India’s ‘Look East’ Policy is its ‘Act East Policy’-A Conversation with Dr Amit Choudhury on India and ASEAN

India’s ‘Look East’ Policy is its ‘Act East Policy’-A Conversation with Dr Amit Choudhury on India and ASEAN

(UTSM Conference group photo)                          One of the Premier Educational institutions of India’s Northeast region is the University of Science & Technology Meghalaya (USTM). The University is not too old however has carved a niche in terms of impact and has been catering to the needs of millions of India’s Northeast’s population. The USTM has been creating synergy towards achieving overall development in scientific knowledge, Research and Education. The university in collaboration with Green School Bali of Indonesia organized an international conference on India’s relations with Southeast Asia from 26-27 February, 2016.The conference was titled as, “Raise with East: Vistas of India Cooperation with Southeast Asian Commerce, Culture, Capacity and Connectivity.” The South Asia team of Eurasia Review participated in the conference and had an in-depth interview with the Organizers’. Here are some of the Excerpts of conversation between the Convenor Dr Amit Choudhury, presently the Dean, School of Business Sciences at the University and Dr Adfar Shah currently the Associate Editor (South Asia) at Eurasia Review. Dr Amit Choudry basically is a Graduate in Chemical Engineering from AEC, Guwahati   pursued the Masters of Business Administration at Nagpur University and Started his career as a Technical consultant. He then Joined Central IT College (the 1st institution & the root of ERDF) in 2003 that later became the 2nd largest study center in India by 2008. Presently Dr Choudry is the Dean, School of Business Sciences at USTM given his academic achievements and scholarship. He is also the member of the parent body ERDF which presently have promoted one Engineering college, Two Professional Colleges, One Women’s College, Two Secondary Schools apart from the University. Adfar Shah (AS):  At the outset tell us briefly about the objective of this conference?  Dr Amit Choudhury (AC): The broader objective was to reflect upon from the discourses that ought to emanate from such august gathering and seek the windows of opportunity that lay hidden, tap the same, explore and open up vistas of cooperation. [Explains……. The University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya (USTM), in association with Green School, Bali – Indonesia, organized the international conference.  The conference was an attempt to engage with academics and researchers from South-East Asian...

Conditional PDP Vs Unconditional BJP: Kashmir’s Unending Political Impasse

Conditional PDP Vs Unconditional BJP: Kashmir’s Unending Political Impasse

Dr Adfar Shah  Hardly anybody would have expected such a prolonged political impasse after CM Mufti Mohamamd Sayeed’s death on January 07.More than a month has passed since the sayeed’s death and still no signs of government formation in the state currently under governor’s rule. Though talks between the ideologically opposite parties are on, however the impasse still continues, confusing one and all in the sensitive state. The Politics of CBMs It is often said that only true knowledge creates sound belief! However, when it comes to Kashmir’s political waywardness and alliances of the recent past, set aside vision, we find neither knowledge nor belief in transforming the state. For the first time, though, Mehbooba Mufti seems serious about analyzing the approaches and methods of understanding the aspirations of the people of the state which is perhaps why the political conundrum still prevails and government formation keeps getting delayed somewhat indefinitely! While the Bharatiya Janata Party seems ready to tie the knot of alliance once again, completely unconditionally, Mehbooba appears more to adopt a much firmer and more practical approach and is keen to get all the requisite assurances from the Centre before re-entering into such an unusual alliance. She clearly knows that the very agenda of alliance or what they call “common minimum programme” so far has been a failure purely due to non-cooperation between the alliance partners despite PDP’s obvious political hara-kiri due to tie up with BJP. For the first time we are seeing someone who gives CBMs on Kashmir a fundamental importance when critics ask where were such CBMs during Mufti’s reign .The quest remains how Mehbooba’s mood is read by the Centre and their supposed allies, only the time will tell but her opponents are clearly surprised and confused by her newly displayed qualities of leadership and vision and who would otherwise want her to continue such a historical and unusual alliance. The forgotten Peace Building Mehbooba’s political introspection is timely for Kashmir keeps drowning more deeply in the sea of chaos everyday with no return of normalcy and seriousness on the all-important Kashmir issue keeps fading away rapidly! This analysis is also important because the K-analysts in general,...

