Jun 09

India at the Shanghai World Expo and its significance in Sino-Indian Relations

In the midst of the concrete and steel jungle that is the Shanghai World Expo, stands the Indian Pavilion, the ‘greenest’ of them all, built entirely of environment-friendly materials, showcasing India’s unique brand of Culture, History and Soft Power and offering an unprecedented opportunity to further improve Sino-Indian relations

The Expo has finally come to China. A largely forgotten event in most parts of the world, it has been rejuvenated, on a scale in which no other country could even dream of. A record number of 192 countries and 50 organizations have registered, the highest in the Expo’s history. Most people hadn’t even heard of the expo before it came to China. The verdict is clear – The Expo needed China as much as China needed the Expo.

It has been described by the Chinese government as “a great gathering of world civilizations”,  and is an excellent opportunity to improve ties between two of the oldest – India and China.

The Indian pavilion

The Indian Pavilion is a massive stupa (pronounced stuup, with an slightly elongated u), resembling specifically the Sanchi Stupa built during the Maurya Dynasty (322-185 BC) by King Ashoka (pronounced  Ashok).

In what is one of the greatest examples the diversity and plurality of Indian history and culture, the dome is shaped like the Taj Mahal Mausoleum (which, commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and completed in 1653, is one of the seven wonders of the world) and the inspiration of its design comes from the Sanchi Stupa (which was completed in the third century BCE and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

As the world moves towards urbanization, the idea behind the Indian pavilion successfully blends the concepts of sustainable ecological development with modern technology and town planning – which is accentuated by the theme – Cities of Harmony.

And what better model than ancient India, where the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 BCE), whose cities, most notably – Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro, reached a level of urban planning and technological sophistication which was unparalleled during the time. As a matter of fact, the sheer brilliance and superiority of those prehistoric cities would put Mumbai to shame, whose streets flood every couple of years due to heavy rains and poor town planning coupled with inefficient drainage systems, not to mention 55% of the city’s population living in slums! (In the words of India’s Environment and Forests Minister, Jairam Ramesh, if there is a Noble Prize for filth, India will win it!)

The Indian Pavilion is built entirely of bamboo and other environment friendly materials like solar panels, windmills,  plants, water cascade and earthen tiles; and is the ‘greenest’ and most eco-friendly pavilion at the expo. Over 60,000 saplings, including many herbal medicinal plants, have been used in the roofing panels of the pavilion, which also collect rainwater for use in the pavilion. Over 30 kms of bamboo (which came from eastern Chinese forests) has gone into its construction. It is in fact the world’s largest Bamboo Dome – 35 meters wide and 18 meters tall, and contains an interlaced network of more than 500 pieces of 20 meter-length rods of bamboo. Completely rewriting China’s architecture rulebook, it will be spared demolition unlike the other pavilions (excluding China’s), dismantled and then reconstructed in Wushi, Zhejiang Province. The Indian architects had to prepare the first ever bamboo construction plans and code and then get the Chinese to approve it before proceeding.

According to the official website:

The concept and theme of India Pavilion will revolve around journey of Indian cities from ancient times to medieval period to modern India. This journey is full of glorious peaks and downs in the medieval period. The concept of urban planning was known to India as back as the times of Mohan Jo daro and Hadappa (dating back to 2000-3000 B.C. Circa), the twin cities that were discovered by British archaeologists. These cities had well laid out streets at right angles, underground drainage and water supply system with common public areas.

As urban life spread among Indian people, we find cities with specific sectors, which were known as Mohallahs, where people belonging to a specific guild or trade used to live, such as, Kapda Bazaar (cloth market) where textile merchants had their shops and living quarters; Sarafa Bazaar (jewelery market) where all jewellers had their shops and living quarters, Katras (grain and eatables market) and so on. New urban centres were set up by Mughal emperors spanning throughout India based on specialized trade and services on the lines of modern Special Economic Zones, e.g., Varanasi became known for silk and silk embroidery; Mysore for special silk and sandlewood work; Calicut for muslin cloth and jewelery; Moradabad for brassware; Aligarh for locks; Agra for footwear and marble works etc. During the medieval period also, ambitious kings planned ambitious cities, such as, Jaipur, which was laid in a very scientific manner with entire city being painted in one colour for which it is still known as ‘Pink City’.

