Beijing: India and China today released the first encyclopedia on their age-old cultural contacts, tracing back their history to over 2,000 years, starting from the visit of Chinese scholar Huen Tsang to India in the 7th century to bring Buddhist scriptures to China.
The two volumes of the encyclopedia jointly compiled by scholars of India and China was released by Vice President M H Ansari and his Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao during their bilateral meeting here.
Ansari is on a five-day visit to China which ends today. The idea of encyclopedia of India-China Cultural Contacts, which also covers the trade and diplomatic ties, was mooted during the visit of former Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao to India in December 2010.
The book traces back the centuries old civilisation links that started with the visit of Huen Tsang to India in the 7th century to bring Buddhist scriptures to China.
India-China relations have expanded significantly in both scope and intensity over the past decade, according to an official statement.
Both sides have attached great importance to cooperation on a wide range of issues with people-to-people exchanges forming an important aspect of our bilateral relations.
The two sides recognise the importance of expanding such contacts, thereby contributing towards enhanced mutual understanding.
With this shared understanding, during the visit of Wen to India in 2010, the leaders of India and China agreed on a project involving compilation of an encyclopedia of India-China cultural contacts, it said.
The work of compilation of the encyclopedia was undertaken by a joint compilation committee comprising of officials and scholars from both India and China.
The encyclopedia was released in both English and Chinese versions. It features over 700 entries, encapsulating the rich history of contacts and exchanges between the two countries in the trade, economic, literary, cultural and philosophical spheres.
The Indian side of the committee comprised of Professor Sabaree Mitra of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Professor Madhavi Thampi of Delhi University, Professor Kamal Sheel of Benaras Hindu University and Professor Arttatrana Nayak, formerly of Visva Bharati University.
While the contents of both the versions are the same, the Chinese version was released in a single volume and the English version is in two volumes.
"India and China have a shared history of over two thousand years," the statement said.
"Being a seminal contribution to the literature on the cultural contacts between India and China, the publication of the encyclopedia will not only bring this history into the public domain, making it easily accessible to people of both the countries, but also provide a much-needed boost to the effort to build popular consciousness of and confidence in our shared cultural experience," it said.
"It is our expectation that the encyclopedia will be a dynamic document that is updated periodically as greater research and studies are undertaken on the civilisational interface between India and China," it added.