Beijing wants issues between China and India to be handled wisely and calmly. Om...india Updated: Jan 12, 2012 23:34 IST
Being calm under duress is one of the hallmarks of being wise. So what State councillor and China's special representative for the upcoming India-China border talks Dai Bingguo has essentially said when he wants both countries to settle their disputes "wisely, calmly and properly" is to not behave like woolly-headed idiots conducting a 'tu-tu mein-mein' war of words. Considering that last year, Indian ambassador S Jaishankar's approach to better bilateral relations was based on the need to "remain continuously sensitive to mutual concerns", it can be said that China's and India's approach is very different, based perhaps on what can be termed 'civilisational differences'.
Take the Indian approach ingrained in our diplomacy. In the Bhagvad Gita, we have Krishna telling a not-calm-at-all Arjuna at Kurukshetra that a person who is calm and whose thoughts are clear (a 'sthithapragna') will have precise intelligence that will enable him to discern the truth. However, in practice, Indians have usually resorted to making mountains out of molehills. In contrast, the Chinese are adept at making molehills out of mountains. Such kind of thinking has marked relations between the two countries since India's independence - most markedly, in the Nehruvian era with our first prime minister insisting that 'Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai', with the Chinese responding by an incursive war.
Which is why we could find new inspiration in the nuts-and-bolts advice of Sun Tzu, the 6th century BC Chinese military strategist-philosopher. In The Art of War, the man writes about how to deal after making a 'fire attack'. "If the soldiers are calm when fire breaks out, wait - do not attack. When the fire reaches the height of its power, follow up if possible, hold back if not." What Indians should learn from Sun Tzu is to remain calm - or, at least, feign calmness - so that the Chinese are forced to 'hold back'.