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Implications for the Global System

Jabin T. Jacob

By Carl J. Dahlman
Foundation Books, Delhi, 2013, pp. xxiv 301, Rs. 795.00


Studying Sino-Indian relations or comparing the two Asian giants across multiple indicators and themes is today a veritable industry for scholars, analysts, publishers and policymakers. Most published works deal with the conflictual aspect of China-India relations and are produced by policy wonks and analysts in think-tanks who by the nature of their profession need to publish frequently in order to remain relevant and/or in the limelight. But many scholars in universities or research establishments also have found publishing such books a lucrative exercise, egged on, no doubt, by the publishing industry that sees a large public interest and hence, market, in the fraught relationship between the two neighbours. In the case of Indian books on China or Sino-Indian comparisons, most are shoddily-researched and poorly-produced and while Chinese and other foreign publishers certainly have higher publishing standards, they too cannot necessarily claim original insight.   Works comparing India and China are considerably fewer in number and would be substantially more useful, but given simply the small numbers of Indians studying China full-time and professionally, it is difficult to find much published work along these lines. The situation is more or less the same insofar as Chinese academic study of India is concerned—even though there is now some substantial attention and resources being devoted to South Asian studies as part of China’s greater world awareness and interest in playing a global role commensurate with its economic rise.   As such, therefore, comparisons of Sino-Indian internal political processes, economic development, history, literature, environmental issues, labour, health sectors, education policies, minority problems all deserve immediate and sustained attention but remain understudied and unexplored in a large measure and if at all they exist, usually come from the stables of western academia. The book under review attempts to compare India and China across a broad set of indicators—historical, economic, environmental, natural resources, technological and geopolitical—and tries to draw some lessons for the rest of the world. Given that the author Carl Dahlman is an academic in an American university, the ‘world’ is necessarily limited to the West and the book too reflects some of the predominant western concerns with the rise of Asia’s two preeminent powers. This, no doubt, explains the rather alarmist blurb that the two countries’ ‘unchecked growth has the potential to ignite trade, resource, cold and conventional wars.’ Despite the title and proclaimed aim, the emphasis on China ...

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