India needs to give up colonial instinct and expand collaboration with Japan, says bullet train project advisor

A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and former Tata executive in Tokyo, Sanjeev Sinha, made his journey from Barmer, Rajasthan to Japan 21 years ago, realising the potential of the Indo-Japanese link, which he now prominently promotes. Appointed as the advisor for the ₹1.1 lakh crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, Sinha shares with Ananya Barua, his interests in forging and strengthening these ties, and the socio-economic fruits, the alliance can bear for both the countries in the near future.

pune Updated: Sep 16, 2017 23:38 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Sanjeev Sinha.(Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)

What is the current situation of the Indo-Japanese relations?

Right now, there exists a gap in terms of implementation in the relationship of India and Japan, which needs to be bridged and more extensive collaboration needs to be done in order to increase the bandwidth of the outcome. This can be understood from simple statistics, which show that there are almost 3 million Indians in the US, while less than 30,000 in Japan. Indian presence in the US is 100 times more than their presence in Japan. On the contrary, recently Japanese are taking a lot of interest in India, which this country should realise and step up to utilise.

And, why is that?

One reason is India’s colonial past which keeps it still attracted to the European or mostly English speaking nations. In addition to that, there exists a huge difference between India and Japan with respect to its culture, which now through various inter-cultural initiatives, both the countries should begin to bridge, because a greater future for both of them lies ahead through this alliance.

Please elaborate upon this mutual benefit that the two countries can have with the partnership?

My association with Japan began in 1996 with Artificial Intelligence (AI), which in contemporary times is omnipresent and ever-progressive. This now is being coupled with automation technology and IOT or internet of things, which has its great benefits but greater threats of cybersecurity. For instance, a case of autonomous driving being hacked could be fatal. In this, Japan and India should have a collaborative combat strategy. Apart from Israel, not many countries, especially India and Japan have looked into cybersecurity strongly enough. Although, the US is also lagging behind, it still probably has a strong cybersecurity development in its defence sector. Recently, the US embassy in Tokyo had contacted me to understand what India and Japan are doing in this respect, so there is a possibility of a trilateral dialogue between India, Japan and the US to tackle cybersecurity. While the US is the foundation of Internet of the world, Japan has the hardware technology, India has the software, and so we three can work together on this.

What are your concerns with controversies around the latest bullet train?

I feel most of the concerns suggesting this to be an expensive affair is unfounded. The net present value of the Indian burden is practically zero, making this a grant from Japan. So in a line, I would say India is getting an expensive grant from Japan with the safest technology and so we should not be complaining about it. Safe because Japan has been studying the Indian railways from a safety perspective, making the bullet train project run on secluded tracks where no other normal trains can run.

First Published: Sep 16, 2017 23:36 IST