Kishore Mahbubani: : Is the East-West Narrative Dead?
Kishore Mahbubani was appointed Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on 16 August 2004 after having served 33 years in the Singapore Foreign Service (with postings in Cambodia, Malaysia, Washington DC and twice as Ambassador to the UN, during which he also served as President of the Security Council). He was the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry from 1993-1998.
He is the author of Can Asians Think? published in Singapore, Canada, US, Mexico, India and People’s Republic of China and of Beyond The Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World. His new book entitled The New Asian Hemisphere: the Irresistible Shift of Gobal Power to the East was published in New York in February 2008. He was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in September 2005.
Kishore Mahbubani: Well, the first start the reason why I used the East - West paradigm is because the West has dominated world history for 200 years, and that’s been the prevailing narrative for 200 years. That narrative is coming to an end, so it’s important to emphasize that is one narrative that is coming to end. Now, the East you are right is absolutely diverse and it is remarkably diverse. I mean China and India, we mentioned a very different, but what most Western minds don’t realize is that in previous centuries there were a lot of connections among the Asian countries, fairly deep connections, I illustrate this in my personal case. Now, I am ethnically Sindhi, Sindh is a province in Pakistan and my religion, I was born in a Hindu, okay, yet when I grew up the script that I learned to write with as a Hindu, to write Sindhi, is a Arabic script, and it shows the connection the Hindu Sindhi’s have with the Islamic world in the Arab world and in Persia, and, at the same time, when I traveled to East Asia, when I go to Japan, when I go to Korea, when I go to China I still feel a sense of cultural affinity, because I can, I feel like I can understand the Buddhist cultures that prevail in those societies, because Buddhism came from India, and I have some Buddhist influence in my life too a child. So, I can see that in my personal case, if I can personally feel connected with West Asia, I can feel personally connected with East Asia that is an illustration of how Asia comes together in many ways that is not understood by the West.
Recorded on: 2/28/08
Mahbubani adapts the old East-West narrative.
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