Monday, September 01, 2014

Modi's effort to woo Japan is nothing but "foolish crush", based on "old-fashioned" dictum of Asian values

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded editorial, Bloomberg, a major source for global business and financial market news, has characterized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to go out of the way to woo Japan as nothing but “India’s foolish crush.” A Bloomberg View comment, it says, “Canceling talks with Pakistan, or rejecting the World Trade Organization deal reached at Bali, Modi could be projecting the India that can say no. But it is hard not to suspect anachronism and naivete in Modi’s plan to model India’s economy on Japan’s postwar achievements.”
Suggesting that India is wooing Japan at a time when the Japanese bubble has already burst, the commentary says, “The export-oriented economies of Japan and its Asian clients achieved their highest growth when most Chinese were still wearing drab Mao suits. The spirit of innovation long ago shifted from Sony to Apple; and Abenomics (named after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe), the engine of a fresh national ascent to glory and power, is now running on empty.”
Pointing out that even Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, who once banked heavily on Japanese development, “now thinks Japan made too many irrevocable mistakes, and has switched his affections to the Korea of Samsung and Hyundai”, it says, “Arriving in Japan, Modi will no doubt find some good deals for India. But he will also find the beloved old shrine of Hindu nationalists deserted, the faithful long gone in search of other gods.”
The commentary has been authored by a reputed scholar, Pankaj Mishra, who is author of many books, including "From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia" and "Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond" He is currently a fellow of Britain's Royal Society of Literature. Mishra thinks that it is no compliment that Modi is being hailed at India’s Abe.
Modi may have visited Japan twice during his long decade of ostracism by the West as Gujarat chief minister, and is “one of only three people that Shinzo Abe follows on Twitter”, but Mishra asks, “Can Modi’s old-fashioned reverence for all things Japanese, from the tea ceremony to nuclear plants, produce the right blueprint for India’s future?”
He points out, After all, Japan today offers less instruction in world-conquering industrial growth and innovation than in the admirable art of "bending adversity" -- the title of a superb new book on Japan by David Pilling that Modi might find more up-to-date than Vivekananda’s musings.”
“The Japanese state’s striking early example of fostering internationally competitive local industries was closely followed by countries such as South Korea and Taiwan”, the commentator says, adding, “Leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia eagerly sought Japanese investment in their economies, primarily to diversify their industrial bases.” They have lost all hope from Japan now.
“The most avid of these Asian Japanophiles was Mahathir, the long-lasting prime minister of Malaysia and unabashed exponent of majoritarian nationalism. His own Look East policy was grounded in economic relations with Japan as well as racial and civilizational assertions of difference, and included an explicit anti-Western posture”, Mishra says.
He further says, “For a while, everything seemed to be going well. Then, in the 1990s the limits of Japanese developmentalism were exposed by the new age of globalization. So much of the Japanese economic miracle had been contingent on US willingness during the Cold War to open its own markets to Japanese manufacturers while turning a blind eye to Japan’s blatantly protectionist trade policies and restrictions on capital movement.”
“Japan’s comparative advantage couldn’t last, and it didn't. The Asian financial crisis then went on to expose, among other things, the dangerous overreliance on foreign investment of countries like Malaysia. We haven’t heard much about Asian Values since then; those who look east now seek out China rather than Japan”, Mishra underlines.
Saying that Modi is only seeking to invoke Asia’s “three outspoken leaders” of the 1980s -- Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad and Japan’s Shintaro Ishihara – who talked of "Asian salues", Mishra comments, “Lee typically argued that the only antidote to ‘the disruptive individualism of Western liberalism’ was renewed stress on ‘individual subordination to the community’.” This “coincides perfectly with the values cherished by the RSS”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would and I bet most of us will be ok with "foolish crush" for Japan against China or Pakistan any day.