Chindia, Russia, Europe: the peaceful rise of Eurasia

From the 3rd millennium BC into the 3rd millennium AD

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Coined recently to capture the growing synergy between China and India, driven now by the rapid convergence of their expanding economies and the simultaneous rise to world-power status of these two modernizing nation-states, the term 'Chindia' is based on mutual perceptions that draw increasingly upon millennial religio-cultural exchanges and profound civilizational complementarities. Though both these ancient worldviews had been inward-looking and convinced of their ethnocentric superiority over the barbarians, they profoundly influenced their neighboring peoples, reshaping their diverse cultures so as to make the label 'Indo-China' an appropriate shorthand designation for the whole of (pre-Islamic) Asia. Imperial China often expanded her borders to counter threats from the north and west, assimilated successive conquerors (Qin, Yuan, Qing, etc., dynasties) into her universalizing Confucian outlook, was acknowledged benign suzerain through regular tribute from vassals as faraway as South-East Asia, and spread her contagious civilizational ethos through the Sinified vehicle of Mahâyâna Buddhism all across East Asia to Japan. Despite her time-tested indigenous socio-political framework held together by the unified state and (its bureaucratic elite sharing a) common written language, China's openness to foreign sources of spiritual inspiration and the accompanying intellectual ferment is best exemplified by her receptivity to and transformation by/of Buddhism. The dazzling success of the Dharma across the whole of Asia contributed as much to the prestige of Buddhism within South Asia as to the efflorescence of Sanskritic culture abroad. India's genius has consisted not so much in proselytizing an intransigent religio-cultural ideology through the force of arms or subtler modes of politico-economic coercion but in repeatedly coming up with creative solutions to her own internal problems of managing and celebrating the proliferation of diversity, paradigms that were universal enough in design, scope, and applicability to be eagerly adopted and adapted by her neighbors as guiding principles for the evolution of their native traditions. Whereas the ideological debate between Buddhism and Brahmanism remained wide-ranging and intense within Indian culture, the otherwise antithetical images of the universalizing renouncer and the ethnocentric intellectual fused abroad to become hardly distinguishable in the figure of composite the Indian sage. That the 'Sanskritization' of so much of South-East Asia occurred without even the knowledge, much less the complicity, of the vast majority of the Indian elite is evidenced by the fact that these foreign lands hardly figured within the Hindu geopolitical imagination (bharata-varSa). Far from resisting Chinese or Indian hegemony, these autonomous centers, exemplified above all by Buddhist Tibet, developed highly original syntheses that served (as more than just two-way conduits) to facilitate the (re-) emerging Chindian matrix. Even as late as the 18th century, when China was at the widest extent of its imperial power, this inter-civilizational dynamic was brilliantly embodied by the Qianlong Emperor, an 'alien' who hailed from shamanistic Manchu tribes that looked up rather towards the Mongols of Central Asia, became wholly steeped in Mandarin culture, owed personal religious allegiance to the Panchen Lama, was revered as a bodhisattva by Buddhists beyond China's borders, accommodated the Muslim sensibilities of his newly acquired Turkish subjects, and was eventually entombed per his wishes in a coffin engraved with Sanskrit prayers.

Sino-Indian reconciliation today amidst lingering tensions from the colonial era has been greatly facilitated and encouraged by the post-Soviet re-emergence of Russia as the key player in the geostrategic equations of Central Asia. Culminating by the dawn of the 20th century, the Slavic pacification of Central and East Asia had already eliminated the threat of invasion by (subsequently Islamized) nomadic Turkic-Mongolian tribes to which Iran, South Asia, and China had always been subject.

