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Book on Regional Dialogue

The book deals more on fringe matters ignoring the strategic complexities of South Asia

Future of South Asia: A New Generational Perspective

Published Year: 2004
Published by: Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) & Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

Price: Undisclosed, Pages: 136



Describing the situation of South Asia region is not an easy task as it is very much complex in terms of geography and strategic interests. The complexity in the economic, political and diplomatic relations of South Asian countries is not because there are smaller and bigger countries but because it is located in an important geographical position.

Along with India, South Asia also shares the border with the People’s Republic of China. As long as the complexities of relations between these two countries are not discussed, one can hardly predict the future of South Asia.

Past experiences have shown that harmonization of relations between India and China is necessary to ease the tension in the region paving the way for broader and fruitful regional cooperation.

This is what has been rightly pointed out by eminent journalist and expert on international relations M.R. Josse, in one of the article in the book. “In fact, even India, at the very core of “South Asia,” factors China into her national security calculus, not least because of unresolved territorial claims over Kashmir and Arunanchal Pradesh, both considered to be well within the confines of South Asia,” writes Josse, who has written a number of articles regarding the strategic importance of South Asian region. “Thus, while Brahmaputra (Yalutsangpo, in China) originates in Tibet and flows directly into India, several tributaries of the Ganges flow from Tibet into Nepal before merging with it. The Sutlej, too, originates in Tibet, flows into India before joining the Indus in Pakistan.”

If one ignores Josse’s point of view, one will be unable to grasp the overall problems and tensions in South Asian region. Nischal Nath Pandey’s contribution is also a stimulating one. “Aside from ably sketching a multi-dimensional overview of the security situation in this part of the world, including its oft-neglected non-military components, he has graphically underscored the urgency of South Asians getting their collective security act together,” writes Josse, commenting on a paper presented by Nishchal Nath Pandey on Security in South Asia: A Future Perspective.

Pandey in his article discusses several issues related to complexities of relations of South Asian nations and discusses on the future course of actions. “ In the intersection of antiquity and modernity, forbearance and fundamentalism, antagonism and cooperation or even dreadfully through its younger generation of a better, prosperous and a more secure future,” writes Pandey.

Along with Pandey, industrialist Rajendra Kumar Khetan, Ratnakar Adhikari, Paras Ghimire also presented three different papers highlighting the economic prosperity and opportunity in the South Asian region.

Including contributions from many other experts on South Asia as well as Nepalese foreign relations experts, the book covers entire proceedings of the seminar on the South Asian region. The seminar was held in Kathmandu in November, 2003.

“South Asia is a vast economic powerhouse in terms of its market, potentials (one third of humanity resides in this area) and in terms of the richly endowed natural resources (e.g. the water of Nepal, natural gas of Bangladesh, coal of India) and qualified human resources (e.g. IT professionals and entrepreneurs of India),” writes Khetan.

In another article Ratnakar Adhikari discusses about using the WTO membership as a tool for governance reform in South Asia with special reference to Nepal. “All South Asian countries face serious problems of governance, though the degree of problems may differ from country to country,” writes Adhikari. “High level of corruption, frequent changes in policies, high degree of cronyism, utter disrespect to the principle of transparency and rules are some of the characteristic features of most South Asian economies,” writes Adhikari

Although there lacks certain discussion on the major perspective of South Asian security and its role in forming the state to state relations, the book helps to understand the new and emerging perspective of South Asia.

Source: SPOTLIGHT (26 March-01 April 2004)

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