Is India-China Axis Against Political Islam Possible?

We reproduce below an interview of Dr. R. Vaidyanathan conducted by Madhu Kishwar for Manushi India on January 19, 2022. The video version of the interview is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itwFJTc7nAo&t=34s


China–India relations (Hindi: भारत-चीन संबंध; Chinese: 中国-印度关系), also called Sino-Indian relations or Indo–Chinese relations, refers to the bilateral relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of India. India and China have historically maintained peaceful relations for thousands of years of recorded history, but the harmony of their relationship has varied in modern times, especially after the Chinese Communist Party’s seizure of power in 1949; the two nations have sought economic cooperation with each other, while frequent border disputes and economic nationalism in both countries are a major point of contention.

China and India are two of the major regional powers in Asia, and are the two most populous countries and among the fastest growing major economies in the world. Since 2013, border disputes have re-emerged to take center stage in the two countries’ mutual relations. In early 2018, the two armies got engaged in a standoff at the Doklam plateau along the disputed Bhutan-China border. Since summer 2020, armed standoffs and skirmishes at multiple locations along the entire Sino-Indian border have escalated. A serious clash occurred in the Galwan Valley resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and 42 Chinese soldiers. 

Despite growing economic and strategic ties, there are a lot of hurdles for India and the PRC to overcome. India faces a trade imbalance heavily in favor of China. The two countries failed to resolve their border dispute and Indian media outlets have repeatedly reported Chinese military incursions into Indian territory.

This interview is also focused around the discussion of whether the India-China axis against political Islam is possible. Political Islam is any interpretation of Islam as a source of political identity and action. It can refer to a wide range of individuals and/or groups who advocate the formation of state and society according to their understanding of Islamic principles. Over the last few decades, Islam has become a central point of reference for a wide range of political activities, arguments and opposition movements. The term “political Islam” has been adopted by many scholars in order to identify this seemingly unprecedented irruption of Islamic religion into the secular domain of politics and thus to distinguish these practices from the forms of personal piety, belief and ritual conventionally subsumed in Western scholarship under the unmarked category “Islam.”

To shed light on the above mentioned issues, Dr. R. Vaidyanathan joins Madhu Kishwar in this interview. Dr. R. Vaidyanathan is a retired Professor of Finance at IIM- Bangalore. A graduate of the Loyola College, Madras and a Masters from the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta. He obtained his Doctorate from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta where he also taught for four years. He is two times Fulbright scholar and a Fellow of ICSSR-Visiting Faculty at various universities in USA/UK. He has been selected by Business today as one of the ten best professors at all IIMS. He is on the Advisory council of Vivekananda International Foundation [VA]. He was a member of the “National Security Advisory Board” under the National Security Council [2019/20].

Madhu Kishwar: Welcome to this edition of Manushi Samvad. Our topic today is ‘Is India-China Axis Against Political Islam Possible?’ I’ve always believed that China is a bigger enemy for India than Pakistan. China has the strongest military in the world. Their economy is flourishing way ahead of India. The Sino-Indian War between China and India occurred in October–November 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main cause of the war. There had been a series of violent border skirmishes between the two countries after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. China acquired multiple areas of India and India faced a devastating defeat.

Relations between contemporary China and India have been characterized by border disputes, resulting in three military conflicts – the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the border clashes in Nathu La and Cho La in 1967, and the 1987 Sumdorong Chu standoff. However, since the late 1980s, both countries have successfully rebuilt diplomatic and economic ties. In 2008, China became India’s largest trading partner and the two countries have also extended their strategic and military relations. 

Pakistan on the other hand, has a long and strong relationship with China. The long-standing ties between the two countries have been mutually beneficial. A close identity of views and mutual interests remain the center-point of bilateral ties. China has become Pakistan’s largest supplier of arms and its third-largest trading partner. China supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir, while Pakistan supports China on the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan. 

