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Vol 10, No. 1           Jan - Mar 2015


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Changing Political Dynamics in Sri Lanka

and its Implications for India-Sri Lanka Relations



LAKHAN MEHROTRA: Former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and a former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

Time for Change in South Asia

It is time for change in South Asia. First, Narendra Modi came to the helm of affairs in India last year, riding on the wave of change. That is now followed by Maithripala Sirisena assuming Presidency in Sri Lanka after defeating his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa in a closely contested election on January 8 this year. In both cases, the electorate catapulted into power men who promised change in all earnestness. In their election campaigns, both leaders pledged to sound the death knell of corruption, nepotism, non-governance, and concentration of power in the hands of a few in their countries. The electrically charged environment in both nations also resonated with assertions of good neighbourly goals. Although only time will tell the true extent of any real change, with the leadership change, a new hope dawns for improvements in India-Sri Lanka relations.


NITIN GHOKALE: Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Chair of Excellence at the United Services Institution of India, New Delhi, a veteran journalist and long-time Sri Lanka watcher

Sri Lanka and the India-China Conundrum

President Sirisena’s major task will be to re-calibrate Sri Lanka’s relations with India in the wake of a decade long period of China-friendly policies pursued by his predecessor, President Rajapaksa. While India’s strategic interests in Sri Lanka are vital, it also has old cultural and religious ties with the Sri Lankan society going back centuries. A relatively new entrant to the island, China has made large, strategic and commercial investments in Sri Lanka over the last decade, thanks to the Rajapaksas who tried to play China against India. That Sirisena, backed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, is not exactly well-disposed towards Beijing, is well known However, China cannot easily be shrugged off. Consider this: between 2005 and 2012, China provided US$ 4.761 billion as assistance to Sri Lanka. Of this, only two per cent is an outright grant while the remaining 98 per cent is in the form of soft loans. By contrast, a third of India’s US$ 1.6 billion dollars assistance programme to the island comprises of outright grants.


R. HARIHARAN: a former MI officer, who served as head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka during 1987−90. He is presently associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group.

Leadership Change in Sri Lanka: Implications for India

At the strategic security level, apart from Sri Lanka’s bid to renew relations with India, China’s concerns with the Sirisena government relate to its ambitious power projection in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Sri Lanka has emerged as a key strategic pivot astride the Indian Ocean to further China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Route (MSR). Sri Lanka has already announced its support to the initiative. China has recently announced an outlay of US$ 40 billion for the MSR. With this huge investment, and those already made in port and road infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, China simply cannot afford any obstruction to the completion of MSR, which would increase its strategic reach in keeping with its global ambitions.

China has tried to use its existing discounted but firm relationship with Sri Lanka by turning President Sirisena’s desire to rebalance Sri Lanka’s relations with India as an opportunity for evolving a triangular relationship with India and Sri Lanka. This would help China further its strategic objectives in IOR and South Asia, as well as bring in India to join the MSR and turn it into a successful project.


J JEGANAATHAN: Assistant Professor, Central University of Jammu

India-Sri Lanka Relations in the New Era: Old Challenges, New Vistas

There is no doubt that the Modi government is much more assertive and very articulate of its regional interests as compared to the previous government. It has clearly indicated that India would play a leadership role in South Asia, with less interference but more involvement in the development sectors in its neighbouring countries. It wants to make its footprint stronger in the economic development of neighbouring countries. This is not necessarily only to contain China’s aggressive inroads; rather, it is to expand both its shrinking markets as well as its cultural identity. The ‘SAARC Yatra’ by the new Foreign Secretary is an innovative strategy adopted by the MEA to strengthen India’s role in the neighbourhood.

With its new leaderships, both India and Sri Lanka should take a fresh look at each other; and it is high time they take the bilateral relationship between the two countries to the next phase.


GULBIN SULTANA: Researcher, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi 

The Silver Lining in India-Sri Lanka Relations

With the election of Maithripala Sirisena as President of Sri Lanka, and the formation of the National Unity Government, it is expected that India’s southern neighbour will have a more democratic polity as compared to the earlier one. In addition, there is also a general popular expectation that, under the new government, there would be a greater balance in dealing with developmental issues in various constituent provinces of the island nation. There is also a general hope that there will be a thawing in the almost frozen India-Sri Lanka relationship. 


The Sirisena government is also likely to have a positive approach towards India, already indicated by the few initiatives that his government has taken. It will try to mend relations with India not necessarily by jettisoning its relations with China. A deft political calculation will be required by the Sirisena government on the issue of the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as it has the potential to cause a significant political loss by an upset Sinhala majority. The best way forward for Sri Lanka would be in following a middle path in its foreign policy, keeping in mind strategic concerns of an important neighbour like India.


