Ambassador Nirupama Rao began the session by discussing the geographical expanse of India and the necessity of engaging with nations touching all of India’s borders. Quoting Nathan Glazer, whether the term South Asia should be replaced by India, Ambassador Rao also set the tone of her talk by laying the importance of India’s geographical presence. The requirements of a multiplex world also apply to that of Asia because the vast proportion of the world’s population are from the region. There is also the fact that the Indian and Chinese populations are competing to achieve greatness, and along with it come competing interests.
The Modi government has followed a principle of flexible geometry which can be adapted to suit the needs of the region. Moreover, she emphasized the need of regional cooperation and forming a commons system based on the shared cultural and traditional roots of the regions populations. In fact the look East needs to translates into an Act East Policy.
Whenever there is a discussion about foreign policy and India’s relations with the world, the role of Islam is never discussed. Asia and Islam have a common historic link with the wider world. In fact India is home to the world’s second largest population of Muslims.
Rao quoted Maulana Abdul Kala m Azad “ I am a Muslim and proud of this fact, in addition I am a proud Indian” this level of connectedness to identity is found only in the region. In fact, Sufi Islam in India, has incorporated into its devotion, ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions. However, there is a growing threat from the instability in West Asia and rise of fundamentalist forces. This could be one of the greatest threats that the region can face in the coming years. India must aim to project its civilizational identity more than religion.
The unsettled border with China and India’s difficulties with Pakistan over Kashmir will continue to remain points of contention, however this will continue to be mitigated through sub regional cooperation and Modus Revendi which is enshrined through culture consensus on environment. India will be dominant in the region because of its example of assimilation of various cultures and strong democratic ethos.
Despite momentary flareups being witnessed with India’s neighbors it is not a signal of a failure of India’s policy. Specifically on China and India relations, the recent reaction of the Chinese government to the Dalai Lamas visit to Arunachal Pradesh indicates a new mutation of public opinion. India has and always will stand its ground on border issues although finding a solution would not be easy, have no doubts territory will remain Indian.
Normalization of relations between India and Pakistan cannot happen unless there is a change that happens in the “deep state” of Pakistan.
Regarding the US, the Obama administration was implying that India and Japan would be a counter balance to the growth and influence of China, but with the new Trump administration, things are unpredictable.
Ambassador Nirupama Rao was speaking at the CPPR 13 th quarterly lecture, supported by Geojit Financial
Services. M.P Joseph moderated the session, Satish Menon Executive Director Geojit Financial Services and Dr. D Dhanuraj were present on the occasion.
Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) initiated the Quarterly Lecture Series in November 2012 to sensitize the public on social and political themes. The lecture series is designed to create a nation-wide conversation and offer the public an opportunity to interact with thought leaders in a town hall–style setting.CPPR Quarterly Lecture Series has hosted eminent speakers like Dr Shashi Tharoor, Dr Alexander T J Lennon, Dr Madhav Gadgil, J M Lyngdoh, Happymon Jacob, Dr Sandeep Shastri, Professor T V Paul, Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr Dileep Padgaonkar, Dr Sanjaya Baru, Dr Jacob Thomas IPS and Dr Subbarao.
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