Shanghai: This city, the largest in the world, was never on my bucket list. Now, I want to go back to hang out and discover the promise it revealed on an abbreviated trip. What a wonderful town! Just an off-the-top assessment: this city was born global and has embraced, unlike Bombay, its international heritage.
So here’s the thing: you land at the Pudong International Airport and get the sense of desolate grandeur and last-mile incompetence that you see at Delhi’s T3 white-elephant terminal. The difference is the immigration officials all looked very professional; there were no casual “supervisors” hanging about; no officious flunkies escorting VIPs; the security men were real, not guys scratching their privates.
Our designated chauffer was waiting with a graphically soothing placard; young fellow who spoke English and was exceptionally polite. He drove us on wonderful, well-lit expressways to our hotel. We couldn’t see much of the city because of the smog but the lights on the highway were bright and we zoomed into the Pudong city center with the smoothness you can only associate with Western transit.
My lack of enthusiasm for the trip-to attend an Asian PR conference-was challenged by my two daughters who accompanied me. “Get over it, Dad. It’ll be great,” they chorused, brushing aside my concern about language and my Indian jaundiced eye. I was just 13 in 1962 when China delivered the knockout punch that sent the burgeoning republic of India into a tizzy from which it is still to recover.
On my own, I would have checked into the hotel, attended the conference and done the regulatory sightseeing, eaten the standard five-star hotel food and come away marveling at the city with its colored-light modernity. With my daughters in attendance, we traipsed through the Huangpu and Xuhui districts and saw parts of the city that I probably would never have visited, especially when the day temperature was two degrees Celsius and windy.
如果是我自己，我应该住进宾馆，出席会议，然后参加 安排好的观光，品尝5星级酒店的美食，带着对这座绚烂的现代化都市的赞叹离开。 因为女儿们也在，我们漫步在黄埔和徐汇区，如果不是她们我可能永远不会到这些地方，更别提日间气温只有2℃，而且有风。
Shanghai is seared in my memory because of my daughters; the one is the mother of my precocious granddaughter; the other a New York sophisticate. They are so cool and so well-informed that I just let them take me here, there and everywhere. We walked through the old town, wandered through Xintiandi, the upscale part of the French Concession neighborhood that also boasts of the home of the suave Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai), who served as the premier of China from 1949 t0 1976.
Zhou was the interlocutor for Jawaharlal Nehru at the Bandung Conference of 1955, in which the first principles of the Nonaligned Movement were articulated; a year before in Peking (now Beijing), Zhou signed with Nehru the Panchsheel Treaty, binding India and China to an agreement of peaceful coexistence.
As we walked through Xintiandi, I marveled at the restoration; here was a city that embraced it European heritage…so unlike any Indian city. My time in Shanghai was cut short because of a family emergency but we did get a chance to walk around People’s Square and take in the Bund, a gorgeous esplanade on the Huangpu River, with its barges and bridges.
From the Bund, you can see in shimmering watercolor impressionism, the high rises of Pudong, which my girls called the Gurgaon of Shanghai; looking to our back, we saw the traditional Tudor-style buildings, including the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where we stopped to have afternoon tea.
在我们走过新天地时，我惊讶于古迹的修缮，这座城市包容了它的欧洲遗产， 不像印度的任何一座城市。因为家里急事我们的上海之行被迫缩短，但幸好我们有时间游览人民广场和外滩，这是黄埔江畔华丽的广场，江中游船往返，江上大桥横亘。从外滩看去，江中波光粼粼，我的女儿称为“上海Gurgaon ”（Gurgaon德里的卫星城 ）的浦东遥遥矗立。往后看，传统的都铎建筑赫然在目，沃尔多夫 阿斯托里亚宾馆矗立其中，我们停下里在里面享用了下午茶。
We walked and walked, marveling at the sheer exuberance of street life even in the cold two-degree-Celsius weather. As we followed Nanjing Road to People’s Square, I kept thinking that the Bombay of the 1950s that I knew and loved could have become like this, except power-grubbing politicians, venal bureaucrats and apathetic citizens destroyed it and condemned it to be a slum.
