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Prof Samuel P Huntington of Harvard University was here in India last year, and many of us had pleasant interactions with him about the civilizational discourse which we, in India, have been very much concerned all along. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), in the 13th year of its youth now, is an institution specially dedicated to culture and art, i.e. the best part of human civilization. As we take a holistic view, we not only treat different civilizations as various manifestations of a whole-the human civilization, but also do not endorse the “Us and ‘Them” proposition as discussed in Huntington’s world-famous book The Clash of Civilizalions and the Remaking of World Order. “One harmonious world”, to the Indian cultural mind, is no euphoria, but a dedication and commitment. To us, nothing is more important than the realization of the “Universal Civilization” in which each component is treating the other as an equal with respect and affection.  

The East Asian Programme in our IGNCA was first called the “cell of Sine-Indian Studies” when it was started by Prof. Tan Chug in 1989. Even after this. name-change (which means the expansion of its scope), Tan Chung and his colleagues in this unit still work on Sine-Indian Studies as the most endeared field-if not an obsession. For more than two years now the unit has undertaken this project of “India and China Looking at Each Other”, and the present volume is the first fruit of this project. My congratulations to Prof. Tan Chung and his colleagues-those who have helped in bringing out this volume. Perhaps, never before has there been any work like this, and in the present volume readers can have a good view of how Indian intelligentsia have looked at China and what have been their concerns. I very much wish that this volume is circulated among the Chinese intellectuals, academicians experts and politicians so that they will gain a correct perspective about the “Indian perspectives” on China. Prof. Tan Chung, with cameras at the ready, is eager to capture the Chinese responses so that he and his team will produce a companion volume to this with a sub-title of “Chinese quest for understanding India”. I wish him success in these discourses which, I venture to think, would help remove the apprehension in some quarters about the future clashes of civilizations. As Tagore, Nehru and many other Indian savants have said, if India and China can establish an ideal relationship of indepth understanding of each other, they will play a great role in promoting universal amity and harmony. For, our two countries not only have two-fifths of the world’s total population, but these two human communities have carried with them two ancient civilizations and a thick cultural sediment of noble spirit and mental wisdom that would help to overcome the obstacles in the way of creating the Universal Civilization.

The present volume has an impressive list of contributors, some life-long China experts, others with immense information and insight about China. I welcome their contributions and thank their labour of love. Many of them, perhaps, have not had interactions with IGNCA before. Now that we have established our associations. I hope they will return to us again and again, and take interest in what we are doing in IGNCA. I also hope that this volume can attract many more readers who have never read our publications so far. Though in name ours is an institution of “arts”, but it should be understood in the widest sense of the term. Our activities cover creative and critical, written and oral literatures, the oral, written, and visual traditions of a Civilization, lifestyles and the interface between material and spiritual cultures. Our focus, of coarse, is on India, on all what she has achieved in the long history of her civilizational existence, but we always pursue an open-door policy, and go out and out to appreciate the cultural achievements of other countries and other civilizations on the one hand, and welcome with open arms input from individuals, institutions and other quarters outside India on the other. We, have already started some contacts with China, with her culture and art. with her traditions and lifestyles, but we want to enlarge these Contacts. Perhaps, this volume will bring us many more friends from India, China and other countries to help strengthen our activities in IGNCA in its multifaceted dimensions. In this volume, strategists and ex-diplomats focus their attentions on Confidence Building Measures and constructive cooperative relationship. To my mind, the best mutual understanding between different peoples and cultures does not crystal in the mind, but springs from the heart. Only when there is an indepth acquaintance and appreciation of each other’s and art can there be the true smile from the heart.

            With these words, I offer this volume to our readers and hope the pages are opened with appreciation and critique, resulting in wider participation in our civilizational discourse.

Kapila Vatsyayan

New Delhi

April, 1998


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© 1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced any manner without written permission of the publisher. 

Published in 1998 by 

Gyan Publishing House

5, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj,

New Delhi - 110 002.