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IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF XUANZANG: TAN YUN-SHAN AND INDIA

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WRITINGS OF TAGORE, NEHRU AND TAN YUN-SHAN

30

India and China 

 

 Jawaharlal Nehru

(Address at the Sino-Indian Cultural Society

General Body Meeting at Santiniketan on December 23, 1945)

It was, I think eight and a half years ago that Prof. Tan Yun-Shan asked me to come here to open the Cheena Bhavana. I gladly agreed, but a very unusual thing happened on the day of my starting. I fell suddenly ill and was unable to come and had to be content with sending a message with my daughter, Indira. The last occasion I visited the Cheena Bhavana was when I came here in the company of the illustrious leader of China, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

I am very happy today to be able to participate in the meeting of the Sino-Indian Cultural Society. I have listened with pleasure and attention to the report of your activities. And yet I have felt how much more could be done in respect of increasing the contact between China and India, having due regard to the numerous bonds that bind these two vast countries. Like all members of your Society I am anxious to develop all manner of contacts, cultural and otherwise between them, both intensively and extensively. I would like to see branches of the Society in a large number of places in India and China, so that its activities might extend beyond a few specialists, to the common man in both the countries.

Perhaps the conditions created by the war during the last five or six years have come in the way of developing this contact, as they have come in the way of much else. And yet the war has certainly brought us nearer and closer to China than ever before, both physically and psychologically. The war has made China look to the west of her rather than to the east of her. The centre of activities in China came nearer to India with the development of communications by road and air. Today it is possible to be in the heart of China after a brief day's journey. All these factors, which might have taken place in course of time, but which have been expedited by the war, have led to the closest associations and approximations between China and India. That association should have a greater and wider effect on the public mind, rather than be limited to our small Society of experts specialising in research. By that I do not mean to say that their work is without value. The scholars can do much by way of guiding popular enthusiasm, by providing data for them and by canalising their feelings.

It seems obvious to me that in the future India and China will necessarily come nearer to each other. By that I do not mean mere continuation of the ancient bonds, although they will of course be there. Taking an objective view of world situation as it seems to develop, it seems inevitable that in their own interests, China, India and some other countries of South East Asia will have to hang together and develop together, not only culturally but economically as well, through the contacts of trade and commerce. They will not be able otherwise effectively to resist the aggression of the so-called Western Powers. Mutual contact and agreement are essential for their self-preservation.

The tempo of the world changes rapidly today and it is foolish to prophesy anything. But one thing is patent to everybody and that is that although the war has just ended, even now we see signs of trouble and conflict. Even among the victors in this war there are already dark hints of further wars on a far more extensive scale.

Whether another war is likely or not I cannot say. But nobody can ignore the possibility of such a thing happening. We should put our own house in order before that fear materialises. India and China, which have played a different part in world affairs, are passing through some kind of turmoil today. In China it has taken the obvious course of a civil war and in India the trouble is deep-seated. These differences among our own people result in a certain weakening of our ability to influence the world which is extremely unfortunate. Now that hostilities have ceased in the Pacific Theatre, India and China should have had the privilege of directing the future course of events. Instead we have helplessly to watch things happening which are not only injurious and detrimental to our interests but which are positively hateful. It is hateful to think, e. g., of the recent events in South East Asia.

Things would certainly have improved if China could take a hand in the South East Asian affairs. China undoubtedly is one of the principal powers of the world today. Naturally therefore many eastern countries look to China today with the hope that she would give a lead to Asian affairs, that she would play as vital a role in peace as she has done during these eight years of war. It is therefore a matter of deep anguish for many of us who think of China that there should be so much internal trouble there at the present moment. You have rightly passed a resolution congratulating China. What she did and what she passed through during these eight years is something which is difficult for us even to imagine. The sufferings the Chinese have undergone and the heroic courage they have shown are something unparalleled. It is right therefore that we should congratulate them and send our best wishes to the great leaders of the Chinese people, and notably to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. In the midst of a great deal of civil conflict in China I do not think there is anybody who challenges the right of the Generalissimo to be the leader of China. Even those critics who might differ from him have to acknowledge that in the present circumstances he is the only possible leader, the one man to lead China out of chaos and confusion. It is right that you should wish him success in his attempt at uniting the different elements in China.

Let us hope that the present state of affairs in China will end soon and give place to a strong feeling of unity and solidarity. A strong and united China and a strong and united India must come close to each other. Their amity and friendship will not only lead to their mutual benefit but will also benefit the world at large. There are in China and India certain elements and traditions, which the West does not have, elements which are essential for world equilibrium.

However that may be, one thing seems to be dead certain and that is this: There is going to be no equilibrium in this world unless there, is equilibrium in India. China and South East Asia. There is not going to be harmony or peace even for a short time, and much less for a long time, unless the problems of Asia are settled satisfactorily, unless aggression and interference by western countries in Asian affairs cease once for all.

Tremendous power has been unleashed in the closing stages of the war by the Atom Bomb. It may he that this discovery relating to atomic energy may give such resources for physical might to certain nations that they might ignore with impunity the claims of other nations. It may be that success in the last war has made some nations feel that they have no obstacles left and they can do whatever they like with the rest of the world. But I imagine that, it such be their feeling, they will very soon find that they are exceeding by mistaken. Whatever the atomic energy might not do, even this mighty source of power is not going to enable the countries who possess it to go on imposing their will on the countries of Asia for all time to come.

Those who desire peace for the world must know once for all that there can be no equilibrium or stability for either the East or the West unless all aggression, all imperialist domination, all forced interference in other countries' affairs end completely. This is the lesson which the East still has to teach the West, which China and India have to teach, and it is this lesson which your Society has to teach as well, if it is to live up to its ideals worthily.

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