RSS counters China’s OBOR with India’s OCOR – Financial Express

Silk Road

Organiser MagazineIndia should develop the concept of One Culture, One Region (OCOR) to counter OBOR as history doesn’t support China’s claim on the Silk Road. – Ravi Shankar & Newton Mishra

The imperialistic designs of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative has been discussed across the world, even as Beijing claims the initiative will serve as a platform to promote free-trade, counter anti-globalisation trend and promote harmonious coexistence and cooperation among participating nations. An article in Organiser, mouth piece of Rashtriya Swayam Sangh (RSS), argues that China’s claims are lies. It says that by OBOR, China is trying to show that the “Silk Road” was its historical contribution to the world civilisation.

The OBOR initiative includes a maze of roads and port projects including China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.

The article claims that China “actually wants to dominate the region to overpower India” with the help of OBOR. Similar concerns were also raised by the international media after the first OBOR Summit in China in May. The New York Times had termed OBOR as “global commerce on China’s terms.” It said that Beijing aims to “create a new kind of globalisation that would dispense with the rules of the ageing Western-dominated institutions. The goal is to refashion the global economic order, drawing countries and companies more tightly into China’s orbit.”

So, how to counter OBOR? The article in RSS mouthpiece suggests India should develop the concept of One Culture, One Region (OCOR) to counter OBOR as “history doesn’t support China’s claim on the Silk Road.”

The article has been jointly written by Ravi Shankar, Research Director at Center for Civilisational Studies, New Delhi and Newton Mishra, co-founder, India Internal and International Relationship Research Center, New Delhi.

The authors have tried to bust, what they believe to be “myths” about the Silk Road. First, they say Silk Road is not just a road. According to the article, the term Silk Road was first coined by German geographer Ferdinend Von Rekthofan in 1877 and later supported by another German geographer August Hermann in 1915. Hermann’s essay “The Silk Roads from China to the Roman Empire”, the article argues, “highlighted a common, but misleading sense attached to the silk-road notion: that its importance lay mainly in linking China to the Mediterranean basin.”

According to the authors, the name of Silk Road came into existence only in 1877 but the trade in the Eurasian region had flourished since ancient times. Shankar and Mishra say the region was termed as “Uttarapath” by King Ashoka in 232 BC. Even as China claims that this trade road was developed during Han Dynasty rule in 220 BC, the authors say the map of the period show China was a very small country then. “In fact, before Yuan Dynasty in the thirteenth century, China had never had any say in the Eurasian region. The Yuan dynasty was not a Chinese dynasty; it was the great Mongol Empire. China was only a part of that Empire and at that time the capital Beijing was also not the part of China.”

Second, the authors say Silk Road was not meant only for the business of Silk. Many items and ideas were transmitted across Eurasia through the route. The items like domesticated horse, cotton, spices, chemicals, paper and gunpowder) had a “far greater impact than silk.”

Third, Shankar and Mishra say the Silk Road was not dominated by Chinese traders but by “Indian traders who actually travelled and traded in the entire Eurasian region.” They mention Multan as the biggest trading centres on the so-called Silk Road route, even before the Mauryan Dynasty. “The Hindu traders were at the heart of the Eurasian economics.”

The authors say that all rulers of the region had extended their “protection” to Hindu traders from India. “The Uzbek Khans created a separate administrative post Yasavul-i-Hinduwan meaning Guardians of Hindus. Persian Safavid Empire also gave protection to the Hindu traders so that they can practice their rituals despite the protest of locale Muslims.”

With these “facts”, the article says India, not China had developed the trade route and contributed culturally in the form of ancient Hindu and Buddhist thoughts. “It was Indian philosophy that influenced China. But despite this commercial and cultural supremacy, India never tried to gain political advantage.”

The authors say that the cultural vacuum cannot be fulfilled by “imperialist concept” like OBOR. It can be done by a “human and philosophical approach” and only India has the history of doing so and the country can do it again by promoting “OCOR”.

They suggest that OCOR should be developed as SAARC for the Eurasian countries and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and all Eurasian countries should become a part of it. “OCOR will provide only a common platform for the trade of the commodities and ideas. Its agenda can be developed on the theories of common points of all the different ideological beliefs of this region,” they write.