GAUTAM SEN: The Author is a retired officer of the Indian Defence Accounts Service, former Additional CGDA, who had served in the High Commission of India at Colombo during 1988−1990.

In this paper, the author discusses the unique conditions regarding the 'Hill Tamils' of Sri Lanka that is not often in focus while discussing India n- Sri Lanka relations.

Revisiting the Issue of 'Highland Tamils' in the Changing Political Dynamics

In this context, there is an apparent need for a new appraisal of the status, both economic and political, of the Hill Country or Highland Tamils of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. This community is nearly 1.48 million in number, and constituted approximately 11.61 per cent of the total Sri Lankan population as per the official Census data of 1971. They continue to form an important part of Sri Lankan citizenry even though their strength may have marginally declined in the years following 1971, especially after some spells of repatriation to India consequent on the Amendment of the Shastri-Sirimavo Accord of 1964, and after the Indira-Sirimavo Agreement of 1974.

The Highland Tamils (also known as Malaiha Tamils) are quite distinct from the Tamils of Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka, and have led a practically disenfranchised existence for quite some time since the country’s independence in 1948.





 VIJAY SAKHUJA: Director, National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi.

Harnessing Blue Economy

Blue Economy is a relatively new concept and is resonating among a number of countries across the globe.

It involves a number of interdependent sectors, which harness the wealth of the seas for economic growth through sustainable development to advance growth and enhance human security.

Blue economy is slowly finding reference in the national maritime thinking among South Asian Countries and the national agendas acknowledge the potential of the seas for economic development.

However, these countries face a number of technological and financial constraints to pursue the Blue Economy; but a pan-South Asian approach can help that dream come true.


DEEPAK BHOJWANI: Former Ambassador of India to Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, The Dominican Republic, and Haiti, and former Consul General in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Latin America & India: Understanding Mutual Opportunities

The article outlines the relationship between India and that distant region, with which India has enjoyed a cordial relationship that has nevertheless not been as active as this emerging power has developed with any other region. This is despite the complementarity that is evident in the resource endowments of Latin America, India’s manufacturing prowess and its enormous market, mutually beneficial technological capabilities, etc.

The article points out the areas of potential and urges a greater and more focussed activism on the part of the official and business establishments on both sides. The benevolent political environment, and the recent Latin American interest in India should galvanise the upward spiral of trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges.


M. GANAPATHI: Former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, former Ambassador to Kuwait, former High Commissioner to Mauritius and former Consul General in Sydney, Australia

'Look East - Act East' Dimension of India’s Foreign Policy

“Look East” is a passive adumbration. “Act East” incorporates greater action and dynamism. This has been brought about in the recent statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has expanded on this thought. When India looks at the region to its east, barring few fulminations, this area is relatively peaceful and cohesive for its engagement. This does not distract from India’s extensive contacts with the countries in the Gulf, Europe and elsewhere where it continues to be engaged economically, socially and from a geostrategic point of view.


PARUL BAKSHI & SKAND R. TAYAL: Scholar at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi, and, former Ambassador to Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan and currently a visiting professor at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi, respectively

India - ASEAN Economic Engagement and its Impact on Indian Economy

... [W]hether India can have an overall comparative advantage in trade in the region as a whole is questionable. However, what could be focused upon are the benefits, which India could gain from the regional integration as the ASEAN and India become significant players in shaping the regional trading architecture. How these agreements have an impact on the Indian economy in the near future would largely be dependent on India itself and its preparations to be able to optimally make use of the opportunities presented to it. India probably needs to be more cautious before deciding to further liberalise the current AIFTA, i.e. including more products in the Normal Track list, which seems to be the eventual aim. Domestic implications of such measures need to be taken into account rather than merely following the decided time frames on liberalisation of various products.




ANUP SINGH: Vice Admiral, IN (Retd), former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command

Sanat Kaul, Andaman and Nicobar Islands : India’s Untapped Strategic Assets, (New Delhi, Pentagon Press / Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses , 2014), Pages 226, Price: Rs. 995


RAJARAM PANDA: Former Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Currently Visiting Faculty at the Centre for Japanese Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies, JNU, New Delhi.

Amar Nath Ram (ed.), India's Asia-Pacific Engagement: Impulses and Imperatives,  New Delhi, Indian Council of World Affairs /  Manohar Publication, 2015 Pages: 324, Price: ...


