Global India Foundation International Conference Iran’s Eurasian Dynamic: Mapping Regional and Extra-Regional Interests, 13th-14th February 2013, New Delhi, India

Global India Foundation under the auspices of the trilateral cooperation with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIAS) and the India-Central Asia Foundation (ICAF) organised an International Conference on ‘Iran’s Eurasian Dynamic: Mapping Regional and Extra-Regional Interests’ at the India International Centre on 13h and 14th of February 2013. The Conference was supported by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies and IFCI. The two day deliberations saw the coming together of Iranian, Indian and Eurasian viewpoints on the pertinent theme of Iran’s role in the Eurasian region and the attendant ramifications thereof. 14 academic papers were presented at the Conference on the broad themes of Iran in Eurasia, Iran and Energy Politics, India-Iran Relations, Iran and Extra-Regional Players, Iran’s Current Dynamics.

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(Pic A to C-Inaugural session): Prof.Omprakash Mishra (Member Secretary, GIF), Vice Admiral P.J.Jacob (Chairman, GIF)
Shri Salman Khurshid Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs, Govt. of India, Mr.Anil K.Agarwal (Past Chairman, ASSOCHAM)
Mr.K.Santhanam (President, India-Central Asia Foundation), Dr.Sreeradha Datta (Director, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies)

Following initiation by Vice Admiral P.J.Jacob(Chairman, GIF), who Chaired the Inaugural Session, opening remarks were made by Mr.K.Santhanam(President, ICAF) and Dr.Sreeradha Datta (Director, MAKAIAS) both of whom re-iterated the relevance of the Eurasian space and the importance of a collaborative venture akin to the one MAKAIAS-GIF-ICAF enjoy for furthering the cause of Eurasian studies. The Session was then addressed by Mr.Anil K.Agarwal (Past President, ASSOCHAM) who expounded the relevance of the economic dimensions in India’s engagement with Iran.

The Conference was then inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs Shri Salman Khurshid. While lauding the efforts of Global India Foundation in organizing a venue for dissemination on the important subject, Shri Khurshid significantly pointed out that India stands at the forefront of countries that appear to be in a position to give Iran the kind of support that would be needed in the "very very critical and crucial discussions and dialogue that Iran needs to do.” The Inaugural Session ended with a Vote of Thanks proposed by Prof.Omprakash Mishra.

The first Business Session on ‘Iran in Eurasia’ was chaired by Prof.R.Gidadhubli. Prof.Farhad Atai spoke on the subject of ‘The South Caucasus: opportunities and challenges for Tehran’ and enumerated the varying facets of Iran’s interest in the region. The second presentation was by Dr.Sanjay Pandey, who in his paper on ‘Iran in Central Asia’ outlined the historical narrative of Iran’s involvement in Eurasia and the contemporary dynamics of that interaction. The third paper of the Session was presented by Ms.Anwesha Ghosh who in her paper on ‘Iran’s Balancing Act in Afghanistan: Amidst Turbulence and Transitions’ offered a critical examination of Iran’s engagement and influence in the fluid Afghan context. Prof.Ajay Patnaik presented the final paper in the Session and in his commentary on ‘Iran’s Significance in India’s Eurasia Policy’, provided a broad overview of India’s own interests in the region and about the impact that Tehran’s policy has on the sphere.

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(D) - Dr.Sanjay Pandey , Prof.Farhad Atai, Prof.R.Gidadhubli, Prof.Ajay Patnaik , Ms.Anwesha Ghosh, (E) Prof.R Gidadhubli, Mr. K. Santhanam, Prof.Girijesh Pant

