12th October 2019 The Hindu Mains Editorials Notes- Mains Sure Shot

Note 1 – This is the pending article of 12th October.

Note 2 : In the analysis of 10th October we spoke of the fact that India and China cannot afford to be rivals in the changing world order, and today we will discuss the basics of the argument that we had put in that article. It is based on the article titled “Towards an Asian Century”.


Question – What is meant by a civilisational state? How does it connect India and China in an Asian Century?(250 words)

Context – The visit of the Chinese President.


At present:

  • With the visit of the Chineses President to India, much is being talked about the India-China relations and the role their friendship is set to play in the changing world order.
  • In this context many discussions also mention the idea of a civilisational state. It is usually used as opposed to the idea of a nation-state, of which the west is a proponent.
  • So it becomes imperative to understand what the two stand for and how it shapes the relationship between the state and the people.

So first, what is the difference between a civilisational state and a nation-state?

  • The primary difference is from where they derive the sense of nationhood (sense of what is a nation).
  • The idea is that there are two kinds of nation states – one, the Westphalian nation state which was created after the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) that ended The Thirty Year War in Europe creating national boundaries based on broad homogeneity, and which is understood to be the basis of the so-called rules-based liberal world order; and the other is the civilisational state where the sense of nationhood is derived from collective memories of an ancient civilisation.
  • It simply means that that the people in the West see the nation as a sovereign unit whose boundary was drawn on the basis of some similarity that exists among the people living in that nation. It may be a common language or common past or common heritage or anything that they all share in common. But the idea of the nation among the people of the civilisational state is different. They see the nation as a descendent or a guardian of their ancient civilisation.
  • Both India and China are civilisational states and they implicitly question Western ideas and institutions.
  • They are both count among the most ancient civilisations of the world.
  • The idea of what a nation is, is different among the people of these countries and among the people of the western countries.
  • Therefore ‘Western values’ like human rights, strong civil society and democracy does not apply in the same way in China and India as they do in the West.
  • So they both question the western ideas and institutions in their own way. China as we know rejects the western idea of democracy and liberalism and is becoming more and more authoritarian.
  • India on the other hand presents a different picture.

Is India truly a civilisational state that rejects the western values completely?

  • India is too diverse and has too strong a middle-class which inherited and embraced many legacies from its colonial past, including social and judicial liberalism, to ever be a complete civilisational state.
  • the civilisational state in India did not have to set itself in opposition to the liberal West. the Indian civilisational state has a unique characteristic of its own. It neither applaudes nor rejects the western attributes. It is a more thoughtful synthesis of the two. An assimilation on India’s own terms
  • It is best represented by Swami Vivekananda, the modern monk who won over many Western fans in America and Europe in the late 19th century with his own vision of India’s civilisational rise without forsaking lessons from, or collaboration with, the West.

How is the notion of a civilisational state, India-China friendship, and the Asian century interlinked?

  • As we can see the 21st-century is marked by the dominance of Asian politics and culture mostly because of its demography, location and economy. So the 21st century is called the Asian century. It parallels parallels the characterization of the 19th century as Britain’s Imperial Century, and the 20th century as the American Century.
  • The most prominent place in Asian politics is held by India and China. They are in a position now to influence the international order by the friendships and hostilities they make.
  • They are also close neighbours and civilisational states who do not embrace the western values as it is and take pride in their past. And both of them aspire also aspire to be the dominant regional powers.
  • But this will not be possible if they remain hostile towards each other because as said in the previous article, when two big powers fight, it’s always the other nations that are the gainers.
  • So both of them have different approaches with convergent goals.
  • In this situation it is best for both the countries to reach a truce. Keep their hostilities aside and focus on the wider scenario.

Conclusion/ Way forward:

  • They should learn from their histories. They could both rise as great civilisations because Throughout civilisation they have maintained a peaceful co-existence.
  • They should continue to remain so.

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