China is one of the five permanent members of the UNSC and has been using its veto power to block India’s efforts to become a permanent member of the body. In 1953 Nehru declined the US offer for India to take a permanent seat at the UNSC, and said China be given the seat instead. The issue of India’s right to a seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is a controversial one in India today, but it is not new. The historical controversy has centered on the culpability of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in not seizing several alleged opportunities for India to join the United Nations Security Council as a permanent member in the 1950s. Nehru’s critics, then and now, accuse him of sacrificing India’s national interest on dubious grounds of international morality.

The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency, officially referred to as the Left Wing Extremism (LWE), is an ongoing conflict between Maoist groups known as Naxalites or Naxals (a group of communists supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology) and the Indian government. Mao Zedong (Former President of the People’s Republic of China) provided ideological inspiration for the Naxalbari movement, advocating that Indian peasants and lower class tribals overthrow the government of the upper classes by force. The linkages synthesized by Maoist groups with militant organisations, North East insurgents and radical Islamic organisations particularly for availing terror logistics continues to be a key concern for the internal security of India. At the same time, a plethora of factors and reasons imply the role of China in lugging iron to Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in India. The Chinese expert Subramaniam Swamy says that the Naxals are one of the proxies the Chinese use in India to take care of their anti-Indian agenda.

On the other hand, Chinese goods are choking the Indian industry and economy. Chinese imports have thrown a spanner in the wheel of India’s economic progress per se, and the industrial sector in particular. The unscrupulous imports from China are also on account of an influx of under-invoiced Chinese goods, goods brought in through mis-declaration and outright smuggling. In a decade to 2017-18, India’s exports to China rose by $2.5 billion. In the same period, China’s imports in India rose by $50 billion. India registered a trade deficit of $157 billion in 2017-18. 

These and many more reasons make it important for us to discuss the India-China Axis. We are joined by Dr. R. Vaidyanathan today. Dr. Vaidyanathan, I want you to explain whether you think India and China axis is possible against political Islam. We know that China is doing a great job in battling Islam within its own boundaries. But as far as Pakistan is concerned, they are certainly egging on and encouraging Pakistan to inflict more and more wounds on us. 

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Let’s understand some brief background and then I will come to the fact. We have approximately 3,500 kilometers of border with China, and of course Tibet constitutes a big chunk of it. And for the last 2000 years in written history at least, we never had any war with each other, except in 1962. This is something which is very important to know. 

Hu Shih was one of the great philosophers of China. He was highly regarded, and he was an ambassador of China to the US. In the late 30s, he gave a speech at Harvard University’s commemoration. He said that India has conquered China without firing a single bullet. This is something very, very interesting. He later became the Chancellor of the Peking University, much later on in the late 40s. He used to argue that China had become too non-violent and peaceful following India, and that’s a separate type of an issue. But basically he was talking about the cultural and civilizational influence of India. 

A huge number of ministers were sent by the Chinese kings to Burma. And they have collected a large amount of material in Mathematics, Sanskrit pertaining to Ayurveda and yoga too. Chiang Kai-shek left China and ran away to Formosa, now it is called Taiwan. He carried with him 13 shiploads, six of them pertaining to Indian material, Indian artifacts, and Indian literature. And if you go to Taiwan, you will find a huge museum on a hilltop having the Indian material which were taken in by the ministers from India. So, something we should fundamentally recognize is that we have a significant amount of cultural linkages with China.

China has 16-17 study centers on India. We have practically zero on China. People who know Mandarin in India may be less than 100, I’m very sure about that. Our knowledge about China comes through the Washington Post, New York Times and from whatever little we know about China. We do not know about China from China itself. We should create at least 50 centers of Chinese studies in India. We are a democracy, we are an open system and all our fault lines are known to everybody. But we do not know anything at all about Chinese fault lines. All rubbish is written about India by Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and we ridicule it. But whatever is written about China, we immediately believe it. 