Unlike any city in India, Shanghai seems to be livable for the average citizen; you can actually walk the streets, which you cannot in any Indian city; its riches seem to have been shared with the people. Roads, sidewalks, gardens, public art and mass transport; they have it all in spades; they also have preserved and enhanced their colonial heritage. “Inclusive growth” is not a slogan here; it’s real.
In the most superficial assessment, if one is to compare to Shanghai to Bombay (and frankly, there’s no comparison), it is clear that Shanghai is in a totally different league, comparable to Paris. Duh! It is called Paris of the East.
Shanghai has almost 24 million people compared to Bombay’s 21 million. There can be no question that life seems to be hugely better in the Chinese city. These comparisons are impressionist, I grant you. There’s no mistaking, however, the dignity of common people and the preponderance of public goods. If Bombay is part of a democracy (and this is dubious, given the thugs of the Shiv Sena) and Shanghai of an authoritarian system, then without any survey or anything, just looking at the ground reality, I’d rather as an ordinary citizen be living in Shanghai.
上海2千4百万人口，孟买2千1百万 .毫无疑问，上海的生活优质的多，我承认这个比较完全基于直观印象。然而不会错的，普通人的尊严和公共设施的数量说明一切。就算孟买是皿煮的一部分（鉴于有像Shiv Sena 这样的暴徒，这点也是勉勉强强），而上海是集权体制，不需调查，只看看基本现实，我愿作为普通人生活在上海。
In the end, two things stood out. One, the Chinese political system, opaque though it is, seems to throw up decisive leaders, committed to enhancing the public interest. Two, the life of citizens seems to be light years ahead of the daily hassles, slum culture and criminal violence in Indian cities.
最后想说2点：1 中国政体虽然不透明，但貌似提供了强有力的领导人，为提供公共利益而努力； 2. 市民的生活比吵吵闹闹，充斥着贫民窟和暴力犯罪的印度城市好上几万倍。
As for the race between India and China, I am saddened to report India never even made it to the starting line. It is very likely, as a friend told me, that India is to China as Mexico is to the United States.
I would put the differences in one line: We Indians are probably the best abusers of democracy while the Chinese have proved their sincere dedication and nationalism to truly develop their country. Indian leaders are experts in fooling public with unrealistic statements like “We will make Mumbai like Shanghai” which will possibly never come true, atleast during our lifetime.
Diptendu Chakraborty (Toronto)says:
I was too visiting China last year for a month. From Beijing on the way to Shanghai I visited many cities and took a long 300 km rides on Yangsee river. Yes now China can be compared with US cities but the story behind it is horrific. Chinese Communist dictators have shifted people in millions from their homes to another places unknown. To make Beijing Olympic compund lacs and lacs people were uprooted and moved somewhere no one knows. Torture on people, no free speech or no criticism is the norm in China. I did not see any poor people on the main city as they are now living in restricted areas. I went to Hutan where ordinary people live out side of Beijing. Rikswa pullars, street tea shops, street beggars are there. They go to work in the city but has to come back to live here. China Govt. is dumping goods all over the world by bonded labours who live and eat in the same factories just like our bonded labours in tea garden or cotton mills. The goods they make are subsidised by the Govt. They sell an unit for half a price even the production cost is more than they sell. We the naive blind people dance in their prosperity which is nothing but a barbarian regime like any Communist country. In India we still allow communist Party who have killed and raped thousands in Kerala and Bengal. Sorry, development does not necessarily mean killing millions to become a strong country.
Its just sixty four years that we have been independent and during these years we have definitely made signifiacant developements all most in all spheres. India unlike China or US is a vast and diverse country , where hundreds of kinds of religion are practised, where double the number of that, langauges are spoken.Such diversity is not be seen in any developed country. But yes , to improve , lessons are to be learnt and decisions are to be implemented