The highlights of the pavilion include the ‘Tree of Life’ carving by the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad, a ‘Zero-Chemical Area’, which displays many energy efficient technologies, a traditional ‘Indian Market’ or Bazaar, and a Holographic projection showcasing India’s evolution from the Indus Valley days to modern times.

And in the Urban Best practices Area (UBPA), which offers a platform for different countries to propose their solutions to the urban issues from different perspectives, two role models from India — one from Ahmedabad and the other from Pondicherry — are being showcased with 34 others as experiments in improving urban life. The Ahmedabad initiative is focused on clean and green economic development, while Pondicherry focuses on heritage preservation along with economic growth.

The Indian pavilion also features authentic Indian cuisine, Indian cultural programmes, including dances (some of which are so diverse and different from the others that I’m quite sure some people will wonder whether they are from the same country!), and of course – India’s latest soft power export – Bollywood. The organizers have roped in 50 performers, backed by a team of film technicians and choreographers to act out 40 years of classic moments in Indian cinema. And Yoga (pronounced Yog) – the single most popular aspect of Indian culture and soft power abroad – is also on the cards.

Where’s India’s other achievement?

While all this should certainly be applauded, what is surprising is that a presentation of the other aspect that India is known for around the word – its IT prowess – is nowhere to be seen. A combination of culture, environment friendly urban planning and India’s IT and software industry prowess would have been a great and unique combination. Not to mention the fact that this is one of the few advantages which India has over China.

Strengthening  Sino – Indian Relations

As the two most populous countries in the world and rising powers, India and China have a responsibility to maintain healthy relations, not only towards themselves but also towards the whole world. And the expo offers an excellent opportunity for India to increase the people-to-people contact between these two countries and awareness about Indian culture in China.

The India pavilion has become one of the most popular spots at the expo with an average of 25,000 visitors every day.

The huge line of visitors queued up to get inside the Indian pavilion as seen above speaks for itself.

Many countries are increasingly realizing that Soft Power can be a very effective tool for increasing their influence, especially countries with rich histories and cultures like India and China. They have a lot to export in that direction; and can use Soft Power very effectively to project an image. Pavan Varma, the head of the Indian Council on Cultural Relations, has argued that “Culturally, India is a superpower.”

Unlike China, India has lacked the initiative and aggression to effectively use Soft Power as an instrument of Foreign Policy.  For example, while the Chinese government has established 295 Confucius Institutes in 78 countries, the Indian Equivalent – Indian Cultural Institutes – number only 20. Most of India’s Soft Power abroad is promulgated through private individuals and enterprises, like Bollywood, and the so-called ‘Indian Gurus’, like Deepak Chopra.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries. In China, interest in Indian culture and History is on the rise. The Indian President, Pratibha Patil, on a recent visit to China, unveiled the first Indian Style Buddhist Temple in Luoyang in Henan province after a gap of 1900 years, when two Indian monks Kashyapamatanga and Dharmaratna helped establish the first Buddhist shrine. This temple was at the same site as the White Horse Temple, built in 68 AD, the first Buddhist Temple in China,  and is  part of an India-China Cultural cooperation initiative. She also unveiled a statue of poet and Nobel Laurate Rabindranath Tagore in the heart of old-town Shanghai, which the poet visited in the 1920s and left a strong influence on a whole generation of Chinese intellectuals and writers.

Tourism is another important aspect which has been neglected. In 2008, Chinese arrivals to India made up less than 2 per cent of the total number of foreign travelers. India’s lack of adequate infrastructure, a lack of awareness about Indian Tourism among common Chinese are just two of the many problems which are at the heart of the asymmetrical tourist flow. With China slated to become the  world’s fourth-largest source of outbound tourists by 2020, it is a market which India, like any other country, cannot afford to take lightly.

