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  • 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

    Jacob Wiencek asked: In what ways is India strengthening its own geo-political position in South Asia in response to increasing Chinese assertiveness?

    S.D. Muni replies: India is strengthening its connectivity with neighbours, streamlining its economic engagement including assistance programmes, and is strengthening forces of democracy and secularism. There are also moves to reinforce security cooperation and ensure stability in the region. India's growing commitment to Afghanistan and Myanmar, as also trilateral security agreement with Sri Lanka and Maldives, are indicative of this effort. China no doubt has huge economic advantage over India in South Asia, but India's cultural roots and political access is second to none. India needs to employ its soft power in relation to the neighbours more assertively.

    Posted on February 18, 2014

    India’s South Asia Dilemma and Regional Cooperation: Relevance of Cultural Diplomacy

    This article highlights the current relevance of cultural diplomacy not as a panacea for the problems in India’s relations with its South Asian neighbours but as a way of dealing with the dilemma it faces. Against the backdrop of India’s position in South Asia and the importance of the region, the article makes an estimate of cultural diplomacy.

    January 2014

    Arthasastra: Lesson for the Contemporary Security Environment with South Asia as a Case Study

    Arthasastra: Lesson for the Contemporary Security Environment with South Asia as a Case Study

    In this monograph, the Arthasastra framework is used for examination of dynamics of fragility in South Asia, with a case study of Pakistan. The insights into human policy choices which can be gleaned from the treatise have a timeless quality that can offer a fresh perspective to today’s policy makers. It can be open to further academic investigation and debate for developing and enriching an indigenous strategic vocabulary.


    Militant Groups in South Asia

    Militant Groups in South Asia
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    This book is an attempt to profile important militant groups presently active in South Asian countries. The threat perception from each group has been covered in this book in details. The book will be useful for further research on militancy, terrorism, radicalisation and security related issues.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-754-8,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present, by Kaushik Roy

    In the academic field of modern history studies, historians dealing with South Asia largely neglect the historical evolution of military–strategic thought on the Indian subcontinent. It is also true that, both for political scientists and scholars of the specialized field of strategy, it is not very common to find people engaging with theories other than Western theories of warfare.1 Nevertheless, the new generation of scholars has started to deal with these subjects.

    October 2013

    Vibin Lakshmanan asked: How illegal cross-border migrations in South Asia impact regional and bilateral relations?

    P.K. Upadhyay replies: Borders are meant to insulate inmates of a house, society, or nation in a secure environment. However, borders do not seek to create airtight compartments to segregate people. They allow for regulated movement of people so that the order and lives of a community’s members are not disturbed. Illegal migrations go against the very grain of this concept of security. Maintaining border controls against illegal migrations becomes very difficult when any one country in the region achieves greater economic growth rate, better life standards, greater job opportunities, better medical facilities and education and offers more security of life against lawlessness of either the state, or the non-state players. In South Asia, this manifests itself in the form of illegal migration of people to India from practically all its neighbours.

    There are Nepalese and Bhutanese migrants who basically come to India for better job opportunities, education and medical facilities that are available here. From Bangladesh, the migrations are again driven by these factors, plus at times, by the sense of insecurity among country's Hindu and Buddhist minorities. The migration from Sri Lanka is driven by the sense of insecurity and discrimination driven by ethnic policies of the majority community that plague the country's ethnic minorities. Illegal migrations from Pakistan are mostly driven by that country’s hostile intent against the Indian state, and also due to the persecution of its minorities. The turmoil in Afghanistan also forced a large number of Afghans to come to India for security and many of those people chose to stay on in India. Such migrations upset the social and economic equilibrium in a society and generate social, economic and ethnic tensions, apart from myriad of security problems.

    Migrations also add to the pressures on the availability of civil supplies, habitat, hygiene and medical facilities. At a political level when such illegal migrants settle down at a place for longer durations, they create tensions by finding their way into the electoral processes and polity. This becomes even more complex and volatile if the government or any other agency in the migrant’s country triggers migrations in a phased manner with an extra-territorial agenda. Such problems are basically of a human nature and, to an extent, are unavoidable in the context of human growth and evolution. They require a delicate approach and handling, unless a country is willing to be labeled as insensitive and inhuman.