Looking East: China Studies Centre


Poorna Kumar, Correspondent


In light of the volatile political scenario in South Asia, developing good relations with China and strengthening cultural ties seems to be the raison d’être of the IITM China Studies Centre. Coming into being in April 2011, the IITM China Studies Centre is dedicated to a long term study of India’s most powerful neighbour, and aims to conduct and facilitate academic and policy relevant research on China.

Professor Sonika Gupta, Coordinator of IITM China Studies Centre, says, “IIT’s are institutes of national importance. So, it was suggested that every IIT concentrate on one area of national interest. To that end, we put in a proposal to the ministry to set up a centre on China. The then director M.S. Ananth, was interested in setting up a research centre to look at China as a society and examine the Chinese economy, politics, and foreign policy.” And thus, the IITM China Studies Centre was born.

The China Studies Centre allows students from insti to choose from a number of electives dealing with China and Chinese language. At present it offers an introductory course on Chinese language, taken by Dr. Mugur Zlotea, a visiting professor from Romania. A second, more advanced course on Chinese language is being offered in the coming semester.

The China Studies Centre also offers a course on China and Contemporary Global Politics, by Professor Sonika Gupta. Further, a course on Literature and Social Change in China is being formulated and planned. Apart from its regular courses, the Centre is instituting a monthly lecture series on diverse issues relating to China. Next semester, the Centre plans to host a film series on China.

All these measures are intended to spread awareness about the increasing relevance of China on the world stage, and students are encouraged to attend and take active part in these. There is also an internship programme run by the Centre- applications for which are through the department internships. An intern at the China Studies Centre would get to prepare a report on any one aspect of China, and work under the professors at the Centre.

But why would a student of technology take an interest in China? Sonika Gupta says, “We recently saw two articles on Chinese technology in the papers, in the span of two days. One was on China’s supercomputer, and the other on its unmanned space technology. China is making its mark in every field, science and technology being no exception.”

Another area of focus is the website of the Centre, which is a bilingual (both in English and Chinese) platform aimed to facilitate extensive interaction with Chinese Scholars working in the focus areas of the Centre. Scholars from all over the world are invited to write analytical articles on the Centre’s areas of focus, which are put up on the site. The website allows free access to a number of research papers on the subjects of Chinese politics, economics, society, language, etc.

The website of the Centre has been a success story- in the first few days of its existence it garnered around a thousand hits from all corners of the world including India, USA, China, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE, Norway, Belgium and Germany. “It is a completely student made website, and managed by students with the help of Dr. Mugur,” avers Sonika Gupta.

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