Hence, the Shanghai World Expo becomes all the more important and it is an opportunity that simply could not be ignored. The Indian government has taken an unprecedented advantage of this situation, by not only showcasing India’s Soft Power through its unique culture and history, but also various green initiatives coupled with technology and urban planning, a pavilion built entirely with environment friendly materials and with zero carbon emissions which is a welcome change amidst the steel and concrete jungle of the expo – an endeavor which has the potential to drastically alter the course of Sino-Indian Relations like no other.

(Maitreya blogs at India’s China Blog. Original article available here)

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30 Responses to “India at the Shanghai World Expo and its significance in Sino-Indian Relations”

  1. TonyP4 Says:

    It is a good article well written. It promotes better relationship between nations such as China and India – similar theme for the Expo. I do not know why the ancient civilizations eventually decline from the glorious days. It could be population growth, extracting all the precious minerals, Newton’s law of gravity (what goes up must come down, haha). India also invented numbers, not Arabs. Martial arts in China and the rest of Asia could be from Yoga initially. What we learn is that if we do not improve, we’ll be left behind. With the hard working and intelligence of the citizens in these two nations, we’ll rise up again. The question is not why but when.

    The big difference in the two nations: China unified the written language about 200 BC by the first emperor of China. India is too hot for tourists except in the winter time while China has different climates for different regions of the country. China controls its population growth better. CCP controls monster projects better than the democratic India. Indians are more relaxed than China’s urban folks. Chinese cities are more developed. The gap between the rich and poor is less in China.

  2. No99 Says:

    I think the best analogy for India is that it represents the power of human conscience. I’ve read a lot about its influence in everything, languages, religion (the big three of the bible were affected), mathematics, everything. All of South Asia, not just the country of India. Like China, nowadays, I also can not think of any field in the world that doesn’t have one Indian national contributing to it. So, I accept with much confidence that statement of culturally, India is a superpower.

  3. hotmoney Says:

    “India is a superpower” ? Not so quick even though this has been a wish and aspiration by India elites and politicians. On the geo-political side, it won’t take any shape until India’s elites and politicians realize what it’s true national interests are. On other fronts, India’s per-capita GDP has a way to go, and India is rarely known to influence the modern world on things of significance.

    Let’s just say it is a particular dangerous game for India folks to play as a “super-power”, while it does not have anything to offer to the world, except belly-wood, yoga and IT outsourcing ? Learning to be patient is difficult, and blind faith and anxiety can lead you to a path of self-destruction … time for yoga and mediation, India folks!

  4. No99 Says:

    Hi hotmoney

    I think if you read carefully, they are talking about superpower in symbolic and historical terms.

    However, I do understand your point about the dream for “superpower” status as we associate that term today.

  5. kui Says:

    Maitreya Bhakal

    Strengthening Sino-Indian relations is a win-win situation for both nations. Pls accept my respect to your civilization and Indian people. And thank you for this nice post.

  6. Maitreya Bhakal Says:

    Thanks for commenting everyone.

    The point about why exactly civilizations collapse is indeed quite important and interesting. It could due to internal factors, or through foreign domination. However, a ‘civilization’ is not solely determined by those in power, but by the way of living of the people too, and it is nearly impossible to ‘destroy’ that, regardless of internal decay or foreign conquest. For example, the original Indian way of life was not destroyed by Islamic or British conquest and colonization, and nor was the Chinese way of life destroyed by Mongol conquest – they were ASSIMILATED in the local culture and civilization.

    India invented the concept of ‘zero’ or ‘nothing’, which was then transmitted by the Arabs to Europe.

    Martial Arts were practiced by Chinese monks even before the arrival of Buddhism and Buddhist monks, particularly, Boddhisatva. The current ‘martial arts’ as we know it is in fact Chinese, with some ‘Indian characteristics’, if you will – A blend of Chinese and Indian self defense techniques.