While OCOR will help in curbing terrorism, war insurgencies, violence and ideological hatred, the authors say it can also teach the world about how to live and progress “with the ideological differences leaving behind all the hatred, unrest and authoritarianism.” – Financial Express, 24 July 2017

Dalai Lama



3 Responses

  1. Ignoring OBOR, India and Japan forge ahead with joint connectivity project – IANS – Jul 30, 2017

    NEW DELHI: China may not have forgiven India for snubbing its mega trans-continent corridor initiative, but in what may rankle more is that New Delhi and Tokyo, Beijing’s arch rival, are pushing ahead with a development corridor between Asia and Africa.

    The announcement of the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the African Development Bank (AfDB) meet in Gandhinagar in May, came days after China hosted with great pomp the first One Belt One Road (OBOR) summit in Beijing. The venture is expected to get further impetus in September during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    India has been involved in Africa for many years, in trade as well as capacity-building activities. Japan, which has been working on infrastructure projects in Africa, can help with its advanced technology as well as funds for the AAGC. Japan is reportedly planning to commit $200 billion for the proposed growth corridor.

    So, is the AAGC meant as a counter to OBOR?

    “The two are completely separate. OBOR is different. Long before OBOR, India and Japan were individually working in Africa, and were talking to each other about Africa,” Rajiv Bhatia, a former Indian ambassador, told IANS.

    “India and Japan feel that by intensifying cooperation with Africa, they can help each other and Africa. We are working on the AAGC in our own way and at our own pace,” said the former High Commissioner to South Africa and Kenya.

    He said that China’s engagement in Africa is extensive, while the India-Japan collaboration is beginning to take shape. The AAGC shows that India and Japan desire to take their cooperation beyond the bilateral sphere, he added.

    China’s OBOR, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is an estimated $5 trillion connectivity corridor spanning over 60 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. It is meant to be a revival of the ancient Silk Road trading route and is expected to comprise building of roads, bridges, gas pipelines, ports, railways and power plants, besides SEZs.

    India and Japan had begun a dialogue on Africa in 2010, a continent in which both have much stake. The main objective of the AAGC is to enhance growth and connectivity between Asia and Africa. According to the vision document, the corridor will focus on four areas: Development Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, Enhancing Skills, and People-to-People Partnership.

    Agriculture, health, technology, and disaster management are the main areas of development cooperation. It will focus on boosting skills and research and development capacities in Africa.

    According to a report by McKinsey, China is Africa’s largest economic partner, with goods trade worth $188 billion in 2015 — compared to $59 billion with India. Since the turn of the millennium, Africa-China trade has been growing at approximately 20 per cent per year, the report says, adding that there are around 10,000 Chinese firms in Africa.

    Three think-tanks — India’s Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Indonesia’s Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and Japan’s Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO), prepared the vision document for AAGC. They have produced one report on the corridor and another report is due in a few months, said Bhatia.

    He said that at the corporate level, companies of India, Japan and from Africa are looking at specified sectors of the growth corridor in order to execute projects. “There is seriousness and earnestness” behind the initiative, he added.

    Bhatia, a former Director General of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), also feels that giving too much importance to OBOR and China would help Beijing.

    Speaking on the comparison between OBOR and the AAGC, Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS, told IANS: “The OBOR, it seems, is visualised on the idea of economic corridors and infrastructure development with connectivity as the central focus, while the AAGC is a concept based on the theory of growth poles where several growth triangles and quadrangles are envisaged with different regional production hubs.”

    The proposed AAGC seeks to encompass and integrate Africa, India and South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania.

    India’s increased engagement with Africa comes in the backdrop of the third India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in October 2015 when all 54 African nations had sent their representatives. India has also made many high level visits to several African countries, as part of its outreach. India also held the AfDB annual meeting in Gandhinagar this May.


  2. In 326 BCE when Alexander encountered Raja Porus (Puru) on the Jhelum in Punjab, there was already an established trade route to India from Greece which he had followed. After his defeat and return to Babylon, this route became a virtual open highway between India and Alexandria with Hindu scholars, Buddhist monks and all kinds of traders thronging the routes West to the Mediterranean and up into Central Asia.

    There were also the ancient sea ports of Muziris (Muchiri), Surat and Prabhas Patan carrying pilgrims and traders to Arabia (before it became Muslim), Egypt, and later to Rome.

    India has never been an isolated continent, though China and particularly Han China had been isolated for centuries by the Mongols.

    The Han Chinese which dominate political and cultural China today have a very inflated view of themselves.

    But this will change soon enough when their creaking banking system begins to implode and their over-extended manufacturing economy begins to collapse.

    See The claim of “Greater China” is fanciful Chinese self-aggrandisement – Mohan Guruswamy


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