While emerging from their common devastation by colonial force of arms, the two nations have had to come to terms with and embrace globalizing modernity through divergent, even diametrically opposed, survival strategies, dictated by their distinctive pre-existent civilization paradigms. Forced to break out of her civilizational isolation

Central Asia, once the perennial home of nomadic threats to the rich sedentary civilizations to the south, was completely pacified by the end of the 19th century by Russia, the (re-) emerging Eurasian power, that now plays a crucial strategic role in providing a security umbrella to the self-determination of India and China, to the extent of becoming a willing facilitator, and beneficiary, in the reassertion of Chindia as constructive force in the creation of a more equitable, multipolar, world-order. [paragraph here on Russia's identity-crisis being torn between the West and Eurasianism]

An overall dynamics of regional confrontation based on seemingly well-founded suspicions of the Other could result in the mutually reinforcing ideological blocs along the following lines: an increasingly xenophobic, militaristic, and expansionist (Han) China, even more oppressive of her own peoples, that would feel obliged to chart out a counter-imperial course against yet modeled upon (its current encirclement by) a unilateral American power that has few scruples about using her neighbors (including Taiwan and Japan) as proxies; a dominating made-in-USA strain of Hindutva pitted against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and other 'minorities' only to resemble its Abrahamic nemesis all the more, thereby provoking a million mutinies that spread like wildfire to engulf her neighboring multiethnic and multi-confessional states, and where the celebrated diversity of the 'Hindu' past translates into the irremediable contemporary chaos; a disillusioned post-Soviet Russia that throws in her lot with an encroaching Europe Union in an attempt to survive by steering a mid-course between the trans-Atlantic alliance and the growing conflicts in Asia; in sum an intransigently nationalistic parting of ways that would oblige their Muslim populations to fall back even more uncompromisingly on fundamentalist fervor and make violent common cause with the world-wide Umma; alienated from each other, all three societies will tend to fall apart caught in the indiscriminate crossfire of the "War of Terror" between the West and Islam for global supremacy.

Even while simultaneously ensuring her own geo-strategic security and access to (increasingly scarce) world-resources by systematically courting India's contentious neighbors and extending her reach towards the Indian ocean, China has been actively promoting burgeoning bilateral trade, mutual and joint investments (even elsewhere in the 'Third' World), and the renaissance of shared civilizational memory (such as funding and re-founding the international Buddhist university at Nalanda). Just as a globally re-assertive 'Orthodox' Russia is instrumental in bringing the two rising continental giants closer together within a common Asian security framework, so has 'Confucian' China begun nudging 'Islamic' Pakistan towards a rapprochement over religio-culturally hybrid Kashmir with her fraternal 'Hindu' twin. As the shared (otherwise top-down) political will towards cultural rapprochement, buttressed by economic-cum-security needs, rapidly extends (despite barriers of language, culture and history) to their populations-at-large, the following regional developments may be surmised. Deliberate transformation of an otherwise depopulating (Slavic) Russia under concerted Sino-Indian influence into a beneficent Asian power, a techno-military bulwark against further Western encroachment. Planetary reach of the Chinese dragon's economic-cum-diplomatic clout, both actively facilitated and moderated by Indo-Russian cooperation into a powerhouse for uplifting the material conditions of all subaltern peoples who have yet to free themselves from the 'globalizing' yoke of (neo-) colonialism. Wooing the Indian elephant, with its footprints among the increasingly affluent and assertive Hindu-American diaspora, from a culturally subaltern role in furthering neo-imperial interests into ...

A concerted attempt by this triumvirate of world-powers to peacefully integrate their otherwise recalcitrant Muslim subjects and thereby building and consolidating religio-cultural ties to the Islamic world

This is introduction is still in progress... - SV]


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Bhadrakumar, M. K. (Mecca) [click to see Bhadrakumar's individual profile]

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Catherine Bouchet-Orphelin (Friends, Français)

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Relations between South Asia and Europe - in collaboration with Alain Lamballe (français) - (October 2005) [counters temporarily disabled]

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Driving American foreign policy; The Endgame of Globalization by Neil Smith (08 Oct 2005; ATO) [external]

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The New Anti-Americanism: America as an Orwellian Society (2002; Partisan Review) [external]

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Rajiv Malhotra

Sunthar Visuvalingam

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Russia-Georgia conflict of Aug 2008: a chronicle of Western propaganda (Aug 2008) [counters temporarily disabled]

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Tan Chung (Friends)

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Vinod Saighal

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The stand-off on the Iranian nuclear issue (15 Dec 2006)  [external]

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