DHRUV KHATOCH: Maj. Gen. (Retd), Till recently Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.

Vinod Misra (Ed.), Core Concerns in Indian Defence and the Imperatives for Reforms, (New Delhi: Pentagon Press / Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, 2014), Pages: 374, Price: Rs. 1,095.00


B. BALAKRISHNAN: former Ambassador of India to Greece and  Cuba.

S. D. Muni and Vivek Chadha (Eds.), Asian Strategic Review 2015: India as a Security Provider, (New Delhi, Pentagon Press, 2015), Pages: 408, Price: Rs. 995.00




Published in Volume 9, 2014



Vol 10, No. 2          Apr - Jun 2015


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Indo-US Strategic Partnership

Current Trends and Expectations


KANWAL SIBAL: Former Foreign Secretary of India, former Ambassador to Russia and to France.

India-US Strategic Partnership: Transformation is Real

The India-US strategic partnership is unequal. The US is a global power and India is, at best, a regional one. The USA would want to fit India into the jigsaw puzzle of its global interests, whereas India can only hope that the USA would increasingly align itself with its regional interests. Even achieving this would be difficult as the USA has historically pursued policies in our neighbourhood that have been detrimental to our interests; even now it is unable to overcome the legacy of the past, or go beyond the traditional ties it has developed with particular countries in our region, and the geopolitical need to maintain a certain regional balance so that its primacy is maintained. Nevertheless, the transformation in ties is real. If a realistic, and not an idealised, view of the relationship is taken, the overall assessment of the strategic partnership and its future seems to be positive in all objectivity.


OBJA BORAH HAZARIKA:  Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Dibrugarh University, Assam

India-US Relations under Modi and Obama: Caveat Riddled Convergences

Notwithstanding these contentions, cooperative relations between India and the US have become the mainstay of their relations in the post-Cold War era and the Modi government seems keen to further bolster the ties. India hopes to get US support to emerge as an economically, technologically and militarily vibrant country and the US views India as a valued partner, which can further the American vision of a stable Asia. Steps taken by Modi and Obama, however incremental, are symptomatic of the leaders’ understanding that India and the US have stakes in shaping the Indo-Pacific region in particular and the world in general in terms favourable to them, which will be best achieved through cooperation between the two nations.


SANJUKTA BHATTACHARYA: Professor, Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Indo-US Partnership: Have Rarely Been More Promising

...[W]hile India-US strategic relations have rarely been more promising, India under the present government is showing an autonomous stance and is following it up with good relations with all countries that matter to India’s interests, whether in the neighbourhood, in the region or anywhere in the world. New Delhi’s interests on specific issues or regional problems often differ from that of the US, and so far as the country is concerned, the attitude is “India first”. However, it is in the mutual interest of both India and the US to develop strategic ties; both countries realise this and are working to build on a rich foundation. For doomsayers it may be sufficient to say that a lot of initiatives have been taken within a short time, and more time is needed for these to bear fruit. The point is that an environment is in place where the two countries can agree to disagree on certain issues (since no two national interests will ever be the same) without disengaging or allowing relations to stagnate


MONISH TOURANGBAM: Assistant Professor, Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University, Manipal.

Indo-US Strategic Partnership: Who’s Afraid of an Alliance?

So, at the end, the question really is not ‘who’s afraid of an alliance’, but ‘who needs an alliance’. Given the current geopolitical and geoeconomic dimensions involving India and the USA, Cold War type strict alliances – with clear demarcations about who’s on who’s side, and based on the idea of the existence of an ‘absolute other’ on all vectors of the relationship – may not be how it plays out. Alliances presume a threat perception and, given the nature of India-China, Sino-US, and India-US relations, and the complex interdependence that entwines them, building alliances and counter-alliances may not be the best answer to both India’s and America’s strategic needs.

The way to a sustainable and stronger strategic partnership can only be built through a comprehensive and inclusive convergence aimed at progress, and through a single track strategic rationale of a threat from China’s rise. Hence, both sides need not be receptive and protective of all that each side says and does. Having said that, an initiative should not also be discarded just because it is American in origin – especially if it passes the test of interest and operational convergence. Though a constant reminder of what each country has done for the other is not a recipe for a sustainable relationship, a businesslike attitude towards why the two countries need each other, and how both could complement each other in the short, medium and long term, could be a pragmatic perspective on how to go forward together.


