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The relevance of China to India[continued]

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GoodNewsIndia, is an unabashed admirer of India's free-form, bazaar democracy, not because of any misplaced patriotism, but because India has been a success even on economic considerations. It deserves greater praise, for its success has been produced by mankind's largest ever, universally franchised nation of the most diverse peoples on earth. Despite the evidence of apathy, intolerance, incompetence and corruption that India's critics may pile against it, it is still a fair country. It's greatest asset is the cacophony of its million debaters engaged in analysing every issue, with the least possible violence in attendance. In a democracy, one must learn to hear this as a euphony.

Savour now this sepia scene, captured for us by Andre Malraux in his 1968 book, Anti-Memoirs. He was a friend of India and was once the Minister for Culture in De Gaulle's France. He is writing here, of a meeting with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in New Delhi:

"What has been your greatest difficulty since Independence?" I asked him.
Nehru's reply was instantaneous..."Creating a just society by just means, I think."
And after a brief pause, "Perhaps too, creating a secular state in a religious country. Especially when it's religion is not founded on a book of revelation."

The choice before Indians, it seems, is between building a just state with just means, and building a shiny state by any means. It may be stated even, as a choice between the paths chosen by India and China.

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