War and Peace

India and China cannot afford war. These two giant countries of Asia must come together to lead the world. This century is the century of Asia...”

The past days and weeks have seen a deeply worrying escalation of tensions, unprecedented since 1962, on the disputed India - China border in the area of Pangong Lake, eastern Ladakh.
The current border tensions are not new to this 3,488km (2,167 miles) frontier between India and China. In view of recent standoff, people are seriously talking about the possibility of war between India and China, with alarming troop build ups on both sides of the border

Can India and China really afford another war? Is war the only possible solution to the border disputes that periodically strain the relations between these two mighty and historic nations?
The greatest threat to peace today is posed by those irresponsible and warmongering people who are convinced that violence is the only means of achieving peace. Others, meanwhile, believe that peace can only be attained through scientific and technological progress, trustworthy and independent legal structures, secure financial systems, and evenly distributed material abundance.

The enlightened, and enlightening, words of the Buddha clearly stated this over 2,500 years ago:

Na hi verenaverani, sammantidhakudacanam
Averena ca sammanti, esadhammosanantano 

~ Dhammapada, Verse 5
Hatred never ceases through hatred in this world
Through non-hatred, that is, loving-kindness (friendliness) alone it ceases
This is an eternal law

To engender peace, we must first and foremost realise that people are not mindless, mechanical bodies: they are governed by thoughts and emotions. Greed and hatred, which are the cause of so much conflict in the world today, are a direct manifestation of the pollution of mind. The preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO states: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” The Buddha made the same declaration more than 2,500 years ago.

The very heart of the Buddha's teachings is the practice of observing, controlling, and purifying the mind. Through self-reflection, focusing on one's own mind, one can quell the evil thoughts that lie therein. While economic progress, medical advancements, and militarisation may bring a semblance of  physical security, genuine peace -- mental and emotional well-being -- can only be achieved through spiritual growth.

How can we enjoy a peaceful sleep when we hear the cries of people who are being tortured, burnt, murdered, and raped in our neighbourhood? Alas! We have not learnt the painful, yet so valuable, lessons from the inconsolable incidents of the First and Second World Wars!  

Let us conceive and perceive a new vision for the future of our country, and the world at large.

Let us hold out our hands and open our hearts in loving-kindness and friendship, to join together to build a single, united, global family. Let us start new lives, let us build a new world, a world of human divinity!  We must forget the madness of the past and develop an entirely new attitude and approach toward the world, creating a seamlessly integrated world union, in which everyone, all the diverse peoples and populations of the world, are rightly recognised as essential members of one united family -- the human family; as the Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, so eloquently conveys, “The whole world is one family.”

While media can rightly be recognising for their positive role in presenting an accurate, informative and often highly insightful picture of the news and current affairs, there are others who seemingly revel in presenting issues quite differently, preferring to adopt sensationalist headlines, partial or skewed coverage, and an overtly aggressive and nationalistic agenda, propagating mistrust, antagonism and hate within and across communities, regions and nations. Electronic media is particularly powerful in today’s highly connected world.

Rather than encouraging peace, calm, trust and harmony in the world, media seems intent in whipping up a fury, hoping this will boost their ratings and advertising revenues. Broadcasting inflammatory reports that promote the notion of conflict and war, jingoistic images of a nation flexing its military muscles, with overt displays of weapons of mass destruction, is just simply wrong in today's increasingly integrated world, where international cooperation is needed, if not demanded, above all else.

A full fledged nuclear war would likely lead to the extermination of all human life, and almost all other living things on this planet also! In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, where the very first atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, even after 75 years, plants and trees do not grow properly, and the off-spring of humans and animals are born with severe physical defects at an alarming and disproportionately high rate.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has locked-down and crippled the whole world in an overwhelming and unprecedented manner. It has brought the entire world economy to a standstill and jeopardised the lives of millions. The International Monetary Fund has described the economic decline resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as being the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930's.

It is currently estimated that, even during peace times, an average of 5% of the world's annual GDP is directed to military spending, while it is estimated that about 40,000 children die of hunger or hunger-related diseases every day, and more than 700 million people in the world are malnourished. Now we are competing in the production and deployment of nuclear weapons, which could all too easily lead to the destruction of the entire planet.

Under these circumstances, could India or China ever even conceive of engaging in any conventional military engagement, let alone a nuclear war?

India and China are two of the oldest civilisations in existence, and benefit from the very finest and the richest of cultures in the world. Currently these two countries are also emerging as world economic superpowers. These two giant neighbouring states of Asia cannot conceivably think of war and of remaining enemies forever. This century is the century of Asia!

Given the whole world is passing through an unprecedented economic crisis and times of once unimaginable instability, India and China, these two giant nations of Asia, must seek to strengthen their bilateral cooperation and cultural relationship, and come together to lead the world. It is the time of Asia to lead the world with our ancient wisdom and widespread culture of peace.

India and China actually share a very deep and long-standing spiritual and cultural relationship, which can be built upon and used to foster increased cooperation in many other critical spheres, including trade, finance, politics, and humanitarian assistance. The greatest gift India has given to China is the gift of the Buddha’s teachings of wisdom. compassion, peace and friendship, which still inform and guide the Chinese culture in both obvious and subtle ways.

The hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri. Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping of China have designated 2020 as the “Year of Cultural and People to people Exchanges”. I am very confident that all issues, whether international borders or other matters, can be successfully resolved through peaceful dialogue and the establishment of mutual understanding. In addition, our Prime Minister is a Karma Yogi – an embodiment of the ancient wisdom of India and an apostle of world peace.

We should draw wisdom from our ancient civilisations, exploring the constructive ways and means by  which we can move forward together, as powerful neighbours with very similar hopes, ambitions and wishes for our people, cementing a positive and flourishing future relationship focused on “enhancing mutual trust, promoting cooperation, managing differences, and striving for common development”.

The spiritual and cultural relationship between India and China is much deeper, longer-standing, and so much more important than the relatively petty enmities created by border disputes and conflicts.

Surrendering the option of war is not a sign of weakness; it is a supremely powerful expression of wisdom and compassion, expressing deep care and concern for the happiness and well-being of the people.
Protecting lives is superior to killing.

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