Conference Report: Emergence of India as a Global Player

Global India Foundation, in collaboration with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies and IFCI, successfully organized a three-day international conference between March 24 and March 26, 2011, entitled Emergence of India as a Global Player at the H. L. Roy Auditorium at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. The themes discussed by the participants included, inter alia, India’s foreign policy and grand strategy, India’s immediate and extended neighbourhoods, new directions in India’s external outlook, challenges to India’s rise as a global player, India’s place in the global economy, and crucial bilateral ties, with a concentration on East and Southeast Asia and Europe. In attendance were former and current diplomats, politicians, members of the armed forces, academics and researchers in the social sciences, journalists, practitioners, and students from across West Bengal and the rest of India.


Pic A: from left to right- Prof. Lawrence Prabhakar Williams, Dr. Anindyo Jyoti Majumdar, General Shankar Roychowdhury, Mr. Dinesh Chandra Pathak and Prof. Ramesh Babu

Pic B: Ambassador Salman Haidar

Following opening remarks from Adm. (Retd.) P. J. Jacob, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, and Chariman, GIF, the conference was formally inaugurated by former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. (Retd.) Shankar Roy Chowdhury, PVSM, ADC, who spoke on the future of India’s foreign policy, cautioning that the time has come for India to exercise an ‘iron fist’ in its external relations but only under a ‘velvet glove’. The session was chaired by Amb. Arundhati Ghose, Former Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Member, Executive Council, GIF.

Gen. Roy Chowdhury chaired the first working session, ‘India’s Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy’, presiding over a panel that included Mr. Dinesh C. Pathak (former Chief, Intelligence Bureau and Member, Executive Council, GIF) and Dr. Anindyo J. Majumdar (Head, Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University and Member, Executive Council, GIF). Mr. Pathak elaborated on past and present transformations in India’s foreign policy in a changing world order, especially India’s role in the War on Terror. Dr. Majumdar argued that India’s rise as a global player does not demand a rigid strategic manual but rather a framework of autonomy and flexibility.

The proceedings on the second day began with a special address by Amb. Salman Haidar, former Foreign Secretary and Member, Executive Council, GIF, on the central theme of the conference, and the session was chaired by Prof. Hari Vasudevan (Director, MAKAIAS). Dwelling on a number of diverse issues – ranging from strategic challenges in South Asia, especially Kashmir, to economic development and peaceful cooperation in India’s expanding global reach to the politics of climate change – Amb. Haidar urged for a more active and adaptive foreign policy in the years to come, which demands an overall strategic vision.


Pic C: from left to right-Vice Admiral P.J. Jacob, Dr. Pankaj Jha, Mr. Anindya Batabyal and Mr. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Pic D: from left to right- Prof. Omprakash Mishra, Vice Admiral P.J. Jacob and Dr. Anindyo Jyoti Majumdar

The panel ‘India in the Global Economy’ saw presentations from Amb. Krishnan Srinivasan (former Foreign Secretary and Fellow, MAKAIAS), Prof. Ajitava Raichaudhuri (Professor, Department of Economics, Jadavpur University), and Prof. Sugata Marjit (Director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta), all of whom elaborated on certain economic obstacles facing India’s emergence as a global player, namely the current crisis of inflation, difficulties in international trade, and the problem of political compulsions.

Mr. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray (former Editor of The Statesman) spoke about India’s ‘Look East’ policy at the ‘India and Southeast Asia’ panel to begin proceedings on the final day, arguing that the policy was more a necessity than a display of agency, and initially underpinned to access Western capital; he maintained that the reality of the Look East policy lags behind its myth.

Ms. Sreya Maitra (Doctoral Fellow, Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University and Honorary Fellow, GIF) and Dr. Lopamudra Bandyopadhyay (Fellow, GIF) also presented papers at the conference. Ms. Maitra’s paper, ‘India’s Africa Policy: Complementing Economic Needs and Development Goals in the Post-Cold War Era’ presented in the panel ‘New Forays in India’s Foreign Policy’, highlighted the need for greater knowledge production to understand the history of Indo-African relations in the postcolonial world. Dr. Bandyopadhyay – speaking on ‘The Kashmir Issue and Its Repercussions: Domestic and International Dimensions’ at the ‘Impediments to India’s Emergence’ panel – traced the genesis and ramifications of the protracted conflict in the Valley.

