Conference: Enhancing India-China People-People Relations

Event Start Date:
February 12, 2018
Event End Date:
February 12, 2018
Event Venue:
TAG Centre, Chennai, India

Conference_Enhancing India-China People-People Relations

Conference Co-Organized by Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), Press Institute of India (PII) in partnership with Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR)

RSVP: Off: 044 – 24340292/ Asma: 9884168476

8:30- Registration

Inaugural Session 

9:00- Welcome and Inaugural address, Commodore R. Seshadri Vasan, Indian Navy (Retd.), Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S); Regional Director, NMF-Chennai Chapter; and Head, Strategy and Security Studies, Centre for Asia Studies (CAS)

9:15- Theme address, Shri B. S. Raghavan, Former Policy Advisor to UN (FAO), Chief Secretary, State, Governments of West Bengal and Tripura; Secretary to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, GOI; Patron, C3S

09:35- Keynote Address, Ambassador Ashok Kantha, Former Ambassador of India to China; Director, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi

9:55- Vote of thanks, Mr. Sashi Nair, Director, Press Institute of India

10:00- 10:20- TEA

PLENARY SESSION I – Evaluating Experiences
Chair: Ambassador M. Ganapathi IFS (Retd.), Former Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India; Member, C3S

10:20- Role of Confucius Institutes and impact of Chinese language in India; Mr. R. Ravi Deshik, Inaword, Chennai

10:40- Appraising the role of Indian Chinese Community from a historical and foreign policy perspective; Dr. Sifra Lentin, Mumbai History Fellow, Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, Mumbai

11:00- Role of films in promoting India-China inter-people relations; Mr. L. Ashghar Ali, CEO, IRIS Media Film and Culture Works Private Limited, Chennai

11:20- 11:40- Q & A

PLENARY SESSION II- Future trajectories
Chair: Ambassador Ashok Kantha

11:40- Template for people to people relations: Pondicherry-China Relations; Mr. Bikash Kalidas; China Collaboration Analyst, Pondicherry

12:00- India-China-Tibet: Cultural Relations; Mr. Claude Arpi; China Analyst based in Pondicherry

12:20- The Life and Legacy of Xu Fancheng: A Spiritual Bridge between India and China; Mr. Devdip Ganguli, Faculty Member, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry

12:40- 13:00- Q & A

13:00- 14:00- LUNCH

PLENARY SESSION III- Catalyzing Connections
Chair: Mr. Sashi Nair

14:00- Where do the solutions lie for enhancing movement of people across the two states?; Mr. Muraleedharan Nair; Senior Fellow, CPPR, Kochi

14:20- Thinking out of the box: Role of Think Tanks in synergizing citizens of India and China; Mr. K. V. Thomas, Former Assistant Director (Retd.), Intelligence Bureau (IB), India; Fellow, National Police Academy, India; Senior Research Fellow, CPPR, Kochi

14:40- 15:00- Q & A

Panel Discussion on role of enhanced India-China people-people ties in improving overall relations between India and China; and Way Ahead
Chair: Mr. Muraleedharan Nair, Senior Fellow, CPPR, Kochi

15:00- 15:50- Panel Discussion
Theme: Role of enhanced India-China people-people ties in improving overall relations between India and China; and Way Ahead
• Mr. R. Ravi Deshik
• Mr. Devdip Ganguli
• Mr. Bikash Kalidas
• Ms. Chen Shonk Youn, Chinese Interpreter, Chennai
• Ms. Asma Masood, Research Officer, C3S

15:50- 16:10- Open House

16:10-16:20 – Concluding remarks and Vote of thanks- Prof. Suryanarayan, Former Nelson Mandela Professor for Afro-Asian Studies, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam; Former Director, Centre for South and South East Asian Studies, University of Madras; President, C3S

16:20-16:40- TEA



People-to-people relations have been the bedrock of civilizational connect since the ancient age. In the earlier days, traders commuting long distances would spend substantial time with the locals in foreign lands. There would be extensive give and take of cultural/religious practices, ideas and lifestyles. The present age has seen a transformation in the nature of these interactions due to the phenomenal advances and innovations in connectivity, transportation, communication and business practices. As a result, trade in the 21st century has achieved gigantic scale and reach. It transcends international borders and has its own momentum while involving the stake holders. Against this backdrop, the new platforms for interaction are online communication and web-driven business models.

