Society for Policy Studies in association with Oxford University Press invites you to a book launch and discussion on “Agartala Doctrine: Proactive Northeast in Indian Foreign Policy”
Edited by Subir Bhaumik
Guest of honour
H.E. Mr Syed Muazzem Ali , High Commissioner of Bangladesh
Chair: Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary and Chairman, RIS
Panellists: Rana Banerji, Kadayam Subramaniam, Sanjoy Hazarika
Date: February 25, 2016
Time: 06:30 pm
Venue: Lecture Room II, IIC Annexe, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi.
The Society for Policy Studies in association with the Oxford University Press hosted a book launch and discussion on the “The Agartala Doctrine: Proactive Northeast in Indian Foreign Policy”, edited by Submir Bhaumik at the India International Centre.
Steered by a panel of experts on India’s Northeast and the nation’s foreign policy, this event was inaugurated with the opening remarks made by C. Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies. Highlighting the geo-strategic significance of India’s Northeast, Bhaskar stressed the need to approach this significant region in its entirety and not in a piecemeal, additive manner.
Launching the book in Delhi, Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali spoke of his personal association with the region, calling the Northeast his ‘second home’ that figures prominently in Bangladesh’s foreign policy as a bridge to its larger neighbour.
Stating that there was no lack of sincerity on Bangladesh’s part in boosting connectivity with India, Ali said that work was on to restore rail links and efforts to start new bus services on the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati routes were initiated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June last year.
“Prime Minister Modi’s Act East policy has taken connectivity to a new level,” he said, adding that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was very committed to the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement signed last year.”
Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary and chairman of Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries, was of the view that economic development of the border areas was the surest way of ensuring security in the region and for that connectivity was the key.
He said the RIS was looking at connectivity through northeast in three different aspects – how to connect northeast with the rest of India in a better way, how to improve connectivity between the northeastern states and how to connect the northeast with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and China.
According to Bhaumik, a veteran journalist who has covered the region extensively, it was Tripura’s first chief minister Sachindra Lal Singh who told then prime minister Indira Gandhi to “kick out” Pakistan from East Pakistan.
“Without the role played by Tripura’s chief ministers, Bangladesh would not have been a reality,” he said.
Current Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s handling of the insurgency problem in Tripura is cited as another such example.
“I am giving Tripura’s handling of its insurgency problem as a national doctrine for India’s dealings with its neighbours,” Bhaumik said.
Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Center for North East Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia called the Northeast a dynamic, challengeable and changing entity. He mentioned that the issues which had once gathered a lot of public support around them have lost their ground substantially and that the country is giving into unnecessary xenophobia that is targeting the most underprivileged sections of the society and creating communal fissures.
The discussion concluded with all the panelists speaking in unison the need to strengthen the infrastructural facilities within the vital northeastern region of India.
The event saw participation from Mr. Rana Banerji, former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat and Kadayam Subramaniam, former IPS officer, as discussants.