Reflections on India and China: From Civilisation to Climate Change
Convenor: Prof. Pralay Kanungo, ICCR Chair for the Study of Contemporary India at IIAS / Leiden University
The (re-)emergence of India and China as powerful players in contemporary world, and particularly the miracle of their growth story, remains a puzzle for many. However, the contemporary story may not be adequately understood without reflecting on their civilisational past and knowledge system, ideas and ideologies, values and norms, which shaped the material, cultural and intellectual contours of the two societies.
As society, economy and politics are integrally linked, economic trajectory must be read in conjunction with the changes in society and state. While the Communist China bid farewell to communism and welcomed neoliberal globalisation by combining select virtues of socialism and capitalism, Social-democratic India embraced neoliberalism by dismantling its semi-socialist economic order. Existing institutions were reconfigured and new code of governance was introduced. In this context, it would be relevant to juxtapose authoritarian governance under the Communist Party in China with democratic governance in a competitive multi-party system in India. Similarly, comparing and contrasting the role of media will reveal the nature of the two regimes.
While fast economic growth has reduced poverty substantially, it has been uneven spatially and sectorally, thereby leading to the emergence of rising inequality. Market-Labour relationship has become critical. Rampant urbanisation, large scale migration, increasing rural-urban disparity, and deterioration of environment seriously threaten the very fundamentals of sustainable development. How do India and China respond to the emerging crisis?
Economic and political changes are accompanied by social and cultural changes. While China has moved away from its earlier policy of suppression of religion by carefully negotiating with the resurgence of religions, India’s peculiar secular landscape has facilitated different religions, including Hinduism, the majority religion, to become more pervasive and vibrant in public sphere in recent years; reflections on intra-religious relationship and understanding the interplay of state and religion in China and India will offer insightful analysis.
Despite having civilisational connections and being close neighbours, India-China relations in contemporary period suffers primarily from ignorance about each other, trust deficit and unwillingness to engage meaningfully to overcome stereotypes and misconceptions. Geopolitical compulsions, both regional and global, and the competitive spirit of the two rising economic powers further complicate their relationship.
This two-day seminar will juxtapose all such core issues related to contemporary India and China on a common scholarly platform by inviting researchers and experts from diverse disciplines, who will not only reflect on a specific theme of their expertise in ether of the two or both countries, but will also offer a useful comparative perspective.
Presentation is on invitation only. More information on the seminar will be posted in due course.