    You are partly right. In fact, ancient Hindu scriptures, particularly the Upanishads, dwell upon topics of such philosophical importance and sophistication that modern scientists and Philosophers are debating them even today. The concept of ‘atom’, or the smallest indivisible part of matter was originally proposed in the Upanishads

    The Indian government has only recently taken steps to increase India’s Soft Power abroad. Whereas China (which is also a cultural superpower) realized this quite early – For example, Deng Xiaoping put forward the plan to host the olympics in 1990. China bid unsuccessfully for 2000, but won with an absolute majority for 2008. The Chinese government knows that hosting major international events is an important part of the whole strategy of creating an image (in fact, it even takes ‘minor’ events and then makes them ‘major’, like the expo).
    The Indian government is also slowly realizing this, and is hosting the commonwealth games this year.

    As No99 mentioned, nobody is saying that India is a superpower. It is a cultural superpower, i.e. in terms of Soft Power.

    Your most Welcome. I agree with you that both countries are going to benefit a lot from such cultural exchanges.

  7. TonyP4 Says:

    The ancient civilizations ‘decline’, not ‘collapse’. The invaders have no choice but assimilate for surviving country they conquer that outnumbers them. They still maintain their own tradition and keep the top jobs esp. in military posts.

    There are contacts before the famous Tang monk who went to India. His translated scripts are well-kept and they are translated back to Hindu. It was used to discover at least one ancient city and served well for historical knowledge.

  8. No99 Says:

    I’ve always felt that the way most people view history is kind of limited, especially regarding the more complex societies. With all due respect, these places didn’t really fell behind, stagnated or became complacent. More like, they just kept going at the same pace. Until the last century, no one, not even the develop countries, really progress at the fast rate we’re all used to. Nor was there an “extreme” amount of difference between daily life until the last 13 decades either.

    However, I can say that until the last 60 years, and only in certain places…unless one was wealthy, powerful or connected with powerful people, life was very poor and cruel for the average person anywhere you go.

  9. Maitreya Bhakal Says:

    I would put it this way – they start declining, and then they sometimes eventually collapse. It depends on which way you choose to look at it.

    The Indus Valley Civilization, has ‘collapsed’ in the sense that the script has not yet been deciphered (No Rosseta stone equivalent has been found), no one knows how the cities were suddenly abandoned (as archeological evidence shows), no one yet knows where those people came from, and no one knows the purpose of the arched columned buildings found in the cities, just to give a few examples. Some even say that it might have been a massive earthquake. Hence, the fact that civilizations ‘decline’ should come as no surprise – it’s nothing knew and has happened throughout history. But when they completely ‘collapse’, suddenly or slowly, then that’s unusual.
    However, as I said earlier, ‘civilization’ means not only those in power, but the common people and their way of living. And there are very few cases documented where that has been wiped out. There have, however been many cases where different cultures were assimilated into one another.

  10. No99 Says:

    Hi Maitreya Bhakal,

    Places that completely collapse are interesting cases. Some of the theories I’m aware of are environmental changes, total war, and disease. Well, they shouldn’t be much of a surprise either if it was due to those reasons why the places collapse. Your assimilation case is another point I find intriguing. I’m sometimes wonder if India (all of South Asia perhaps) was a sanctuary for a lot of other cultures and religions. It is extremely diverse and given the relations and distance it was from other places, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people migrated there to escape persecution or other problems. For instance, when the Muslims were expanding their rule, and way back in the past when the Greeks and Romans spread their influence and authority, a lot of these religions and groups resistance to those empires would have face total destruction. I know South Asia had its own issues as well, but the pluralism I see would appear to have been open enough to take in different people. For the adamant idol worshippers and anti-hellenist or anti-Romans, I could see that India would be the place to go, relatively speaking.

    By the way, when did sanskrit appear? I’m not an expert, but I always assume it was old enough to have appear during the early communities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Considering that most of the world’s languages are strongly related, with India (and Persia) being the mother of it all (an analogy I read).

  11. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi folks,

    I have a hard time to classify Indus as ancient civilization without a language.

    There are two major languages: Latin and Chinese. Indian could be closer to Latin. India is a sub continent. It was pretty isolated from the rest of the world. There are too many regions within India that have its own culture and language. From my reasoning, India was part of Europe. When it broke away, the facial features and the genes still maintained. If you put some white folks under the equator for thousands of years, they would look like Indian. My dumb theory.