With Pakistan we have LOC i.e. Line of Control. There is a very clear demarcation done. But with China, we don’t have LOC, we have LAC, i.e. Line of Actual Control. We never demarcated our border with China. This is something people don’t understand. We should have taken steps, we should even now take steps for demarcating the border. We never studied China through the Chinese eyes. Incidentally, one of the sponsors of All India Radio, is still there in the Beijing radio. There was a broadcasting in Tamil language and they have a phenomenal amount of knowledge about our country, which we don’t have. This is something which primarily I feel we should try to solve. 

Five religions are recognized in China. Hinduism is not one of them. When I was in Shanghai University, I met many people but none of them knew anything about Hinduism. In 15 years, I’ve written so many letters to foreign ministry. I don’t know what they are doing at all. When AOL was opened in China, there was so much enthusiasm among Chinese people. They were all there. And according to me, we should have 50 AOL Ashrams in China. We should have 100 Baba Ramdev yoga centers in China. Mahabharata, Ramayana and other things should be translated into Mandarin and distributed. China is no more a communist country. The only people who believe that it is a communist country can be found outside the Jawaharlal Nehru University, at a place called Ganga Dhaba. The Chinese themselves don’t think they’re a communist country. The only country which finds itself to be communist today is North Korea. And of course, some districts in Kerala, but that’s a separate thing. 

They are a phenomenal global power and mark my word, in seven to eight years, they would be recognized as a single superpower in the world. If you go back in history, the US threw atomic bomb in Japan. They didn’t throw it on Germany or Italy. White men will never ever kill white men. They threw it on Asians (Japanese) to test whether their nuclear weapons were working. The US was recognized as the single superpower because they alone had this nuclear thing. The same way China has got bioweapons today. The Wuhan Health Organization is totally useless. The World Health Organization is still not clear whether this COVID has come through animals or come through laboratories, deliberately or otherwise. So, Europe is completely worried about China. One of my colleagues in France told me that the European leaders wet their pants when they hear about China. Not a single country has condemned China for this virus, including the US. And the US is one of the largest trading partners of China. Do not trust white men. Let me tell you 150 times. During the second world war, the British commander was asked, “Will you really defeat the Germans?” He replied, “We’ll fight the Germans to the last Indian.”

The West is on decline.

Madhu Kishwar: What you said is very important. Please expand a little bit. Because some of our viewers may have missed the significance of that sentence; We will fight the Germans to the last Indian.

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Yes, he never said ‘to the last Englishman’. They’re a declining power. On that there is absolutely no doubt. In 1990, G7 had 52% of the global GDP on purchasing power parity basis. Today G7 has 30% and the emerging markets has got 52%. And China alone is 17%. China and USA put together is around 47%. On a purchasing power parity basis, China is number one today in economics. Number two is USA, number three is India and number four is Japan. China has $18 trillion as their GDP, ours is $3 trillion. They are the largest manufacturing country in the world today. More than 50% of the world output is manufactured in China. There is no comparison and they would be recognized as a global leader and as a single superpower, sooner or later. 

Europe has lost the will to fight and they will go to pubs and then they will go to their musical festivals. The average Belgian army age is 43, and their waist size also is 43. They cannot fight. I watch French TV, Russian TV, German TV, nobody has condemned China. Globally there is a recognition of China as a leader which is not explicitly mentioned, which will be done in another four or five years. For 60 years in the United Nation, we have been self righteous. We are not a wholesale seller of democracy in the world. Except BJP and communist, all others are family run enterprises. What we call democracy is actually 20 families controlling this country. Why should China follow it? They follow their own system. China is not the Communist Party. One crore ten million people were displaced in the Three Gorges Dam, 1 million at least would have died. I wrote several letters that time asking why we don’t look at it. Why don’t we take steps to find out what is happening there? But we did nothing. Our fault lines are very well known. There is no door in our house. All four sides are open. We must start looking at China through an Indian lens. This is fundamental and important. 