K. P. Vijayalakshmi: Professor for American Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

India and USA:  A New Moment in Strategic Partnership

From being “estranged democracies” to sharing a “Declaration of Friendship”, India and the United States have indeed travelled a long distance. The regularity and importance accorded to the annual strategic dialogues (five till date) are testimony to the increasing engagement between the two countries. The evolving Indo-US strategic partnership has been described as a vital component in the foreign policies of both India and the United States and one that is poised to gain increasing importance as Washington seeks to reorient its foreign policy with its rebalancing strategy towards the Asia-Pacific. Numerous reports have concluded that the rise of a powerful and democratic India in the Asian region and on the global stage is in the interest of the United States and also that American influence globally and in Asia in particular is in the interest of India




Vision Statement for the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership: September 29, 2014

India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship: January 25, 2015

US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region: January 25, 2015





SAMEENA HAMEED: Assistant Professor, India - Arab Cultural Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi

Invigorating India’s Economic Diplomacy in South Asia

For the past few years, India has made constant efforts to reach out to its neighbours by funding infrastructure projects to improve connectivity between India and its others neighbours in South Asia. It has already announced zero duty access for the least developed countries in the SAARC region, and has constantly pruned its sensitive list along with doses of economic aid. The present Government has made unambiguously clear that the prime focus of India’s economic diplomacy will be India’s immediate neighbourhood. The Prime Minster invited leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to his swearing ceremony, made Bhutan and Nepal his first international travel destinations, and resolved a seven-decade long territorial dispute with Bangladesh in December 2014. At the SAARC summit in November 2014 in Nepal, India backed three pacts to enhance connectivity and energy cooperation in the region.


DILIP SINHA: Former Special Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Ambassador of India to Grece, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Geneva.

India, BRICS and the World Economy

BRICS is not an organised coalition seeking to create its own international order. It lacks adequate homogeneity and shared ideology for that. It is a pressure group of countries which want to be included in the decision-making forums of the international financial system. They feel that they have earned their place, and their credentials must be recognised. The slowdown in the growth rate in all BRICS countries, except India, has prompted many western experts to predict its demise. This appears to be an expression of desire rather than the result of objective analysis.

The future shape of BRICS will depend on how the high priests of the present order react to their legitimate demands. What began as a prescient tip of a farsighted investment banker may either result in the reorganization of the existing system or lead to the setting up of a rival structure. The world would be better off in both eventualities


PANKAJ JHA: Director (Research), Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi

India and APEC

The forthcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the fourth quarter of 2015 in the Philippines might witness India gaining entry to the economic grouping. APEC is an international grouping of 21 countries including the United States and Japan, which promotes free trade among its members. With a new government in India, it was felt, that the Obama administration had an opportunity to revitalise its economic ties with India by the latter’s inclusion in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. In January 2015 when President Obama visited Delhi, it was hinted that US would support India’s membership in APEC.3 The 13th meeting of RIC (Russia, India, and China) foreign ministers held in February 2015 also echoed similar views. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had added, “India’s participation in APEC has been welcomed by both China and Russia”.




SHEEL KANT SHARMA: Former Ambassador of India to Austria, Former Secretary General, SAARC

Vishal Chandra (ed), India and South Asia: Exploring Regional Perceptions, (New Delhi, Pentagon Press / IDSA, 2015), Pages 319,  Price 995.00  


B. S. PRAKASH: Former Ambassador of India to Brazil and to Uganda.

Oliver Stuenkel, The BRICS and the Future of Global Order (Maryland, USA, Lexington Books, 2015) Pages: 212, Price: $ 85.50  


PRITI SINGH: Asst. Professor, Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, School for International Studies, JNU, New Delhi.

Deepak Bhojwani, Latin America, the Caribbean and India: Promise and Challenge,(New Delhi, Pentagon Press / ICWA, 2015). Pages: 212, Price: Rs. 795.00.


ERIC GONSALVES: Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Former Ambassador of India to Japan, to Belgium, to the EEC and Luxembourg.

Poonam Surie, China: Confucius in The Shadows, (New Delhi, ICWA / Knowledge World, 2015), Pages: 284, Price: Rs. 830.00


KAPIL PATIL: Research Associate, Indian Pugwash Society, New Delhi

Sitakanta Mishra, Parmanu Politics: Indian Political Parties and Nuclear Weapons, (New Delhi: Kalpaz Publications, 2015), Pages: 326, Price: INR 950.00.





