The Department of Political Science, Hindu College in collaboration with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) has organised a two-day conclave christened ‘The Dancing Elephant: Perspectives on Indian Foreign Policy’, today being the first day.
At a time when the foreign policies of states are aligning and realigning based on the economics of interests and benefits rather than on ideologies, this conclave seeks to generate a broader conversation as to where India stands and perceives itself globally.
On the first day of the 2-day conclave, the event kick-started with the lighting of the lamp, followed by the welcome address by the Principal of Hindu College, Ms. Anju Shrivastava, in the auditorium of the college. Thereafter, the inaugural address was given by Anirban Ganguly, the Director of the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee Foundation.
Session one started with the keynote address by Harsh V. Pant, Fellow and Head of the Strategic Studies Programme of the ORF. In the rather spirited discourse on the changing contours of Indian Foreign Policy, Pant made thought-provoking observations regarding how our international relations with other countries needs to be looked at with a fresher set of eyes. Besides asserting that India should stop being ‘a balancing power’ and should instead become a leading power, he also remarked that the aspiration of countries to align on the basis of ideological fixation is today gone. India, today, is ready to take help from any country, provided its security concerns are met. The idea that India’s priority is domestic consolidation was very subtly put forth in Pant’s speech.
Post noon, a panel discussion was held on the most imperative question facing Indian Foreign Policy today: Can India Ignore Pakistan? Moderated by Senior Fellow of ORF Maya Mirchandani, the discussion was taken ahead with insights from TCA Raghavan and Sushant Sareen. The vibrant discussion ranged from topics such as the twin threats of nuclear warfare and terrorism from Pakistan to whether SAARC would be able to establish South Asia as a cohesive region despite the fractured relations between India and Pakistan.
In today’s global economy, when major powers are facing suppressive regulations for environmental concerns, how India transforms its economy is a big challenge. Shedding light on the apparently opposing nexus between economic growth and equitable sustainable development, the next session was a dialogue on how India will galvanize a development model by managing the workforce disparity, energy security, and its natural resources.
Post lunch, the enterprising discourse was taken ahead by a panel discussion on non-alignment and Nehruvian idealism and whether these ideas still have relevance in the current scenario where the world has increasingly moved towards multi-polarity. Moderated by ORF Fellow Abhijnan Rej, the discussion was enriched with perspicacity from Diplomatic Editor of The Hindu, Suhasini Haidar, and Member of Parliament Swapan Dasgupta.
Wrapping up an eventful first day of the conclave, most students found the same highly enlightening, especially the International Relations enthusiasts.
Today, we’re looking at a very different get-political scenario than what was prevalent a few decades back. As we move ahead with higher education, some of the textual learning might not be very effective in helping us gauge India’s foreign policies. That’s why, it becomes important to engage in these events where students get first-hand knowledge from diplomats and distinguished people who themselves mould our nation’s foreign policies.
Feature Image Credits: DUB Archives
Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak