New Login   

The Elephant-and-Dragon Tango

Sreemati Chakrabarti

Edited by Ira Pande
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 445, Rs. 699.00


Many things about this book are unique and unusual. First is the title itself. There are no punctuation marks connecting the four words India China Neighbours Strangers. This may be symbolic of the disconnect that exists between the two ancient civilizations now attempting to acquire nation-state characteristics. There are some outstanding photographs of China and the Chinese. Each of the photographs is a story unto itself. The wonderful photographs have been taken by Luo Dan, Vidura Jung Bahadur, Pablo Bartholomew and Saikal Das, among others. The editor and the publisher deserve praise for giving so much to the reader in about 450 pages. The articles, 34 in number including the Preface, Introduction, Prologue and Photo-essays, are timely and useful apart from being of high academic quality. Most of the contributors are China scholars who also have profound knowledge of, and interest in, India. The essays cover a wide range of subjects varying from civilizational attributes to Buddhism to modern international politics, economy and social issues. K.P.S. Menon’s Prologue to the book was first published almost four decades back but is as refreshing as ever in putting India-China relations in the right perspective. It is a plea ‘to end the period of rancour and bitterness with China’. The rest of the chapters are divided into six sections. The first section is titled ‘Emperors, Missionaries and Travellers’ where the first piece is by Tan Chung called ‘Towards a Grand Harmony’. Professor Tan begins with a very interesting observation: The civilizations in the western hemisphere being in close proximity to one another were bent on destroying each other whereas in the Eastern hemisphere the two civilizations namely India and China were very different in their interactions over the centuries. Buddhism brought about mutual enrichment. Based on extensive research on Sino-Indian history, Professor Tan’s essay concludes with the hope that the bonds of culture and civilization rather than the divisions created by geo-politics will determine India–China relations. The next article in this section is by another eminent historian, Prasenjit Duara. In the essay ‘Civilization and Realpolitik’ he makes a critical assessment of Sino-Indian interactions from the colonial times to the present. His position is that between the ‘discourse of civilization and realpolitk’ there is some middle ground, based on which India and China can engage meaningfully with each other. Tansen Sen’s scholarly piece called ‘Changes and Exchanges’ reviews India-China interactions ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.