Vol 10, No. 3                 Jul - Sep 2015





India - Bangladesh Relations:

Scaling Newer Heights

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After the visit of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh in September 2011, the Journal had invited  a few  top experts on the subject to express their opinion. Please Click Here for the 2011 'Debate', titled " India and Bangladesh – a New Phase in Bilateral Relations" -

This 'Debate' was further updated in end 2013, just before the impending national elections, first in Bangladesh and soon thereafter in India, when the experts were asked to examine the status of the relations. Please Click Here for this 2013 'Debate', titled "India - Bangladesh Relations: What lies in Store?"  -

The highly successful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh, in June 2015, had prompted the journal to invite those experts - and a few others,  to comment on the outcome. The views of the experts, now titled "India - Bangladesh Relations: Scaling Newer Heights" has been carried in the latest issue.


DEB MUKHARJI: Former High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal.

Indo-Bangladesh Relations: A Clear Paradigm Shift

There has been a clear paradigm shift in Indo-Bangladesh relations over the past few years, as now exemplified and concretised by the agreements signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Dhaka in June 2015. As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said some time ago, it is the season of friendship in Indo-Bangladesh relations. It remains now to build further on the foundation that has been laid.


PINAK RANJAN CHAKRAVARTY: Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh and Ambassador to Thailand

Bangladesh-India Ties: Pragmatic Transformation

The Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), finalized during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in June this year, justifiably received top billing in the media. So did the Teesta water sharing agreement which could not be signed, thanks to domestic politics in India. The LBA has been implemented and enclaves, adverse possessions and demarcation of the land boundary implemented on August 1, 2015 in a time-bound manner. A lingering ghost of the post-colonial era has finally been exorcised, freeing Bangladesh-India relations from the shackles of the past. The Teesta water sharing agreement, however, is enmeshed in political horse trading, as well as disagreement between the Central government and the West Bengal State government on the water sharing formula.


SMRUTI S. PATTANAIK: Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi.

India-Bangladesh Relations: Moving towards Greater Synergy

... [T]he two countries at present share cooperative bilateral relations and there is a great degree of mutual understanding regarding the mutual aspirations. India’s Development Partnership Agreement with Bangladesh in 2011, underpins economic aspirations of the two countries away from the security centric approach that had once governed the bilateral relations.

Though the Teesta issue appears to be the stumbling block at this moment, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's assurance on the Teesta issue is likely to pave the way for future resolution perhaps after the State Assembly poll. Unlike the past, India has a willing partner in Bangladesh that is not hesitant to engage its bigger neighbours in a mutually beneficial relationship and appreciative of the fact that their common future lies in greater cooperation. India needs to grab this opportunity and ensure that this relationship benefits Bangladesh as a true partner that dared to dream of a common destiny with a large neighbour.


SREERADHA DATTA: Director, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata.

'All-Time High' Relations Herald Greater Regional Integration

... India and Bangladesh have made significant progress on several matters, all of which certainly merit applause. However, more interesting is the progress made on sub-regional cooperation in the region. The bilateral connectivity will, no doubt, expand in the region, with other states like Nepal and Bhutan benefitting from the access to two Bangladeshi ports as well as trade through the Indian corridor. Matters of water sharing, trade and commerce, including energy, will soon go much beyond the bilateral prism. The recent motor vehicle agreement signed between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal is just a first but critical step towards a sub regional initiative that has gathered momentum amongst the South Asian neighbours. Certainly bilateral matters will continue to dominate and be seen as more critical between any two neighbours. The sub-regional cooperation process will ensure that incentives to find resolutions to certain outstanding bilateral matters will assume greater salience. 


Tariq Karim: Former High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, former Additional Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, and currently Advisor to World Bank on South Asian Regional Integration and Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation.

India-Bangladesh Relations: A Dramatic Turnaround

During the last six years, India and Bangladesh have surged ahead steadily in multiple sectors. Security cooperation between the two has never been better; indeed it is exemplary. Both have amicably resolved disputes, and completed the boundary demarcation on the land, in rivers, and in the Bay of Bengal. India has unilaterally extended duty free and quota free access to virtually all but 26 Bangladeshi products in the Indian market, resulting in a substantial increase in the volumes of bilateral trade. Eight border haats (markets) have been set up, to date, along Bangladesh’s borders with Meghalaya and Tripura, thus reconnecting and reviving historic economic connections that had existed between peoples and communities on both sides before they were disrupted. Many more are under active consideration. Indian investments in Bangladesh have surged dramaticallyinitially in the garments and textiles as well as telecom sectors, and now expanding steadily into the power and infrastructure sectors also.



Joint Declaration between Bangladesh and India during Visit of Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh: June 07, 2015





R B GROVER: Vice Chancellor, Homi Bhabha National Institute and Member, Atomic Energy Commission, former Principal Adviser, Department of Atomic Energy.