Even today, our trade with China is very large. We imported 43 billion and exported 15 billion worth of goods. Critical parts of our nuclear reactors are imported from China. People are talking about Lahore and Delhi friendship and all these things. We have not even declared Pakistan as a terrorist country yet. We require a solid dialogue with China on the land issue. Chinese are very good at talking. They can talk for nine hours without saying anything. And in India there are plenty of bureaucrats who can talk for 12-15 hours. At the end of it, you will not know what they were saying. Land issues can only be solved by discussion today. We should continue to talk with them. At least there will be some amount of mutual understanding and mutual peace. 

Today, I heard Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son saying socialism is their policy. That is a 19th century philosophy, used in the 20th century and thrown into a waste paper basket. Nobody talks in terms of communism, capitalism and all that in modern times. The whole world is getting restructured on a civilizational basis now. Take my word for it. That is what Saudi Arabia has understood. That is what they are doing. Iran is having a relationship with Iraq, which seems unbelievable after having such a major war. Many of the UAE and other countries are going to have good relations with Saudi Arabia. They’re trying to create a bloc. Already Europe is significantly impacted by Islam. It is called Eurobia. Sooner or later people will accept Sharia also as one of the important dimensions of living. We are linked with China in terms of our civilization. I have been to China many times and many Chinese people think they should be born in India in order to get Moksha (Salvation). At some places in China, people are used to burning incense sticks. We have absolutely no clue about China. How many TV experts know what exactly is happening in China? Nothing. 

White men are dangerous. They are on decline. And declining empires are more dangerous than rising empires. Our umbilical cords are tied to the west. Let’s be very clear about it. Genetically, we are tied to the west. This is the crux of the issue we should recognize. Because a large number of our judges, bureaucrats or politicians’ children are all settled in the US or UK. And these people want to get the green card and get settled there. My request or demand will be that all those who plan to settle in the west should recuse themselves from taking any decision pertaining to India, Europe and China. They should keep away. That is one fundamental point. 

Secondly, we are obsessed about Pakistan. Most of the policymakers in foreign policy are all in Punjab, Delhi. We should enroll people from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and these places. We have a very good civilisational relationship with China. Pakistan is nothing, it will be a mosquito. It was a poodle for the USA for quite a long period of time. It doesn’t have any economic power on its own. So what are the things we should do? Our leaders, our bureaucrats, our policy wonks, and all these fellows who want to settle in the USA with a green card should keep away from decision making. We must spend several crores and create a huge number of Chinese study centers in India. 

We should study their culture, art and society. On the People’s Liberation Army website they’ve published a photograph. It shows China sending rockets on Ganges and our bodies are getting burned. They have their own Twitter account called Weibo. There was so much criticism about this picture on their Twitter account by ordinary Chinese people saying, “they are our neighbors, why are you creating this?” Within a few weeks they had to remove that picture. There is a huge amount of goodwill for India among ordinary Chinese people. Many ordinary Chinese people actually would love to come to India. After South Korea and Japan, China has the highest number of globetrotters. Their Forex reserve is $6 trillion, ours has just crossed half a trillion. I’m not trying to minimize the impact of India, but we should clearly understand the dimension. 

First and foremost, we should stop the obsession of containing China. The 21st century is the Asian Century. The white man century is over. Now it is a yellow man Century, then it will be a brown man, and then black. China is doing well economically, we should be happy about it. So this century is Asian Century. Asian Century doesn’t mean only the Delhi century. Asian Century includes China and India together. The Chinese are phenomenally powerful hardware people. And we are recognized as phenomenally powerful software people. Combined together, the whole thing will be different. We are good at adapting, we are not good at discovery. For the last 80 years, tell me one product we have discovered which has conquered the world. Nothing! But they have their own Twitter, Facebook, etc. Of course people will say they stole it from the US, but that’s not our concern. How did they do it? 

