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Chinese recieves India’s highest civilian award

This year on India’s Republic Day, the country’s highest civilian award, The Padma Bhushan, crossed the Himalaya’s and was conferred upon Indiologist Ji Xianlin. This is the first time the award given for exemplary work, by the President of India has been awarded to a Chinese.

Xianlin has translated the Indian epic the Ramayana from Sanskrit, to Chinese poetry, in addition to writing short books on India’s history. Many say he is responsible for shaping a lot of what ordinary Chinese know about India. Many believe he is also Premiere Wen’s mentor.

Premiere Wen and Ji Xianlin

“This is a big initiative on the part of Prime Minister Singh to develop the friendship between the two nations. It will make a lot of difference in the way a lot of Chinese view India,” Jiang Kui, vice director for Indian studies at Beijing University, is quoted as saying in chaste Hindi.

Recognition of 97 year old Ji Xianlin’s efforts to bridge the gap in Sino-India relations adds to the work of politicians and diplomats in recent years, it also contributes to work by Huang Tsang, the sixth century traveler-scholar and Dwarkanath Kotnis who served the poor in China in the 1940s.

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18 Responses to Chinese recieves India’s highest civilian award

  1. winddrinker says:

    “Many say he is responsible for shaping a lot of what ordinary Chinese know about India”. I am seriously skeptical about this statement. Ordinary Chinese hardly know Mr. Ji. And nine out of ten of my friends who might have heard of his name would not know what he specializes in. Be it sinology or indology, young generation would not bother at all.

  2. Pffefer says:

    Unforunately, what windrinker said above is true.

  3. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    Which is a bit of a shame when you consider he is an intellect, a poet, and the Mentor of the current Chinese Premier. Perhaps the Chinese young people could do a bit better in spreading their knowledge to matters external than being self absorbed with money. Mr. Ji may not be known to you, but he certainly is to the Chinese and Indian governments and should be congratulated as a Chinese national to receive India’s highest civilian honor. Perhaps you should spend some time on the net or in a library to educate yourself more instead of moaning that you’ve never heard of him. Wealth gentlemen comes from knowledge and if, as you say, the young Chinese generation have no interest in Sinology or Indology then they will be doomed to failure.

  4. Pffefer says:

    Chris, that’s a hasty conclusion. First, it is true that a lot of Chinese youth, especially the teenagers do not know who Mr. Ji Xianlin is. Can you blame them? The whole country is money-crazed (I’d say India is more or less the same), being a fast-growing developing country. Mr. Ji is more well-known among older folks. But to say that “Many say he is responsible for shaping a lot of what ordinary Chinese know about India” is simply an overstatement. Chris, you are based in China I assume? Why don’t you ask a few Chinese people what they think about this statement?

    There is no need to get angry. You exaggerated the danger of having little interest in Sinology and Indology. As Chinese, the Chinese people should develop more interest in Sinology, that’s their roots after all. One has to know where you come from. But Indology for the Chinese youth? How many British youth are interested in Sinology or Indology?

  5. Nazia Vasi says:

    When i said he is responsible for what many Chinese know about India, it does not necessarily mean that they have to know Ji Xianlin personally, as long as they have been influenced by his ideas, writings and thoughts on India that is sufficient.

  6. winddrinker says:

    Personally, I read his books. Unfortunately, not the ones on indology. I don’t know in what way his ideas/writings/thoughts ON INDIA have influenced ordinary Chinese. Could you suggest some examples, Nazia? ( this is a sincere question. don’t be misunderstood, hehe).

    In academic circle, Mr. Ji has always been deemed as what we call him “national treasure”. I am just lamenting on the current trend that youngsters nowadays tend to opt to learn English, IT, finance and management rather than history, Chinese and philosophy. And I also feel it a great shame that the few “national treasure” we are pround to have are very old while we don’t see the new ones coming up….

    Also, I congrat and deeply believe Mr. Ji deserves any award in this world about both sinology and indology.

  7. Pffefer says:

    Well said, wind drinker.

  8. Ram Divani says:

    The impact that India has had and will have on China (and vice versa) is little understood, yet it will be immense. Thank goodness we have this website to all learn from it – it must be a unique concept and we should be grateful to Nazia and Chris for putting it up and spending time on it. We can ALL learn a lot and I would endorse Chris’ comments that modern young Chinese are disappointingly shallow in their world views. Its all about America, and hardly any know anything about their largest neighbour, and what they do is usually insulting.

