The Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference at Singapore on April 21, 2016 had MP Shashi Tharoor and British journalist Martin Jacques participating in a discussion on the failsafe topic of emerging business trends: China versus India.
A tricky moment on the show came when moderator Martin Soong of CNBC Asia asked Tharoor: "To what extent do caste and communal differences hinder India from realising its true potential? Does the fact that China is potentially more homogeneous than India give China a very strong edge?"
Accepting these schisms instead of trying to airbrush them out of the big picture as defensive politicians tend to do, Tharoor answered: "But the great strength of India has been that it's been an outstanding example of the management of diversity in the developing world."
Elaborating, he said that conflicts are inevitable but it is "important to note whether the country or the region concerned is capable of defusing the conflict."
In fact, Tharoor made a virtue out of diversity. "A democracy like India works on the fundamental principle, that China doesn't have, is that you don't need to agree all the time, so long as you agree on the ground rules on how you'll disagree."
"So our success is that we manage to maintain consensus on how to manage without consensus," he concluded triumphantly.