International conference on India's ties with Gulf countries

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ejazr, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4593020

    New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) Experts from Iran, Iraq, GCC countries, China and Europe will participate in an international conference here, which will be inaugurated by Vice President Hamid Ansari on Saturday.

    The conference titled ''India and GCC Countries, Iran, Iraq: Emerging Security Perspectives'' will have 18 experts from Iran, Iraq and the GCC countries, China and Europe, who will make formal presentations focusing on the issues and relations between India and these countries, Indian Council of World Affairs Director General Sudhir Devare said here.

    He said the region was important for India due to the growing inter-linkages and inter-dependence in economic, resource and diaspora in recent years between the two sides.

    GCC countries include countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    ICWA-AAS Asian Relations Conference Series Theme for Year 2010:

    "India and GCC Countries, IRAN and IRAQ: EMERGING Security Perspectives"

    November 20-21, 2010 - India Habitat Center, New Delhi

    This year's conference theme, accordingly, seeks to highlight India's increasing engagement and responsibility viz-a-viz the Gulf countries that include Iran, Iraq and the GCC countries i.e. Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

    It is this region that has witnessed India's growing engagement in recent years and there is urgent need today to ensure that we see this region as integral to Asian relations discourse.

    2010 Conference:An Outline

    Inaugural Session

    Session 1 Regional Security Environment

    Session 2 Iran and its Neighborhood

    Session 3 Changing Face of Iraq: Lessons and Limitations

    Session 4 GCC Countries and India: Emerging Economic Partnership

    Session 5 Inter-linkages in Diaspora, Society and Culture

    Session 6 Inter-dependence in Energy Security and Environment

    Session 7 Looking Ahead: Engaging India's Western Neighbours

    Valedictory Session


    http://www.asiascholars.org/html/forthcoming20_21nov2010.html
     
  4. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    if it is India and GCC Countries, IRAN and IRAQ then what are china and Europe doing here
     
  5. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    they will be observatory country i guess....

    whats the full form of GCC....??
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    GCC stands for Gulf Cooperative Council which is probably a more effective organisation in terms of implementation than say Arab League.

    It includes countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman. India along with a few other countries is a dialouge partner with GCC


    Its more like a conference so basically anyone could attend. However there seems to be some military experts from China and Europe as well. Its how track 2 dialouge works.

    The more interesting part is if India can cement its role in providing a stablising force between GCC, Iran and Iraq by acting as an honest broker between all. This can certainly enhance India's position in the crucial region as well as improve its relations with all three groupings. In other words, India should have better bilateral relations with GCC, Iran and IRaq bilaterally than relations in between GCC and IRan for example. This is how the US makes itself an indispensable partner for example by having better relations with India and Pakistan than relations between India-Pakistan themselves.
     
  7. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    are you saying GCC is like UNGA....??there are many countries and can co-operate together but we also have bilateral relation with them....[pardon me but i have confusion so.....]

    India can act as a broker but it needs support of both Iraq and Iran-they havnt asked for India to be a mediator so.....
     
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    GCC is more like ASEAN or EU for the Arab gulf states.

    By broker I mean more as in terms of briding the differences between the three groups. India still has a long way to go before it can be influential in actually settling disputes as such.
     
  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Vice President address at ICWA

    New Delhi, Nov 20 (IBNS) Address of the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari at the inauguration of the ICWA Conference titled “India and GCC Countries, Iraq and Iran: Emerging Security Perspectives” on 20 November 2010 at 1000 hours at Gulmohar Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.



    I thank the Indian Council of World Affairs for inviting me today to inaugurate this seminar on a subject of considerable relevance. The presence of a good number of scholars from many lands testifies to it.

    I note that the organisers have riveted attention on the terra firma rather than on a body of water about whose nomenclature dictionaries are sought to be re-written. This is perhaps a good example of the art of evading choices and managing contradictions!

    Our focus today is on eight countries that constitute a sub-set of the West Asian region. Their location and contiguities are relevant. Six of them (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are members of a regional grouping – the Gulf Cooperation Council while the other two – Iran and Iraq – are physically in the sub-region and share commonalities with all others as also with some countries beyond the region.

    Given the geography, security perceptions are unavoidably interlinked and turbulence within or around the area usually has a wider impact.

    Some in this audience would recall the title of Ibn Khaldun’s great work on history. It is Kitab al-Ibar (Book of Lessons). It would be no exaggeration to say that in relation to our subject of discussion, lessons of history are of relevance. One of these, pertaining to the concept of dominance and exclusivity, is particularly note worthy. It can be dated to the arrival in the region of the Portuguese in 1498. They were followed by the Dutch who in turn were replaced by the British. The British dominance lasted till 1970. In the past four decades, various bilateral and multilateral, regional and extra-regional, combinations for security have been explored. Like the earlier versions, selectivity and exclusion rather than inclusion have been their dominant trait.

