Date: 29 January, 2015
Venue: Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
A National Colloquium on emerging dimensions of Indian foreign policy was held on 29 January 2015 at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi. The colloquium was organized by the BHU in collaboration with the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Sapru House, New Delhi. The key motive of the event was to raise awareness about the emerging challenges in international politics and Indian foreign policy among research scholars in the central universities and other educational institutions. It was also intended to highlight the local perspective in the broader ecosystem of Indian foreign policy. In addition to panel discussions on issues of foreign policy, ICWA’s best research paper presentation and an essay writing competition were also organized in order to engage more students and research scholars in discussion and debate. The entire programme was conducted in Hindi. Academicians, research scholars, media, members of legislative assembly, and a large number of students participated in the colloquium.
In inaugural session, Prof. K K Mishra, Head of Political Science Department, BHU welcomed all guests and explained the idea and framework of colloquium. He also analyzed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government foreign policy in special context of Varanasi. He said that Central government initiatives would benefit the local people and create more opportunities for everyone. In his address, Prof. R R Jha, Dean, Social Science Department, BHU noted the substantial changes in the global structure and Indian foreign policy had taken place in recent times. He analyzed the Indian approach towards change in the world politics and how it has transformed the Indian foreign policy. He argued that importance of India has been gradually enhanced in the world politics. Prof. Ashwini Mahapatra, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi argued that Prime Minister has energized the country. He said that image of the country has been transformed under the Narendra Modi government. While discussing neo-functionalism and realism in detail, Prof. Mahapatra said that Indian foreign policy would be more focused on neo-functionalism. Dr. Uttam Sinha, Research Fellow, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) also noted that Modi government has brought the change in the Indian foreign policy. He noted how perception of the world community has changed after the Modi government has assumed charge. He highlighted the Prime Minister Modi initiatives to break the protocol to engage with world leaders and people. Prof. Sanjay Srivastava, Political Science Department, BHU discussed the soft power and public diplomacy in Indian foreign policy. He noted the soft power plays crucial role in making of Indian foreign policy. Sri Raviendra Jaiswal, MLA, Uttar Pradesh also discussed the government policy and development programmes, which have relevance for international relations and foreign policy.
As instructed by the ICWA, undersigned presented a brief note on ICWA activities in the inaugural session. He discussed the ICWA’s policy and programme to promote discussion and research in Hindi as well as other Indian languages in universities and research institutions. Undersigned informed the researchers and academic community about the ICWA’s publication and their translation in Hindi, which are available in its website. He also told that ICWA publications are distributed free of cost to universities for wider outreach and promotion of research on foreign policy issues. A large of scholars has shown their interest in ICWA’s publications.
The first session was chaired by Prof. Ashwini Mahapatra. There were debates on several themes of Indian foreign policy. Prof. A P Pandey discussed the policy of “Make in India”. He pointed out that economics is the key to current Indian foreign policy. Government of India has been trying to bring advanced technology and investment from abroad to revive the economic growth in the country. He also noted that growth in manufacturing sector is important to generate employment in the country. Dr. Ghanshyam raised the issue of diaspora in Indian foreign policy. He said that Indian diaspora plays very crucial role in building the image of India in the world community. He tried to relate the recent trends in the Indian foreign policy Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States (US) and Australia, where he addressed the a large gathering of Indian diaspora. Prof. Mirtunjaya Mishra discussed the environmental issues. He raised the issues of North-South divide and climate change. He argued for raising awareness about the young generation. Dr. Uttam Sinha explained the India’s policy towards regional and international organizations. He said that India had a little say in international organizations, but it has been gradually changing. Prof. Priyanker Upadhyay discussed the emerging dimensions of human security. He raised the issue of human right violations, sexual abuses and road accidents. He also noted that these issues are widely discussed in foreign media and affect the image of the country.
In the essay writing competition, a large number of student participated and ICWA and BHU provided them commendation certificates and financial award to three best essays. Theme of the essay writing was Indo-Pak relations. In the best ICWA research paper award competition, Govid G won the best paper award. Sri Omprakash Singh, former Minister of UP government distributed the awards. In his remarks, he said that education is very important for social and political change in the country. He praised ICWA initiatives to organize programmes in Indian languages. He shared the view of ICWA to promote the research at sub-regional level and engage more young researchers in research and development.
To sum up, the colloquium was well organized and quite successful in bringing a variety of people at one platform. The event was also reported in media. Several national Hindi dailies, namely Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala and Hindustan reported the event on 30 January 2015. A large number of students and research participated in essay writing, paper presentation and discussions. Last but not the least, the ICWA foreign policy awareness programme in Hindi can be more successful, if they are better organized to engage more students and researchers. Young researchers should be given more opportunities to participate in the discussion and paper presentation. Based on experience of the colloquium and available resources, it is suggested that a two or three day programme on foreign policy and international relations should be organized at BHU.
Report prepared by Dr. Dinoj K Upadhyay, Research Fellow, ICWA