Book Discussion | Contemporary China: Tradition and Modernity | Author Poonam Surie in Conversation with Sreemati Chakrabarti and Ravi Bhoothalingam | 16 April 2024 @ 3PM IST | Zoom Webinar

16 Apr 2024
Poonam Surie
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Time: 3:00 PM

Abstract of the Book

Contemporary China: Tradition and Modernity which explores the warps and wefts of Chinese society today; a combination of tradition, modernity, technological advancement, the commonalities with its biggest neighbour, India, and the many historical footprints across this terrain. To understand Chinese society and culture, it is important to delve into multiple issues. Chinese society is changing in many ways and a point of intersection between politics and society has made it necessary to have a series of negotiations to keep the citizens satisfied and prosperous; and, at the same time, on the radar of the Communist Party so that it can exercise control over them. This book explores the nature of grass roots democracy, Marxism, the Han identity, ethnic minorities in China, the 996 generation; demographics, gender, environmental issues, religion, and many other concerns. Traditional philosophies such as Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism are now being rebooted in contemporary times. What we are seeing is an amalgamation of modernity and tradition, of cultural values which have merged into the material outlook of the world as it is today. Economic development has been broad based, the life of the people, to a large extent, has moved from frugal living to material well-being, which has been a mesmerizing route. China has been attempting to move to a consumption-led growth strategy, but new challenges have emerged and the focus has shifted to innovation and domestic technology development. The dual circulation strategy is being recognized as a viable strategy to improve the economy and culture is underscored as the foundation of Chinese society, peppered with modernity and technological advancement.


About the Author

Poonam Surie, an economist by training from the Delhi School of Economics, is an Independent Researcher and Analyst and currently Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi. The experience of living across different continents, observing varied cultures and ethnicities and meeting with a vast array of people, forms the basis of her writing across genres. This imparts diversity and versatility to her work. She has taught, in the past, at Delhi University and subsequently in Bhutan, New York and Beijing and has presented papers at several national and international conferences. Her writing ranges across academia, poetry, and journalism. She has an abiding interest in Chinese studies and has written on some aspects of Chinese culture, religion, and philosophy. Her book, China: A Search for its Soul (2009) deals with ancient links between China and India, the evolving Chinese society, and the return of religion, particularly Buddhism to the country. Her second book, written for the Indian Council of World Affairs, China: Confucius in the Shadows (2015) deals with Confucian philosophy and its relevance in contemporary China. She also has two published books of poetry.


About the Panelists

Sreemati Chakrabarti is the Chairperson of the Governing Council and Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. She is former Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi. She has also been Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Delhi; Head of the Department of East Asian Studies for three terms and Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies (2009-2012). She was a Visiting Faculty at Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China in 2018. She holds a Doctorate in Political Science from Columbia University. She has authored three books: China and the Naxalites, Mao, China’s Intellectuals and the Cultural Revolution and China (a volume for the NBT). She has also edited Higher Education in China: Select Perspectives and co-edited Taiwan Today. In addition, she has published several articles in journals, magazines and newspapers and contributed chapters to books. In 2010 she was conferred “China-India Friendship Award” by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Ravi Bhoothalingam is an Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. His interests lie in the Chinese economy, history, and Confucianism. Mr. Bhoothalingam holds a B.Sc Hons in Physics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from Cambridge University, United Kingdom. He has also pursued an Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School. Under the mentorship of renowned scientist and sinologist Joseph Needham, Mr. Bhoothalingam received specialized training in psycholinguistics, scientific Method, and Chinese culture. Throughout his career, Mr. Bhoothalingam has held prominent leadership positions in various fields both in India and abroad. He has served as the President of The Oberoi Group of Hotels, the Head of Personnel Worldwide with BAT plc in London, the Managing Director of VST Industries Ltd. in Hyderabad, and the Director of ITC Ltd. in Kolkata. Additionally, he has contributed his expertise as an independent director on several corporate boards and as a member of the Court of Governors of the Administrative Staff College of India. Mr. Bhoothalingam played the role of moderator at the Aspen Leadership Seminars in India, organised by the Aspen Institute, Colorado, USA. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London, and actively participates in the China Core Group of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Mr. Bhoothalingam is also the Founder and Chairman of Manas Advisory, which focuses on top management coaching, integrating psychological science with on-ground management experience. He has written extensively about how the application of science and psychology can enhance understanding between India and China.


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