Life Encounters: personal impressions about India.
Regarding the impressions that meant for me to visit India on repeated occasions -which continue in the present and I hope, also in the future-, I can not fail to mention in the first instance two: the first is related to the expectation of being and remaining in the current second most populated country on the planet, next to become the most populated in a short time, according to the projections of the United Nations. The second refers to the immeasurable cultural diversity of this country, which forces us to review each previous idea about coexistence in diversity.
In an insurmountable geography, for its beauty and variety, that summons to wonderful imaginations and recovery of figures that India has given to the world (Buddha, Mahavira, Shankara, Gandhi, Ambedkar, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, etc.), its exciting revision of his own historiography and his endless encounter with the construction that Europeans made of India and in India -over it/Her- appears as an inexhaustible subject to explore (like the “caste” word introduced by the Portuguese to name the social structure they observed, generating a category of intelligibility that was transmitted to the whole world as if it was Indian, the very diverse dynamics of societies under the European colonizers, such as Goa, the use/contestation by the Indians of the image Europeans spread over India and that permeates the imaginations of the planet, etc.).
For the rest, India roughly approaches who visits it/(Her) all about the debate on the nexus between security and development and about coexistence in diversity (the dynamics between majorities and minorities). India surprises while discussing women’s access to certain temples, while at the same time recognizing a third gender (2005,2009, 2014) -signing itself to the forefront of the world on the subjects. In line with the diversity and asymmetries of power and vulnerability, it is also of great interest to follow the discussions about the space of affirmative discrimination that the Indian state developed.
Domestic politics, with a huge number of characters, political spaces and mythology of its own, is of an unusual wealth, while at the same time it is witnessing the international projection of India, hand in hand with the overwhelming presence of its soft power in the whole planet (knowing that India has used its soft power before that category was created by Nye-1990-), including ideas about what a good life is. Within this framework, it is undeniably interesting to follow the development of India as that Great Power that is warned and to which it aspires, so contrasting with the dynamics of China and the geography of tensions that its relationship generates.
Similarly, the day to day offers the opportunity to follow the situation of South Asia closely, with India at the head, avoiding all the obstacles that appear to become the Great Power that we mentioned without inhabiting the place of the selfish and inconsiderate regional hegemon and, at the same time, India deals with inexorable appointments of the destiny of the region (like the climatic problems that are foreseen, among them the problem with water, that already exists and the United Nations projects that it will get worse).
Its quasi-sacred geography, populated by innumerable spaces related to Another order of life (as the case of the Ganges River); its temporalities, which allow different historical times to travel in the radius of the same Indian city, shelling traditions, hybridizations and mixtures, a cultural matrix that is counted among the oldest in the world, are the variables where all complex and very rich social relationships that develop there, rest.
India, with its streets and fields populated by diverse people, with many prolific and challenging intellectuals, full of colors and aromas of History, is for those who love it deeply and decide to study it, a passion that can not be waived, that moves even at the mere thought of it.
Dr. Lía Rodriguez de la Vega is an International Analyst – Academician, Comité de Asuntos Asiáticos del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI) and Ex. Director of Latin American Assosciation of Asian and African Studies (ALADAA).