In this light, the ‘need’ for two countries people to engage with each other directly has taken on new manifestations. People travel in greater numbers than erstwhile eras for the purposes of tourism, education, medical reasons and entertainment. The 20th century also saw the advent of intelligentsia meeting at international forums. These include business people, think tank persons, academic communities and other civil society members.

The increase in people-to-people contact with specific reference to India-China relations is an area of great interest to both countries. While the two states enjoy bilateral trade of $71.5 billion, inter-people interactions are the new-age area of “investment”. A paradigm is seen in the ties enjoyed with countries which are far apart yet surpass distances through people-people contacts.
One vital form of face-face contact is tourism. There are other significant exchanges occurring, for example, Indian medical students in China, two-way investments and Indian and Chinese diaspora. China is also engaging with India via organizing think tank delegation visits. On the other hand there is scope for alignment of efforts and agendas amidst the Indian think tanks, privately funded research institutions and NGOs, when it comes to approaching China.

There are myriad other areas which can capture continued attention: There is opportunity for convergence in the visual, print and entertainment media. However, the interaction on these platforms would continue to be driven by regulatory measures. In addition, in a globalized world that gives exceptional consideration to English, the language factor is also an important factor in shaping bilateral inter-people engagement.

Interestingly, China’s perspective of soft power can be analyzed to comprehend its non-Western version of people-to-people relations. This needs to be the juxtaposed with the Indian viewpoint. These perceptions are partly manifested in governmental measures. The structure of institutional support given to Confucius Institutes and Indian cultural centers indicates that their frameworks can be expanded to add to their value.

Additionally, the experiences of the Indian and Chinese individuals residing in each others’ countries are valuable beacons for furthering bilateral people-to-people relations. This scope transcends trade and technology to areas of common interests such as Buddhism, cosmopolitan lifestyles, sports and priorities of education of youth. In addition, there are promising prospects when it comes to collaboration in environmental issues which can lead to greater benefits for not only the two countries’ people but all mankind.

The intriguing dimensions of people-to-people contact as highlighted above have propelled the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) and the Press Institute of India (PII) to organize in partnership with the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a one-day international conference on the theme “Enhancing India-China People-to-People Relations”. The aim is also to assess whether the prevailing perception of the common man in either country of “so near, yet so far” holds true. The larger subject of trust between both states’ people will be addressed during the deliberations. The way forward at both the formal and informal levels will be analyzed. It is only by studying the areas of potential, that connections can be enhanced amongst the fundamental units of the international system: the individuals. Furthermore, the spillover effects into other domains of international relations will be postulated. The answers to the following questions will be explored by subject experts via paper presentations and a panel discussion:
1. How do the Indian & Chinese perspectives of bilateral people-to-people relations pan out?
2. What are the lessons offered from the experiences of Indian diaspora in China?
3. How can the Chinese diaspora’s experience in India be described?
4. Where does the role of education lie as a tool to enhance Sino-Indian ties?
5. How can the Confucius centers in India and Indian cultural centers in China be evaluated in accomplishing their stated objectives? How can they imbibe into their action plans a culture of exchanges in the literary, music, art, dance, drama and other similar domains?
6. Where lies the ability for think tanks to merge their ideas for result-oriented research on people-to-people contact amidst India and China?
7. How can sister-city partnership benefit India and China?
8. What is the status of Tibet as a cultural link between India and China?
9. How can India-China people-people ties be propagated via art and culture?
10. Where do the solutions lie for enhancing movement of people across the two states?
11. How can enhanced people-to-people relations between India and China be used to bring greater stability to bilateral ties as well as the region?