The UK has stolen $45 trillion from us, does anyone talk about it? 2,500 men, women and children were killed on April 13, 1919 in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, about which they have not done anything. Do we talk about it? Entire British Museum consists of looted articles and if you remove all of them the museum will be empty. I don’t understand our perspective at all. They said Iraq has got the chemical, but they couldn’t find even one bottle of hydrochloric acid. Iraq is in such a mess today after the West got their job done. For them their interest is dominant. We are all sort of disposable assets to them. We shouldn’t fall into their trap. 

In terms of civilisational similarities, we are very close to China. Our political fellows are all empty. They think that if they win another election, everything will be fine. Running a government is more important, which nobody is doing. Everybody wants to win the election. 10 years down the line, where are we? We do some grand talk and immediately News Channels put headlines like ‘Pakistan exposed’. For the last 70 years we have been exposing them, what has come out of it? Pakistan doesn’t require exposure at all. It’s like the item girl in a Bollywood movie, there is no need for you to go on telling everyone that it is the item girl. I was jokingly told that in Atlanta, somebody went with a Pak passport to the check-in counter of the airport, and the lady asked him, “Have you packed this bag yourself?” He said yes. She asked him to come aside, because his passport was from Pakistan. If you’ve packed the bag yourself, there is a very high risk of taking you in. I think we are completely wasting our time and energy. We should facilitate all types of internal insurgency in Pakistan and that’s not required. Our friend China will take care of it. 

Chinese treat Islam as a cult. They say it’s a mental problem. Surely, they are the only country which explicitly specifies about mental issues associated with this religion and it requires to be treated. That’s why they’ve set up camps there. They have their own system. Let’s not try to think that we should sell our system to China. If we want to sell our system to China, we will have to create 20 families there. In India, all political parties except BJP and Communist are family parties. From Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, 20 families are running this country. I call them F20. Are we not ashamed of it? The largest National party itself is controlled by a family. Why should China follow that example? They have their own system now. They never call themselves a communist country. Their economic power is recognized as a superpower explicitly. In terms of civilization, we are much closer to them. We should stop believing the white man. 

We are spending $80 billion in educating our kids abroad. Our remittance from abroad is $80 billion. We are a great software power recognized all over the world. And China is a great hardware power. The British commander said, “We will fight the Germans to the last Indian.” They are good at doing it. We always say look East, but our face is to the west. Our fault lines are very well known and can be easily exploited. But we don’t know the fault line of any other country. We just go on jumping and shouting. Someday we say all beliefs are the same, all religions are the same. We say terror doesn’t have religion and suddenly we also claim religion doesn’t have terror. We are a confused group of people. We should be very clear about who is nearer to us historically. It’s not our job to contain China. The only issue India has with China is land, we say that they have occupied some portion of our land. We can also produce a map with Shanghai and Beijing as part of India. Have we ever done that?

For 80 years, the BBC has been calling it Indian administered Kashmir. I have written over a hundred letters. We should also start using terms like ‘England administered Scotland’ or ‘England administered Wales’, but we never do that. We are a permanently whining baby. Nobody gives us any major importance. These western countries cannot directly deal with China. My French colleague said when China’s name is mentioned, most of the leaders in Europe are wetting their pants. When the pig virus was found in Japan, it was called the Japanese encephalitis. But when it comes to China, COVID19 has still not been called out as Chinese. This explains the power of China today. And directly from Wuhan it went into Milan. In six, seven years, everybody in the world has to accept that China is the single superpower. US society is in shambles, nobody talks about it. 52% of childbirth there is out of wedlock. Their social systems are in chaos. People say China is going to collapse. Chinese banks are failing. Well, many Indian banks have failed too actually. Chinese real estate is collapsing. Our real estate is also collapsing. There are good and bad Chinese,  but that’s not our concern. Waiting for China to collapse is the most idiotic thing which we can think of. We have suddenly obligated ourselves to the role of wholesale distributors of democracy, which is actually 20 families controlling entire India. You can’t distribute this. They will have their own system. So, the single point problem  between the two countries is land. With Pakistan we can have dialogue. 

