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A Doyen of China Studies in India


Professor Dutts association with China dated back to even before the establishment of the Peoples Republic. That gave him a vantage position to study various aspects of the country as it evolved. Starting, in 1950, with the visit to China as the Assistant Secretary of the first official Indian Government cultural delegation led by Mrs. Vijaylaksmi Pandit, he subsequently spent years in China as a student and thereafter, in the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). In those early years, there was little interest in China Studies in India, though China was our largest neighbour, a Communist regime had been established there and signs of differences with India were starting to manifest themselves. As he recalled it, the UGC was then reluctant to provide even one fellowship for China Studies, questioning its need. Even after the 1962 war, just five fellowships were granted. The general feeling was very hostile. Doordarshan then had a programme called Dragon. Professor Dutt observed, I got the title changed to China Today and also changed the content of the programme. Even if we were critical about so many issues, I tried to do the analysis in objective way. It was in this backdrop that, in the mid-sixties, he set up the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies in Delhi University. Successive generations of China scholars emerged from that department over the last nearly five decades. He later rose to become the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University and was nominated as a Member of the Rajya Sabha. Professor Dutt saw China as being guided by the traditional framework of Confucian ideology with development and nationalism as the two guiding principles of the rule by the Communist Party of China (CCP). He argued that China was more likely to remain a benign dictatorship for some considerable time rather than becoming a liberal democracy. The Confucian ideology on statecraft, marked by concern for absolute power and welfare of the public, suggested that sustenance and continuance of the absolute power or rule is contingent upon public welfare. A ruler must look after the public well; otherwise the public has the right to overthrow him. Professor Dutt argued that this remained the most enduring precept in the history of Chinese philosophy. Maos China constituted no exception. In the CCPs view, only development, more development, and continuous development could sustain the CCPs rule over China. It was through this emphasis on development that the ...

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