By Farman Nawaz
(This Article is unpublished)
I searched the four main English news websites of China to find information about ‘Project Mausam’ of India and to my surprise I could not find any information about this Indian project which is supposed to counter Chinese ‘Maritime Silk Road’ project.
In February 2015, Indian government is arranging a conference to give this project a practical shape. The aim of the project is to counter the Chinese Naval influence in Indian Ocean. But the main difference between Chinese ‘Maritime Silk Road’ project and Indian ‘Project Mausam’ is that the latter will also promote cultural heritage of India.
Many of us will have information about the old Silk Road that not only it promoted trade but along with trade it also exported philosophies, cultures and religion. Islam reached China the same way. Indian project has also the blend of this old fact. Indian culture is rich and it has an influence on the countries around Indian and Arabian ocean. Indian culture has also the unique aspect that it can absorb other cultures and traditions. Indian culture does not afraid of cultural invasions.
Now the question is what are the chances of success of these projects.
India is in close proximity to the countries sounding Indian and Arab oceans. The blend of Indian cultural heritage will give this project a boost because not only Indians workers are working in the surrounding countries but Indian film industry has strong roots in this region too. Similarly Indian education system is considered one of the best systems in the region. Only in the last twenty years seven Indians are awarded Noble peace awards. Besides that Indian Industrial base is quite enough to pour its products into the region.
On the other side Chinese Maritime Project is mainly confined to trade and may be naval influence in the region. Not only China is a bit away from the region but China is also busy in the South China Sea. Chinese politics is avoiding cultural influence. The main complaint from Chinese trade is of trade deficit issues with the importing country. Similarly Chinese education ministry must analyze how many students are offered admission by Chinese Universities from the countries of Indian and Arab oceans. The UNESCO Institute of Statistics website (http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/international-student-flow-viz.aspx) better explains the ratio of International student’s mobility. India is far ahead than China.
It is estimated by the British council that International student mobility will increase till 2020. largest numbers of mobile students in 2020 expected to be from China (585,000), India (296,000), South Korea (134,000), Germany (100,000), Turkey (84,000), Malaysia (82,000) and Nigeria (67,000); largest increase from India (+71,000 from 2011), followed by Nigeria, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Where as the following countreis will accommodate these students. Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Spain, Brazil, South Korea, India, Russia, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa, Poland, Indonesia, Mexico, Ireland, Malaysia ,Switzerland ,France, Germany, and Japan.
Indian project, although in initial stages, seems more dimensional than Chinese Maritime Silk Project. What I have expressed in the first para shows that China is still not ready to counter the Indian initiative. China must also keep this in mind that its trade route towards Arabian world is exposed to the threat of Islamic State – a new umbrella for the extremists of this region whose presence is also felt in the neighborhood of China.
China will have to blend its project with multidimensional aspects otherwise India under Modi is ready to break the assumption that India remains mute spectator to China’s expanding interests in the region. The project is meaningful and does not lack teeth.