The much publicised informal summit between Modi and Jinping is over. Mamallapuram is back to normal; Chennai’s artillery roads are back as well to usual traffic snarls; the people are happy fighting to lead a ‘comfortable’ life forcefully made miserable by the ‘brilliant’ ideas of ‘big’ people in command.
The meeting of leaders of two largest countries of the world has been described as the one that ‘would usher in a new era’ to quote the words of honble Prime Minister. Another headline says – ‘they seek to reset ties’. Another news item in a leading Daily says – ‘Xi moots 100-year plan to cement ties with India’.
I have to really tender my apology to the readers. A couple of days ago, when mentioning about the possible outcome of the summit, I had written that the leaders would call it ‘satisfactory’ or a ‘success’. It is actually far beyond. It is in fact a start of a new era resulting in a 100 year plan to cement ties. (i would not dare ask whether it is so bad now that it would need 100 years to ‘cement’ ties!)
What are the topics / issues that were discussed in the informal meet? The two leaders had spent more than 6 hours in a ‘one to one’ meeting near the archaeological beauty, near the natural bounty of the Sea, trekking along the rocky path in a most friendly atmosphere. Add to that – the attire – ‘veshti – sattai – thundu’ in plain white! (It is said that the pride of Tamil in a single stroke has reached all over the world and, why not, far beyond the sky too!)
People are so excited, so enthralled and so electrified by the ‘simplicity’, by the ‘casualness’, by the ‘down to earth attitude’ and by the ‘matter of fact’ talks that the great leaders displayed in great measure while at Mamallapuram.
The media have had all that they wanted and much more too to fill their charts with great ‘stuff’ that would ’feed’ them for at least a month. Social media lovers will have more fun. All the ‘experts’ and opinion givers have already started pouncing upon the ‘followers’ with all that even the two leaders would not have dreamt of.
The ‘studies’ and ‘conclusions’ would for sure demonstrate the skills of imagination of the scholars and experts for whom we have no dearth in India and we will have a lot of ‘serious’ entertainment for the next few weeks. So, ‘history’ has been created or at least re-written at Mamallapuram!
Do I sound too pessimistic? I do not want to – really. Is there nothing then that warrants a praise or appreciation? Why not? This meet has done a lot good – no doubt.
The two leaders have spent hours together in a very unusual ‘surrounding’ and it is certainly not an ordinary happening – particularly in the international relations – more importantly between two powerful leaders of two powerful nations. This very idea of an informal meet in a totally friendly atmosphere is by itself a great, noble thought.
Mahatma said – ‘my life is the message’. In this case too, the informal summit by itself is the message to the world. Whatever be the outcome, it has been firmly conveyed by the leaders of two countries that all the enmity or animosity could very well be set aside and that we can get along very well as brotherly neighbours. This is the strongest message i believe that is the most important one at this juncture. And for this pleasant development- Hats off to Modi! Hats off to Jinping!
Regional Peace and bi-lateral co-operation go hand in hand and they are vastly inter-dependent too. It would be hardly ever possible to sustain anyone in the absence of or by weakening the other.
There have been quite a many ‘green spots’ that have emerged from out of this meet. As quoted by various newspapers, the Chinese President has struck the very right chord in normalising the relations with India and to broaden it to benefit the entire Asian region.
His words provide a much clearer picture. The two leaders resolve ‘to work together to realise – the great rejuvenation of the two great civilizations’ ‘military security exchanges’ ‘maintain regional security and stability’, ‘fair and reasonable solution to the boundary problem’, ‘gradually expending the China – India plus co-operation to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa’.
A decision has been taken to establish friendly provincial city relations between Fujian Province of China and Tamilnadu, Quanzhou city and Chennai city, as a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative’.
Going by the information that is officially available to us, Modi and Jinping have been able to go past the bitter past and are ready to concretise a stable relationship benefiting both sides.
Can we ask for more?
All that has been said earlier in this article would now appear irrelevant. To a large extent, it is true. But there does remain a feel of discontentment; a sense of disappointment that makes whatever said at the beginning seems most appropriate.
The two great nations have a combined population of more than 270 crores. As such, the leaders have a responsibility too to do something to address the ‘perennial’ issues like poverty, mal-nutrition, epidemic and chronic diseases, unemployment and ‘home’less conditions.
Modi has a majority and also the backing of almost the entire nation to pursue and implement the policies that he wishes to for the welfare of the people. Jinping has taken over the powers of the Communist party of China and its Politburo literally, to be the ‘permanent’ leader of the country. In fact, it is not a Communist rule but the Government of Jinping that is in power in China today.
As leaders unchallenged by any, Modi and Jinping have an advantage that none of his predecessors ever enjoyed – an unquestionable authority to push forward their own agenda in the form and at a pace that they want. With this brutal support on their side, what they have discussed, what they have done, what they could have stressed upon each other must have been much more than what has been officially declared by the official sources.
The defence budget of both countries put together crosses a whopping 14 lakh crore rupees every year. Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping are in enviable position from where they just could decide and do anything that they want to. They enjoy a complete dominance over their party and the government.
It would have been a truly remarkable, path breaking summit had these leaders had spoken about disarmament; about downsizing the defence budget; about diverting at least a very small portion of the money spent on the high cost weapons to the more needy segments of the society; of the nation.; of the world.
They could have tried to explore the possibility of reducing the defence expenditure by at least 1% – without compromising a little bit in the security of the nation; without ever hurting the sovereignty of the country. It should be possible given the stature and calibre of the two great leaders.
Modi and Jinping would have really made the entire world population to jump in joy had they spent a few seconds on finding ways to achieve disarmament. Just a thought by these leaders towards this goal, just asmall step in this direction by Modi and Jinping would have reassured a future that would be far better off in every aspect of living of millions all over the world.
It is saddening to note that in stead of disarmament, the leaders have dealt at length the issue of ‘strategic defence relations’, joint training and exercise and such other things.
Sorry – it does not carry the semblance of statesmanship by any stretch of imagination.
It is really saddening to note that the leaders have lost an opportunity to tread a path that would make the common man smile and make the world peaceful and liveable.
Great leaders should think big; perform big. The leaders at Mamallapuram did not prefer to stay big.
It is disappointing. What else?
Baskaran Krishnamurthy – Educationist, Columnist, proponent of Gandian philosophy, guide for competitive examinations
Mail: [email protected]