Leading economists, policy-makers, business entrepreneurs and lawyers from India and China discussed opportunities and advocated greater collaboration and sharing of experiences between the two countries in the fields of business, governance, trade and investment in addition to people-people exchange at the two-day Annual Forum on Indo-China Collaboration 2016.
Organized by the Centre for India-China Studies, O.P. Jindal Global University in collaboration with Research School of Urbanization Strategy, an influential Chinese think-tank composed of top scholars working on economics and environment issues in China, the Forum is a leading bilateral platform that promotes greater engagement between the two countries through both government and non-government channels.
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Minister of Panchayati Raj, advocated closer sharing of experience between the two countries in the field of strengthening local governance.
Speaking about the origins of China’s current thrust to local governance he said, “The origins of the present of local governance in China lie in a people’s response to the challenge of the anarchical conditions that prevailed in the wake of the chaos engendered by the cultural revolution and the high level political decision to abandon collectivisation and communes as a path to rural development.”
Emphasizing on aspects of local level governance across provinces in China that India can significantly learn from, he said “the local governance in China is aimed at responding in some measure to the need for providing public goods and services to the people, which also provides employment but more importantly entrepreneurial opportunities.”
Vice Chancellor of O. P Jindal University, Prof (Dr) C Raj Kumar spoke on the need for greater indigenous research in India and China on issues that are usually over looked by the governments of two countries.
“Unfortunately, the comparison between the two countries does not take place as much as it should, in India or China. And that is a problem that can only be addressed by academic institutions. Today, at this historical juncture, we are not only investing in the future of both the countries, but also of the rest of the world. The Annual Forum for India-China Collaboration is an important effort initiated by the civil society members of both countries. The goal of the forum is to provide a think tank for policy researchers, business and civil society practitioners to identify and advance collaboration opportunities between India and China,” said Dr Raj Kumar.
Li Bijian, the Minister Counselor of the Embassy of China, weighed in on the bilateral ties between the nations and hailed the successful visits by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China last year, following Chinese Premier Xi Jinping in India the previous year.
“I’m not shy to talk about the problems. The war in 1962, the Tibet issue, trilateral relations between India, Pakistan and China, the US, Indian Ocean issue, these rivalries and problems, some of these have lasted a long time. This forum will provide one of the best platforms to find the best way to solve them,” said Li. “Educational cooperation is important. With only 1200 Chinese speakers studying in India, we have far less partnership than UK-China, US-China, Australia- China and even South Korea-China.”
He urged the governments to resolve the issue of student visas, calling people-to-people exchange ‘key to partnership’ and even emphasised on the need to innovate inter-country tourism. With less than 1 million people travelling back and forth, both from India to China and China to India, it is a very underwhelming number for the two most populous nations.
Chinese Economist, Prof. Cao of Peking University spoke about the trade potential via road and maritime routes through the Economic Corridors laid out by the One-Belt-One Road (OBOR) initiative. Highlighting the potential of One-Belt-One-Road, he pointed out that this ambitious trade plan would take 75 years for completion and will be successfully completed by 2090. He also compared the OBOR with the successful implementation of the US led Marshall Plan after the Second World War.
Prof. Liu from Renmin University shared his research about Chinese local level governance. He said Chinese local governments are entrusted with great power and autonomy for experimenting economic development s but are also mainly evaluated by economic development. The positive side is that it does create efficiency and vibrancy for economic development but on the downside of interests sacrifice and rights violations of some groups in the process. Prof. Liu also shared his research about manufacturing in China and its reference to that of India. He reminded that both India and China need to think about the two trends of agglomeration and automation when they plan the manufacturing industry. He doubted that India can repeat the Chinese manufacturing in these new trends.
Mr. Ravi Bhoothalingam, Founder and Chairman, Manas Advisory, Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi spoke about the importance of tourism between the two countries and gave a historical context of travel as he drew an analogy between the ancient gurus and modern day travellers.
He also highlighted the urgent need to tackle problems faced by people wanting to travel across borders and detailed how addressing the visa problem would invite new and fresh minds to both the countries. He further suggested institutional visas be promoted to encourage hassle-free educational travel and concluded with the words, “The world is a family, and it needs to be a family again”.
Asian Development Bank advisor Arjun Goswami opened the floor for a discussion on growth of Indian, Chinese and ASEAN economies, the economic integration in South East Asia, and the challenges of two main structural constraints- productivity and demographics- along with the middle income trap.
“In order to go through the growth that India, China and ASEAN have assumed, from 1981-2010, 60% of natural resources have been used up. That is simply not sustainable. There has to be collaboration between the three parties to address these kinds of cyclical risks and productivity issues. If you invest in energy trade, you reduce the cost of externalities, less dependence on fossil fuels.” said Goswami.
Prof. James Nedumpara, Associate Professor of Jindal Global Law School argued that India should set aside its security-motivated, inertia-induced reservations and join The Silk Road Economic Belt also known as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.
The country will have much to gain as it is not a members of any transnational agreement related to trade and needs investment in infrastructure, especially in the underdeveloped North-east region, he added.
Annika Styczynski, Assistant Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, highlighted that investments in renewable technologies rose 5% to $286Bn however a lot more was required to address existing issues. She further discussed the national climate targets of the two countries and said that monetary policy could be a unique measure which could be applied to ensure that the targets are met and proper environmental sustainability exists.
“In the present scenario of inter-culture communication and globalized problem solving, it requires cultural sensitivity to capture contextualized nuances in an institutional capacity. I am happy to say that the Center for India-China Studies of the O.P. Jindal Global University is one of the few think-tanks which has integrated the inside understanding of both cultures into its institutional building.” Said, Prof. Wenjuan Zhang, Associate professor and Executive Director, Centre of India-China Studies.
More than twenty other scholars, business entrepreneurs and lawyers also talked about potentials and challenges for collaboration on manufacturing, investment, environment protection and legal service market. Among other prominent experts who participated in the two-day forum this year are Dr. Anupam Khanna, Independent Director, Indigo Airlines’ Board Former Senior Manager, World Bank; among others.