    These perceptions have focused on military security aimed at ensuring the safety of the trade routes by sea; they remain a principal impulse for the littoral states as also for their trading partners the world over. An un-stated major premise is maintenance of political stability and, by implication, regime security. In a wider context, however, this view of security is limited and inadequate. A more holistic approach was articulated by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2001. ‘We must,’ he said, ‘broaden our view of what is meant by peace and security. Peace means much more than the absence of war. Human security can no longer be understood in purely military terms. Rather, it must encompass economic development, social justice, environmental protection, democratization, disarmament, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.’

    In such a comprehensive framework, deficit on any of these counts would signal an element of insecurity. A holistic approach of this nature, essential for a fuller understanding of security and insecurity, is perhaps beyond the scope of this conference focused as it seems to be on a more traditional paradigm.

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    It is evident that given the geo-political imperatives of these eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf, security perspectives and threat perceptions do not converge. Nevertheless, and in relation to this international waterway, some common elements can be discerned. In the first place, the concerned states want to prosper and avail of the benefits of development. Secondly, the Gulf lands are essential for the economic health of the world since they are a principal source of hydrocarbon energy as well as a major market for industrial goods, technology and services, For these reasons, to use Curzon’s phrase used in another context in 1903, ‘the peace of these waters must be maintained’. Interestingly enough Gulf security, in the words of a Saudi scholar, ‘was an external issue long before it was one among the Gulf states themselves’.

    The essential ingredients of such a requirement would be (a) prevalence of conditions of peace and stability in the individual littoral states (b) freedom of access to, and outlet from, Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz (c) freedom of commercial shipping in international waters in the waterway (d) freedom to all states of the Gulf littoral to exploit their hydrocarbon and other natural resources and export them (e) avoidance of conflict that may impinge on the production of oil and gas and on the freedom of trade and shipping and (f) assurance that regional or extra-regional conditions do not impinge on any of these considerations.

    In December last year a senior dignitary in the region described the objectives of Gulf diplomacy as ‘mutual understanding, coexistence, good relations with our neighbours and the establishment of strong relations based on the principles of reciprocal advantage and the realisation of the good of all.’ These principles by themselves are unexceptionable and widely subscribed to. The devil is in the un-stated major premise, and in threat perceptions that do not converge sufficiently.

    The challenge, then, lies in seeking this convergence in areas of security, politics and economics and in developing procedures that would help bring it about. Experience shows that convergence is achieved only through a painstaking process of developing a (minimum) common threat perception, in maintaining it over time and in developing the mechanism for minimising risks to common security and maximising the benefits of cooperation. Such a process requires agreement on dialogue procedures.

    Record shows that the resources of the region were initially controlled by extra-regional private commercial entities that had played a pioneering role in the discovery and development of these resources. They were strongly supported by their governments. The process of establishing national control over these resources was at times torturous and painful. Eventually, however, the mindset of an earlier era gave way to the common sense approach of inter-dependence of the producer and the consumer. Access to resources thus became more relevant than physical control.

    I mention this because some residual perceptions of the earlier period do at times cloud the market vision even now and need to be dispelled.

    II

    Friends

    In this backdrop, I propose to explore answers to three questions: How does the prevailing situation affect India and Indian interests? What should India do to sustain and secure its interests? What could, and should, be the Indian contribution to the promotion of peace and security in the sub-region?

    The strategic relevance of the sub-region to India has to be located geographically, historically and in economic terms. The distance from Mumbai to Basra is 1526 nautical miles while Bander Abbas and Dubai are in a radius of 1000 nautical miles. Contact through trade and movement of people has roots deep in history, testified to by archaeological finds and written record. Fascination with India is reflected in Kitab Ajaib al-Hind by Buzurg ibn Shahriyar of Ramhormuz, a tenth century collection of sailor’s tales. Many proverbs pertaining to India are to be found in the colloquial language of the lower Gulf. Familiarity with India and Indians at individual and family levels, Mumbai-Hindustani, Mumbai-Biryani and Bollywood films contribute to it in good measure particularly in the GCC countries.

    Given this proximity, it is hardly surprising that in the period after 1975 there has been a significant spurt in economic linkages between the region and India. Changed and changing requirements and capabilities have contributed to it and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. It is significant that given the affinities of the past and the experience of recent decades, the public and political establishments in the littoral states are India-friendly and Indian friendly.