Civil nuclear programme: the last one decade and near-future outlook

Epoch making changes during the past one decade on the nuclear front have ended India’s nuclear isolation.  Along with several others, Dr. Ravi B. Grover has been intimately associated with shaping the changes. 

This article is based on a lecture on the subject delivered by the author at the regular meeting of the Association of Indian Diplomats on 29 May 2015 at New Delhi.

His talk recapitulated crucial details beginning with the India-US Joint Statement of 18 July 2005, India’s Separation Plan, India-Specific Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol. It was followed by developments subsequent to adjustment by NSG of its guidelines facilitating civil nuclear trade with India. India’s civil nuclear liability regime was covered in detail. The talk ended with future technology options and challenges ahead. 



Shrabani Roy Chaudhury: Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

India - Japan Relations: The Economic Advantage
India-Japan relations have the advantage of no historical baggage, no territorial issues, and strong spiritual affinity. However, to use these as reasons for growing intimacy of India-Japan relations is an overtly simplified narration. Japan showed scant interest in India for a long time, and Indian economic policies of import substitution and self-sustained development encouraged little or no interaction till the turn of the century, when Prime Minister Mori visited India. The entente in the relationship was brought about by Prime Minister Koizumi who included the term ‘strategic’ while describing the relationship between the two countries, and pushed for a yearly meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries. In his first term, Prime Minister Abe followed this by giving strong consent to the 8 point initiative, and thus established the two pillars - economic and strategic - on which the relationship rests.



APARAJITA BISWAS: Professor, Department of African Studies, Mumbai University, Mumbai.

India-Africa Relations: Evolving Past to a Promising Future

The contemporary India–Africa relations, although built on strong historical, cultural and political relations, is driven today by economic and geopolitical concerns. Although this relationship has evolved significantly over the years, it had never taken on a strategic nature as it has today. With African nations becoming more assertive and playing host to emerging nations such as China and Brazil, India’s aim of becoming a partner in African development faces competition of sorts. It is imperative therefore, to create new and more productive engagements with Africa, ones that extend beyond the current milieu.






MAHESH RANJAN DEBATA: Assistant Professor, Centre for South, Central, Southeast Asian & Southwest Pacific Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Amiya Chandra, India - Central Asia Relations, The Economic Dimension, (New Delhi, Pentagon Press, 2015), Pages 236, Price Rs. 895.00



PINAKI BHATTACHARYA, Consultant Editor, Millennium Post, New Delhi.

Uttam Kumar Sinha and Jo Inge Bekkevold (ed.), Arctic: Commerce, Governance and Policy, (London: IDSA/Routledge, 2015),  Pages 319, Price: $145.00



Vol 10, No. 4                   Oct - Dec 2015





External Interventions and Internal Instability In West Asia: Implications For India

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West Asia, including the Persian Gulf region, is presently undergoing extraordinary upheaval. Civil wars in Syria and Yemen; foreign interventions, especially by the US and some NATO members in supporting elements opposed to the present Syrian regime; the advent of  'Daesh', recent dramatic entry of Russia into the Syrian scene as well as the spat between Russia and Turkey; reported internal squabbles within some Gulf States; mass exodus of refugees; regional rivalries,  such as between Saudi Arabia and Iran; fallouts of the recent accords between Iran and the P5+1, the on-going Israel-Palestine issues; dwindling oil revenues; etc.  have further deepened the precarious situation and have led to heightened anxieties around the world.

Given this situation, India, that has had intricate relations with West Asia in general and the Persian Gulf, in particular, is naturally affected.

India needs to find ways to navigate this flux and balance relations with the mutually antagonistic sides.

The Indian Foreign Affairs Journal invited four experts in the field to offer their views.


TALMIZ AHMAD: Former Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia, to the U.A.E, and to Yemen.

Turmoil in West Asia: Challenges for Indian Diplomacy

In his brief opening remarks at Fortaleza, Prime Minister Modi devoted at least half of his speech to West Asia. He said “The region stretching from Afghanistan to Africa is experiencing turbulence and conflict. This is causing grave instability that is seeping across borders. This impacts us all. Remaining mute spectators to countries being torn up in this manner can have grave consequences. … The situation in West Asia poses a grave threat to regional and global peace and security. India is particularly concerned because this affects the lives of seven million Indian citizens living in the Gulf region”.

There can be little doubt that, as new political crises emerge or present problems get aggravated, BRICS will take cognisance of them, develop consensual positions and take action; there will be no room for “mute spectators” as derided by Mr Modi in his remarks.