    Last 30 years is great for China, about 20% of the world population.

  12. Wukailong Says:

    Two major languages?! There’s so much written in Sanskrit that it can rival both Chinese and Latin. And what about Greek?

  13. No99 Says:

    Apologies for comment #8 I made. I shouldn’t have said “he way most people view history is kind of limited”. That’s belittling. A more accurate phrase would be “people have a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about history”. I have to keep reminding myself on making my words as clear as possible since there’s no way you all can read minds on the internet.

    For comments, 11 and 12. I was going to add in the Semitic languages, like Arabic, as being another major language.

  14. No99 Says:

    Hi TonyP4,

    I thought about the comment you made. What I’ve learned is to not take the social construct of race too seriously. In South Asia, there are a lot of people who have similar features to Chinese, typical East Asian features who are actual locals and not from any East/Southeast Asian population. I had a Nepalese classmate who was like that but both of her parents looked Indian, Pujabi. Actually, people throughout all of Asia and any surrounding parts are like that. A light-skin Caucasian couple, both with blue eyes and blond hair, can have a child that looks Chinese and vice versa. From what I know so far, something around 1 in 5 non-immigrant Europeans, who lived in Europe for several generations, have very close links with the communities in the Middle East. Not too long ago, they had a recent ancestor from that region. In the Middle East, from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, the facial features of people are very diverse (almost like the US), yet they all are part of the same identity. There are Chinese who have Persian ancestry, yet people can not tell because it’s been quite a while.

    Biology is kind of interesting in that way.

  15. Maitreya Bhakal Says:

    @TonyP4: As I said earlier, the Indus script HAS NOT BEEN DECIPHERED yet. It’s not that it didn’t have a script, its just we don’t yet know what it was.

    @No99: (#10), TonyP4,

    The Indian subcontinent has indeed been a sanctuary of sorts. For example, the Zoroastrians came to India fleeing Muslim invasions.
    The major fact is, that since India’s northwestern border is ‘open’, the subcontinent has always been ripe from invasion.

    The reason why the disappearance of the IVC is surprising is that there have been very few such recorded cases in history, as opposed to a dynasty collapsing simply due to foreign invasion or internal decay, which has been quite common throughout history. And without knowing the script, it becomes quite difficult to know anything about the civilization or its collapse in detail.

    The language of the IVC is certainly is not even remotely related to Sanskrit. There is a theory that the Aryans came to India and brought the Sanskrit language with them. Sanskrit and Latin belong to the same (Indo-European) language group; and according to this theory, the Aryans, who were originally settled around the Caucasus (hence the name ‘Caucasian’), split into two groups. One made its way to India and the other to towards Europe, establishing what we now call the Greek civilization. This theory explains the numerous similarities between Hindu mythology and Greek mythology.

    Another theory is that their was no such migration, and that Hindu culture arose from the IVC itself. Yet another (but not necessarily mutually exclusive) theory is that the Dravidian race already existed (primarily) in South India before the Aryans arrived, and Hindu culture was a mixture of these two cultures. Their language groups are also vastly different.

    But at this stage there is no conclusive evidence to prove either theory right or wrong. In India, this topic remains controversial to this day.

  16. TonyP4 Says:

    To me, there are still two major ancient languages that have strong influences today like most European languages are based on Latin and most Eastern Asian languages are based on Chinese. The two are used by a good portion of the world population except both Korea and Japan change their languages in recent history. Hindu and its ancestor language could be the third language. However, what is the percentage of today’s Indians speak English (vs Hindu)? Debatable and I’m no language expert.

    I wrote some about the Eskimos and Red Indians have Chinese genes (same as Mongolian genes). They have evidence these folks walked across the frozen BerIng Sea from Siberia, where the same genes are found. Chinese or Mongolian could be the first settlers in Siberia.

    The Mongolians settled down in East Europe after the conquer and it could contribute the Asian genes to that area. From 300 or so years ago, Chinese did not move outside China that much. They moved to the west and south most likely due to wars and natural disasters. Taiwan has the best mix of Chinese from many different regions.