Among other notable attendees were Prof. Jayanta K. Ray (Chairman, Executive Council, MAKAIAS), who presided over the session ‘India’s Immediate Neighbourhood’, and Shri K. Santhanam, Padma Bhushan (President, ICAF), who chaired the panel ‘India’s Relations with the EU and Russia’. In addition, Brian C. Ventura (Assistant Professor of Political Science, Division of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines Visayas) gave a paper entitled ‘Fueling the Two Giants: A Comparison of India’s and China’s Energy Security Policies’ at the ‘Impediments to India’s Emergence’ session.

Prof. Omprakash Mishra (Professor, Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University and Member Secretary, GIF), speaking at the closing session, announced another international conference on a similar theme to be held in New Delhi in July, 2011, along with first K. Subrahmanyam Annual Memorial Lecture, honouring the exceptional contributions of the first Convenor of the National Security Council Advisory Board to strategic thinking in India. It was also announced that selected papers presented at the conference shall be published at a later date in the form of a volume edited.

Papers presented at the Conference

Mr.Dinesh Chandra Pathak: ‘Indian Foreign Policy in a Changing World Order’

Dr.Anindyo Jyoti Majumdar: ‘India as a Global Player in the Contemporary International System’

Prof.Ramesh Babu: ‘Non-Alignment to Multi-Alignment: Re-alignment without Grand Strategy’

Prof.Lawrence Prabhakar Williams: ‘A Tour D’Horizon of India’s Grand Strategy in the Coming Decade.’

Dr.Binoda Mishra: ‘Acceptability of India as an Emerging Power in her Neighbourhood’

Dr.Sreeradha Datta: ‘Regional Connectivity Corridor’

Dr.Prabir De: ‘ASEAN-India Connectivity: Emerging Architecture’

V.K.Shashikumar: ‘India’s Engagement in Afghanistan’

Mr.Sanjay Pulipaka: ‘Power and Responsibility: Democracy Promotion in India’s Foreign Policy’

Mr.Biplab Debnath: ‘India as a Rising Power in the Asia-Pacific Region: An Australian Perspective’

Ms.Sreya Maitra: ‘India’s Africa’s Policy: Complementing Economic Needs and Developmental Goals in the Post-Cold War Era’

Mr.S.D.Pradhan: ‘Assessing India's Nuclear Deterrence’

Dr.Sunil Sondhi: ‘India’s Role in the War on Terror’

Prof.P.S.Jayaramu: ‘India and Nuclear Disarmament'

Prof.Ajitava Rai Chaudhuri: ‘Some Challenges facing India in International Trade in the Twenty First Century’

Prof.Sugata Marjit: ‘Globalization, Economic Growth and Political Compulsions-The Indian Model’

Amb.Krishnan Srinivasan: ‘Inflation will damage our Global Reputation’

Prof.Nirmala Joshi: ‘India and Russia: Strategic Perspectives on Central Asia

Dr.A.K.Pasha: ‘The Role and Significance of the Gulf Region’

Capt.Alok Bansal: ‘Internal Developments in Pakistan and Implications for India’

Dr.Sanjukta Bhattacharya: ‘Of US National Security Interests and India’s Status as an ‘Emerging’ Power: Convergence and Divergence’

Dr. N.K.Jha: ‘India’s Security Scenario: Domestic Dimensions’

Dr.Lopamudra Bandhopadhyay: ‘The Impact of the Kashmir Issue on the Emergence of India as a Global Player’

Mr.Sunanda Datta Ray: ‘India’s Look East Policy: Myth or Reality’

Mr.Anindya Batabyal: ‘Rise of New Asia and India’s Engagement with East Asia’

Dr.Pankaj Jha: ‘Configuring South East Asia in India’s Strategic Outlook’

John Jojin: ‘Balancing the Dragon? The Assumed and Expected Role of India in East Asia’.

Brian Ventura: ‘Fueling the two Giants: a comparison between India and China’s energy Security Policies’

Dr.Purushottam Bhattacharya: ‘Quest for Strategic Partnership: India-EU in the 21st Century’

Dr.Gulshan Sachdeva: Rethinking India-EU Strategic Partnership beyond Economic Ties

Dr.Sanjay Pandey: ‘India-Russia Relations in the Emerging World Order’

Dr.Nivedita Das Kundu: India-Russia Strategic Cooperation: Eye on the Future"