ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Irresistible Attraction' and Implacable Reality

The sobriety that marked president K R Narayanan's visit to China has gone a long way in emphasising both the limits and the possibilities of a relationship that is so vital and central to India's bilateral, regional and global concerns.

It would probably be difficult to recall a presidential visit in recent times which generated as much hyperbole and media hysteria and a general sense of people going overboard, so to say, as the visit of the US president William Jefferson Clinton to India. It was not so much that the visit became the event of the decade and provided scores of photo opportunity sessions, but the fact that a sense of unreality pervaded the atmosphere. There was nothing that Clinton did or said which was not reported in the minutest of detail and analysed threadbare. For a few days India basked in reflected glory and it appeared that Clinton’s visit was all that was needed to ensure India’s status as a global player and to vindicate the essential correctness of the government’s actions domestically, in the region and in the world. We seemed to be in an era when flamboyance, rather than realism, characterised presidential visits.

Not quite. President K R Narayanan’s visit to China from May 28 to June 3 brought back into perspective a sense of realism and balance. The sobriety that marked the visit and its reportage has gone a long way in emphasising both the limits and possibilities of a relationship that is so vital and central to India’s bilateral, regional and global concerns. As the president said in his address at Beijing University, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, “the real friendship between China and India”, ideally, would be “based not on economics or politics but on irresistible attraction. Then will follow real brotherhood of man”.

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