  17. No99 Says:

    I’m not a language expert as well, but from what I’m aware of, a lot of the Asian languages are pretty diverse. Chinese would be quite influential and you can sense some of it, especially in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese, but for the rest of them ,it is quite different. The other Southeast Asian languages have loan words from Chinese dialects but not to the point of actual influences that the above three I mentioned.

  18. Rhan Says:

    Just curious, why we always say Chinese [language] while many other language have an unique name. Why not we use term like Mandarin or HanYu? There is no unify Indian [language], would this hinder the development of India with the many diverse language? English is the solution?

    Sanskrit have a great influence toward language in South East Asia. I think Chinese language influential is limited to region next to it, unlike Sanskrit that travel across continents.

  19. TonyP4 Says:

    I bet the development will be hindered with more than one language. However, India is so big, so if you treat it as several countries and each has its own language, it may not hinder that much. If you make a movie in a certain language in India, would you need to translate to another language for another region with different spoken language.

    Canada is a good example. Quebec’s language is French. They need to translate all official documents into two languages. It is not efficient even with today’s language translator. The landlocked province has talked about independence because of different culture and language for a while without success.

    Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language based on Bejing dialect. The written language is Chinese and is same among regions in general thanks to the first emperor unifying it 2200 or so years ago. Each region has its own dialect with some similar to Mandarin but some quite different.

  20. No99 Says:

    My relative and her friend got very frustrated going to the Expo. Almost got into a physical fight.

    I’ve heard that the fastest way to get people interested in different cultures is through food. Indian cuisine is decent in my opinion. I only had a some dishes, a few of them that are actually authentic by Indian (Tamil if that is important) standards. For some reason, I’ve eaten a lot of sweets. Out of almost every subject, art-history-entertainment-etc. I get the point that food to Chinese is like Honey to bees. Live for it and almost instantly attracted by a small scent.

  21. Justin Says:

    Unfortunately India’s perception of China is still warped by some skewed beliefs. One popular and almost universal one amongst Indians is that, India in China’s early days of need extended a helping hand only to have it slapped away. This is the so called Nehruvian betrayal. Nehru famously created the slogan China-India brothers brothers in the very early days of the PRC but this friendship was seen to have been betrayed by a ungracious China who started a aggressive war in 1962 (the Sino-Indian war). India also claimed that it passed up a seat at the security council in protest for the PRC exclusion. These claims are unfounded and no one outside of India gives them much creedance. American military histories place the cause of the war pretty squarely on India’s nationalistic surge after the Goa annexation and its “forward policy” of occupying land outside of the old british boundaries. Also there is no mention anywhere that India turned down an offer for the UNSC (it was not a victor state in WWII). Yet Indians largely still hold these to be self-evident truths and journalists still invoke them regularly in writing about China.

    from the popular indian site rediff. “Nehru’s legacy India the Lamb state”

    “India is the only known country in modern history to have repeatedly cried betrayal, not by friends but by adversaries in whom it had reposed trust” (ie China)

    “Reflecting India’s decline in its own eyes, however, while one ‘betrayal’ in 1962 hastened the death of Jawaharlal Nehru” (ie the 1962 sino-indian war)

    Until these myth are largely dispelled from Indian society, I’m afraid India will always look upon the relationship with an Jaundiced eye. – though some Indian academics (very small %) are calling for a balanced re-examination (Laying the ghost of the India-China war By Sultan Shahin) –

    you can find an american history of the 1962 conflict at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/indo-prc_1962.htm

    and Dr Shahins article http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/DK01Df04.html

  22. No99 Says:

    I’m kind of wondering for any Indians or anyone else reading this…

    Is there an Indian or South Asian-centric view of the world?

    There’s eurocentric and sinocentric versions, and I’m also familiar with Judeo-Islamic and Near Eastern-centric viewpoints (the last two has more than enough to overwhelm the first two by 10-fold, and I’m only partially exaggerating). I’ve read that the only thing comparable for the Indian subcontinent is how Dharmic other places are.

