Think Culture Foundation (TCF), a Delhi-based non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation, has been taking small steps to promote harmony among civilisations through art and culture.
Yan Han, founder and chairperson of TCF, strongly believes that the core of every cultural civilisation lies in common human values and that nurturing soil with humanity helps in blossoming flowers of love and affection.
With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the foundation’s activities in India and forcing her re-location out of India, Han shared her views on cultural exchanges among various societies including between India and China with N. Vamsi Srinivas, over dinner, at a popular hotpot hangout in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province of China.
How did the foundation take off?
The intention to start the foundation is that we wanted to enhance communication and interaction — people to people, business to business and culture to culture. In India, we started the foundation work with online classes on Japanese culture for Indian kids. For youth empowerment, we tied up with business schools for the exchange of global experiences on skill development and women's development.
We also arranged an exchange of ideas and exposure to Chinese technological advancement between entrepreneurs of India and China besides academicians and artists. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic hit our plans and we are now on a revival path for our activities.
Is foundation activity limited to India and China?
No. We want to focus on the global exchange of culture and communication. We believe that scale is not important and any small thing we do to enhance the understanding of each other and building communication will have an impact. We recently arranged a technology exchange programme for French MBA students. These exchange tours help a lot in changing perceptions and building long-term relationships.
For instance, when there was an exchange programme between Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs, both realised that the perceptions they had about each other were different from the realities. Both acknowledged and appreciated the other’s role in their own development.
Having lived in India for more than two years how do you look at the similarities and differences between Indian and Chinese societies and cultures?
There are a lot of similarities between the two. We had a rich heritage, established contact, carried out trade and exchanged ideas centuries ago. We both respect our elders and care a lot about children’s education. The stark difference, however, I found was in the economic development model. Another major area is women's empowerment. Compared to the West, it is very low in India, individualism is still high compared to China, where collectivism is given priority, which is reflected in compassion towards fellow human being and their strict obeying of rules.
Can you elaborate on women's empowerment in China?
Female literacy is very high in China. There are equal opportunities for men and women. Workplaces have evolved a lot to give women their due position. Sometimes, we feel more advantaged as females. Not that we are good enough but if in case of any mistake, female are more tolerated than their counterparts (laughs).
Has women's empowerment evolved over a period of time or an offshoot of economic reforms?
We witnessed big changes ever since the nation was born in 1949. The philosophy of equality of all classes ensured gender equality.
How do you see the future of the foundation in the next five years?
After the uncertainty the pandemic had brought in, we decided to take up activities step by step... a kind of day-to-day basis (smiles). I may not have bigger or grander stories to tell but strongly believe that even small efforts at a small level help in bringing in change.
All I would say is that the globe is a rich soil and instead of poisoning it with hatred people shall help each other for the common good.