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Amartya Sen on India and China

December 26th, 2004 · 1 Comment

The New York Review of Books has an article by Amartya Sen: “The intellectual links between China and India, stretching over two thousand years, have had far-reaching effects on the history of both countries, yet they are hardly remembered today. What little notice they get tends to come from writers interested in religious history, particularly the history of Buddhism, which began its spread from India to China in the first century. In China Buddhism became a powerful force until it was largely displaced by Confucianism and Taoism approximately a thousand years later. But religion is only one part of the much bigger story of Sino-Indian connections during the first millennium. A broader understanding of these relations is greatly needed, not only for us to appreciate more fully the history of a third of the world’s population, but also because the connections between the two countries are important for political and social issues today.”

He writes:”While India has much to learn from China about economic policy and also about health care, India’s experience with public communication and democracy could still be instructive for China…With stunning success, China has become a leader of the world economy, and from this Indialike many other countrieshas been learning a great deal, particularly in recent years. But the achievements of democratic participation in India, including Kerala, suggest that China, for its part, may also have something to learn from India. Indeed, the history of China’s attempts to overcome its insularityespecially during the second half of the first millenniumhas continuing interest and practical usefulness for the world today.”

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