Friday, February 19, 2010

India Vs China - (e)relations

A couple of months ago, this article caught my attention more so because from what little I know about the Indian army, its strengths and weaknesses, I can definitely say that if there is a war, both countries will lose but India will sustain the most damage and in a few years, everyone will conveniently forget any territories occupied by China (like the China-occupied Kashmir that seems to have eluded everyone’s memory). China already made a big fuss about the Indian Prime minister visiting Arunachal Pradesh. So what are China’s intentions towards India ?

I have always held the opinion that just because a country does not support democracy, it is no reason to suspect it of espionage or accuse it of unfriendliness. But this article refers to a report that shows a planned campaign of computer hacking by China. Comforting.

Internet freedom in China is very questionable and Google has already said that it may end operations in China . Previously, Google had been censoring the search results by filtering those websites that were categorized as hostile according to the Chinese Government. Agreed that Google is not the perfect platform for privacy. But even when Obama was in China, he aired his views on the topic of internet freedom and very predictably, it fell on deaf ears and the irony was that even his views were censored in various parts of the country.

I met a person from a Govt. agency in China at a conference. He voluntarily spoke to me, talked to me about his trip to Delhi a few years ago and then we moved on to discussing the conference itself. I gave him a business card and asked him for one. He searched for it in his pockets and said he would give it to me later (since the conference still had 3 more days to go). That was the last I saw of him ! Everytime I managed to talk to him during the coffee or lunch break, he would somehow evade me and I gave up after a while. Someone from a Govt. agency refuses to share a business card. Perfect. On the other side, the Indian army is requesting the personnel not to enter service-related information in Facebook or orkut for fear of leaking sensitive information. Democracy.

We used to have pot luck dinners at the University where students from many countries would meet and each would bring a dish from his/her place. There were 3 Chinese and during the dinner I asked them about their future plans and if they would go back to China. All the three said ‘No’ spontaneously and seeing my surprised look went on to explain that they liked it better in Europe and so on. Since then I have met numerous Chinese – friends and otherwise and until date I do not know of anyone who wants to go back. Do they all miss the freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom to watch a movie or browse without having the Govt. interfere? I wonder……

I completely agree that China and India view progress and success in very different ways. While China could conduct Olympics, India is still struggling to get the venue ready for the common wealth games (oh..what a shame) ! While China always figures in the top 5 Olympic medal winners, Indians look up the list everyday waiting for one winner to show up in the final tally. Yes, the Chinese are committed, and yes, they are working towards a goal. Everyone is talking about China’s growth and progress but how many people stop and ask ‘But at what cost?!’

War and colonialisation were seen as symbols of power of a country…oh…did I say were? Only there is the prefix e- to everything now, hackers are in demand and cyber wars are the way to go.

Amidst all this, the business week seems to have a completely different and interesting take. This article refutes the age old assumption that the China market is too big to walk away from and says India is a better market and here is the most interesting paragraph from the article - “The urban-rural income gap has steadily declined since the early '90s. Over the past decade, economic growth in rural India has outpaced growth in urban areas by almost 40%. Rural India now accounts for half the country's GDP, up from 41% in 1982. World Bank studies show that rural China accounts for only a third of GDP and generates just 15% of China's growth. Meanwhile, rural India is chipping in about two-thirds of overall growth”. This may be the cue for many firms to move from China to India and make similar or little lesser profits but without the difficult commercial conditions. If this is going to be good for India, well, that is a question that only time can answer.

PS: If you were expecting me to come up with resolutions for this issue, as flattering as that sounds, I would rather not. I am a simple minded person who believes in every country minding its own business and no one in the international political arena will be happy with that.

PPS: I was trying to look at the issue objectively but some of my biases could have found its way into my words. Sorry. Intention is only to think about the issue and hear what others have to say as well.

Mental note: I should stop reading so much about India and China using Google ! God knows where that will land me.

Copyright for picture: no idea, the source I used:
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Website Hit Counter I had decided to have a counter only after I hit a 1000 views and since it happened last week (as on 14 Dec 2009), now is the time to see some stats :)