India at the Shanghai World Expo and Its Significance in Sino-Indian Relations

From Fool’s Mountain:

The Indian Pavilion is a massive stupa (pronounced stuup, with an slightly elongated u), resembling specifically the Sanchi Stupa built during the Maurya Dynasty (322-185 BC) by King Ashoka (pronounced Ashok).

In what is one of the greatest examples the diversity and plurality of Indian history and culture, the dome is shaped like the Taj Mahal Mausoleum (which, commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and completed in 1653, is one of the seven wonders of the world) and the inspiration of its design comes from the Sanchi Stupa (which was completed in the third century BCE and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

…The Indian Pavilion is built entirely of bamboo and other environment friendly materials like solar panels, windmills, plants, water cascade and earthen tiles; and is the ‘greenest’ and most eco-friendly pavilion at the expo. Over 60,000 saplings, including many herbal medicinal plants, have been used in the roofing panels of the pavilion, which also collect rainwater for use in the pavilion. Over 30 kms of bamboo (which came from eastern Chinese forests) has gone into its construction. It is in fact the world’s largest Bamboo Dome – 35 meters wide and 18 meters tall, and contains an interlaced network of more than 500 pieces of 20 meter-length rods of bamboo. Completely rewriting China’s architecture rulebook, it will be spared demolition unlike the other pavilions (excluding China’s), dismantled and then reconstructed in Wushi, Zhejiang Province. The Indian architects had to prepare the first ever bamboo construction plans and code and then get the Chinese to approve it before proceeding.

…As the two most populous countries in the world and rising powers, India and China have a responsibility to maintain healthy relations, not only towards themselves but also towards the whole world. And the expo offers an excellent opportunity for India to increase the people-to-people contact between these two countries and awareness about Indian culture in China.

Many countries are increasingly realizing that Soft Power can be a very effective tool for increasing their influence, especially countries with rich histories and cultures like India and China. They have a lot to export in that direction; and can use Soft Power very effectively to project an image. Pavan Varma, the head of the Indian Council on Cultural Relations, has argued that “Culturally, India is a superpower.”


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