In this background and taking into account the deep concerns that animate the BRICS’ leaders and their understanding that urgent remedial action is required, the case has been made in this paper for a BRICS diplomatic initiative, led by India and supported by China to engage the GCC as a grouping and Iran bilaterally, on the lines of similar interactions held with African and South American leaders. This is to be followed by an active diplomatic effort to prepare platforms for dialogue between the contending parties to promote mutual trust and confidence. BRICS is both prepared and well-equipped for this initiative.


RANJIT GUPTA: Former Ambassador of India to Yemen, to Venezuela, to Oman, to Thailand, to Spain, and was also the Head of the Indian Representation in Taiwan

A Pragmatic Approach: Best Way Forward for India

Many in India’s strategic community advocate India displaying greater activism, including exercising a “leadership role” without suggesting any specific actions to be taken. Such a role would almost certainly be counterproductive and potentially even disastrous. The indisputable reality is that anything that India says or does will not even marginally influence the actions of any individual player in the context of the highly complicated political situation in West Asia. India does not have the institutional capacity, is not structurally equipped and lacks national political consensus for the huge strategic leap required for such a role yet. Policy should always be consciously tempered by a mature recognition of the limits of one’s capabilities and influence at any given point of time. India has not faced any criticism from any of the countries of the region for its current policies in the context of the ongoing conflicts in the region. Given the proliferation of violent, irresponsible and irrational non state actors, India becoming intrusively involved could provoke them to harm Indian interests and may attack the very large Indian community in the region. India has to be very careful about potential blowbacks. Reticence or so called policy passivity in an unpredictable, changing and volatile environment does not reflect absence of decision making, abdication of “leadership”, or of being a “freeloader”. It is simply being sensibly prudent.

India’s non-intrusive low key profile, and pragmatic approach has yielded very satisfying results and there is absolutely no need whatsoever to change the broad contours of this policy. This is the best way to preserve India’s excellent relationships and protect its interests in the Gulf region.


RUMEL DAHIYA: Deputy Director General at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi

India and West Asia: Challenges and Opportunities

India’s capability and enthusiasm to play the role of a responsible world power should be emphasised and spread in the intellectual discourse and among the policy makers in the region. Similarly, to give a further boost to the diplomatic presence in the region and spread Indian culture among the West Asian countries, India should seriously consider establishing India Cultural Centres and India Chairs in universities throughout the region. India needs to use its soft power such as cultural exchange, holding inter-faith dialogues and developing language skills. One dynamic step in this regard would be to bolster the teaching of Arabic and Persian languages and produce a crop of youngsters who can engage with the region at a level beyond that of skilled workers.

As the situation is still unfolding in West Asia, India should remain prepared for any exigencies emerging from the region. India has two choices: be passive and reactive as the region takes new shape; or be proactive, and help shape the region, keeping its own interests in mind. Most countries in the region want India to play a more proactive role in keeping with its rising profile albeit without asking for specific help. India’s substantial interests in the region would compel India to be proactive, and not be a bystander. India will have to carve out a well thought out strategy towards the region. It is important for India to maintain a calibrated approach towards all the important players in the region - such as Iran, GCC states and Israel - as India has huge interests with all of them. India should approach emerging West Asia as providing opportunities to play a more effective role in the shaping of the new architecture in the region. If India misses out, it’s political, economic, and security interests will be affected. India cannot deal with West Asia alone. It should coordinate its policies with the countries in West Asia as well as external players like the USA, China, Japan, the EU, etc.


GIRIJESH PANT: Former Professor, Centre for West Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and a former Vice Chancellor of the Doon University, Dehradun.

Not Business as Usual: Calculated Risks Required

India should recalibrate its policy in a frame which promotes economic engagement bilaterally but looks at politico-strategic issues in a regional perspective. The Gulf has to be relocated in the frame of the Persian Gulf – meaning thereby Iran, Iraq and Yemen along with the GCC countries. These should be seen as mutually interfacing entities, and not as mutually exclusive ones. Today, the region is moving away from the Western and is looking more towards Asia – the civilisational space to which it has always belonged.

This kind of vision may require more proactive and out-of-the-box diplomatic initiatives. The Prime Minister who encourages moving beyond the beaten track can surely push the idea of an Asian Peace Architecture (not security) as an alternative to failing Western moves in West Asia. Envisioning a rising Asia demands bold initiatives and a collective response from Asia towards the escalating conflict in West Asia – something which could undermine the very idea of the Asian Century. It is time to take a calculated risk.





