Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 11, 2008
As longtime readers of Eye on Asia know, lots of readers get animated talking about the pluses and minuses of India versus China. There are plenty of reasons for the two Asian giants to be rivals. They did fight a war back in the 1960s and they still have unresolved border issues. The Chinese tradtionally have been friends with India’s archrival Pakistan, and New Delhi recently has been getting closer to Washington (see the nuclear deal between India and the U.S., for exampele). With both of their economies growing fast and needing secure access to raw materials, the Chinese and Indians are competing in Asia and Africa for rights to oil and other commodities.
But leaders from the two sides have been trying to improve ties, which makes a new program from the New School in New York interesting. The school announced yesterday a program it’s launching with two universities, one in India and one in China. The project, with the impressive-sounding name of “India-China Knowledge and Capacity Building Initiative,” will involve the New School, the University of Calcutta and Yunnan University in Kunming. According to the New School, “the project will work to rethink interactions between India and China by focusing on the historically marginalized regions of northeast India and southwest China. Going beyond merely security and area studies, the initiative will develop an interdisciplinary approach in which scholars and students will examine the unique social, cultural and environmental challenges these regions face.”
Sounds worthy. Certainly anything that improves ties among Chinese and Indian researchers is going to be helpful, because right now there’s not that much to speak of. As the Indian news agency IANS reported last month, there’s currently very little academic collaboration between the two sides. Over the past eight years, “researchers from India and China have co-authored 1,807 papers,” IANS reports, based on a recent study published in Current Science, an Indian journal. That’s just 225 a year - for two countries each with populations over 1 billion people. There’s plenty of room for improvement.