After she has pursued her studies in India, then in the United States, Vaiju Naravane became the Director of the Europe Office of The Hindu and the publisher for the foreign literature of Editions Albin Michel.
Based in Paris, she has interviewed several political leaders including Presidents Mitterrand, Chirac and Sarkozy. She has witnessed, for more than thirty years, all the upheavals that Europe and India have known.
What is India? Firstly, 28 states, 18 official languages and 3,000 dialects. It is also a big country, as big as 6 times France, counting more than 1 billion 210 millions of inhabitants – the predictions announcing that its population will exceed that of China as from 2030. The home of countless ancestral civilizations, it allows the co-existence of multiple religions such as: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the Parsees…
Hinduism, which concerns 77% of the Indians, comprises 4 main castes:
· Brahman: the priests, teachers and professors,
· Kshatriya: the princes, administrators and warriors,
· Vaishya: the tradesmen, and business men,
· Shudra: the servants.
Vaiju insists on this notion of castes, for even though she is not part of the constitution, she appoints the cultural DNA of the Indians and influences their behaviors strongly.
All things considered, the presence of a stranger – Sonia Gandhi- at the head of the country demonstrates probably the big tolerance and diversity of the latter. In fact, Sonia Gandhi took over, after the death of her late husband Rajiv, killed in an attack in 1991. Sonia Gandhi – a Catholic with Italian origin -, met Rajiv Gandhi, the eldest son of Indira Gandhi, herself daughter of Nehru, while he carried on his studies in Cambridge. But, let's not be mistaken, this family has no relationship at all with Mahatma Gandhi.
Nehru, who was a charismatic Social democrat, has provided India with a real international statute. And even though India is currently undergoing the international crisis, it has displayed a flat growth of about 6.5% these last years.
Revealing her rich experience, Vaiju stresses the ambiguousness of the Indian culture. She specifies there are some constraints in every collaborative approach with the Indians. Among the most essential of them, it would be necessary then to compel oneself to adopt some attitudes:
· Not to make one’s interlocutor lose "face",
· Detect the unspoken,
· Recognize the "no", very rarely revealed,
· Lock up the contracts,
· Know how to recruit and to create loyalty,
· Train, motivate and valorize.
But not losing sight of the sense of time which is not the same for everyone. And Vaiju added: "For an Indian, time is circular and mythological; for a European, time is linear and chronological".
What are the risks and stakes?
The challenges relating to India’s development remain multiple and worrying. Among others risks, the Maoist and terrorist threat (funded by China, Pakistan and the Moslems) remains a major peril for the country. Vaiju also points at the exceptionally unequal development between the North and the South – especially about infant mortality – just like corruption which is very wide-spread all over the country. Finally, the problems of infrastructure are immense and slow down the economic development indisputably.
If one regroups the states of the European Union – if one dared to allow this liberty -, India would be today the 4th world power after the European Union, the United States, and China – as the countries are classified by the CIA and according to the value of their annual gross domestic product per capita in equality of purchasing power (EPP). And even if the greatest specialists in geopolitics, such as Alexandre Adler, see China’s development with the best attention and sometimes with a certain admiration as regards to the adopted strategy, India is certainly a country which they will have necessarily to come to terms with.