this tea found its way to the Boston tea party. The dawning of industrial revolution led to the death of Indian and Chinese crafts. Chinese and Indian labor was indentured for work in the Americas, Malaya, and Africa. A near collapse of self esteem took root.
Subsequent overthrow of British influence left behind festering wounds. The India- China border was not clearly demarcated by the British. India and China which never coveted each other other's lands bickered over inhospitable land. However, good sense seems to be prevailing when leaders agreed to leave the dispute for later generations to find a solution. In the meantime, there are urgent economic problems to be attended to.
Non-renewable energy sources are depleting while the appetites of China and India are growing. If every Chinese and Indian consumes extra two liters per day of petroleum products to improve their standard of living, USA's daily oil consumption will be surpassed. If literacy rates improve and two extra paper sheets are used by every Chinese and Indian, whole forests will have to be hacked. A small improvement in standards of living will strain the world ecology. The first world will not give up an iota of the luxury they are wallowing in.
Enlightened cooperation between India and China is needed to save the world. Joint R&D efforts in renewable energy, water conservation, oil exploration, nuclear energy and space exploration is the need of the hour. A consortium of countries, many of whom fought each other in WWII, got together and established the Airbus. Why can't India and China jointly land a man on the moon? If China is willing to share its plutonium with India, many fast breeder reactors can be set up to convert thorium to Uranium 233 for satiating the energy needs of both countries. If only they can put aside the border dispute and reduce their defense expenditures…
China & India
- » Published on January 15, 2008
- » Type: Opinion
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