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Messages by C3S Members on Occasion of C3S’ 10th Anniversary

Prof. V. Suryanarayan

President, Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S)

Former Director, Centre for South and South East Asian Studies, University of Madras

Ten years is a short time in the life of a non-governmental research organization devoted to study and research on domestic politics and international relations of China.  Even during this short span of ten years, the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) has made a mark for itself as a think tank of great potential.

On this occasion, I recall the services rendered by three founding fathers – Shri B Raman, Shri D S Rajan and Shri R Swaminathan. Shri Raman was convinced that in a large country like India intellectual activities should not be confined to New Delhi alone, but provincial capitals could – and should – make their benign contribution to the making of India’s neighbourhood policy. The moving spirit behind C3S was D. S.  Rajan, who had mastery over Chinese language and having served in China for many years was familiar with Chinese developments and political thinking.  R Swaminathan joined them and the Trimurthi- Brahma, Vishnu and Siva – guided the organization in the initial years.  Their untimely demise has deprived us of three brilliant minds who were specialists in foreign and security policies.

There was an informal meeting before the organization came into existence.  Raman suggested, being an academic, I should be the President of C3S. My fervent plea that my research was devoted to contemporary Southeast Asia and South Asia (and not China) was of no avail. Raman never took no for an answer. That is how I became the President of the C3S.

While our record is commendable and speaks for itself, during the next stage of development, we must concentrate on four inter-related areas: 1) Build up a good library and documentation centre on China which will be of use to the specialists and the general public; 2) We have started teaching Chinese language for the beginners, but much more remains to be done before they can use Chinese language materials. Our objective is to have teaching facilities like the Department of Chinese Studies in Delhi University. A language laboratory should be started.  3)  Forge academic links with similar institutions in China and in other parts of the world; 3) Assist the Indian Universities to upgrade and modernize the syllabi on Chinese history, politics, sociology, economics and other social sciences. If we are able to encourage a group of young scholars to devote themselves to the study, teaching and research on China our objective will be more than fulfilled.

Ambassador C.V. Ranganathan IFS (Retd.)

Vice-President, C3S

Former Ambassador of India to China

It is difficult to believe that in the short span of 10 years, C3S has grown to the extent it has. When stalwarts like the late Raman , Rajan and I discussed how to get such a Centre started in Chennai, all we could then envisage was a modest website which would attract contributions on China and India-China relations from retirees from Govt. who had dealings with China. Thanks to Raman’s industry and dedication, albeit his illness which he bore with such courage, the website got under way with contributions from his friends. With strong encouragement from veterans, Raghavan, and a few others the Centre proved itself worthy of financial support from the Ministry of External Affairs. However it was a hand to mouth existence for the first directors of the Institute. I, for one, could not have foreseen that the Centre would become the hub of discussions on China, international affairs and India’s external relations. What has impressed me the most is the deep attention to the social, economic, technological, cultural, sociological developments in China and its foreign relations by scores of youngsters. They seem to search the world wide web for credible information on China. Although I do not contribute much to the ongoing work of the Centre I avidly follow what I find on my computer. Grateful thanks to the diligence of Asma, Research Officer, C3S, for this. Obviously the transformation of a Chennai based Centre into one that attracts international attention requires very hard work of an admirable quality, the enthusiasm of young internees, scholars and the wise advice and guidance of the Patron, Shri Raghavan. Hearty congratulations to Director Vasan and all those who work with him on the Tenth Anniversary of the founding of C3S , with my best wishes for its continuing impressive growth for the coming decades.

Mr M.R. Sivaraman IAS (Retd.)

Former Revenue Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Government of India

Vice-President, C3S

The Chennai Centre for China Studies was set up by the late gentle but robust in intelligence Mr. Raman. It has evolved through travails and triumphs to an institution that is recognised for its analytical ability of contemporary India-China issues. Thanks to Commodore Vasan who has given dynamic leadership to the institution.

The contribution of MEA in terms of financial support has been of great help. Friends like Mr. S Narayanan and Mr. Sunil Rallan have stood by it in times of need. The research scholars have been a source of immense strength to the institution in particular Ms. Asma Masood and Mr. Sundeep Kumar S.

The think tank is small but it holds a huge capacity to think variedly and with conviction. I am certain that it will grow from strength to strength in its popularity as a reservoir of knowledge and deep thinking.

Mr. L.V. Krishnan

Member, C3S

Former Director- Safety Research Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam

No two countries are so similar, yet so different. India and China may have similar civilizational history and an equally large population. But, they are governed so differently.  China has now leapfrogged ahead in its economy.  India’s pace is glacial in comparison. This disparity has a strong effect in India’s growth now. With China set to overtake the US soon, the world is also struggling to cope with China.

Historically, at least three well-known Chinese travellers had braved difficult journeys over land and sea to India seeking to learn from it. India however had shown little interest in China except for some traders from South India. This has to change.

Now, more than ever there is an urgent need to study China, to understand its ambitions and the path it is carving for itself. The work that is being done by the diplomatic corps requires extensive support from a wider community in the country.

Working with very modest resources partly from the MEA, the Chennai Centre for China Studies has been doing its bit, smartly steered by Commodore Vasan. It enjoys participation by a group of bright young minds in addition to seasoned professionals from diverse background who had retired from Government, academia and industry. It has interactions as well with the academic circles. It also runs a course in Chinese language for the young scholars.

I have been proud to be part of the Centre since its inception and that has enriched my knowledge of China. As it completes ten years of service, the Centre looks forward to greater support and participation from the public and industry.

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