The Department of East Asian Studies was initially established as the CENTRE OF CHINESE STUDIES in 1964. One year later, the centre was upgraded to a full-fledged Department of the University. The objective was to create and promote an enhanced awareness of the culture and civilization of China in all its aspects- social, economic, political, diplomatic and intellectual in both the past and the present. Research enquiries were to be conducted through a multi-disciplinary mode and the knowledge of Chinese language was to be an essential tool. A faculty was therefore created and developed in stages, under the guidance and leadership of Prof. V.P. Dutt, by drawing in experts from academia and outside, whose expertise and potential in their respective fields of Chinese politics, Chinese History, Chinese Society, Chinese Philosophy, Chinese Foreign Policy and Chinese Language were undisputed. With the help of these members, who constituted the core faculty, the Department initiated a number of courses in Chinese language, both part time and full time, as well as research programmes, namely Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy in Chinese Studies for those students who, after having completed their Master’s course in any of the social science disciplines, wished to take up China as their specialized area of study. For all those students who joined these research programmes, mastery of the Chinese language was an essential prerequisite, and had to be pursued alongwith their other studies either on a part -time basis or as a full time endeavour.

After four years of existence, the study of Japan too was incorporated into the existing Department. The process of establishing the core faculty for both Japanese language and Japanese studies as well as the structure of the courses was undertaken, under the guidance and leadership of Prof. Savitri Vishwanathan, along the lines of the already established pattern of the Chinese studies programme. From 1969 onwards, the Department offered ample opportunities to those who wished to study either the Japanese language or any aspect of Japan, through a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating the different modes of enquiry of the various social science disciplines. The faculty swelled to double its earlier size and the name of the Department was changed to Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies.

The Korean Studies Programme was formally inaugurated in the Department on November 23, 2001 at a function which was well attended by the eminent personalities from the Embassy of Korea as well as the academia. With the introduction of Korean Studies, the name of the Department was changed to Department of East Asian Studies. Part time courses in Korean languages were started in the academic session 2003-2004.

 
 

The Department is governed and funded by the “Area Studies Programme” of the University Grants Commission. The Department has however, received commendable support from time to time from such international foundations such as the Ford Foundation and the Japan Foundation in building its infrastructure, such as the library and the language laboratory as well as its faculty. With the introduction of the Korean studies in the Department, Embassy of Korea and the Korea Foundation too has been taking interest in extending generous support to help establish and promote the Korean studies in India. To begin with, the Department has already received a set of books and related study materials for the study of Korea and the Korean language from the Embassy of Korea, while the Korea Foundation has provided us with a visiting faculty to help us establish the Korean studies programme. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, New Delhi has also contributed to the promotion of Chinese language education in the Department, by way of donating teaching materials.

The Department of East Asian Studies has been engaged for over three decades in creating and developing the core personnel who have played a significant role in both public and private institutions, wherever expertise on China, Japan and Korea is required. This effort has been supported by, in addition to the core faculty members, visiting Professors and researchers from both China, Japan and Korea. They have been of great assistance in promoting and carrying out the academic programs in the Department effectively. Not only the students but also the other faculty members have immensely benefited from their work with the Department, their lectures, and classes. The visiting Professors from China, Japan and Korea fall into two categories, namely, language and area studies. Those falling in the language stream are invited to provide the inputs of the native speaker into the various language programmes and also to advise the advanced researchers and the Indian faculty on the usage of primary data and the latest teaching methodologies. The second stream comprises of Chinese, Japanese and Korean Professors who are established authorities in their respective disciplines within the area of East Asian region and are invited to offer short-term courses for the benefit of the faculty and to offer research guidance to both the faculty and the researchers.

Almost all the members of the core faculty have been trained in universities outside India. They have numerous publications to their credit. Additionally, they have also created a number of teaching aids. One such tool they have developed is the two sets of the Japanese Language textbook, entitled” TEACHING JAPANESE”, comprised of two volumes each for teaching the beginners’ course. In contrast to similar books published in Japan, this textbook, which was brought out in 1988, makes it possible for the learner to identify himself with the situations, contexts and feelings contained in the texts, as they are located in typically Indian contexts, making the learning an easier exercise. This textbook which was prepared by the faculty members themselves also takes special care of those aspects of grammar and expressions of Japanese language which an average Indian student has relatively greatest difficulty in mastering.

Outstanding students of the Department’s various courses get opportunities to study in China/ Japan/ Korea under the bilateral cultural exchange programmes between the concerned Governments. Apart from this scheme, there is an understanding between the University of Delhi, with Tokyo University, Japan, and People’s University in Beijing, Beijing, China under which scholars are exchanged on a regular basis.

The Department, as a consequence of its ceaseless efforts to promote better understanding of both China, Japan and Korea, has, ensured the successful completion of more than 110 M.Phil. dissertations and close to 25 dissertations under the Ph.D. programme.