Britain has looted $45 trillion from our country. We say it’s all okay. We should walk out of the white syndrome. We should get into the factual position of Asians. India and China combined will be able to face the Islamic power, which Europe or England cannot face. In terms of civilization, the world is getting reorganized. We should join with the Chinese who are much closer to us when it comes to our civilization. They are spiritually starved today. They are economically doing very well. My colleague in Shanghai always used to say why are you all silent? Why do you not come and invade us? We have a phenomenal amount of spiritual dimensions which we can offer to them. Their middle class is starved of this. Let’s recognize it. And let’s exploit it. 

Lastly, I would like to mention, we should treat China like Rabdi making. Heat it from below and cool it from above. This is the mental strategy we should follow. Get to know their fault lines, influence them and cool it from above. People are asking what about Taiwan, and nothing will come out of all these things. There is nothing called crime and punishment in our country. In our country, it is a crime and Padma Bhushan or Padma Shri. There is no need for us to get an exaggerated notion about our great democracy and that China should follow it. China will follow their own system. Let’s be very clear about it. Bureaucrats and politicians who have a vested interest should recuse themselves from the entire China debate and discussion. Thank you very much.

Madhu Kishwar: Thank you, Professor Vaidyanathan for a very insightful and entertaining talk. I couldn’t help but burst into laughter every now and then. I fully agree with you that India is not only ignorant about China, but uses as you said, the Western lens to look at its most important neighbor. I fully agree with you that our civilizational heritage is so enormous and what is more important, which you didn’t get time to emphasize and I’ll do it for you, is that China is one country unlike the West, which parasites on Indian knowledge, traditions and systems and science and technology and culture, including yoga. And yet they just parasite on it and never acknowledge it, if anything they spit on us. 

They will take away Sanskrit heritage, all the knowledge contained in those classics and then declare Sanskrit as a dead language, an atrocious literature and make us feel ashamed of it. Also, the Arab world has now forgotten its knowledge debt to India. But, China and the entire Eastern Bloc does recognize it. Thailand, Korea, the entire Eastern world and especially China recognise it. And you’re right, they have at least 16 to 17 major study centers on India. And the Chinese studies programs that we have are little tiny jokes. The point you were making is that we should understand their strengths, their fault lines and their weaknesses and learn to play on both. You can’t just exploit fault lines, unless you also understand the strengths. And we use the Western lens to be intimidated by the strength of China without understanding their weakness and their hunger for India’s soft power. 

Their hunger for India’s soft power is much greater than for the Indian market. They have the global market, but what they can get from India they can’t get anywhere else. Which is why I’m aware how well received Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living Foundation is in China. Lakhs of people gather for the AOL sessions. How many people even know Mongolia exists on the map of India? Today, they are seeking out our soft power. AOL is one of the very few organizations which is actually a very active presence in these countries. And we don’t pay attention even to AOL. I do personally keep a very close track of the wonderful work that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is doing on a global scale and winning over hearts and minds in a very gentle, kind, compassionate way. And yet, there’s very little recognition of it. 

Similarly, we can recover so much lost knowledge, if we were to take Chinese translations of our Sanskrit classics, which were burned down by Islamists. Much of what was burned in Nalanda and elsewhere, they have taken and translated, and we’re not bothering to do that. All of that I fully agree with you. And most important of all, despite being neighbors, we never had a war with them till the 1960s. Thanks to Nehru’s blunders, he ran the most blunderous foreign policy. And since then, we haven’t really done course correction in a serious manner. 1000s of years of close bonding, no war, and suddenly China becomes our major enemy. We need to reverse this idiocy. 

But most people are puzzled why China teamed up with Pakistan against India in the UN. Why would they deprive India of the security council? Why are they instigating Maoist and other insurgencies in India? If they value us so much, why are they doing all that and how do we neutralize it? Can this really be done just by dialogue and offering them yoga classes and setting up Sanskrit Vidyalayas in China? How do we do that?

