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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Contrasting India and China’s National Day Celebrations

August 18, 2009

Chris Devonshire-Ellis
August 17, 2009

While China turns to partial lock down in the
lead up to the 60th anniversary of the founding
of the People’s Republic of China, India last
Saturday celebrated her 62nd year of
independence. The two anniversary celebrations cannot be more different.

China is starting to restrict entries to
foreigners; particularly journalists during their
anniversary and other sensitive parts of the
country, like Tibet, Xinjiang and Beijing. Media
access will be restricted with military and
police presence likely to be overwhelming. Social
networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are
blocked, as are video sharing services such as You Tube.

In moves that would bring down the government in
India, human rights lawyers in China being
detained and barred from practice. There have
been Chinese protests in Australia against the
screening of a documentary on the exiled Uighur
leader Rebiya Kadeer. India meanwhile has had to
endure comments from a quasi China government
backed website calling for the nations
‘dismemberment’ in order to protect Chinese interests.

When I mention that You Tube and Twitter are
blocked and internet access is restricted in
China, friends and colleagues in India just
laugh. Paranoia, a “nanny” state, and a disbelief
that people would tolerate a one party state-
although Indians of course endured their version
under the British Raj- brings a knowing raised
eyebrow that the Chinese are, well, perhaps potentially unpredictable.

The unpredictability, Indians feel, represents a
danger. When one contrasts the build up to the
Chinese anniversary and the Indian one, it’s hard
not to see that particular point of view may have
some merit. While we have to wait for the pomp
and circumstance of the Chinese anniversary, we
have been promised a massive military parade
which apparently includes a display of ballistic nuclear weapons.

We’ll also have to wait for the political
rhetoric to justify that, but no doubt "national
security" and a whole hearted assault on people
to be patriotic towards the Communist Party will be very much in evidence.

Those issues gives a cause for concern when
Chinese anniversary preparations are compared
against the preparations that occurred in Delhi
on Saturday. China intends to command its people
to be loyal to the party for the benefit of
national security and a “harmonious society.” On
the other hand, India’s Prime Minister, Dr.
Manmohan Singh, had to justify to the Indian
people why his party were in power and what they
intend to deliver to the people of India.

In terms of the actual event, it began by Dr.
Singh paying homage to the man considered the
nation’s father, Mahatma Gandhi, at the Gandhi
memorial. The PM then traveled to the
Mughal-built 17th century Red Fort in Delhi and
unfurling the Indian national tri-color flag from
the rampart of Lal Quila. He then gave his
speech, the highlights of which we discuss below.

Around 700 people, including school children
clothed in the national flag as well as political
VIPs and diplomats, packed the enclosure facing
the Fort. There was no display of nuclear or
military might; largely because the Indian
government does not require such statements to be
made to its own people. The Indian government
retains their own confidence purely in the system
of elected government, although the Prime
Minister did inspect the Indian honor guards lined up to meet him.

In terms of Dr. Singh’s speech to the nation, it
represents his promise to the Indian electorate,
and the words that his party will be held
accountable in next three and a half years. This
is different to China’s own National Day, where
the onus is on following the Party line.

We divide the highlights of Dr. Singh’s speech up
into different categories as follows:

General Promises to the People

* Nation building will be our highest duty.
* No one will go hungry
* Will ensure that benefits of development reach
all sections of society and all regions and citizens of the country
* Every citizen of India should be prosperous and
secure and be able to lead a life of dignity and self respect
* Special care to be taken of needs of women and
children. Benefit of ICDS (integrated child
development services) to be extended to every
child below the age of six by March 2012
* Government should be sensitive to people’s
complaints and dissatisfaction but nothing is
achieved by destroying public property and
indulging in violence. The government will deal
firmly with people who indulge in such acts
* Seek active partnership of the scheduled castes
and scheduled tribes in the development process
* Schemes for the welfare of the minorities to be taken forward
* Funds enhanced substantially for special
schemes for development of districts with concentration of minorities
* Will take care of the special needs of the
backward regions with redoubled efforts to remove regional imbalances
* Special efforts to strengthen administrative machinery for rural programs
* Benefits of good programs will not reach the
people till the government machinery is
corruption free. Public administration to be more efficient.
* Need to improve delivery systems to provide basic services to citizens
* Renewed efforts to decentralize public
administration through Panchayati Raji
(de-centralized) institutions and to ensure greater involvement of people
* Initiative will be taken for a new partnership
between civil society and the government so that
tax payers’ money is better spent
* Right to Information Act to be improved to make
it is more effective and enhance accountability and transparency


*Restoring growth rate to 9 percent is the
greatest challenge we face. We expect that there
will be an improvement in the situation by the end of this year
*Appeal to businessmen and industrialists to join
in effort to tackle difficult situation and fulfil their social obligations

Agriculture and  Food

* This year, there has been deficiency in the
monsoon. We will provide all possible assistance
to our farmers to deal with the drought
* Date for repayment of farmers’ bank loans
postponed. Additional support given to farmers
for payment of interest on short term crop loans
* We have adequate stocks of foodgrain. All
efforts will be made to control rising prices of
foodgrain, pulses and other goods of daily use
* Country needs another Green Revolution. the
goal is four percent annual growth in
agriculture; achievable in the next five years.
* Food security law to be enacted under which
every below poverty line family will get a fixed
amount of foodgrain every month at concessional rates


* National Rural Health Mission to be expanded to
cover every family below the poverty line
* No need to panic in the face of H1N1 flu. No disruption of daily lives.


* Right to Education Act enacted, funds will not be a constraint
* NREGA (national rural education guarantee act)
program to be improved to bring in more transparency and accountability
* Special attention to be given to the needs of disabled children
* Secondary education will be expanded to ensure
that every child in the country benefits
* Bank loans and scholarships to be provided to the maximum number of students
* New scheme to help students from economically
weaker sections get educational loans at reduced
interest rates; will benefit about five lakh
students in technical and professional courses


* Additional funds allocated for Bharat Nirman
(rural housing) program for the development of
rural and urban areas to be speeded up
* Rajiv Awas Yojna (a slum free India in 5 years) program is now being launched
* Accelerated efforts to improve physical
infrastructure; construction of 20 km of national highway
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