Sheldon Pollock and Benjamin Elman in their book What China and India Once Were, use new resources and connections to re-evaluate how these two countries with their rich and vast cultures respectively, reached where they are right now globally. The authors consider the common grounds and the differences in order to assess whether European modernity gives utilitarian insights into the structures of each of these countries.
In the recent century, China and India have emerged as world powers. This book talks about how both countries were global leaders in terms of education, polity, management and many other aspects during the early modern age. This comparative analysis provides comprehensive frameworks for understanding the historical and cultural roots of East and South Asia and offers new ways of thinking about Asian presence.
Here we give you a list of commonalities that China and India share in regard to their culture and history:
1. Despite emerging as one the most promising nations in the world, China and India have greatly depended on their agriculture as a means to boost their economy since a long time ago. During the seventeenth century, China expanded its export of tea beyond the Eastern and Central Asian markets; and India supplied cotton fabrics and indigo to most of the world.
2. Both India and China have a history of being ruled by ruled by “conquest dynasties”, that is, states established by outsiders who treated the indigenous and native institution and the culture with condescension. India was ruled the Mughal dynasty (1526-1828) and China was ruled by the Qing dynasty.
3. Ideologies regarding gender in India and China also seem to be similar in the olden days. The treatment of women in both the lands was on the lines of restricting them and setting out strict and conservative rules of behaviour for them in society. In China, the foot binding of girls from a young age and the purdah in India, are some similar practices that were practiced.
4. The representation of women was further divided into hierarchical levels in both India and China. Domestic spaces were marked with such distinctions. In the both the cultures the authoritative power of the house remained in the hands of the matriarch. During the Mughal rule in India, Mughal women owned huge lands and properties and also ha varied commercial and trading interests. Likewise, in China management of the household was understood to be an important responsibility and power, which was vested in the hands of women as the men were made to concentrate on their studies in order to qualify the civil service exam of the powerful and elite Chinese government bureaucracy.
5. India and China already had their systems of education even before the globalization of Western education and science. Scientists of India who used Sanskrit to fashion designations for certain schools of education such as shastra (authoritative body of knowledge), vidya (lore), vijnana (experiential understanding) were well educated in these disciplines. Similarly, in China, the designations for knowledge frameworks such as gezhi (investigating and extending knowledge), bowuxue (broad knowledge of things), and shiwuxue (studies of contemporary affairs) were well-versed disciplines.