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: We should first know what their fault lines are. Any country which knows your fault line will exploit that, and they do know our weaknesses. We are talking about containing China openly. The government of India wants to contain China. It’s a rubbish policy. If you ask me if I were a Chinese leader, I would be worried. 

Madhu Kishwar: The devilish Western countries never stood by us. 

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: China is very appreciative of our culture as you rightly said. Shanghai has got a statue of Kalidasa, which is very highly regarded there. In India, we don’t have a Kalidasa structure at all. We have the statue of Akbar and others. Let’s not try to look at it from one dimension. We did nothing about the Three Gorges Dam issue. Even if in Uruguay a dictatorship would have been thrown out or something like that, we will immediately spring up in the United Nation and say this is not acceptable. Whereas everyday the BBC calls it India administered Kashmir and we don’t care because we are all very fond of white people. We are a crazy country actually.

Can you create an insurgency inside any location of China? No. We say they are exploiting national problems. We can’t do it because we have never ever studied China. There are two or three people who have been funded by JNU or others. I don’t think they have ever studied Chinese.

Madhu Kishwar: No, they are a joke. But the more important point which strengthens what you’re saying in some part, is that the Indian people are far ahead of the Indian government in this because so many of them have shifted their manufacturing base to China. They didn’t care about the propaganda. Those who shifted to China are doing very well and they have a lot to teach our government about the Chinese ecosystem for promoting enterprise.

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: The Indian society is very organized. The Indian Government is totally disorganized. The western society is disorganized and their governments are organized. Indian society is far ahead of the government. The growth and the development in India which has taken place is phenomenal. Even now, the government of India doesn’t insist that Hinduism should be accepted as a religion in China. China will be enormously fascinated by it actually.

Madhu Kishwar: We can set up Kalidasa centers or Chanakya Centers but all we do are Nehru centers. 

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: In softwares, we can be very much inside China. China requires a huge amount of software professionals. Instead of sending all these people to the US and UK, we can send them to China.

Madhu Kishwar: The mindset of the dunderheads who run the government needs to change. So many people have shifted base to China. So many of my friends, people in my circle, and within my extended family have a lot to say. And believe me, after your talk today, whenever I get a chance to take a trip anywhere, my first trip now would be to China. So many of my relatives who have been there have wonderful things to say. So many businessmen have invested there. I wish the government of India would listen to them. In fact, they’re punished so harshly. For example, when they suddenly stopped imports from China, shipment loads were docked in the shipyards. And the government would neither say yes nor no. They ruined our own people who had spent a lot of money bringing in whatever the market needed. And the government would neither let them in nor say send it back. And there’s such economic chaos as a result of all this. But I wish they would learn from people who have invested there.

Apart from Sri Sri Ravi Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev would be a great hit. So many other yoga and spiritual gurus would be. But also the business community has invested and has really developed good relations in China. I used to be puzzled how they managed that. Because we have this image, that they’re such an oppressive society, and poor Indians, how do they work there? But how do they work in the Gulf countries where they’re not even treated as human beings, actually. Those who go and invest in Islamic countries in search of Petro dollars have to have a business partner who’s from that country. They cannot run their businesses in their own name. They can be booked under fake cases anytime. We know very well how much trouble people have faced there. Yet, we don’t stop sending our business there. We don’t stop lionizing the money that’s coming from there. But we don’t pay equal attention to those who build solid economic ties with China. And to learn from them, we just don’t seem to bother. 

I think the most important takeaway is that the West is indeed on the decline and declining powers are very dangerous. Also, the West has never stood by us, never once. They’ve looted us and they defamed and demonized us. We resent China because once in a while it votes against us in the Security Council or in the UN. But we never remember what we do to Israel, our permanent ally, and yet we let them down. So, there’s a lot of things to learn from this. One politician who seems to have cultivated apparently very close bonding with Chinese leaders is Subramaniam Swamy. Am I right? And they do respond to his overtures.

