The Special Interest Group on Comparing Business in China and India held a guest lecture at IIM Indore on November 11, 2016. Mr. Shyam Saran, Ambassador, Former Foreign Secretary, Government of India was the speaker for the event. He gave an attention-grabbing talk on the theme, ‘Can India and China be Friends?’
Mr. Saran began his speech talking about why is it significant for all of us to understand what China is all about—its way of thinking, culture and language. ‘The one country which has the supreme impact geopolitically on India is China and it is important that more attention is paid towards actually understanding the country. India and China have some cultures which are similar, but yet there are major things on which both the countries differ a lot, and this needs to be paid more attention to’, he said.
Sharing his experience while in China, Mr. Saran noted that two major things one should learn about China is the language—which is full of various characters and not alphabets, and culture—which is quite stylized, visual and artistic. ‘Reading a Chinese article would require you to know at-least 3000 characters by heart, and if you are a scholar, you need to know at-least 5000 characters. Similarly, unlike India, everything in Chinese culture is recorded, history is in details and attention is paid to every little thing related to the past culture’, Mr. Saran mentioned.
Discussing about the relations of India with various countries, Mr. Saran noted that from time to time, India’s relations with various countries like Soviet Union, USA, Australia, Japan, etc. have changed since 1962. Similarly, China has also developed relations with some other countries and acted as a rival to India. But the emergence of China as a major power with economic stability and security capability, managing relations with China will be far more complex, he said. Discussing about some major gaps in both the countries, Mr. Saran noted that India’s GDP is around 2 trillion dollars and China’s is around 12 trillion dollars. Even if China’s growth rate decreases a bit, India might not be able to cope up with China. Hence, India may face a lot of pressure on the economic side as well.
‘You can’t deal with China by projecting it as an enemy. Successive government has tried to find the areas where India and China have some convergent interest and can work together. Domestic balancing will help us to develop our economy and military capabilities and external balancing will help us get closer with various other super powers like Japan and USA and manage security arrangements, to prevent China from unilateral expansion’, Mr. Saran said.
He concluded his speech mentioning that the current scenario including the USA elections may deeply affect the relations between the two countries as well; hence, China and India may not be friends, but they can work together in areas of mutual interest.
The lecture witnessed a lot of enthusiasm from the audience including students, staff and faculty; who asked many questions about India-China relations and the steps that can be taken by India to develop into a super power.