Friday, November 19, 2010

A Voice From Shanghai

          My wife, Usha, visited Shanghai twice this year in a span of eight months on an official assignment, and has been full of happy memories about her trip. As far as I am concerned, the closest I got to Shanghai was on Thursday evening thanks to my good friends, Sudheen Kulkarni and Dhaval Desai, of the Observer Research Foundation at the Backbay Reclamation at the end of Marine Drive. My access to Shanghai was made possible thanks to a superb and very informal talk by an Indian journalist, Bivash Mukherjee, about China, Shanghai and related topics. Bivash has lived in Shanghai for the last 20 years.

         His speech, which was preceded by a film about Tagore in China, triggered a lively q-and-a session. The nearly 30-minute film was made by Bivash. The hall was packed to the capacity.

         On that day I did not get much of an opportunity to interact with Bivash because even after his talk, he was mobbed by several members of the audience who were curious to know more about China. I, therefore, telephoned him the on Friday afternoon and briefly interviewed him on my favourite topic---space.

         Bivash, a veteran China watcher, believes that there is a race to the moon between India and China. ``Yes, that is the perception and I think this is something quite inevitable. What India does, China will do and what China does India will do,'' he told ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM).''

         ``Space creates a huge feeling of pride. It is this feeling of pride which drives China to attempt a manned landing on the moon,'' he said. Told that China is planning to go in for human lunar landing in 2020, Bivash replied: ``Do not be surprised if they do it in 2019.'' His earlier statement is significant because India has not totally ruled out the possibility of a manned lunar landing around 2020.

         About the fantastic coverage given to the Chang'e-2 mission on China TV's website, Bivash said that their capacity was fantastic. ``I know that India has a great space programme and its mission to the moon was a success. But, I think that they need more publicity in the Chinese media,'' Bivash stated.

         The Chinese space programme is of great interest to space addicts like me. That is why each time Usha goes to Shanghai I ask her to get me a model of the moon which was manufactured and sold during China's first mission to the moon. ``Chang'e-1''  as a part of the public outreach project, But,with her tight sked she has not been able to locate the model. I hope she is lucky the next time she goes to Shanghai and gets me the model!

         It was a great interaction with Bivash and I hope I have more of this in the days ahead.

         Thank you Sudheen. Thank you Dhaval.

         Thank you Observer Research Foundation. 

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