Science and Technology Collaboration between India and China: The Missing Connections

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Quite often, collaborations between countries, especially in science and technology (S&T), are established as a matter of course, perhaps as a dimension of diplomatic relationship. So many of these collaborations do not really progress beyond a few exchanges of visits. However, setting up a science collaboration with expectations of specific socio-economic benefits needs careful consideration and planning; this is particularly true in the case of India and China. So, is it meaningful to have a serious S&T collaboration between India and China? What should be the scope and the broad contours of such an India-China collaboration, and what should be its basic structure?

Formal cooperation between India and China in the field of S&T began way back in 1988, when the two countries signed an agreement during the visit of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China. However, there had been contacts and exchanges between Indian and Chinese scientists on issues of scientific interest much before the formalised agreement. As two neighbouring civilisations with long histories of scientific and technological traditions spanning centuries, and with many common problems that require S&T interventions, India and China are ideally placed to develop a strong and sustained S&T collaboration for the benefit of people of both the countries. Yet the level of S&T collaboration between India and China remains far below its potential, and the impact of existing collaboration way below its expected level. Some factors bear examining that hinder an energetic India-China S&T collaboration, the politico-economic sense of such a collaboration, and some suggestions for the way ahead.

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