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Unravelling the Mind of China

2 May 2011

Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses

The view of China/India today

Media hype pictures the relationship as:
Mostly: competitors, rivals, enemies A few as: Partners, friends, collaborators

But do India & China really know and understand each other?

Understanding each other vital for India & China, indeed for the world but the fact is..
Both awareness and study of China are rudimentary and neglected in India Such neglect is high-risk: in opportunities missed, mis-steps, misunderstandings

A Travelers Questions
Is there a specific Chinese way of thinking (distinct from the Indian)? What explains Chinas prowess in infrastructure and manufacturing? How does China grow so fast? How can we communicate and negotiate? What are Chinas strengths and weaknesses?

A Model to understand China

Most models draw on economic or political rationales to explain Chinas ascent Could science provide a better explanation?

Science to the Rescue.

Explanation lies in human behaviour. and language defines the human Evolutionary biology, psycholinguistics and Neurosciences support a new model

A new Model to understand China

Language influences Thought Thought produces Behaviour

Collective Behaviour creates Culture

Culture develops Competences Competences create Development

Influence of Language on Thinking

Deep early effects (perception) Broad pervasive effects (gender, voices)

Big differences (concepts of time, space, writing, bilinguals)

Important consequences (naming, agency) Language changes thinking!

The Chinese Language-1

Monosyllabic, tonal, ideographic, lingua franca over 4000 years old unites China Rules of grammar simple: no plurals, tense, gender or case. Concrete, specific, visual If God had taught man a language, that language would have been Chinese-Leibnitz

The Chinese Language-2

Holistic nature of characters lays emphasis on specificity, and on context for meaning Neurology: pattern recognition..right brain Characters specify sound and meaning Unlike alphabets, no basis of general rules Analogy and inductive logic, not abstract

The Chinese Language-3

Emphasis on written annals and historical records (in India, oral tradition) Chinese role models historical figures vs. Indian role models: mystic/mythological Chinese language promotes integrated use of the right and left brains capabilities From writing characters to manufacturing

Language & Heritage of India-1

Sanskrit grammar aids abstraction
Concepts, complexity, universality Languages, diversity, creative thinking,

Parallel structure--different worlds

Language & Heritage of India-2

Monopoly of caste power creates an oral culture Complex grammar, rules for abstraction, universality and ambiguity Deductive logic of Sanskrit as a precursor for software

Language & Heritage of India-3

Multiple languages, religions and races English-speaking elite floats atop rural sea* Learnt flexibility, adaptation but kept core Complex verbal and thinking skills Multiplicity of paths to human happiness

Influences of Language and Culture

Emphasis in China on historical records, annals--in India, oral tradition rules Chinese role models historical figures vs. Indian role models: mystic/mythological Chinese language promotes use of whole brain, and inductive, paradoxical logic Indian languages develop verbal capacity and deductive logic

Origins of the Indian and Chinese civilizations

The Ethno-biology of the Yellow River and the Indus

Ethno-biology of the Yellow River

Flooding and dykes on the Yellow River Intensive River control needs Management Authoritarian Mandate of Heaven and the automatic corruption meter Steady southward expansion of the State Linguistic, cultural and political unity

Ethno-biology of the Ganges

Abundant water and rich alluvial soil needs light Management even for high population Repeated conquests create diversity of states with changing elite rulers and stratified society Natural barriers to expansion create cultural but not political unity

Ways Of Thinking ie Competences

Universal, Oral Abstract, Sequential, Diversity and individuality Mythology, legend Complexity Flux & creativity Deductive logic: Left Brain

Concrete, Pattern, Particular, Visual Holistic, Unity across time & space, collective History, proverbs Practicality Harmony, order Inductive logic: Left/Right Brain

Ways Of Thinking
Linear, digital*


Analogical, nonlinear Influence through Influence through Parallel worlds Concentric circles Melody Harmony Reality is*: Reality is: specific, ambiguous, with with events in a events in sequence flow

The Nature of Strategy-China


and complementary go together

(LT) Patterns integrate (ST) contradictions Novel solutions by reformulating language: Calling a thing by its right name Inductive, spiral and paradoxical thinking

Implications for Strategy-India

Diversify the field of engagement: expand economic ties, business, people-to-people ties Devise complex and creative contexts: multilateral, multi-local, multi-functional Operate parallel and multi-modal tracks of engagement with no pre-determined agenda Avoid being paralysed by the border issue

The Economic Implications for India & China

Indian and Chinese skills complementary:
So, collaborate based on Indias strengths Not avoidance thro fear of differences

Unleash collaborative innovation engine

Maintain harmony though difference exists

IT: software married to hardware Manufacturing: design meets scale

Films: music with choreography

Medecine: healthcare and bioscience Pharma: generics and bulk drugs Management: Consulting and Infrastructure Education: English & Pedagogy Globalisation: Cultural fit & Finance Clout

And The Final Word On Learning. (From Confucius)

He who learns but does not think, is lost, but

He who thinks but does not learn, is in danger.

Thank you!