The core faculty members as well as the successful students have been gainfully employed in various organizations of national and international importance, in some cases contributing to policy making related to East Asian countries as well as offering services related to the translation and interpretation of the crucial documents of importance. Increasing demand for well trained translators and interpreters in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages from various multinational companies operating in India has posed a challenging task before the Department. The faculty members as well as the students of the Department have also been instrumental in the transfer of technology from China and Japan to various Indian industrial establishments. Former students of this Department are currently working with many companies of repute, such as Maruti-Suzuki Ltd., General Electric Co., American Express, Honda-SIEL Co. Ltd., Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Satyam Computers, Tata Consultancy Services, HCL, Hero Honda, Yamaha etc., in addition to a number of organs of Government of India, international agencies and the embassies. The Department’s Faculty members have also been associated with teaching Japanese language to the software professionals of Tata Consultnacy Services. In order to create an awareness about the culture and civilization of China and Japan, the faculty members have also conducted special workshops for the school teachers of India, under the sponsorship of the Embassy of Japan, and delivered lectures to the teachers of Delhi University at the Center of Professional Development in Higher Education. The National Defence College is another such place, where the faculty members have been invited to deliver lectures on China and Japan.

The faculty members have also held short term teaching assignments in other universities abroad, such as Kanazawa University in Japan. Within the framework of the University of Delhi also, the faculty members. have offered their expertise to conduct various courses on history, politics, philosophy and religion in the Departments of History, Political Science, Buddhist Studies, etc., and there is an established regular arrangement for teaching courses on China and Japan in other Departments by the faculty members of this Department. In order to cope with the demand for still more professionally competent persons in Japanese language, to undertake various tasks of high level translation, interpretation and teaching, the Department introduced the Masters’ Course in Japanese Language in 1998. This two year course was designed to enable a student, on successful completion of the course, to comprehend, interpret and analyze all aspects of Japanese society, history, culture, economy, philosophy and literature by using all kinds of the Japanese language source material. After completing this course, it is hoped, that students would be able to undertake any research or teaching assignment related to Japanese language and literature. Continuous efforts are being made to analyze the contents of the course and upgrade them from time to time on the basis of feedback from the students.

Efforts are also underway to introduce a similar course in Chinese language in the near future. Further, the faculty is also examining a proposal to introduce a Master’s programme in East Asian Studies, which will help create a sound base for those students who propose to undertake higher courses such as Master of Philosophy” or Doctor of Philosophy. It is also hoped that to keep up with the changing times the Department would be able to increase its interaction with the government, industry and other academic and research institutions. The Department conducted a National Seminar on China and Japan in March 1979 and the papers presented were subsequently published in the form of two books. In November 1997, another National Seminar on East Asia’s 20th Century Development Experience was held over a two day period when over 15 papers by Indian and foreign scholars were presented. Recently, a UGC team which visited various universities in India, where area studies are carried out, rated this Department highly.

The Department's efforts to promote the study and understanding of the East Asia is clearly reflected in the number of seminars, workshops and conferences which are organized every year. Fornightly seminar on an issue of importance relating to East Asia, focusing on either of the countries or in its comparative context has been a regular feature in the Department in which a scholar or expert in the area of East Asia is invited to enlighten us. Not only that, a workshop is organized annually or bi-annually targeted exclusively at the university teachers engaged in the teaching of the papers related to East Asia at various levels of undergraduate courses. The purpose of such workshops has been to understand the problems and difficulties encountered in the teaching and studying of these subjects, and provide solutions for overcoming them. In addition to the fornightly seminars and periodical workshops, occasionally the Department organizes a Quiz Contest for the students exclusively focusing on the different aspects of East Asia, meant to create a healthy awareness and knowledge on East Asia among the students. The Department in association with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China organized a “China Week” from September 10-16, 2003. A photographic exhibition on China was arranged and there was a week long festival of Chinese films, which was very well attended. Further, continuing with the same spirit, Korea week was also organized in the last week of Nov. 2004, which included seminars, photo exhibition, movie shows, and a cultural programme performed by the students of the Korean Language.

For the Department’s academic enrichment, a National Seminar on the theme “Politics and Literature in twentieth Century China” was organized in March 2002, Further three international conferences were also organized by the Department with the generous support of Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, Japan Foundation, New Delhi, Embassy of People’s Republic of China, Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Embassy of Japan. The first of these conferences was on “Enduring Ties Between India and Japan Through Literature: Its History and Future Prospects” and was held on October 26-27, 2002, while the second one had the following theme : “India and East Asia : Learning From Each Other”, and was held on March 26-27, 2003. The third conference on the theme “Korea into the Twenty-First Century” was held on March 26 and 27, 2004. In February 2005, an international seminar on the theme “Modernizing Experiences of South Korea and India” was conducted for two days.

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