Monday, January 10, 2011

Societies: Open vs closed

On Saturday I attended the Distinguished Gust Lecture delivered by Professor Kishore Mahbubani. The topic was “Will China and India grow together or grow apart?"

No doubt, the lecture was good one. Because it was amazing in two ways: it was simple words but quite meaningful at large and it was also clear in layman language. Among other things which had discussed, one very interesting thing (at least to me) was he said China is sending different teams to study the functions of democracy in different parts of the world. This is something new to me and I wonder what would be the china’s take on Indian democracy?

I was lucky to get a copy of his 2008 book The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East. It is very interesting particularly the first chapter. Read the book reviewed by Sunanda K. Datta-Ray.

But two things remains unquestioned, no matter minor or major that may be.

Mr.Kishore writes in his book and also he has written elsewhere that:

  • Indian political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta once compared India and China by saying,  “India is an open society  with a closed mind; China is a closed society  with an open mind.”

But I read and heard several times the same words as below:

According to Brahma Chellaney:

  • Henry Kissinger once said China is a closed society with an open mind, while India is an open society with a closed mind

The other question which I consider was not at all touched during the lecture was the planning process adopted in china vis-à-vis in India especially during the process of economic reforms in these countries. Because what makes different to masses is the more realistic and decentralized planning process rather than other way around.


  1. Whatever might be the process of democracy in india, one thing is for sure, India is the first attraction for investment, sale and service etc... In global market scenario ... And its growth can't be judged on mere apprehension of closed socitial practices....
    But traits and virtues of closeness in economical exercises, should be the oberit dicta for our country....

  2. Umesh,

    I agree, but for the "attraction for investment, sale and service etc" it is the boon of domestic market which is so vast and untapped till now makes sensible for all the new investments, sales etc.

    Also remember there is nothing called "closed societal practices". It is the state of mindset of the people that appears to look like that.

  3. Mr. Chandra,
    First of all I m really sorry i didn't proposed ur name in my former compliment....
    Talking about 'Untapped' & 'vast' Indian market, who were crippling from a long time by scathy bulling temperaments of stock buyers, with slump abbreviaties towards expensive securities. But today.. What we can find is number crunching at lump, highly monetised IPO's get slashed from brokers. Coal IPO make successful entry at big amount in the ledgers FII's. That's how it all carved out.
    But.. Yes, we need find out the concrete idea & place of expansion in a non- abstract environment. Unlike chinese behaviour towards global market, especially towards India...