Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre, Round Table on “China’s Silk Road Initiative: Economic, Political and Social Consequences for Central Asia and Russia”
By Dr. Bhavna Dave
Date: January 6, 2017
Time: 2:30 PM
Venue: Seminar Room-I, Kamaladevi complex, India International Centre
Society for Policy Studies (SPS), in association with India International Centre (IIC), organized a Round Table discussion around the theme, “China’s Silk Road Initiative: Economic, Political and Social Consequences for Central Asia and Russia’. Led by Prof. Bhawna Dave, Senior Lecturer in Central Asian Politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of Londonthis discussion attempted to provide an ideological semblance to the mammoth projects and ambitions of the Chinese, particularly the seminal ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative.
Opening the discussion, C Uday Bhaskar, Director, SPS, observed that the pertinence of this discussion to the international reality of the day lies in the expanding Chinese outreach. In the midst of this all, the significance of the Central Asian Republics has heightened, although it continues to remain obscure in India’s international engagements.
According to Prof. Dave, the biggest Chinese initiative in the present times, which is One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, is more than just an economic project. OBOR, she observed, has emerged as a ‘framing device’ that has made the Chinese more than an economic benefactor; it has allowed to become a soft power, normative agent in its own right.
Dave said that given its vastness, OBOR is difficult to define, but at the same time, it is a project that many want to be a part of. Moreover, the Chinese, having presented the OBOR along Confucian lines has managed to convince its intended beneficiaries to shift from the western, selfish model of development to what China has in store.
China’s relations with Russia, according to Prof. Gulshan Sachdeva, Professor of European Studies and Director, Europe Area Studies Programme at the Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies (SIS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, is being re-configured in the light of Chinese economic initiatives. International circumstances along with the increasing Chinese might have, as Prof. Sachdeva observed, managed to get the two together, and perhaps with the intent of countering the American influence.
Where does India appear in these equations? According to the panel, they echoed unanimously that for reasons rooted in geography and other complex factors, India continues to remain distant to the Central Asian realities. As a result, the country does not appear prominently in the region. India’s perception management has been wanting and its continuing suspicion of the Chinese interests in Central Asia might not yield much in the long run. For instance, the Indian perception towards OBOR has largely been over-cautious and which has prevented the country for drawing investments to its potential.
The need of the hour for India is to shed its strong suspicion towards the Chinese interests in the Central Asian Region and promote outreach to these countries.