    Each one of these centric viewpoints have their issues, but in a way, they do balance out each other. It would be interesting to know how Indians look at it.

  23. Buru Says:

    Indian achievements?

    Take a look at this video to find out the gap between what this pavilion projects, and the harsh truth:


    I would say, the only true achievement for India is that this video is available on the net, whereas a similar video from China will prob never see the light of day.

  24. Tanmay Says:

    You cannot discount achievements by bringing up failures to counterbalance them.
    On this premise you can say that the fact that a person gets a nobel prize is not an achievement if he does not have a successful marriage.
    In this context the Pavilion projects the best of the Indian efforts. These are achievements!
    On the other hand there are several problems in India. These are failures.
    The two do not cancel each other!

    Sorry but could you explain yourself better? Do you want a Indo-centric viewpoint with respect to the politic situation in the world, the religious or economic or on all these?
    I am willing to write more on this topic but just want to clarify what it is that you want to know exactly.

    No offense but the name of the language in your post is “HINDI” not hindu.
    Hindi was never very popular in the southern part of India comprising of 4 Indian states with roughly 20% of the Indian population so I will discount those while answering your question. However I go to south India quite often and most people (say 90% even) speak pretty fluent Hindi now.
    So, to answer your question almost all Indians who speak English also speak Hindi. It is our national language for a reason.
    And if you made a movie in Hindi you wouldnt need to translate it to another language in most parts of India.

    Much has been made of the fact that, English is taking over as the ‘Lingua Franca’ in India but alas (and yes I regret this) the number of people in India who speak English fluently is much less than perceived. Hindi on the other hand is most times the common language used when Indians with different mother tongues Interact.

    Take me for example, My mother tongue is Marathi. So from Childhood I have spoken Marathi at home, English at school and Hindi with my friends. So I speak three languages fluently.
    This is not at all uncommon in India.

    Unfortunately I do not understand when you say that the two major language groups in the world are Latin and Chinese. As far as I know the Indo-European Language group is among the biggest in the world. Langauges from this group are spoken by over 1.7 Billion people and Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages from this group which is still alive today.

    Yes, Sadly it is a fact that Indians have a betrayal complex. An even bigger problem is that this betrayal complex arises out of an Indian need to portray themselves as the ‘nice guys’.
    India wants to be a friend to everyone, even when we are not wanted as friends and when our offer of friendship is spurned, it seems to us that we were betrayed.

    No I do not think that the development of India will be hampered by differences in Language. Linguistic differences are only a reflection of the vast cultural differences in India. They are present at all places where they were not forcibly wiped out.
    Look at the European Union today. It has over 20 languages and yet Europe as a whole has developed much more Economically after it became the European Union.
    What I said might prove TonyP4’s point that if the Indian States are taken to be separate countries then progress might be achieved but the problem is that India doesn’t have 20 Languages or 80; In India the language changes every one and a half kilometre. When I mean the language changes, I mean the grammer, the vocabulary and the pronunciation. With a country the size of India imagine how many languages that comes to.
    If you divide these up even to make states it would mean thousands of tiny, tiny states. In short Chaos!

  25. buru Says:


    I was just using a sarcastic tone of voice..you need not take it literally .Sarcastic in that the discrepancy between regions is too wide a gap to be filled in by ‘democracy’ ‘IT’ ‘ Hindi’ or any such mumbo-jumbo …the latest manifestation of this being Maoisms rise.

    Europe became developed before EU, pl dont misinterpret it.In fact its a model for India..divide and prosper, when the time comes you can always re-unite.The cacophony called India is an unwieldy behemoth in my opinion.

  26. Tanmay Says:

    “The cacophony called India is an unwieldy behemoth in my opinion.”

    The problem however is that with the Inherent Instability in the Indian Subcontinent the divide and prosper route wont work.
    Nor will a false sense of achievement like most Indians have help.

  27. No99 Says:

    I guess in all matters, culturally, historically, economically, etc. Everyone knows about the Eurocentric view or Western centric view….where modernity is often associated with Western civilization. The Sino-centric view is slightly different…seeing that it too contributed just as much as the West or feeling superior to everyone else, wanting others to acknowledge their image, etc.

