India and Japan are different

Regarding the May 29 article “Japan and India are ‘natural’ partners, [Manmohan] Singh says in Tokyo“: We have been hearing that Japan and India are “natural partners” for decades. As a serious admirer of Japan, I do hope things turn out well in the near future for both countries, although trade stands at $17.5 billion, not a huge sum, and the balance of trade is heavily tilted in Japan’s favor.

We always hear talk of Buddhism coming from India and other cliches that need no further elaboration. And I hear a lot of people saying the future is bright because Indians and Japanese think alike. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is highly improbable that people brought up in totally different cultures, under very dissimilar circumstances and values, would think in the same ways. India, with its various languages and cultures, is unlike any other country; people in the east and those in the west may have different belief systems. Even in Japan, there are so many dialects and ways of life. Just ask a white miso-lover to switch to red miso, right? So why not rejoice in the variety of life?

One Japanese business magazine writes that the Indian market has a lot of diversity. In fact, the risks are unclear, and no business model for other countries should be applied to India. As journalist Mark Tully has so often succinctly commented with regard to India, one moment you are sure of everything and the next moment you are pulled up short and feel unsure of anything.

Also, Japanese business houses may need to find a better reason for doing business in India other than going for the low-cost factor, which, as many find out soon, is not what they expected. Fuel costs are high and if one wishes to sell more cars, he should realize that people should be affluent enough to buy those cars. And there should be more roads to handle more cars. And we shouldn’t forget about the trees and the environment!

Shouldn’t we start with the premise that our two cultures are different and look to build bridges rather than pretend that we are on the same side of the river with no bridge to cross?

rajdeep seth
kure, hiroshima

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.