‘A journey begins with a single step” (Chinese proverb)- this step was taken at the “China India Inter-cultural Dialogue” organized by “Alliance21” on 18th January during World Social Forum in Goregaon, Mumbai. It is a part of the project ‘Alliance for a Responsible, United and Plural World’ initiated by ‘Alliance21’ only.
India is too ‘obsessed’ with its western boarder, at sometimes the northern border, which has been neglected since Nehru’s times, should be given consideration. The dialogue was a perfect platform to initiate such step between the People’s Republic of China and the people of India.
The seminar was headed by Gustavo Martin, Zhao Yifeng, Makarand Paranjape, Siddhartha. These are the personalities who initiated the dialogue in May 2000, during the World Summit in Versailles. At the inter-personal level things were extremely friendly and cordial. With delegates from both the countries exchanging their warm experiences, admiring each other’s cultural heritage and recent developments, and trying to know much more.
One attendant suggested that people of the border areas should be provided a more fearless atmosphere. But the boarder is hardly inhabitable. Even, regarding the suggestion, if the boarder is not tightly controlled, it will raise more worrying consequences. There is a need of a space to be prepared for direct communication between the two countries, not what the press says.
Gustavo Martin, the Chilean born French writer who also has made video films on his China visits, called the initiative not only a dialogue but also a workshop for exchanging civic sense between the two countries. He spoke about the need of the union of the two countries for a strong regional alliance for peace and harmony. Both countries, if work together in fields of information technology, agriculture and education, can do more wonders. Chen JiaYing urged for the need of the betterment of health, family system and agriculture.
China and India are two of the biggest territories, which are rapidly following the ‘modernization’ process of the West. Being modern is right, but on what stake? Aping the West and forgetting their own civilization and culture, is not a good sign. The youth of both these countries need to be taught that being modern is not blindly following the Western culture and lifestyle.
The dialogue was made live by the active and enthusiastic participation of local Maharashtrian group ‘Hema’s group’, who shared its experience with that of the Guy Poitevin’s Chinese group, which works at Pune. At the end of the workshop the local Pune group sang a Marathi group song that celebrates the harmony and joy of togetherness.
Disarmament was one of the main themes of World Social Forum. Leaders and participants in most of the activities were protesting against the Sidd Setram, a Maharashtrian local said that as a schoolboy he had read about the war between India and China. But he never felt the animosity when he met and worked with the Chinese team. “War always take place between Governments, not between the people” But ironically it is the poor and common ignorant people from both the sides that suffer its consequences. People are never interested in war. It shows how people from both sides abhor war, be it of any nature.
Both China and India have had a rich tradition of literature. Both the countries have produced Nobel Prize laureates. Chinese Diaspora is widely gaining importance.
Translation is one field much is required to be done- the translations of Chinese books into Indian languages and vice versa, will Today when, our writers and scientists, IITians are migrating to the US and other European countries, the need is to provide them proper facilities and opportunities.
Miss Parul, a student, made a point about the objectification of women in commercial advertisement showing them in undignified positions, in the name of modernization. Even stereotyping Chinese and Indian people in ridiculous manner in popular Cinema also should be stopped.
The problems related to labor and unemployment was also discussed. There is a dearth of groups working for landless peasants in china. Unlike India, there are not many NGOs and other individuals working in this direction. One attendant suggested the idea of a common unified currency for the region like European Union, needless to say that is something very innocent and unthinkable at this point.
China has done great progress in technology and machinery especially auto- products and homemakers. The concern about the fall in the sale of Indian products due to the invasion of Chinese products that are cheap was also brought out.
Yes it affects the Indian goods to a certain extent, but it can be a blessing in disguise because, when there is a competition, Indian manufactures are forced to do a better job in providing reliable and affordable prices.
Overall World Social Forum was a perfect pad to organize such activity. It was one step further in enhancing the mutual understanding between Chinese and Indian peoples concerning their civilizations, cultures, as well as historical and social challenges. It is good news that India’s bilateral relations with Pakistan with are once again improving, and we can hope China is also coming closer in sharing mutual respect and work for a better world. To sum up the workshop in one phrase in Nelson Mandela’s famous words “Let the voices of all the people be heard”.