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Gargi & VP Dutt Memorial Lecture

The Gargi and VP Dutt Memorial Lecture (GVPDML) is being launched by the Institute of Chinese Studies as a tribute to the work and contribution of two eminent China experts in India.

The genesis of the GVPDML was the VP Dutt Memorial Lecture Series, which was started after his demise. It was initiated by the Delhi University and after a short gap was taken forward by the Institute of Chinese Studies in 2013, in collaboration with the India International Centre, New Delhi. The lectures, which were held in April every year to commemorate his death anniversary, were sponsored by Ms Anuradha Dutt, the daughter of the Professors Dutt and the Managing Trustee of the Gargi and Vidya Prakash Dutt Foundation. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a brief interruption and then the series resumed as online lectures. In 2023, it was decided by the ICS community to hold these lectures in the memory of both Gargi Dutt and VP Dutt.

Gargi Dutt was a leading scholar of China Studies and was a Professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She made significant contributions to the field of Chinese studies through her scholarly works such as Rural Communes of China - Organizational Problems. She also played a significant role in training generations of Indian scholars pursuing Chinese studies. She co-authored China’s Cultural Revolution and China After Mao with VP Dutt. As China was not easily accessible to the non-Chinese world during the Cultural Revolution, the book China’s Cultural Revolution is considered an authentic source on the subject. Students and colleagues recall Gargi Dutt as extremely amiable and generous, and hospitable to an amazing degree. She welcomed the young scholars to her ever-open house with her gracious personality and a warm and infectious smile.  The interactive sessions and wonderful cuisines will be a cherished memory for many. 

VP Dutt ranks among the pioneers and steadfast promoters of Chinese Studies in India. He was born on 24th June 1925 in West Punjab, which is now part of Pakistan. He graduated in English Literature from Lahore University and pursued a post-graduation in International Relations. He completed his PhD from Stanford University on China’s 1911 Republican Revolution and did his post-doctoral studies at Harvard University. In 1957 he visited China, along with Prof. Gargi Dutt, as a part of a cultural exchange program, and out of that visit emerged a co-authored first-hand account of the Great Leap Forward that was then underway in China. His talents and achievements covered a broad spectrum of various disciplines. He made significant contributions as a China scholar and took a leading role in various institution-building initiatives. He was a foreign policy strategist, a prolific writer, and played an important role as a parliamentarian. He has a rich legacy as a teacher and has mentored and nurtured generations of China scholars in India. He persuaded Pandit Nehru to support and promote China Studies in India after the 1962 War and was instrumental in setting up the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies at Delhi University in 1964, which subsequently came to be known as the Department of East Asian Studies. He played a notable role in launching the Ford Foundation-supported program under which young scholars were sent to Hong Kong for language studies, and to the US for PhD programs. These scholars returned to India to form the core of the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies at Delhi University.

Prof. VP Dutt’s seminal works include India's Foreign Policy in a Changing World, India’s Foreign Policy, India and China: The Past and the Future, The Emergency in India: Background and Rationale, China’s Foreign Policy: 1958-62, China and the World. The important positions that he held with distinction included the post of Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Delhi University. He was also nominated as a Member of the Rajya Sabha twice. He was a distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The China studies community recalls VP Dutt’s amicable demeanour, his affability and easy access at all times, especially towards his students. His demise created a vacuum that was felt by scholars and policy planners alike. 

Notable scholars and practitioners who have delivered the VP Dutt Memorial  Lectures in the past were Prof. Hans van de Ven (2022), Prof. Andrew J. Nathan (2021), Amb. Shyam Saran (2020), Prof. Prasenjit Duara (2019), Amb. Shivshankar Menon (2018), Prof. Tanaka (2017), Prof. Baker (2016), Prof. Frank Pieke (2015), Prof. Tansen Sen (2014).

 


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