Date of this Version
October 26, 2010 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
What can we learn, about either the People’s Republic of China or India and about what makes the two countries similar to and different from one another, by placing recent mega-events in these two young nation-states side by side? As a China specialist who watched the Beijing Olympics from afar with great interest in 2008, spent a month in Shanghai last summer while it played host to the 2010 World Expo, and is now nearing the end of his first stay in India, which took place in an autumn week that began right after the Commonwealth Games had concluded, I’ve been ruminating on this question a lot lately. Here are several things that strike me as worth considering, after a week in Delhi that has included participation in an academic workshop and public events devoted to themes of urban change.* In some cases, my comments bring up issues that have received a lot of attention in mainstream media coverage of the mega-events; in other instances, I push in directions that the press has not tended to go. In all cases, I am drawing upon not just my own reflections, but also on private and public conversations I have had during my brief time in Delhi, especially discussion at a stimulating October 19 Delhi Urban Platform event, which was held at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and gave me the opportunity to share a stage with Ravi Sundarum (an urban theorist and media studies scholars who is one of the initiators of the inspiring SARAI network) and former CSDS director Ashis Nandy (the globally famous and provocative political thinker).