Alex Travelli who was moderating the discussion with Prasenjit Basu asked what made him bring Asia together, where people see every country as different. Prasenjit said he lived in East Asia for 25 years and then spent 5 years in the University of Pennsylvania working on Asia’s wealth. He said the story began with trying to understand why did that the parts of Asia that were ruled by Japan are most prosperous than the areas ruled by Britains. He discovered that at the point of independence, the Indian literacy rate was 14 percent, and 11 years later when Iraq got independence the literacy rate was 14 percent as well. On the other hand, Korea and Taiwan were at 60 percent, and the life expectancy rate was dramatically higher. When he tried to look into it deeply he felt it was more important to look into an Asian perspective.
Alex shared a conclusion mentioned in Prasenjit’s book which stated an interesting way of looking at Asia is by giving special attention to Japan and India, which in turn means less attention to China. He also added that the book explored the Russo Japanese war and it was because of the Japanese victory that Bengal was Partitioned in 1905. Prasenjit then made a point that the Americans worked very hard to keep India united during the freedom struggle.
Alex also pointed to the observation Prasenjit made about the Indian and Turkish economy in the book. Prasenjit responded that in the 1930s two economies i.e Japan and Russia did really well and also explained how India was different from those two countries and where Turkey went wrong
Prasenjit also added how if you look at the history of India, China or Indonesia, all three have existed as civilizational states through at least 2000 years. Adding to it he explained the influence of Asia on India and vice-versa.
About the Author: Prathiksha Devagiri, a student journalist at National School of Journalism, Bangalore. A defence brat. She believes in the thought of never stopping and has just begun as a journalist. She presently writes for Bookstalkist.