INDIA AND CHINA IN THE COLONIAL WORLD
Edited by –MadhaviThampi (Soicial Science Press,NewDelhi,2005)ppix+250,Rs-295/-
Reviewed by – Dr.DebeshBhowmik
This volume is a product of a seminar on “Interactions between India and China in the era of colonialism and imperialism” held in November,2000,which was jointly sponsored by the Institute of Chinese Studies and the India International Centre,NewDelhi.The objective of the seminar was to bring together –perhaps , for the firsttime-scholars who have worked on different aspects of this particular phase of India-China relations.Participants belong to the disciplines of literature,culturalstudies,economics, history, politics,international relations etc.This volume is connected with trade, migratiorycommunities,cultural interaction, nationalist and revolutionary movement.AsiyaSiddiqi and Chen Zhilong, both deal with economic interaction between India and China in the colonial era.Chen looks at the patterns of commercial relations between China and India of the colonial period from the perspective of Shanghai.Bothemphasise that India’s trade with China served the needs of colonial commerce and colonial administration.MadhaviThampi’s paper explores the Indian community that grew in China in this period.She argued that the presence of Indian traders in China in the colonial period can be seen as a continuation of earlier patterns of intra-Asian trade as much as an outgrowth of the newer phenomenon of Britain’s trade with China.The business was not opium-centred.Huang observed at the outset that great civilization systems such as those of India and China are expected not only to protect their own people , but also to render help to each other, and that both civilization unfortunately failed to do so under the onslaught from colonialism.
Two papers in culture section highlight just how difficult it is to separate cultural and intellectual interaction from the currents of political life.Both considered themselves as patriots and nationalists and took their stand against imperialist domination and aggression.B.R.Deepak shows us that the anti-imperialist collaboration between Indians and Chinese goes well back into the 19thcentury.He observed that , unlike the case with the few westerners who joined the Taiping insurgents for money or personal gain, there is no evidence at all that any of the Indians in the Taiping ranks were mercenaries.Mira SinhaBhattacharjee throws light on the subject of the relationship between overseas Indians and overseas Chinese in third countries.Her paper focuses on a little known instance of cooperation between Indians and Chinese in South Africa at the beginning of the 20thcentury.AvinashSaklani’s paper examines amore high profile instance of India China cooperation-during Nehru and Chiang Kai-shek.Relation between india and China in modern days is not warmer than they were in those days.GirishMaiti, in his paper, sets out to clear up what he considers are misconceptions about the attitude towards China of Subhash Chandra Bose, the leader ofINA. GeYikun and Li Wei , explore a positive feat of cooperation between India and China at the time of 1940s.Shalini Saksena’s paper shows just how intense was the interest among Indians of all hues in the dramatic developments in China , e fellow Asian giant undergoing the pangs of tortuous rebirth.As she observes,”No other country was more directly concerned with political developments in China than India.”SurjitMansingh discusses how the way in which India and China mutually perceived each other at the end of the colonial era negatively affected their relationship as modern states.Infact,she presents their troubled relationship in the second half of the 20th century as a classic case of misperceptions of the other country held by the two most influential charismatic leaders of modern India and China-Nehru and Mao.
In the world as a whole, the relationship between India and China is unique because they constitute not just two states , but two civilization systems.in the past, both civilisations found much to learn and absorb from each other, but this changed later on.One of the most damaging legacies of imperialism is that the interaction between different societies and cultures was mediated by the major powers of the western world.Knowledge of other societies was itself acquired only through the eyes of the dominant scholarship of the West , and despite the dismantling of the colonial structures, things did not substantially change on this front.