It’s an Asian country with first world infrastructure, “so you get the best of both worlds,”says the journalist-turnedfreelance writer. “You can’t imagine the construction activities and upgrading that go on. Buildings to buses, everything looks new. It’s also very green.” There’s an upbeat vibe in cities as well as the interiors of the country, and there is little visible disparity of wealth. “I love how old people spontaneously put on music and break into a dance on the streets or do Tai Chi.”
The state, she says, plans extensively to help the most vulnerable. “For instance, post pandemic, there have been micro-specific policy actions to help businesses recover. Taxes are being restructured in such a way that people get actual monetary relief. It’s one of the major reasons why China has turned around so fast.”
While Bhattacharya hasn’t experienced any anti-India sentiment, she has observed a particular bias towards white people, “which sometimes translates to prejudice against black people”.
The vice-president of Döhler Group has clocked a decade in China with his family and even turned down an opportunity to move to the US. “It was a bit of a shock for my boss,” says Waikar, who received the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from President Ram Nath Kovind last year. The son of an Army doctor, he admits he initially had doubts about what his father referred to as “dushman desh” (enemy country). But his opinions were quickly revised. “They are an extremely hardworking and sincere people. My domestic help hasn’t been absent or even late once in 10 years,” he shares.
Also, most importantly, there’s a clear line between politics and business. “This is what defines the Chinese. For them, business is god,” says Waikar, who hails from Nagpur. “Their strongest political opponents — Japan, Taiwan and the US — are also their biggest business partners. Once you recognise and respect this, dealing with them becomes uncomplicated. And like us, they value connections a lot.”
There’s no hostility when it comes either. “It’s not enforced. People in mainland China don’t know about the 1960s aggression, and there’s barely any mention of the current stand-off in the mainstream media.” Waikar and his wife, Aparna, especially appreciate the respectful attitude towards women. “I see smartly dressed young women managing toll booths on highways at 3 am and they have nothing to fear. It makes me wonder when we’ll have that in India,” he says.
The chief technology officer with EOC Pharma has been working in the pharmaceutical research sector in China since 2007. “The country has a very strong indigenous new drug research sector, thanks to its policies on innovation, patents and incentives,” says Deepak Hegde, who’s from Thane. “Biotechnology is one of the key strategic areas for the government, and they have projects locked down for at least the next 10 years.”
Concerns over strained international relations post the Covid outbreak haven’t slowed them down. “Here, the backlash is widely seen as political because of the stand-off with the US. But there’s no negativity in the scientific field. Three Covid-19 vaccines are already in phase III of development,” says Hegde, adding that the levels of Chinese professionalism and civility never fail to amaze him. “As Indians, my family and I have never experienced hostility during political tensions between the countries. People are always respectful and welcoming.”
Hegde adds that the Chinese government’s systematic handling of the lockdown has been exemplary. “Remember, the pandemic struck here in the end of January during the Chinese New Year, when millions travel across the country,” he points out.
Despite the mass migration, the government managed to control it with the help of infrastructure, technology and the application of artificial intelligence. The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan was built in 10 days. Medical insurance is provided by the state, and the quality of healthcare at government hospitals is comparable to India’s best private hospitals.”
The education system in China is as robust as it gets, says Dorle, who holds an administrative position at the Shanghai American School. In a cosmopolitan city like Shanghai, there are many international schools catering to different syllabi. Local schools are either bilingual or instruct in Chinese. “Public school education is excellent. The standard of education at even ordinary public schools is high,” says Dorle, who moved to China from the US in 2010, as her husband, Samir’s job took him there.
Diversity and inclusion is managed through policies. “Organisations, schools and colleges included, have regulations to filter out racism and genderrelated biases,” says Dorle, who hails from Aurangabad. Schools strive to have a 50-50 ratio and the education about equal treatment percolates into daily life as well. “As a woman, you never feel unsafe.”
The warm-heartedness of the people made Dorle feel quite at home, even before she picked up what she calls “survival Chinese” — basic linguistic skills. “When people spot my mother or mother-inlaw in saris, they make an effort to interact, despite the language barrier, sometimes even take a picture,” she says. “There’s special respect for Indians because Buddhism is widely followed, and the Buddha hails from India.”