An article in India’s Scroll.in website on January 24; original title: Small-town India is waking up to China, but there’s still little understanding of its ways: Mohan Chougule , a professor at a night college in Maharashtra’s Solapur city, has a new PhD candidate – Shriniwas Bhandare, a high school teacher who juggles a second job teaching in the night college. They are preparing to tackle a rather unfamiliar topic: China.
Chinese investors and officials are panning across India’s interiors in search of investment opportunities, but in the small towns of India officials have no experience in dealing with China until recently and no local experts to advise them. India’s understanding of China, its largest trading partner, is limited to an academic circle of small think-tanks in Delhi and certain universities in West Bengal and South India.
“A major investment in China studies is no longer a luxury but a necessity,’’ said Alka Acharya, director of the Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies. “We need to train more people beyond the metros who will directly face Chinese presence in job and economic opportunities and social engagement. Academic conferences on China have spread beyond metros to universities in the south and Northeast but analysts say that the number of newcomers entering the “niche” field for long-term research remains negligible. Research centres don’t have the capacity to generate a nationwide network of scholars.
But in Solapur, the hometown of Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis who sacrificed his life while helping China in the resistance against Japan, there is a growing interest in promoting relations between the two countries, especially at the local level. “As I started studying Sino-Indian relations, I realised the need to shift focus to economic relations for mutual benefit,” says Bhandare. His guide Mohan Chougule said: “My interest in China was sparked in 2012 when I went to Sri Lanka and observed that the Chinese influence there surpassed India’s.” He believes in preparing for the potential of job creation from Sino-Indian cooperation. ▲
(Author: Reshma Patil; Translated by: Wang Huicong)