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Akash asked: Why the revolution in Middle East is called as Jasmine Revolution? What is its impact on India?

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  • Sonia Roy replies: The association of Jasmine with the Tunisian Revolution, is media-termed, and a debated concept in Tunisia. One explanation is that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the second president who had came to in 1987, preferred the term ‘Jasmine Revolution’ to describe his bloodless coup. This revolution ended with him fleeing the country in January 2011. Another explanation is that is it named after Tunisia’s national flower, the Jasmine. The overthrow of President Ben Ali was described within the Tunisian tradition of naming regime change after plants. And a third explanation is that the street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi, who lit himself up and started a chain reaction of political riots in Tunisia, sold incense (jasmine).

    Strategically speaking, India has by and large remained unaffected by the whole situation in the Middle East. It has adopted the usual ‘wait and watch’ attitude, and continuing relations with these states. India has been careful in its diplomacy in not trying to ‘promote democracy’ but at the same time supporting the aspirations of the people.

    There is a large Indian expatriate community in West Asia, especially in the Persian Gulf region and is estimated at 5to 5.5 million. Their safety and well-being are vital for India. In the economic arena, Indian industries have suffered from the general unrest in the region and there are indications of slump in economic activities. The spiralling oil prices and fears over supply disruptions are intrinsically linked to the political stability of the West Asian region.

    Sonia Roy is pursuing research at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Email: