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Balance guarantees future

July 14,2018
Park Bo-gyoon
The author is a senior columnist at the JoongAng Ilbo.

Mohandas K. Gandhi is India. He lived a wondrous life, a drama filled with nonviolence, nonresistance, peace and abstinence. It is the first image of India. The Gandhi Memorial Museum and Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Gandhi, are located in the capital city of New Delhi and are inspiring places for leadership. President Moon Jae-in visited them on July 9 and 10 while accompanied by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The first time a Korean president visited India was in February 1996. At the time, then-President Kim Young-sam paid a visit to Raj Ghat and received a scroll of paper bearing the Seven Social Sins as deemed by Gandhi. “Wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; religion without sacrifice and politics without principle” were the seven sins, and Kim was inspired by them. At the summit, economic cooperation programs were discussed in detail. Since then, Kim referred his reform measures as “reform with stability.”

One of Gandhi’s quotes presented in the memorial touched Moon particularly. “There is no path to peace. Peace is the path,” it said. Moon wrote in the guest book, “Peace is the path. Peace can only be achieved by peace.” Moon received a gift of a spinning wheel, a symbol of self-sufficiency. It is a rejection of the production that ostracizes humans. But this approach failed to resolve India’s poverty.
India is a complex country, where extremes collide against each other. Civilization and savagery, poverty and luxury, noise and silence and slowness and speed all collide and coexist. Paradox and coexistence are the profundity of a journey to India. India is the world’s largest democracy, and yet the caste system persists. India is a nuclear-armed state, but 500 million people are living in houses without toilets. India is a superpower regarding its space program, but one fourth of the population lives without electricity. Modi vowed in 2017 that electricity will be supplied to all by the end of next year.

Modi’s India is dynamic. “Make in India” is his slogan, and the economic growth rate projection for this year is 7.2 percent. His leadership desires to make the country stronger in manufacturing and IT. Samsung Electronics is at the center of his ambition, and Modi’s passion was translated in his passionate welcome for Moon. Modi’s subway ride with Moon is a dramatic event — The Blue House said the first time Modi attended a factory not linked to the Indian government was when he attended the opening ceremony of Samsung Electronics’ new factory.

It is even more impressive for Moon and Modi to attend the event together with Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong.
It reminded many of President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit to India in October 2004. At the time, he made a powerful remark: “I thought I represent the country, but what represent the Republic of Korea are Korean products.” The remark was interpreted as a change in Roh’s perception toward conglomerates.

India treats Korea based on its economic power. From the 1950s to the mid-1960s, India looked down on Korea. At the time, Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister. He was the key player of the Non-Aligned Movement. In Nehru’s eyes, Korea was a poor, weak country. He was friendlier with North Korea. He evolved Gandhi’s peace. He treated China with reconciliation and goodwill, but his foreign policy was a failure.

In 1962, India and China’s territorial dispute expanded to a war. India was losing and Nehru requested military support from the Unites States. Until then, he had called the United States a reckless imperialist. But he had no other choice. International politics is cruel, and goodwill’s lifespan is short. India felt the limit of its defense capabilities and started developing nuclear weapons.
India’s perception of Korea changed in the 1970s after the country established a foundation for a wealthier and stronger country during the Park Chung Hee administration. In December 1973, Korea established diplomatic relations with India. In the 1990s, the Korean economy was a stimulant for India.

Since Modi took office in May 2014, he has repeatedly said that Korea was an inspiration for the Indian economy. India respects Nehru and manages Gandhi as a national brand, but it separates ideology and reality. Its security and economic policies are pragmatic and meticulous.

Moon and Modi agreed to build Asia’s future together. The driving forces are prosperity and military power. When one side’s economy and security are shaken, the promise will be shaken.

This is the principle that moves international order. Moon has said the best virtue of a politician is a sense of balance. Balance guarantees future. That sense of balance must be spread to the entire Moon government and the ruling party.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 12, Page 31