Liangxiang Forum | Jiang Jingkui: Understanding India

The Republic of India, also known as “India” in short, is the largest country in the South Asian subcontinent, which always plays an essential role in the studies of South Asia. Recently, as “India” and “Sino-Indian relations” have become popular keywords of discussion, more and more people have begun to focus on this continent. However, as a country with multiple races, ethnics and religions, India seems extremely complicated and puzzling to many researchers. Therefore, “Understanding India” may serve as an excellent starting point to clear away the myths.

On the morning of October 20th, 2020, Prof. Jiang Jingkui, Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at Peking University, delivered a lecture entitled “Understanding India” to all doctorate candidates of Institute for International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU) at Auditorium 205 of the Central Main Building of Tsinghua University. The event was also the second session of Liangxiang Forum, one of the key academic projects carried out by IIAS.

Prof. Jiang started with the issues of the Sino-Indian border, which are of great concern to the public. Humorously and vividly, he described the current situations of China and India as well as the Sino-Indian border. Then, from the perspective of fundamental research, he guided the students present to explore the causes and consequences of India’s evolution in all aspects and at all levels, echoing the theme of “Understanding India”.

Prof. Jiang meticulously elaborated the national image of India to the audience in terms of the origin of the geographical and national concept of India, India’s national history and religious history, and its national character, sociality and landscape. Thanks to his presentation, the students are able to look at India in a more comprehensive manner so as to avoid the drawbacks of simplification, generalization and stereotype in Indian studies.
During the interactive Q&A session, Prof. Jiang enthusiastically answered the questions related to Indian studies and also offered pertinent research advices, which greatly benefited the doctorate students present. Finally, the lecture ended in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.

Prof. Jiang Jingkui is Professor and Doctoral Supervisor of Peking University. He currently serves as Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at Peking University, Deputy Director Member of the Higher Education Foreign Language and Literature Teaching Steering Committee and Chairman of the Non-Universal Language Teaching Steering Subcommittee of the Ministry of Education. He focuses on the teaching and research of Indian literature and culture, Indian religions and South Asian regional issues. Prof. Jiang has published six monographs, three translations, one dictionary and one set of textbooks and has edited more than 20 books and 70 academic papers. His undergoing projects include “Translation and Publication of Chinese and Indian Classics and Contemporary Works” (a Key Publishing Project in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan) and a new edition of “Hindi-Chinese Dictionary”. He has won a number of academic awards at home and abroad, including the First Prize for Outstanding Achievements in Philosophy and Social Sciences in Beijing, the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award at Peking University, the International Hindi Award (Hindi Language Literature Contribution Award), George Grissom Award (the highest Hindi achievement award in the world) and Father Kamil Bulcke Award (an award dedicated to overseas Hindi scholar). He is also Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Literature, Member of IIAS-THU Academic Committee, Chief Expert of Yunshan Scholar Salon of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guiding Expert for the Construction of Non-Universal Language Majors in Guizhou Province and President of South Asian Languages Chapter of Chinese Association for South Asian Studies.

By: Wei Shiwen
Photography: He Yan & Cheng Yao