ABDUL NAFEY: Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, School for International Studies, JNU, New Delhi.

Asia’s New Financial Architecture: Politics and Diplomacy

A new financial architecture, centred on China, is fast emerging, and is shaping the infrastructure map of Asia and the world at large. The US$ 50 billion New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS and the US$ 50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), launched on 31 March 2015 to finance infrastructure development within the BRICS and in Asia respectively, would both go operational by the end of 2015. Besides, a US$ 40 billion fund would finance the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, of late referred to as 'One Belt One Road' (OBOR) projects spanning three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The development bank of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), long proposed by China, would, as and when it materialises, become the fourth pillar to undergird the mammoth Asian infrastructure network. It would spread infrastructural connectivity in the Eurasian region.

This essay describes and analyses the politics and diplomacy of infrastructure in Asia. The principal arguments presented are two: (i) finance is shaping policy choices and development preferences as connectivity opens up prospects of further national economic growth and interdependence; in other words, geopolitics, in combination with finance, remain strong determinants of future actions; and (ii) there are opportunities for an emerging economy like India to benefit from Asian infrastructure development; it is being called upon to craft appropriate responses to changing geopolitics, most importantly in terms of its ties with China.



B. BALAKRISHNAN: former Ambassador of India to Greece and  Cuba.

India’s Engagement with the Pacific Islands

India has recently stepped up its engagement with the Pacific Island Developing Countries (PIDC). This may be seen as an extension of its “Look East - Act East” policy, and enhancement of its role in the Pacific region. While relations with Fiji have developed well keeping in view special historical factors, India’s relations with the other Pacific Island countries offer much scope for further expansion. Development assistance trends to the region are briefly surveyed in this article, including that from China. The recently launched Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) process and India’s India’s economic engagement with the Pacific islands is also examined



RAJIV BHATIA: Former Ambassador of India to Myanmar and to Mexico, High Commissioner of India to South Africa and to Kenya

A Critical Evaluation of Third India-Africa Forum Summit

The Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III), held in New Delhi from 26−29 October 2015, was a memorable milestone in the above-mentioned journey. It is not that African leaders came to India for a conference for the first time; they had come in substantial numbers earlier to attend the Non-Aligned Summit in 1983. But, in October 2015, India hosted a historic summit where all 54 countries of Africa were represented, 41 of them at the level of head of state or government.  This was unprecedented, making it the largest gathering of Africa's high representatives on the Indian soil. Their presence under one roof at Indira Gandhi stadium in Delhi on 29 October 2015 was a message in itself.

This essay attempts to delve deep in order to evaluate the outcomes of the summit. Did the conference achieve tangible results - both from the Indian and African perspectives? It will first delineate the immediate backdrop and context, and then trace the highlights of the two previous summits. The stage will thus be set for an in-depth examination of how the third summit was organized; how it unfolded; and what it achieved and/or failed to achieve. The overall purpose is to take stock of India's Africa engagement at the end of 2015, and reflect on the road ahead that leads to the fourth summit in 2020.





RUMEL DAHIYA: Deputy Director General, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi

Kate Sullivan, Competing Visions of India in World Politics: India's Rise Beyond the West (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Pages: 224, Price: £58.00


PRABHAKAR MENON: Former Ambassador of India to the Netherlands, Ireland, Senegal, (the then) GDR and Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN.

P. J. S. Sandhu (ed.), 1962: A View from the Other Side of the Hill, (New Delhi, VIJ Books, 2015), Pages: 228, Price: 900.00


AMBREEN AGHA: Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi.

Rajiv Dogra, Where Borders Bleed: An insider’s account of INDO-PAK relations, (New Delhi, Rupa, 2015), Pages: 288, Price: Rs 500.00


R. L. NARAYAN: Former High Commissioner of India to Malaysia and Canada; Former Ambassador of India to Poland and Qatar.

Rumel Dahiya and Udai Bhanu Singh (eds), Delhi Dialogue VII : ASEAN-India Shaping the Post-2015 Agenda (New Delhi, Pentagon Press, 2015), Pages: xlvi + 204, Price: Rs. 995


K. P. FABIAN: Former Ambassador of India to Qatar, Finland and Italy.

David M. Malone, C. Raja Mohan, Srinath Raghavan (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, July 2015), Pages: 746, Price: GBP 95.00



 The Journal has so far published 32 Oral Histories. Work is in hand to compile and re-publish these accounts in a book form - in 2 volumes. Pending publication of the compilation, the 'Oral History' Section of the Journal will not appear for the next few issues.


Last updated on 22 Oct 2015