Pawar’s Power Politics

Pawar’s Power Politics

Vedchetan Patil (@vedchetan) With the advent of Modi wave and the corresponding fall of Congress along with all its allies in Centre, Congress had highly hoped from its forte in Maharashtra. But to the surprise of none, Modi wave was still successful in Maharashtra to desecrate the Congress-NCP led government and establish the saffron band in the Legislative assembly. Pawar who is known for his brinkmanship and usage of carefully crafted words which are only used to achieve a particular agenda, has long been known for his relations with the leaders of other parties and his tricks to galvanize the cross-party momentum to fulfill his agenda. His loss of Prime Ministerial post, post Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and his break up from Congress post Sonia Gandhi took over the reigns of Congress on the issue of foreign origin, Pawar was always seen as a valuable ally and potential threat by Congress, though on the grounds of ideological equivalence both Congress and NCP continued to be ally both in Center and State of Maharashtra. Long before all, Sharad Pawar had foreseen the rise of Modi and perhaps that is the reason he asked Congress and other allies to not allege or blame Modi for the 2002 Gujarat riots as the Supreme Court had given him a clean chit.  It has been long foreseen by Pawar that a condition may arise even in the State of Maharashtra wherein Nationalist Congress Party would be reduced to its lowest and may still paly a crucial role in the Government formation. Hence much before the 2014 Assembly polls, it was a prevalent gossip that Congress NCP alliance may break away, as Congress retained the Chief Minister’s post and systematically reduced the hold of NCP in State as NCP had accepted the deputy Chief Minister’s post inspite of higher number of seats in Assembly, due to the political arrangement with Congress in Cabinet at Center. The incumbency factor, the consistent allegations by saffron bay on Congress-NCP alliance of corruption coupled with rise of Modi, gave rebirth to the face led politics which was on the verge of extinction after assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Maharashtra witnessed that even Raj Thakare and Uddhav...

Kashmir’s Killing Floods-Playground for Journalists

Kashmir’s Killing Floods-Playground for Journalists

Adfar Shah Ferocious Floods that recently hit Kashmir through continuous rains spread over a period of seven days sequentially inundating South, Central and North Kashmir. Fourteen breaches on the bunds of Jhelum River filled the areas starting from Pantha Chowk to Bemina with areas such as Batwara, Indra Nagar, Sanwar, Rajbag, Jawahar Nagar, Dalgate, Lal Chowk, Press Colony, Gogji Bag and so on. Civil administration was so foxed and paralyzed that except for holding meetings, the Chief Minister and his government handed over the situation to Army and other rescue agencies while the CM personally acted as a brave volunteer and worked day and night for rescue of masses. His personal efforts despite the tragic communication breakdown is worthy of a salute. His Excellency Shri N.N.Vohra, the Governor of the State too worked hard for mass rescue and even tuned his residence into a full-fledged rescue camp besides taking care of food items to be made available to community kitchens and other camps. The opposition brigade had not much role to play except creating space for themselves. Also every one especially J&K students In Delhi, Aligrah, Bangalore and other parts of the country were in constant touch and making their all out efforts for rescue and relief in Kashmir. I saw students fundraising and collecting clothes, baby food, medicines, etc, to be supplied to badly hit areas. I salute them all. Having said that, Kashmir Floods became a perfect narrative for a typical television story. Visuals to drive anyone in pain and dismay were shown continuously. So literally September 4, onwards here it was – Kashmir Floods becoming the Play Ground for Delhi Breed of Journalists. The who’s Who of all Television Channels was desperate to be seen in Srinagar at least. Unfortunately, the local media was itself submerged under the deluge – some had printing press under water, some had lost entire office set up, while others had their houses washed away. This vacuum was filled but so brutally by a large number of media representatives from Delhi. From non-entities to most prominent, from raw reporters to absolute professionals, from interest groups to unbiased,  there were all shades of reporters and journalists in...

Kashmir : A turbulence of Article 370

Kashmir : A turbulence of Article 370

Vedchetan Patil Law is a mere puppet of politics, politics is beyond law and much beyond the horizons of politics, imbedded deep within the existence of mankind limited by its humane virtues and qualified by its own perceptions about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, moral and immoral slouch the principles of human rights, free will of people and relations between the different sections of society. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is one such example of the product or compromise of the complications of relations of Kashmir with the entire sub-continent. Its roots are deep within history of sub-continent and is a convulsed product of hindu-muslim relations, it is a product of trembled nascent Indian State and newly born Pakistan, shudder of a indecisive Maharaja Hari Singh and dedicated Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah whose opportunism partly failed in the wake of international politics and geo-strategic location of Kashmir. Kashmir, aptly described as the paradise on earth was subjected to such conflict in which every power on this planet has either interfered to further demean the position of India or Pakistan, directly or indirectly, or has offered to resolve the issue, but to the surprise of none the issue of Kashmir remains unsolved till date. Immediately after the Transfer of Power, the Pak forces under the guise of jihadis and Azad Kashmir forces launched attack on the western and northern fronts of Kashmir and in such circumstances to protect his own interests and his state from falling to Pakistan, the then Maharaja Hari Singh signed Instrument of accession with India to seek intervention from India to stop the invading forces. Thus the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir was legal in totum both in fact and substance. Invading forces on one front, opposition of various forces within like those of Sheikh Abdullah, and indecisive approach of both Maharaja Hari Singh and Indian State, in a hasty decision a condition was put on the Indian State to allow Kashmir to retain autonomy and because the Instrument of Accession was signed in such circumstances, the Government of India assured the people of the State that an elected Constituent Assembly will frame a Constitution for the State and will determine...