The Second Business Session on the theme of ‘Iran and Energy Politics’ was Chaired by Mr.K.Santhanam. Prof.Gidadhubli presented a paper on ‘Great Game in the Caspian Region: Implications for India’s Energy Scenario’, wherein a detailed study was made of the geopolitics and geo-economics of competition in the Caspian region for conceiving alternative competitive pipeline networks such as BTC, Nabucco, South Stream etc. from the Caspian region to global markets in the West as well as towards China in the East. The second presentation was made by Prof.Girijesh Pant who in his paper on ‘Changing Global Energy Map: Implications for Iran’ outlined most definitively the politics of energy and the coordinates in the energy debate that both Iran and India need to take cognizance of.
The Third Business Session covered the theme of ‘India-Iran Relations’ and was Chaired by Ambassador Akbar Khaleeli. Prof.Bharat Karnad spoke on ‘The Geopolitics of the India-Iran Relationship’ and identified significant points of coincidence that made India and Iran pertinent to one another, inter alia Iran as India's entrepot to Central Asia, India as a significant exporter of consumer and other goods and machinery to Iran, New Delhi and Tehran working together to revive the IPI gas pipeline and India acting as a bridge between Iran and Israel. The second presentation in the session was by Dr.K.N.Tennyson on the subject of ‘India- Iran Relations: Reassessing India's Iran Policy’. In his presentation Dr.Tennyson explored India’s past diplomatic relations with Iran, and examined the problems and prospects in India-Iran relations in a changing geo-strategic environment.

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(F) Dr. Mandana Tishehyar, Vice Admiral P J Jacob, Dr.Asif Shuja, Dr.Lopamudra Bandyopadhyay (G) Dr. Masud Imani Kalesar, Prof. Farhad Atai, Ms.Sylvia Mishra

Day 2 of the Conference began with the Fourth Business Session on the theme of ‘Iran and Extra-Regional Players’. The Session was Chaired by Vice Admiral P.J.Jacob. Dr.Mandana Tishehyar presented a paper on ‘A Review of Iran’s Concerns about NATO’s Presence in the Eurasian Region’ and elucidated Iran's main concerns about NATO's presence in the Eurasian region while analyzing the impacts of NATO's presence in the Eurasian region on Iran's national security concerns on four political, economic, cultural and military aspects. The second presentation on the subject of ‘Iran-US Nuclear Standoff: Possible Future Course’ was made by Dr.Asif Shuja who made a case for the hypothesis that any future resolution of the current nuclear stalemate between Iran and the U.S. would be reflection of the prevalent global power alliances, completely devoid of the dictates of merit of the case. The final presentation of the Session was made by Dr.Lopamudra Bandyopadhyay by way of her paper on ‘Iran, Russia and Turkey in Central Asia: Harmonious Partnership or Regional Hegemony?’. While addressing the divergent aspects of cooperative as well as competitive relations between the three powers in the region as well as with each other, Dr.Bandyopadhyay attempted to explain the importance of the region as a whole within the respective foreign policy spheres of Iran, Russia and Turkey.

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(H) Ms. Cauvery Ganapathy, Brigadier Devinder Singh, Lt. Gen. A S Lamba, Dr Sreeradha Datta, Dr.Sunil Chacko (I) Prof. Bharat Karnad, Amb.Akbar Khaleeli, Dr.K.N.Tennyson

The final Business Session centered on the broad theme of ‘Iran: Current Dynamics, 2013’. The Session was Chaired by Prof.Farhad Atai. Dr.Masoud Imani Kalesar in his presentation on ‘Iran’s 2013 New President: New Policies on Nuclear Crisis & Arab Spring?’, delved into the substantive issues that have been plaguing Iran in the recent past, such as the opposition to its nuclear programme, the economic embargo and the attendant crippling of the Iranian economy, domestic discontent et cetera. The second presentation of the Session was made by Ms.Sylvia Mishra who spoke on the subject of ‘Iran in 2013: Nuclear and Oil Politics’. Ms.Mishra outlined three significant facets of the subject by considering the indices of energy politics as drivers of security, identifying the contours of nuclear politics and oil politics and their ramifications and finally, analyzing public opinion on Iran’s nuclear programme across the world.

The Concluding Session of the Conference was Chaired by Lt.Gen.Lamba. The panel comprised of Brigadier Devinder Singh, Dr.Sreeradha Datta, Dr.Sunil Chacko and Ms.Cauvery Ganapathy. The session focused on providing a summary of the deliberations held over the two day Conference and drawing a roadmap to actualize the potential identified through the exchange of views. The panel agreed upon the creation of a substantive report on the proceedings so as to enumerate the pertinent issues and their answers as an outcome of the Conference.