CHINA-INDIA: Scientists forge closer ties

S. Arunachalam

University World News, 14 September 2008

Indian and Chinese scientists are increasingly working together but it might take a few years before it becomes significant or sets the pace for South-South scientific collaboration. Until 2003, only a small percentage – around three-fourths of one per cent – of Indian papers were written in collaboration with Chinese authors, according to a report of a study published by Chennai-based Subbiah Arunachalam and IIT-Madras’ B Viswanathan.

Published in Current Science, a prominent Indian science publication, the study says that from 2004 onwards there has been a slow but perceptible rise in collaboration.

“International collaboration in scientific research is on the rise… The two great civilisations (of China and India) have learnt from each other for many centuries since the days of the Buddha and have had cultural and trade relations long before the well-documented travels in India by Fahian and Xuanzang,” note the authors.

But the past 50 years have seen the two Asian neighbours go through some border disputes and an uneasy peace. Yet, with doors open for improving ties, bilateral trade between the two countries has spurted in recent years.

In the study, South-South Cooperation: The case of Indo-Chinese collaboration in scientific research, Arunachalam and Viswanathan note that until a little over a decade ago, scientists in India were publishing a larger number of papers than those in China in journals indexed by the global Science Citation Index.

In 1997, China overtook India when Chinese scientists published 17,177 papers in SCI-indexed journals, as against 16,909 papers published by Indian scientists. Since then, China has accelerated the pace of R&D, and in 2007, China accounted for more than 2.76 times the number of papers from India, note the authors.

They found that in eight years from 2000, researchers from India and China have co-authored 1,807 papers. Of these, 1,682 were articles, 45 were reviews, 18 were letters, 36 were meeting abstracts and 26 concerned other issues.

“The number of Indo-Chinese papers has steadily increased over these eight years (from 124 in 2000 to 361 in 2007),” says the study.

Physics was found to be the most prominent area of India-China collaboration. Way behind came medicine. Multidisciplinary physics, physics of particles and fields, astronomy and astrophysics, nuclear physics and applied physics top the list with 468, 189, 181, 83 and 59 papers respectively
In many cases, India and China collaborated with partners from other countries, especially in areas like experimental high physics.

Other prominent nations on the global research scene considered collaboration with China to a much larger extent than with India, said the study. It noted that the ratio of preferring China over India for different countries was 4.2 for Japan, 3.52 for the US, 2.42 for South Korea, 2.30 for Russia and 1.95 for France.


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