If you wanted to know all about China but were too nervous to ask, you might soon be able to improve your knowledge by tuning into China Radio International on your way home from work. The State-run radio service is trying to buy frequencies to expand its network in India. For those looking to catch 40 winks, let us hope that the Chinese provide us with a selection of their famous atonal, somnolent music, guaranteed to put the most chronic insomniac to sleep. Or perhaps, we could educate ourselves on contemporary Chinese history and learn how Chairman Mao was able to inculcate a heartwarming interest in agriculture among the elite in one fell swoop, so much so that they rushed out of their city homes and into the rural hinterland.
Our students can learn how elastic geographical boundaries can be, courtesy the Chinese. Many of us grew up thinking that the North-east was Indian territory. Did it ever strike us that it was actually Chinese territory given to us as a locational takeway one fine day when Zhou-en Lai was feeling generous? We are forever having problems with displacement during big development projects like dams with pesky demands for rehabilitation. The Chinese have a better way, where the displaced vanish overnight to a remote corner where they spend the rest of their days singing the glories of the party.
We might be able to take down a few recipes for Chinese dishes which don’t involve heeng and jeera. Weight-watchers could learn how well the State manages those kilos especially if you have been shooting your mouth off after a drop too many. We need to learn from the Chinese the meaning of good neighbourliness, the spirit of mi casa, su casa which they have really taken to heart. If anyone tells you that there is a sinister design behind all this, do take them with a large pinch of ajinomoto.