South Asia

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  • Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present, by Kaushik Roy

    In the academic field of modern history studies, historians dealing with South Asia largely neglect the historical evolution of military–strategic thought on the Indian subcontinent. It is also true that, both for political scientists and scholars of the specialized field of strategy, it is not very common to find people engaging with theories other than Western theories of warfare.1 Nevertheless, the new generation of scholars has started to deal with these subjects.

    October 2013

    Vibin Lakshmanan asked: How illegal cross-border migrations in South Asia impact regional and bilateral relations?

    P.K. Upadhyay replies: Borders are meant to insulate inmates of a house, society, or nation in a secure environment. However, borders do not seek to create airtight compartments to segregate people. They allow for regulated movement of people so that the order and lives of a community’s members are not disturbed. Illegal migrations go against the very grain of this concept of security. Maintaining border controls against illegal migrations becomes very difficult when any one country in the region achieves greater economic growth rate, better life standards, greater job opportunities, better medical facilities and education and offers more security of life against lawlessness of either the state, or the non-state players. In South Asia, this manifests itself in the form of illegal migration of people to India from practically all its neighbours.

    There are Nepalese and Bhutanese migrants who basically come to India for better job opportunities, education and medical facilities that are available here. From Bangladesh, the migrations are again driven by these factors, plus at times, by the sense of insecurity among country's Hindu and Buddhist minorities. The migration from Sri Lanka is driven by the sense of insecurity and discrimination driven by ethnic policies of the majority community that plague the country's ethnic minorities. Illegal migrations from Pakistan are mostly driven by that country’s hostile intent against the Indian state, and also due to the persecution of its minorities. The turmoil in Afghanistan also forced a large number of Afghans to come to India for security and many of those people chose to stay on in India. Such migrations upset the social and economic equilibrium in a society and generate social, economic and ethnic tensions, apart from myriad of security problems.

    Migrations also add to the pressures on the availability of civil supplies, habitat, hygiene and medical facilities. At a political level when such illegal migrants settle down at a place for longer durations, they create tensions by finding their way into the electoral processes and polity. This becomes even more complex and volatile if the government or any other agency in the migrant’s country triggers migrations in a phased manner with an extra-territorial agenda. Such problems are basically of a human nature and, to an extent, are unavoidable in the context of human growth and evolution. They require a delicate approach and handling, unless a country is willing to be labeled as insensitive and inhuman.

    India's Neighbourhood: The Armies of South Asia

    India's Neighbourhood: The Armies of South Asia
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    This book is an attempt to examine the role, relevance and status of the armies in the ever dynamic socio-political milieu of the countries in India’s South Asian neighbourhood. The book deals with the national armies of seven South Asian countries bordering India, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The contributors to the volume also trace out the likely trajectory of the future role and position of the armies in the given or evolving national and geo-political settings.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-706-0,
    • Price: ₹. 795/-
    • E-copy available

    Cooperative Security Framework for South Asia

    Cooperative Security Framework for South Asia
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    This volume brings together views of some of the most eminent scholars and security analysts from South Asia on the challenges and prospects of a cooperative security framework (CSF) in the region. The objective of the volume is to generate debate on CSF and forge a consensus on the issue at the Track-II level. The contributions critically analyse such frameworks in different regions and explore whether it is possible and practicable in the South Asian region.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-705-0,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    Ravi Ranjan asked: What could be the implications of the proposed US-China consultations on South Asia for India? Are we seeing formation of G-2?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: US-China consultations on South Asia are on for quite some time. The fourth round is coming up later this year. They are discussing all issues including India-Pakistan relations. There have been even indirect offers to mediate if it was agreeable to both the parties.

    However, there is no cause for concerns as far as India is concerned. Both China and the US understand that all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and at the most they would play the role of facilitators. Both the countries have on different occasions asked Pakistan in the past to join India in a dialogue rather than seek their mediation in the event of any crisis.

    As far as other issues in South Asia are concerned, there is, one believes, a tacit recognition of the preeminent strategic position of India, which is duly backed by a realisation that any attempt either to hurt the strategic interests of India or change the power equations would be counter-productive; it would upset the regional power balance and threaten regional peace.

    Moreover, for China, the American attempt to undertake a regular dialogue on South Asia will both comfort China for the importance it receives from the US, and help China moderate its approach towards South Asia.

    There is disquiet at certain levels in India about the growing Chinese footprints in the neighbouring countries especially because of the temptation of these countries to use China as a balancer against India, wrongly perceived as a hegemon. However, in view of the shift in India-US relations in the recent years, US-China dialogue can be used as a forum to transmit Indian concerns to China regularly. On the whole, India should keep a close eye on the discussions in the forum, establish a healthy line of communication with both the countries, and communicate its concerns in a free, frank and uninhibited manner.

    Anakha asked: What are the major security/geo-strategic challenges in South Asia, and what implications it has had on India's security environment?

    Smruti S. Pattanaik replies: Major security and geo-strategic challenges in South Asia can be attributed to fragile democratic structures, weak and unstable governments, growing radicalisation, uncertainty in Afghanistan, and increasing Chinese influence in South Asian region which traditionally is considered as India’s periphery. India shares border with each of the countries in South Asia except Afghanistan.

    Fragile democratic structures and erosion of democratic institutions pave way for extra constitutional intervention (military intervention) and political instability. Ability of the governments to deal with governance issue remains limited. Ungoverned spaces are exploited by non-state actors to challenge the state. The resultant political instability does not remain confined to the boundaries of nation- states and its spill over effect is often felt in India. Ethnic overlaps, porous border and shared ethno-cultural linkages often make conflicts in the region transnational in character.

    Growing radicalisation has emerged as a major challenge in south Asia. Almost all the countries are afflicted with the problem of religious radicalisation. For instance, growing radicalisation in Pakistan not only has implications for Pakistan’s own stability, but also for India and Afghanistan. Some of the militant groups have been able to engage in terrorist attacks against India and Afghanistan through trans-national networks and linkages many a times sponsored and facilitated by state actors. Similarly the problem of radicalisation in Bangladesh threatens its societal and political fabric with serious implications for India. Nexus between the fundamentalist, criminal elements and state actors was apparent in the Chittagong arms haul case where ten truck loads of arms was unloaded for insurgent groups operating in India’s north-east. In Sri Lanka, the rise of ultra-nationalism has made resolution of ethnic conflict extremely difficult. The assertion of rights by various ethnic groups and demand for federal representation in Nepal has made the peace process complicated. In Afghanistan, the post-2014 situation remains uncertain. The strengthening of Taliban as a political force would have consequences beyond the region. India has major economic investments in Afghanistan and remains concern about the rise of Taliban.

    Growing Chinese influence in the region is another major concern for India. In many cases, India’s neighbours have tried to play the China card to blunt India’s regional pre-eminence. China-Pakistan nexus remains a major stumbling bloc for South Asian peace. Unresolved border problem with China also adds to India’s anxiety. All these factors impinge on India’s overall security environment.

    Can the South Asian Gas Pipeline Dilemma be Resolved through a Legal Regime?

    South Asian countries, and particularly India, are hydrocarbon-deficient, and given the pace of economic growth in many of these nations, all of them need huge energy resources to sustain their growth. In accordance with their diversification strategies as well as to enhance energy security they are considering alternate sources and means of imports, including via land pipelines.

    September 2011

    Will Cooperative Security Work in South Asia?

    While the cooperative security approach has not succeeded in resolving conflicts in South Asia, it might work when it comes to resolving human security related issues.

    November 13, 2011