Back from China, impressed and inspired
Four days before his recent visit to India, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang briefly met a delegation of youngsters from India who were in that country as part of a student exchange programme — a regular feature between the two neighbours since 2005. City-based Yashwant Mankhedkar of Nehru Yuva Kendra was one of coordinators of the 100-member delegation that returned on May 22 with impressions about China and glimpses of a communist set-up that it encountered on various instances. The tour that began with a surprise visit by the Chinese Premier went on to create long lasting imprints on the young minds.
"The Premier's visit was not included in our initial itinerary. When we reached the Indian embassy in Beijing on May 13, we were told that we might have the rare chance of meeting the Premier. It sent a wave of excitement among the delegates — many of whom had not even seen any Indian minister before that," says Mankhedkar.
Li's meeting with the delegation was widely reported by the Indian as well as Chinese media, many hailing it as a sign of the unaffected Sino-Indian ties despite the border standoff over Chinese incursion at Daulat Baig Oldie in Ladakh. But more than the big, diplomatic issues, it was rather certain simple aspects that moved the group.
"The Premier arrived exactly at the time that he had promised us. This was quite a surprise to all of us given that politicians and abiding time commitments are an inverse proportion in India. All of us expecting a convoy of cars and a fleet of security personnel were shocked to see Li Keqiang get down from a car that silently dropped him in the absence of any paraphernalia," recalls Mankhedkar, quickly adding another aspect that made the visit surprisingly shorter: "There was no security check. We were picked up from the hotel and taken right to the Premier's house. Can you imagine this in India?"
The delegation's visit that concluded on May 21 was interestingly woven to give the Indian youngsters a glimpse of the communist nation. The Great Wall of China, the SEZs and incubators of the southern city of Shenzen, the Wuhan Sports University that systematically nurtures young talent to convert them into Olympic medallists, the Capital Museum en route Beijing- Wuhan and the superfast Chinese train that covered 350 km in an hour — Mankhedkar is back with memories, and more than that, lessons from which he feels "we have a scope to learn".
"We visited the Palace Museum in central Beijing on May 14. It is a grand display of Chinese culture, values, traditions and rituals. Where in India can we see such a pride display of our values, when, in reality, our values and rituals are probably more in numbers and vary for every state?" Mankhedkar asks, adding that it is appreciable that a Chinese citizen puts country first before anything else. "We, in India, are so much used to seeing duplicate Chinese goods... (but) inside China, everything is original. The country knows what it wants," he adds.