By Dr. Sawraj Singh
It is becoming clearer everyday that the rise of the East and the decline of the West are the two major trends of today. The western countries are facing a deep economic crisis. However, this crisis is not just economic; it is also social, ethical, and cultural. It appears that the Western domination of the last two centuries and the American hegemony of the last two centuries are about to end. The shift of economic power is so obvious that any comparative statistics will easily and clearly prove the shift. However, ideological and political shifts are also taking place even though these are not as easy to prove as the economic shift.
The statistics on economic change are happening so fast that it is hard to believe. About 20 years ago, when I predicted that in the second decade of the twenty-first century, Asia will beat America and Europe and become the leading region, and China’s economy will become bigger than the American economy, very few people believed me. Today, even I am amazed at the rate and magnitude of change. About 25 years ago, America’s GDP was about 8 times bigger than China’s GDP. Today, China’s GDP is very close to America’s GDP, and in all probability, is going to overtake it soon.
There are many areas where China has already overtaken America. China has the largest share of world trade and is leading in public transportation technology. China has the fastest train in the world. Not only that, China has the most technologically advanced train in the world. This train goes to Tibet. This railway line is at the highest altitude in the world. At many places, it passes over solid ice. However, ice can melt with the radiation energy of the sun. Therefore, the railway tracks have a cooling mechanism which keeps the ice solid at all times. The glass on the windows of the train filters the ultra-violet rays and protect from the glare. The train has oxygen-monitoring sensors so that if the partial pressure of oxygen decreases, then it will automatically release oxygen.
Another amazing fact is that China has the fastest computer in the world. No one could have believed that any country could beat America in the field of computers. The computer age was synonymous with the American era. Computer technology played a big role in making America the only superpower of the world. In the past, virtually all major research in the field of computers took place in America. Bill Gates, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Silicon Valley sounded like household items which transcended any national or regional boundaries and became universal. It was unimaginable that any country could challenge America in this field.
However, the most amazing shift of power is in the field of steel production. In the last two centuries, steel production has been a fairly accurate indicator of the power of a country. At the end of the 19th century, when England was the leading country of the world, its steel production was more than the rest of the world combined. In the most remarkable shift of power, now China’s steel production is more than the rest of the world combined.
Even though China has become the manufacturing hub of the world, yet the fact remains that India is the country which is the seat of Eastern thought and spirituality. In the end, philosophy, not economics, determines the dominant thought and way of life. Rise of the East and decline of the West are in the final analysis a manifestation of the victory of Eastern philosophy. Relativism of the East has prevailed over the absolutism of the West. Similarly, the western concept of placing economics above ethics (the reversal of the time-tested Eastern concept) has played a very important role in the West’s decline. Similarly, the uniformity of the West (trying to make everybody like itself) as opposed to the Eastern concept of unity in diversity, which was perceived as the West trying to impose its values on others, played a very significant role in the West’s decline.
All of these sound concepts were made possible by the continuous evolution of Indian thought: From the Vedas to Buddhism, Jainism, the Bhakti movement, Sufism, and finally to Sikhism. Sri Guru Granth Sahib represents the continuous evolution and zenith of Eastern philosophy and spirituality. However, the message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is truly universal. We do not want to pit the East against the West. We want to restore balance between the material and spiritual aspects of life. Western capitalism has created an imbalance by its one-sided approach. Most of the problems of modern man and the world originate from this imbalance. The message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib can help the whole world, both the East and the West, by restoring balance.
Russia also seems to be showing a comeback to the world power scene. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was degraded to an insignificant and marginalized country. Under the leadership of Putin and with an ideological shift from West to East, Russia has considerably regained its lost power and status. It is playing a growing role in world affairs. Russia is now helping to restore the balance of power in the world. Russia has been a reliable and consistent friend of India. Reemergence of Russia as a significant world player can only help India. No matter how we look at it, economically, philosophically, or politically, India’s future is thoroughly integrated with the East. India has to continue its “Look East” policy.
It is my contention that the concept of a multipolar world is based upon the ideology of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. Therefore, the concept of a multipolar world is also an eastern concept. The message of Guru Nanak is of love, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence. These are the fundamental principles of the concept of a multipolar world. India should remember that if it wants a proper and respectable status in the world, then it should work with Russia and China to change the present unipolar world to a multipolar world. India should realize that its future lies with the East.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at [email protected].