New Delhi, May 23 : Seeing the current phase of engagements between India and China through Indian eyes while living in China, experiencing the complexities of their life to provide a fresh view on the momentous change taking place in that society, is a welcome change from the academic nature of China studies that has been the norm in India so far, said Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon as he released Smoke and Mirrors: An experience of China, an avante garde book about life in China by Pallavi Aiyar, a journalist based in Beijing and an advisor to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on China-related issues, here last evening.
Releasing the book, Menon said, the book deals with a period of engagement between India and China, which is unprecedented and very different. Menon has also served as India's ambassador in the Chinese capital. The launch was followed by an informal panel discussion organized by the CII, the Ambassador Hotel and Harper Collins India, the publishers of the book.
Taking part in the discussion, Aiyar said: 'If I was born reasonably rich, I would like to be born in India, but if I was born poor, I would prefer to be born in China.'
The book, is the first such to be authored by an Indian living in China. It is an attempt to explore the themes that define modern China - the dualities of capitalism and communism and freedom and control; and the differential nature of achievements of modern Indian and Chinese states, said Aiyar who is the Beijing-based China correspondent for the Hindu group of publications since 2002.
She is also the winner of the 2007 Prem Bhatia Award for excellence in political reporting and analysis, the youngest ever recipient of the prize.
"Smoke and Mirrors" is a first look by an Indian living in China at the lives of the average Chinese. It is a very important intervention giving a contemporary Indian perspective on how different life in China is, said Sanjaya Baru, Media Advisor to the Prime Minister.
Knowing how sensitive the Chinese are, this book is an insightful, brave and honest attempt at telling it like it is, said Dr Prannoy Roy, Chairman, NDTV Ltd who moderated the panel discussion that focused on various aspects of contemporary China, comparisons between the two societies and India's engagement with its northern neighbour.
This book has come out at an important time in the current phase of relations between the two countries as it recounts the size and impact of the great transformation taking place in that country, said Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief, India Today Group that partners Harper Collins.
China and India have very different models of growth. There was a huge level of ignorance about China's infrastructure and industry among Indian industry but all that has changed now. Indian industry is engaging with their Chinese counterparts and globally competing with them as well. This book is an aide in that direction, said Tarun Das, Chief Mentor, CII,
Aiyar sees China plainly, without any biases. Her book provides insight into whether it is possible for that society to keep the direction of present change, said Mira Sinha Bhattacharjea, Emeritus Fellow of the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi.