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Suvarnabhumi Airport : Flight Status

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Viva Suvarnabhumi

When the Prime Minister of an immediate neighbour and one of the most important countries in the east arrived in Delhi, our newspapers were full of Gordon Brown assuming power in London and some even reported about how his wife will be different from Cherie Blair in her public appearances and behaviour. So much is the western fixation, nay a hangover of the colonial era.

Thailand is not only a very significant strategic partner of India but has long been a cherished cultural and civilisational friend. Its Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont arrived in Delhi with a high-power political and business delegation this Tuesday. His visit marks an important milestone in bilateral relations and the Thai delegation will discuss what has been on India's wish list for long – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (Bimstec), and the Mekong-Ganga Co-operation project – sub-regional groupings of which India and Thailand are members. The Thai PM is accompanied by his foreign minister, commerce minister and energy minister too, indicating how important the visit is.

It's ironical that we tend to appear arrogantly ignorant of the importance of winning the hearts of our neighbours. The eastern side especially, is completely missing from our television channels and papers, though they are the vital ports to strengthen our trade, business and security sectors. None of our newspaper barons have found it useful to have full-time correspondents in any of the eastern countries to report from Bangkok, Laos, Vientiane, or Angkor Wat.

The entire East Asian block is left at the mercy of western and Chinese news agencies and we have opted to understand our closest and friendliest neighbour through American, British and Chinese interpretations.

On the other hand, China has taken a lead in this region and emerged as the 'legitimate' heir of the Buddhist circuit. It's the growing Chinese presence in the economic, business and social sector in the entire eastern belt, once known the world over as the Suvarnabhumi region, that finally shook India from its deep slumber and for the first time, P V Narasimha Rao, the forgotten warrior of the Congress, formulated the Look East policy which was taken forward by the Vajpayee government in a big way and Jaswant Singh crafted a brilliant and effective format to further strengthen it.

Historically and culturally, eastern Asia has been a Hindu influence region. The biggest temple of the Hindus is not in India but in Cambodia -- namely Angkor Wat. And the best part of it is that these countries feel proud of their Indian connection because that was built thorough love, compassion and friendly cultural links.

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