Interview with Peter Tase – American Journalist

Interview with Peter Tase – American Journalist

Peter Tase is a contributor, freelance journalist and a research scholar of Paraguayan Studies and Latin American Affairs in the United States. He’s a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy News and Eurasia Review. He talks to Adfar Shah-Who is a columnist at South Asian Idea and Analyst World besides some other prominent newspapers in the country on a few socio-economic themes in india.  Author’s Profile : Adfar Shah-who hails from India’s central Kashmir, is presently defending his doctoral dissertation on the theme “Muslim Endowments and Society in Kashmir” at the department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-India’s reputed central university. He completed his B.Ed, SET and Masters in Sociology, from the University of Kashmir, India. Adfar shuttles between New Delhi and Kashmir, writing on South Asian societies and politics for several prestigious publications like Eurasia Review, Analyst World, South Asian Idea, Countercurrents, Amazons.com, Kashmir Monitor, Kashmir Images, Point Blank 7 and other web portals and newspapers.  Currently he works as a research fellow at SNCWS, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi where he continues to understand the gender question. Besides as a freelancer his core interests are South Asian politics, Kashmir in conflict, Military sociology, Indian Military Apparatus, Af-Pak strain and Muslim identity issues. The author has about 65 academic publications and hundreds of conceptual articles to his credit. His upcoming book titled “The Indian Lens of South Asian Politics” actually his collection of articles on Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East, War on terror, etc, is under print at Dictus Publishing House, Germany. The author is of the opinion: Q. How do you envision the US – India Relations and what are the main areas of cooperation between both the countries? Ans.  India and the US have a congruence of interests – liberal democracy, secularism and tolerance for diversity – which drives their relations. The United States of America is still the second largest importer of Indian goods and its economy is linked to India through the globalized economic system. India needs US cooperation in the field of science and technology (to include disaster management, weather forecasting and agricultural research, aviation, machinery and education). India’s diaspora in the US is the largest segment of Indians outside India,...

What is Secularism? – Aloke B Lal

What is Secularism? – Aloke B Lal

WHAT IS SECULARISM? My answer: Secularism is not mere tokenism. It is a philosophy of life. Any human being is programmed to have likes and dislikes. The educated minority becomes more aware. They understand what history has taught us. Their understanding of communities and sectors of population gets placed on a broader platform. They do not look at communities as \”we\” and \”they\” merely on the basis of faith which they follow. These educated/emancipated and knowledgeable people do not get air-dropped. They are all there amongst us. Unfortunately the rightist fringe then looks at all faultlines there are; they are bound to be there; and strike at the most vulnerable sections. Who are these most vulnerable members of the society? They are, to my mind, the less educated, the brain-washed and the ones who are not willing to accept that there is something outside their tunnel vision. This section of the population is easily swayed by attractive rabble-rousing rhetoric. They are then programmed to willingly turn a blind eye to the stark evidence around them. Such narrow-minded people are the ones who water down their understanding of secularism to just the question of religious communities. The \”we\” and \”they\” syndrome takes over. Political parties run extensive programmes to enhance such divisive tendencies, and then we witness The Meeruts, Muzaffarnagars, Godhras….the list is long. It is a shame that even after 66 years of independence of the country we still have to spend so much of our time discussing this. I find it ridiculous that when I speak for secularism, I am immediately labelled a supporter of a particular political party. Secularism as a concept is well above party politics. It is not a tool for electoral vote-banking. It has to be a basic human trait, to my mind the only trait which makes me a human being. My differences with others can be on ideologies, not on the basis of my religion. Anyone who begins politics with sectarian attitudes is actually a great handicap for the society and the nation at large. That is why I strongly oppose all the political parties and outfits which have a communal agenda for the petty electoral gains;...