    It’s not 100% right and full of different biases, however, sometimes those views balanced out each other. I’ve been reading about the Islamic world as well as Jewish history in how they view the world…how it contributed to mankind, etc. That kind of fill in a lot of holes I found with Euro-centrism. Such as how many ideas don’t quite make sense, why is Western culture seem to be in conflict with some of the ideas (usually religious, but not necessary) that the world seems to associate with the West. I kind of figure that it wasn’t originally Western but imported from elsewhere, and made more sense from that source.

    I guess what I should start off with is, how do Indians view themselves in the world. Maybe it’s too general but I would appreciate any information.

  28. Tanmay Says:

    @NO99:Okay got that!

    To be frank most Indians do not think about India in Global terms. The people you see talking on these forums (by these forums I do mean the saner forums not the rave and rant variety) are well educated people who are well off enough to think about such things and to get enough exposure to be able to express themselves intelligently.
    I’ll confine my reply to how these Indians view themselves in the world.

    All right lets start with how the Indian People view themselves as compared to the Western World –
    Lets start with a fact which though not liked by most Indians is still very much a part of their psyche: An inherent inferiority complex about themselves as compared to the “White” populations around the world.
    (Please understand that I am not being racist here.)
    This inferiority complex originates from being ruled and treated as a inferior people for a couple of hundred years.
    Unfortunately the result of this Inferiority complex is reflected in the creation of a mindset where even achievements by Individual Indians or small (In the context of the development of the nation as a whole) by the Indian Government are seen by the people as being evidence of Indian dominance in world matters.
    But on the whole the average Indian knows that India lags behind most western countries in development on the whole.

    About the Indian Subcontinent:
    Most Indians feel that India is much better off than almost any other country in the Indian Subcontinent (Composed of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan).

    About China:
    Most Indians view the Chinese as competitors of India for regional and maybe eventually global dominance. They think that they are better off than chinese people in terms of having more Independence.
    Unfortunately due to the fact that it is very difficult to obtain information about the average chinese person, there is also the misconception that china is like the previous soviet union, i.e very less actual development but enough to show off to visitors and enough to propagandize their developmental efforts.
    (I say misconception because after a lot of digging and talking to people who have actually been to china I find that this is not true).

    This is a very complex topic and needs better treatment. Perhaps a good and rational writer like maitreya could address it in an article.

    In the meantime if there is anything specific you want to know please ask me!

  29. No99 Says:

    Hi Tanmay,

    I see what you are saying. I can empathize with the inferiority complex because so many peoples around the world feel the same way. It does happen in various degrees and of course depends on the status of the individual. Even after visits and talks, I still am not sure to what degree of the inferiority complex the average Chinese person has. I see some of it yet I don’t. A few individuals (Chinese nationals not overseas) kind of have some issues though.

    I don’t know if Indians also feel this way, but sometimes I get the sense that a lot of Chinese people (from China) don’t really have that being part of the bigger world complex. Being one part of many. Maybe due the history of being all there is under heaven type of conditioning, my guess. There’s a lot of talk of it, but it’s like everyone just looks out for themselves and think in their own world. Worry about their own specific interests. If there is any meaningful idea about China or Chinese at a whole, it probably would linger on the usual nationalistic sentiments.

    I do interact a lot with non-resident Indians and sometimes I wish they don’t look down at themselves that way. I can see and understand a little bit of what you describe. There are some issues which are common to all peoples, whether it’s the general population or part of a diaspora. Then there are the unique ones, like your history of colonialism and race. However, I am confident to say without the ideas and work by many individuals of Indian heritage, all the good, positives and prosperity in this world wouldn’t have been possible. You all truly made enough contributions to mankind to rival everyone; Westerners, Chinese, Arabs, Jews, Persians, etc. Just my humble opinion.

  30. Tanmay Says:

    If you look at the common Indian man, maybe all he thinks of is surviving and his day to day life. However I am sure that except for the poorest of the poor (who go to sleep hungry), every Indian is very much aware of being a part of the world.

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