South Asia

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  • Bhavani asked: Does ‘SAARC minus Pakistan’ hold a better chance of addressing South Asia's many challenges?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: The prime challenge for SAARC and South Asia is how to engender effective economic and security cooperation to boost regional prosperity and development.

    Riverine Neighbourhood: Hydro-politics in South Asia

    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    Rivers are the most visible form of fresh water. Rivers are ancient and older than civilizations a ‘mini cosmos’ spawning history, tales, spirituality, and technological incursions. Flowing rivers are the largest renewable water resource as well as a crucible for both humans and aquatic ecosystem.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-914-6,
    • Price: ₹. 895
    • E-copy available

    Raushan Raj asked: What caused India's diplomatic misadventures in Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: This question wrongly preconceives that India was on an adventure, on the diplomatic front, in the neighbourhood, and it has backfired. In reality, this is not the way one should look at diplomacy or foreign policy practices of a state. In the post-Cold War period, the regional geo-political reality has changed massively. India's policy preferences have changed too, to address a whole new set of challenges that have popped up on the horizon, while some of the old challenges have become even more complex and complicated.

    The Role of India and China in South Asia

    India is often perceived as a regional power, but a closer look reveals that it is in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis China in South Asia. The first reason is that Indian governments never had the political, economic, and military capacities to pursue their regional power ambitions with their neighbours in the long run. South Asian countries could always play the China card in order to evade India’s influence. Second, India’s new South Asia policy with the focus on trade and connectivity has improved regional cooperation since 1991.

    July 2016

    Sub-regionalism as New Regionalism in South Asia: India’s Role

    India’s engagement with its neighbours received a policy reinvigoration after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government assumed power and announced its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. The first sign of this policy was visible when Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the heads of state of the neighbouring countries for his oath-taking ceremony, on May 26, 2014. India’s interest and engagement with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has also intensified in the past few years – from being a reluctant player to driving the regional economic agenda.

    May 2016

    Amit Kumar asked: How does ethnicity and nationalism hamper regional co-operation in the South Asian region?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: South Asia is an ethnic and national boiling pot. Most states in South Asia are multi-ethnic and multi-national in character. There are numerous ethno-national identities demanding their rightful place in the region in terms of recognition of their separateness, due representation in the political and economic affairs and autonomy in managing land and security in the areas they live in, both within the state systems (autonomist) and outside them (secessionist/separatist).

    The Role of Media in Promoting Regional Understanding in South Asia

    The Role of Media in Promoting Regional Understanding in South Asia
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    This book collates a wide spectrum of views across South Asia, including Myanmar, and debates the role of media in forging regional understanding and goodwill. The media's role in South Asia is essentially conceived as state-centric, adhering to the standard templates of nationalism. This inherent tendency has, at times, cost neutral and balanced coverage of events and issues. The contributors to this volume acknowledge the potential of the media as an institution which could/should, in addition to its routine reportage, focus on regional issues of common interest and promote regional understanding.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-868-2,
    • Price: ₹. 995.00
    • E-copy available

    Tanmay Vashistha Sharma asked: Why is India developing its own navigational system when it can collaborate with the US or EU or Russia? Also, since the IRNSS is capable of covering South Asian region only, how much strategic advantage will it give?

    Abhijit Singh replies: To begin, it is important to point out that a satellite navigational system is an onerous enterprise that takes enormous capital and technological investment - not to mention years of research and experimentation - to fully operationalise. The high investment needed is one reason why countries favour developing navigation systems on a shared basis, so that the labour and costs involved can be distributed among the various partner.

    India and South Asia: Exploring Regional Perceptions

    India and South Asia: Exploring Regional Perceptions
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    Perceptions play a very significant role in South Asian politics. They have largely shaped and influenced state policies and politics among the South Asian countries, especially in relation to India, over the years. State policies have at times been hostage to negative or adversarial perceptions, well-entrenched in the popular psyche. The perception formation in South Asia is an extremely dynamic process and has evolved differently in different countries. Perceptions are not static and often change with the shift in domestic as well as regional and global politics.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-812-5,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    Naveen asked : What is the relevance of BIMSTEC and what are the prospects for India being a member of the grouping?

    Sampa Kundu replies: BIMSTEC, a sub-regional grouping, occupies a distinctive position as it links South and Southeast Asia. Initiated in June 1997 as BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation), the small grouping ensured that it does not work as a substitute for SAARC; rather, it encouraged cooperation at the multilateral level among member countries from two different regions of Asia. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC, as renamed in 2004) is said to have been encouraged by India’s Look East Policy (LEP) and Thailand’s Look West Policy. The formation of BIMSTEC, however, is much attributed to the Thai interest of getting economic benefits from its neighbours in its west, with a focus on India and Myanmar. Simultaneously, India and other South Asian nations wanted closer cooperation with the economically prospering region of Southeast Asia.

    In the present context, when the members of BIMSTEC have acquired memberships in various other regional/sub-regional organisations which also promote cooperation at different levels, BIMSTEC might be considered as a not so necessary and unique a mechanism to enhance partnership amongst its members. Lack of political will has also limited the prospects of BIMSTEC. Nevertheless, BIMSTEC still has relevance as it brings together 1.5 billion people comprising over 20 per cent of the world population and a combined GDP of over US$ 2.5 trillion.

    The fourteen priority areas of BIMSTEC, which include trade and investment, energy cooperation, counter-insurgency and cooperation to combat trans-national organised crime, transport and connectivity, people-to-people contact, tourism and other areas, could help in augmenting cooperation and reducing tension in the sub-region.

    At the 3rd BIMSTEC Summit held in Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar in early March 2014, three documents were signed including the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat, the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of a BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission (BCIC) and BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO).

    As for India, it should be more proactive towards BIMSTEC to make its LEP 3.0 a success. BIMSTEC could help India to further increase its cooperation with countries located around the Bay of Bengal along with two of its adjuncts, namely Malacca Straits and Andaman Sea. In addition, India’s Northeast which shares common border with four BIMSTEC members (Myanmar, Bangladesh and also with Bhutan and Nepal) would particularly benefit from integration with East Asian economies and infrastructural development under the ambit of BIMSTEC.

    Posted on May 22, 2014