India Spurns “Belt and Road Forum for International Corporation”

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In response to China invitation to the above named conference to be held in Beijing on May 14-15, 2015, the Ministry of External Affairs of India stated that “India has been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on OBOR. Awaiting a positive response from China.” According to India’s ieNATION, an India’s online news, “India has made its objection to the OBOR quite evident on the basis of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), one of the sharpest criticism was made by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar in January this year. He had said China has not been sensitive about India’s sovereignty and did not consult New Delhi on its US$ 54 billion project with Pakistan, referring to the CPEC.”

By implication, India not only turned down China’s invitation, it spurns it.

As someone whose birthplace is India and with profound respect and deep affection for India, I cannot but feel a tinge of sadness for this Indian reaction.

I can understand, even appreciate India’s deep geopolitical concern about CPEC. Yet, to tie its CPEC concern which is a temporal one with the Beijing conference invitation to discuss a far reaching and grand global effort for world peace seems to me stretching its concern disproportionately.

India is a nation endowed with great and visionary leaders, such as Gandhi. The first and second Asian Nobel laureates, Tagore in literature in 1911 and Ramen in physics in 1930 were Indians. It is worth noting that Raman was ahead of the next few Asian physics laureates, Yukawa of Japan by 19 years and Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang by 27 years! Today, many top universities’ presidents and massive multinational corporations’ leaders, i.e. Presidents and CEOs, are Indians. Even one of the major characters in the US sitcom Big Bang Theory is an Indian! Indeed, India’s scientific, technological and entrepreneurial global leadership stand on firm ground.

In short, India is a great nation.

It is equally worth noting that India and China are both well-endowed with human resources. With China’s 1.4 billion people and India’s 1.2 billion people, together they are 40% humanity. Indians and Chinese are people with rich history and cultures, and consider education supreme. Today, both nations are “talk of the town” of the world.

India and China had many obvious and undercurrent conflicts. Yet, both are nations of tremendous intellectual and humanistic strengths. Today, both are Asia’s giants. In inviting India to attend the conference in Beijing, China is demonstrating its desire to work with India in the Belt and Road Initiative. While CPEC may appear to be a matter of some current concern, but for Asia’s and humanity’s future, and the fact that for millennium these two great nations existed peacefully, I am convinced that it is a short and containable one from India’s point of view.

In discussing India and China, I am reminded by the far reaching words of the Chairman of Reserve Bank of India, where he succinctly stated “China should be seen as inspiration and not competition; India could reach there in 10 years!” Yes indeed, 10 years is a mere flick of time!

The fundamental hallmark of great nation is measured not by its power, but by its magnanimity. With this in mind, it is my earnest hope that these two great nations can stand on far higher ground to seek at what together they can accomplish for humanity in the 21st century.