Social Scientist. v 15, no. 174-75 (Nov-Dec 1987) p. I.


Graphics file for this page
Editorial

ASHOK MITRA

FOR CENTURIES on end, China has cast her spell on countries and territories to her south. Her contributions to human civilisation encompass a remarkable spectrum of both philosophy and praxis. As is only to be expected, India and China have, throughout the epochs, shared experiences and exchanged thoughts and ideas. And yet, the sense of distance has not ever quite dissolved. The Himalayas have been a link as much as a buffer. In the more recent past, both countries have embarked on important economic experiments : in the case of China, in the wake of a people's democratic revolution whose sweep is unprecedented in history, and in India, following the withdrawal of the British but without the accompaniment of any major socio-political restructuring. There was vast scope to learn, at our end, from China's achievements as well as travails in the post-liberation phase. Unfortunately, the difficulties arising from disparities in social systems apart, there were other problems too affecting communications between the countries. Incidents in the early 19b0s following the dispute over territorial jurisdiction rudely interrupted the flow as much of general information as of scholarly exchanges. It has been a slow recovery since then to a situation which can be described as 'normal'.

Meanwhile, the People's Republic of China has continued to proceed along a dynamic trajectory. Her experiments with socialist construction have been marked by major gains, but also by major occasional shifts in strategy. The Great Leap Forward led to some noteworthy innovations, and also to some noteworthy set-backs. The Cultural Revolution, which convulsed China even as it shook the philosophical foundations of socialist thought in many other parts of the world, added a sombre chapter to the annals of the country's socio-economic development. Many of its preambles have since been discarded, but since history is irreversible, what the Cultural Revolution rendered to China's economy and social structure is now part of the datum, and cannot therefore be altogether ignored. During the past decade or thereabouts, China has made adjustments in both theory and practice, while grappling with the problems of both socialism



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page