MAGIC OF DEMOCRACY IN A PLURALIST SOCIETY : Muscle or Gandhigiri? – Aloke B Lal

MAGIC OF DEMOCRACY IN A PLURALIST SOCIETY : Muscle or Gandhigiri? – Aloke B Lal

“India is a pluralist society that creates magic with democracy, rule of law and individual freedom, community relations and [cultural] diversity. What a place to be an intellectual! ……..I wouldn’t mind being born ten times to rediscover India,” is what Robert Blackwell, departing US Ambassador, said in 2003. The question of a democratic polity’s survival hinges on some fundamental requirements, the essence of which is a unity of purpose to carry on the business of being one country, identified as a collection of citizens who have their personal outlook, who may even have diverse personal and political agendas, yet swear by the unity of the ethos of being one. There is, in such a setting, respect for varying viewpoints. The multiplicity of cultures is a cause for pride and there is conscious effort that these cultures enjoy the freedom necessary for them to not just survive, but prosper and enrich. The colourful palette that India offers to an observer is so interesting and rich only because all the colours together make one story. To imagine that this kaleidoscopic extravaganza will be shattered so that one colour dominates to the exclusion of others is a nightmare which curiously appeals to some who have a vision of a country which carries on an agenda which promotes purging the society of those elements who differ from vested preferences.  The ‘magic of democracy’, as Blackwell puts it, will be a seriously compromised one if the plurality of the society is diluted and different communities exist not as a happy family but in well defined, never-to-integrate and intermix fragments. There will be a death blow to centuries of our cultural variety should the government of the day intervene to negate such a beautiful and fulsome togetherness only to pander to the bigoted tunnel vision of some. It may be recalled that for those who fathered the Indian Constitution it was a conscious, courageous and moral decision to maintain the essential idea of India by opting for a secular democracy and an inclusive, pluralistic society. It was seen by these tall leaders that the growth of the nation needed not just fertility of soil, but also a rich biodiversity that leads to its...

A Dialogue with Shaina NC

A Dialogue with Shaina NC

Mukul Lather: The order banning dance bars was struck down by Bombay High Court, now High Court’s order has been upheld by the Supreme Court, What is the BJP’S stand on Dance Bars and the subsequent legal battle which took place to ban them. Shaina NC: First and foremost the BJP is firm that dance bars are not the need of the hour, the fact that so many people who visited dance bars and spent money of  the family, give misery to the family, give misery to the wife’s of people visiting to the dance bars, the associated rackets with dance bars, prostitution, racketing, drug use, it is not something which the BJP supports and the BJP clearly feels that the Government should file a review petition. Mukul lather: Recently BJP protested against potholes on roads by planting saplings in them in Ghatkopar and Andheri. This seems to have created some friction between BJP and Shiv Sena. Shaina NC: No, the facts that the roads which are maintained by the MMRDA come under the state government that is completely independent of BMC rum roads and the fact that potholes are nightmare for every Mumbaikar this is an issue which legitimate serious opposition needs to take on and that’s exactly what we did, as there is an sense of accountability which is required which clearly has not been seen. Mukul lather: How challenging is the maintenance of BJP -Shiv Sena alliance after 15 years. Shiv Sena: It’s not challenging as the ideology is the same, when we talk about Hindutva, we talk about justice to all and appeasement to none and the point of the matter is that in a society such as ours we constantly  play vote bank politics there can never be progress of the state and our talk is only on development. Mukul Lather: Elections are coming in four states Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, in the run up to 2014 elections what is their importance and what is BJP’s strategy to win these states? Shaina NC: See I am clear that we will come back to power in Rajasthan for sure because people are very unhappy about Ashok Gehlot’s incompetent...

From Syria, with love – Hiba Trefi

From Syria, with love – Hiba Trefi

Sir, They were sitting next to each other drinking coffee at one of the Cafes they found by chance. They were total strangers. They shared nothing but coffee and a dream. Each one of them was building a new dream with each sip of coffee, Dreams that would sweeten the bitter taste of coffee, the bitterness of their lives. The first one was thinking, ” when this war is over I want to get a job, to sing every morning a song, have children to whom all my love I would give The second was thinking, “When this war is over, I want to travel, maybe find a wife and have a daughter for whom I will buy all the beautiful things that I find “. With each sip of coffee, dreams were becoming more and more real. Their faces, challenging the bitter taste, the black color started to turn red, glowing with hope, Coffee was turning into wine. Without knowing why, they smiled at each other and hugged, The clock of war suddenly struck. The first man was summoned to fight the enemy he had been sitting next to, all this time. The second one was summoned to react… They frowned at each other and the last sound each one of them heard was a bullet, and both were lying on the ground…dead! Dreams vanished. Hatred Prevailed And coffee was bitter again…   With Love Hiba Trefi...

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