  9. winddrinker says:

    As Ram said, i also find this website an exciting place for me and due gratefullness goes to writers here. However, I just wanted to share my views about the article. That is how we learn, I guess.

    Just a fast question, Ram. Could you elaborate a bit about “what they do is usually insulting?”. ( no intent to defend chinese. just curious to know)

  10. Ram Divani says:

    Winddrinker, both governments have been guilty in the past of engaging a media driven policy of distrust and unflattering comments about each other. In China, many Chinese think our food as ‘vulgar’ and Indians as dirty and poor and unclean and our cities as dangerous and smelly. They obviously haven’t been to many places in China. The World Bank report quoted here: http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-6-10/42510.html shows 16 of the worlds top 20 most polluted cities are in China. Yet the perception is India is dirtier. Actually, it isn’t, and our food is delicious. More Chinese should get over there. I see plenty of Indians in China but not so many Chinese in India.

  11. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    I think thats fair comment Ram. There are misperceptions. The Chinese most polluted cities are listed here by the Clean Air Intiative:
    http://www.cleanairnet.org/caiasia/1412/article-58764.html
    the same report, issued by China Daily but also with China’s clean air cities is here: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-07/15/content_348397.htm

    However, those ratings are for 2004. China has not published any reports on its city pollution since then, which is worrying. Bad press ahead of the Olympics being a major driver.

    The Indian most polluted cities are listed here, and is dated 2007:
    http://www.twocircles.net/2007sep14/most_polluted_cities_india.html

    While a breakdown of the top 20 worst polluted cities from stats from the World Bank is here. China has 11 according to this source, and India 5:
    http://www.allcountries.org/air_pollution.html

    However, other stats mention Russia as being even worse, and curiously no Russian, African or South American cities appear in the World Bank report. But here’s another view from the Environment News Service:
    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2006/2006-10-18-02.asp

    Delhi is often mentioned as being polluted, but it makes me wonder whether they measured in Old Delhi or New Delhi. Old Delhi is dreadful, while New Delhi has better air quality than Beijing imo. No petrol driven public vehicles are allowed in the city centre, they have to be LPG, and its made a huge difference, something Beijing should learn from

    Anyway, the initial stats seem rather erratic, but one point is clear: Both China and India have some clean up work to do, and India is certainly not any worse than China. I’ve travelled extensively in both. Nazia we should take a look at this and put up a seperate thread about the pollution issue and the environment agencies in both countries to try and get a handle on the extent of the problem and what both nations intend doing about it.

  12. winddrinker says:

    this runs long and off the point of the article. but i just wanted to quickly add that I understand exactly why india is thought dirtier in spite of stats listed by both of you. it’s not about pollution but the visible cleaniness and organization of the cities. if you ever travelled by mumbai local train, you’d notice how rats are running and waste scattered everywhere and how slums dwellers live their lives virturally in public stare. All those are beyond imagination in the city with a position equal to Shanghai in China. Chinese who have already been instilled the biased information about india come to india would only increase the impression of the dirtiness rather than the other way round. they simply forgot to reflect on “where are the poor and dirty people in Shanghai?”

  13. Tansen Sen says:

    Ask “ordinary” Chinese if they have heard about China’s interactions with ancient India and the impact of Buddhism on Chinese culture. If they have, you should give credit to Professor Ji Xianlin. During the past 20-30 years, he has written more about India-China interactions than any other Chinese scholars. Much of what is written/said on these issues in China comes from Ji’s works. Additionally, Ji’s translation of Sakuntala has been designated as “must reads” for college students.

    A correction: Xuanzang was a “seventh” not “sixth”-century traveler.

  14. winddrinker says:

    Ji’s translation of Sakuntala has been designated as “must reads” for college students.

    never know that!!!

  15. Tansen Sen says:

    An article on Ji Xianlin has recently appeared in the Times of India. It can accessed at the following link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/To_Sir_Ji_with_love/articleshow/2788448.cms

  16. winddrinker says:

    wow, what a blessing to be his student, Tansen! And we are lucky to have you here too!!!!!!!!!

  17. Abhimanyu says:

    Nice post … but umm technically the Padma Bhushan isnt the highest civilian honour … its number 3

    1. Bharat Ratna
    2. Padma Vibhushan
    3. Padma Bhushan
    4. Padma Shri

  18. winddrinker says:

    hmmmm.

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