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India and its Neighbourhood
28 February 2014,1400-1700 hrs

A Foreign Policy Agenda for the Next Government-I

Strategies towards Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka & Maldives


The India and its Neighbourhood conference is an attempt to draft a formidable and pragmatic foreign policy agenda for India’s neighbouring countries. In Part-I of this series, IPCS brought together academics whose expertise shed light on India’s future manoeuvring with respect to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives.
The panelists included Dr. Sanjay Bhardwaj, Dr. MedhaBisht and Dr. N. Manoharan. Apart from this there were two discussants, Capt.AlokBansal and Dr. Mathew Joseph.  The discussions provided a scenario building on the various trajectories of India’s policy to each of these countries and a need for India to increase its soft-power. China’s increasing footprints in India’s neighbourhood was discussed threadbare. A common point that emerged out of the discussion was that India should not lose opportunities especially vis-à-vis its neighbours, which in essence would streamline its domestic politics and the problem of federalisation of foreign policy.
Dr. MedhaBisht spoke on Bhutan and emphasized the point that more has to be done to improve relations with Bhutan, especially in the light of increasing Chinese presence in Bhutan. Answering a question on whether India should ask for a change in the 1949 treaty, she said that the treaty should be left alone. Dr. Sanjay Bhardwaj spoke on the recent controversial elections and the necessity to see the war tribunals to successful completion. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism, funneled by Gulf petro-dollars was analysed.Dr. N. Manoharan sketched India’s relations with Sri Lanka and Maldives. He brought out the factor of increasing Chinese presence in both these countries and put across that India should not let opportunities go out of hand, by engaging in more competitive diplomacy and expediting completion of pending and promised projects. The interventions were on the Centre-State federalisation of foreign policy and its implications, the effectiveness of India’s diplomatic corps and how India’s soft-power can better be wielded to achieve mutual interests.


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