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Harmony in Diversity: Contributing Asian Wisdom to the World
发布时间:2019年05月21日  来源:China Daily  作者:  阅读:196

Swaran Singh 

Themed on “exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations and a community with a shared future,” the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) aims to enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges among Asian countries. India and China, two ancient, sizeable countries in Asia with a long history and rich culture, have previously played and are still playing an important role in the development of human civilization. On the sidelines of the conference, China Today interviewed Indian scholar Swaran Singh, an adjunct senior fellow at the Charhar Institute and a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, who shared his views on how China and India can dance to the same tune and contribute Asian Wisdom to the making of a truly shared future of mankind.

China Today: What do you think about Chinese and Indian civilizations and their mutual influence and exchanges? 
Swaran Singh: Much of the history of China-India interactions remains replete with their enduring intellectual exchanges, shared cultural heritage, and exchanges in precious commodities like silk, tea, and ceramics from China and fine cotton, muslin, and spices from India. These interactions were greatly facilitated by the evolution of the ancient Silk Road connecting these two and several other ancient civilizations. Indeed, several of the ancient Buddhist scriptures lost in India were later to be found in Chinese translations in various temples and archives. Even during their brief period of colonization -- that undermined their historic connections -- freedom fighters from both sides often assisted and encouraged each other in their liberation struggles. The last few decades of their rapid rise have opened new avenues of working together. Their annual bilateral trade volume was close to US $100 billion in 2018, and China's investments in India has been rising in recent years, especially in the power and telecommunication sectors. All these signify their expanding strategic cooperation partnership. 

China Today: India is also an important nation along the ancient Silk Road. What do you think about the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its role in improving regional interconnectivity? 
Swaran Singh: During the evolution and formation of ancient Silk Road, neither China nor India existed in their current state. The current revival of the Silk Road network in the BRI proposed by President Xi Jinping clearly reflects our current interpretations and imaginations. No doubt “connectivity” is both desirable and also inevitable for our shared future. But given that these economic corridors of the BRI involved multiple nations, it is natural that China has to ensure consultations towards exploring common denominators for effective consensus-driven decisions. 

China Today: Some media tend to use the terms Chinese Dragon and Indian Elephant when discussing bilateral relations. In your opinion, how can the two big countries seek common ground while reserving differences?
Swaran Singh: Symbols are always a critical part of expressions amongst enduring ancient civilizations. The symbol of the dragon and the elephant perhaps most aptly represent the national characters of China and India and ascribing such nomenclature facilitates their mutual understanding. More recently, the rapidly rising large societies of China and India can no longer ignore each other and their better coordination can help them accelerate their progressive initiatives. Both sides understand their challenges and have evolved several confidence-building conventions and mechanisms that have repeatedly managed their occasional frictions and standoffs ensuring that their differences are not allowed to become disputes. Their rise has also opened new avenues of cooperation at various regional and global forums. This is where both China and India often share their analysis and strategies in addressing multifaceted challenges. Indeed, their expanding multilateral interactions and working together has had a direct positive impact, enabling them to better manage various complications in bilateral ties. 

China Today: What are your expectations of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, as well as the sub-forum “Sharing Experience on Asian Governance”?
Swaran Singh: There has been too much media hype on growth rates and material transformation of China followed by India now. However, the contemporary relevance of their ancient wisdom remains far deeper and wider than these contemporary achievements, which are no doubt unprecedented. Sagas and stories of these two enduring sister civilizations can make far greater indelible marks and become catalysts for the peace and prosperity for our shred human future. Such efforts in reviving dialogues amongst Asian civilizations can help the economic and political resurgence of China and India to conciliate divergent pulls and pressures of rapid material transformation challenging their enduring norms and value systems. They can ensure that Asian wisdom becomes part of the evolving new structures and processes of global governance to make these both efficient as well as effective in delivering “public goods” for increasingly interconnected humanity.  

China Today: How do you think of the role of conference in promoting ideas and cultural exchanges among Asian countries? What’s your understanding of “Harmony in Diversity”?
Swaran Singh: Harmony and diversity have been the defining features of various conceptualizations of both Chinese and Indian civilizations. These carry enormous value for our contemporary world that, led by Western Christian civilizations, has focused far too much on individual competition and personal wealth. Asian civilizations have instead focused much on the family, community, and human duties that need to become an integral part of a shared human future. This conference can surely bring global focus on concepts of 'harmony and diversity' and ensure that these frames are duly debated and incorporated in global discourses.

China Today: What do you think is the most representative Oriental Wisdom nurtured by Asian civilizations?
Swaran Singh: Compassion has been perhaps the most enduring common precept of most Asian cultures reflected in Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. This has been variously articulated as harmony, non-violence, and brotherhood, fundamentally underlining the interconnection of our world. This also shows the abstract and spiritual focus of Asian civilizations that privileges the cognitive over the material and seeks to balance various forces and factors for prosperous human existence.

China Today: What’s the role of the Asian community in promoting a community with a shared future for mankind?

Swaran Singh: For several centuries, especially following European Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, ideas and practices of the world have remained dominated by Greco-Roman and Anglo-Saxon traditions. This may be partly due to the fact that large parts of human cultures, including most Asian civilizations, have stayed outliers if not as opponents to extant dominant discourses. The rise of China and India provides them a historic opportunity to collate and contribute Asian wisdom into the making of our truly shared future of mankind.

Copy Editor/Kang Sijun

Editor/Kang Sijun

Source: China Today, 2019-05-20

Original Link: http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/ctenglish/2018/hotspots/yzwm/1/201905/t20190520_800168618.html

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