NIAS Lecture: 'Recognising India's opportunity in the Neighbourhood: Challenges and Prospects' by Dr. Sreeradha Datta , Conference Hall 2, NIAS, 1100hrs

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus



International Strategic and Security Studies Programme(ISSSP)




Recognising India's opportunity in the Neighbourhood: Challenges and Prospects



Dr. Sreeradha Datta


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkatta


Chairperson: Dr. M. Mayilvaganan


Thursday, 10 August 2017, 11:00 am, Conference Hall II, NIAS



One of the most visible development ever since the recent National democratic Alliance took over in Delhi in 2014 has been Prime Minister Modi’s travel and outreach to countries near and wide. Attempts to invigorate bilateral and regional ties both are perceptible. While it maybe too early to assess the positive impact of the numerous summits and high level meetings that are taking place, its presence is being marked in the global affairs and in a break from the past it is not a diffident India who is hesitant to forge friendship or take a position. There is a paradigm shift in how India wants to be perceived.  This infact is most noticeable in the immediate neighborhood. An expressed interest to maximize its opportunities in the neighbourhood has been the present government. Beginning with the swearing ceremony of the Prime Minister and his subsequent travels and engagement all have reflected a tremendous political will to work closely with the neighbourhood both in South Asia and South East Asia. Beginning with the rhetorical shift to Act East from erstwhile Look East Policy the government has laid bare a path of economic cooperation through better connectivity, improved border infrastructure and greater political interaction with neighbours. Pursuing bilateral ties alongside getting the neighbours on board through multilateral forums such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India Nepal (BBIN) and The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation(BIMSTEC) and BCIM and Indo-ASEAN partnership India has flagged off of an enhanced economic and political cooperation trajectory in the neighborhood. India is moving beyond the physical contours of the south Asian region. It is seeking to find an identity that is extra regional and not limited by geographical identity. In the south Asian context India is positioning itself as a facilitator to regional growth engines. Secondly, India is moving closer to the south east Asian growth zone and taking the south Asian neighbours on this course too. The BIMSTEC forum involving Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal is straddling both south and south east Asia. Regionalism is finding greater appeal in the foreign policy discourse. Thirdly, South and Southeast Asia is increasingly becoming a theatre for all powers, regional and extra regional. An interesting interplay amongst China, Russia and USA is taking place in this region. Japan omnipresent in the past through its various developments is seemingly lying low amidst the emergence of new alliances in the making. What needs to be seen is whether India’s presence in the regional mix will allow for stability or increase the potency of volatility, especially in the light of India taking a position on the South China Sea developments and its disinterest in China’s One Road One Belt grandiose initiative. Fourthly, in continuation of the above the South Asian states are welcoming the extra regional powers into their fold. And similarly Southeast Asian states are welcoming outside players including India to counter China’s pervasive presence. These developments have significant implications for India. It will be interesting to see how India navigates itself through this complex space. 


 About the Speaker:

Dr Sreeradha Datta is presently Director, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata since September 2011. Prior to this she has been a Fellow with Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi from 1998 till 2011. She has been recipient of International Leadership Visitors Programme, at USA, US State Department and awarded the Shelton Kodikara Award for South Asian Strategic Studies, Distinguished Indian Scholar Series University of Taiwan besides several other fellowships. Sreeradha specializes in research and policy outputs connected with India’s South Asian neighbourhood and India’s linkages with Southeast Asia, as well as the India’s internal security situation focusing on Indian Northeast. Her publications include, Caretaking Democracy: Political Process in Bangladesh, 2006-08 Bangladesh: A Fragile DemocracyThe Northeast Complexities and its DeterminantsChanging Dynamics in Southeast Asia,   Drug menace in South Asia: Pakistan connections, an  Occasional Paper,  co-edited volumes on Political Economy of India's North-East Border, Changing Security Dynamics in South East Asia and Northeast Border Trade besides over 100 articles in journals, edited volumes and newspaper and academic websites. She is a regular participant in several track two dialogues. She is also a regular resource person for National Defence College, Foreign Service institute, Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, Integrated Defence Staff, Directorate of Intelligence Agency, Indian Army and Para military forces, and various think tanks and universities. She is on the academic committee for several state and national Universities presently as well. 


All are cordially invited

Thursday, August 10, 2017