Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre held a lecture in the Changing Asia Series on “India In A Changing Asia: Towards A Forward Policy”
Speaker: Dr. C. Raja Mohan Director, Carnegie India & columnist and author
Date: April 13, 2016
Venue: Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre.
Society for Policy Studies in association with the India Habitat Center organized yet another lecture as a part of the ‘Changing Asia Lecture Series’ on April 13, 2016. Delivered by noted Indian strategic analyst and the Director of Carnegie India, C. Raja Mohan, the thematic point for the lecture was the evaluation of ‘India in a Changing Asia: Towards a Forward Policy’.
Addressed to a packed house, the lecture began with a succinct assessment of the challenges and prospects of growth and development that are being witnessed in the vast Asian continent. Containing within its space countries that are appropriately described as the ‘economic power houses of the world’, Dr. Raja Mohan stressed that ‘the changes in Asia and its waters have never been as consequential as they are today, and are likely to shape India’s own evolution in the coming decades and the 21st century’.
The lecture opened with a brief reminder about what ‘Forward Policy’ is. Dr. Raja Mohan observed that while this approach to organizing and informing India’s foreign engagements, particularly vis-a-vis China been associated with the first Prime Minister of the country, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, it has however, been a construct that goes back to the period of the British Raj itself.
Talking about the Indian and general imagination of Asia, the speaker maintained that India and Asia share an intricate bond; a fact that was repeatedly stressed by Nehru via all the pan-regional initiatives that he undertook. Going further, Dr. Raja Mohan mentioned that the ‘idea of Asia’ assumed multiple dimensions and was envisaged in myriad ways. Furthermore, he observed that the rise of the Asian Tigers, accompanied by the rapid growth of China and India, have transformed Asia into a hub for vital economic engagements. The creation of regional organizations such as ASEAN and the continuing efforts to integrate the region through territorial and maritime interventions are all reinforcing the bonds that have been the trademark of this part of the world right from the ancient times.
But while things look upward on many fronts, challenges too are galore in the region; riveted by intensifying rivalries and ambitions that have the potential of harming the relative calm that has marked this region, especially when compared to the medieval Europe. In light of the changing, volatile dynamics that are coming to grip Asia, the speaker highlighted that the Indian stakes in the region are higher than ever before especially as the country finds itself in the phase of ‘expansion’. Deepening and widening its engagement with its Asian neighbors, India, he observed is staring at 9 scenarios.
Observing that the evolving Asian experience is very different from the kind of ideological collision that was witnessed during the Cold War era, Dr. Raja Mohan suggested that for an ‘expanding India’, there are four axes along which its response to the Asian changes needs to be aligned.
In conclusion, the speaker mentioned that for India to realize its full potential, it will have to ‘reconnect’ with Asia. And to do so, Raja Mohan ended his lecture by suggesting that ‘to meet the regional expectations for leadership, India will need to accelerate its internal economic reforms, deepen its integration with its South Asian neighbours, seize the opportunities for strengthening physical connectivity with different parts of Asia, play a more active role in the regional institutions and intensify its defence diplomacy. Delhi cannot afford to miss the unprecedented opportunity to accelerate Asia’s march towards prosperity or disavow the historic responsibility to shape its future political order’.