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: He has got his own views. But we must have a large number of people, according to me, at least some 15,000 people who should be able to say they’re all doing Chinese studies. 

Madhu Kishwar: We don’t even do Pakistani studies. How many Indians have studied Pakistan? How many good books and how many good scholars on Pakistan have we produced? Or on Afghanistan and Sri Lanka? None. We need to study Pakistan, and Pakistan’s fault lines in a serious way, in the way they keep on harassing us. But, we don’t even bother about the plight of Hindus in Pakistan. There is no good study done on Hindus in Pakistan or Hindus in Bangladesh, not one!

The Government could be commissioning, they could be issuing a white paper year after year on the status of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. They did not even do that. Our government doesn’t allow us to study our own past heritage. It doesn’t allow and doesn’t encourage study with countries that matter so much to our well being in bad or good ways. I don’t know what we’re about. It’s such a despairing picture in a manner of speaking

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Self righteous, that’s all we are. Nothing more, nothing less.

Madhu Kishwar: No, we are not, our government is. Our intellectual class, the self appointed socio political guardians of morality are stricken with self righteousness. I think most Indians are far more realistic about their position in the world, and therefore they’re branching out into the world on the strength of hard labor and their understanding of opportunities. They do far better than the government. And the government really mainly has nuisance value. I really enjoyed your lecture, Professor. 

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: I trust the Indian society to do good, not the government. 

Madhu Kishwar: I agree with you. So, we shouldn’t curse ourselves. We do well despite the government. We are one of the few countries where the government only and only has nuisance value. Actually, this is one sentence of Gandhi, which I still hold dear, which is that the only thing people need is to get the government off their backs. And we’ve never been a top governed society, which is what now we’ve been forced to become.

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: We are a self governed, self regulated society, actually. 

Madhu Kishwar: Thank you, Professor Vaidyanathan. Let’s take some comments now.

Rahul Bhatia: India should work towards making Tibet and Aksai Chin independent. Our foreign policy lacks this aspect.

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Making other countries independent is not going to work at all in this contemporary world.

Madhu Kishwar: What about Tibet? What should we do with Tibet?

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: In terms of civilizations, we are together. It would get sorted out by itself. We should start with a civilization based approach, not based upon antagonism.

Madhu Kishwar: If we were really interested in Tibet, the least we should have done is to promote Tibetan studies among Hindus. And to recover many millions of manuscripts that went into Tibet. Because all these scholars who came from China and Tibet, translated a lot of Sanskrit texts and we are not bothered to study them on our own. There’s not a single Tibetan studies department anywhere in India, and yet we seem to be interested in Tibet. If only China and Russia realize the Vedic history and connection of the Vedic ancestors, then Russia, China and India could form a Vedic power, what do you say to that?

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Yeah. In a sense, instead of talking about civilizational things, it is much more rooted in the sense of going back in Vedic times, which is similar actually. I’m telling you the desert cults are in decline. Both the desert cults which have dominated the world are going to have huge problems. We are just blabbering the 19th century philosophies of socialism, communism, capitalism, but all those are gone actually. Whether it is government owned or privately owned, a huge amount of big corporations are beginning to control the world. They dictate terms today. Even pharma companies.

Madhu Kishwar: Why is it that the Muslims never criticize China? 

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: People are afraid of China. It is such a big power. 

Madhu Kishwar: Do you envisage a possible confederation between India and China?

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Yes. And if it happens, it will end the desert cults. It will bring to an end what started in the deserts of Arabia. 

Madhu Kishwar: Why is China allowing churches to be set up there?

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Chinese church is a Chinese church only and it’s not dictated from the Vatican. We should have gone for an Indian church actually.

Madhu Kishwar: I don’t want to live in the shadow of Christianity or Islam. We’ve gone too far in the other direction. 

Dr. R. Vaidyanathan: Who should have the Chinese churches is decided by the Chinese government. They’re spiritually starved which we are not understanding at all.

Madhu Kishwar: Thank you for a very insightful analysis.

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