    The quantitative parameters of this relationship can be specified:

    We import over 63 per cent percent of our crude oil requirement from these eight countries of the Persian Gulf. Its worth in money terms, in 2009-10, stood at over $ 49 billion. Given the rate of growth of the Indian economy, these figures can only go up in the future.


    These eight countries account for over 22 per cent of our total trade as of 2009-10 amounting to around $ 105 billion. They account for a quarter of our imports totalling $ 72 billion and 18 per cent of exports totalling around $ 33 billion. Six of these eight countries, barring Oman and Bahrain, figure among the top 25 countries in terms of total trade.


    UAE is our top trading partner with a total trade of $ 43.5 billion, ahead of China at $ 42.4 billion and the US at 36.5 billion. It is our largest export destination accounting for 13 per cent of our exports amounting to $ 24 billion and the second largest source of our imports after China, totalling $ 19.5 billion.


    Saudi Arabia is our fourth largest trading partner with a trade of $ 21 billion, and Iran our ninth largest trading partner at $ 13.4 billion.


    An Indian non-immigrant workforce of around 6 million works in these countries, principally in the GCC states. Of these, 1.6 million are in Saudi Arabia and 1.2 million in the UAE. The composition of this workforce has changed over the years and many more professionals and specialised technical skills are to be found amongst them today. The remittances of this workforce, through banking channels, stands at around $ 30 billion per annum. They help support six million families and contribute in some measure to economic activity in some of the states of the Indian Union.


    The two-way investment profile, modest at present, is expected to grow with the growth of the Indian economy. The GCC countries have become an important destination for Indian projects and IT services.
    The sub-region is also within the security parameter of India and within the operational radius of the Indian Navy. The latter’s participation in the anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea is a case in point. If needed, it can escort shipping and interdict forces hostile to it.

    The focus of Indian interest therefore is, and would remain, on the desirability of having (a) friendly governments (b) regional peace and stability (c) access to oil and gas resources of the region (d) freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and through the Straits of Hormuz (e) continued market access for Indian trade, technology, investments and workforce and (f) security and welfare of the Indian workforce, particularly in times of distress emanating from disturbed local or regional conditions.

    A state of preparedness for responding to other contingencies should also be catered for, in consonance with the developing dimensions of maritime security.

    It would therefore be fair to opine that India is reasonably comfortable with the status quo. However, the apprehension of an unstable status quo also looms over the horizon. Misgivings about intentions motivate it; divergence of perceptions and policy about extra-regional politico-military presence adds to it; so does what had been called “an undeclared arms race.” One may add to this disruptive challenges emanating from non-state actors and new technologies. The requirement clearly is to seek understandings and arrangements that would cater to the threat perceptions and essential interests of all regional and extra-regional stake holders and thus stabilise the regional situation on a longer term basis.

    III

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Despite the successes of the GCC, attempts to foster a comprehensive Gulf regional cooperation have a history of over three decades and are replete with failed strategies of local or global hegemony. There is therefore an imperative need for developing a security order that is seen as equitable by all the states concerned.

    There are ideas and precedents elsewhere that can be drawn upon beneficially. Asian regionalism and community-building has remained, albeit unevenly, an important framework for cooperation and framework within the continent. We thus have strong regional organisations focused on constituent sub-regions such as ASEAN, GCC, SAARC, SCO, BIMSTEC and the MGC. The Asian Development Bank, in the context of East Asia, has characterised the challenges of regional cooperation as including “providing regional public goods, managing spillovers among economies, exercising Asia’s influence in global economic forums, liberalising trade and investment, and helping to improve national policies in which the region has a vital stake”.

    It is evident, that these challenges exist in the Gulf region too, and that a Gulf regionalism that is outward looking, flexible and dynamic, consistent with regional diversity would contribute to regional and global welfare, peace and security. This would also enable these nations to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from enhanced economic integration, as also to face the common threats of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, securing energy exports, security of sea lanes, tackling pandemics, natural disasters and others.

    What could or should be the guiding principles of a Gulf regionalism that is in the interest of all regional and extra-regional stakeholders? A few of its essential ingredients can be mentioned:

    It should not, in the first place, be exclusive or exclusionary. It should instead articulate an inclusive, open and transparent process of community building.

    Secondly, it should not be a reflection of the emerging redistribution of global or regional power nor should it be a platform for projection of narrow economic and political interests of a nation, an alliance or a group of nations.

    Thirdly, soft regionalism based on informal dialogue and consultation mechanisms, consensus building and open structures would help in establishing cooperative and beneficial norms of state behaviour. And

    Finally, it must not be seen as means to limit state sovereignty but as instrumentalities to address complex regional problems through cooperation and partnership.

    Like in East Asia, Gulf regional cooperation and community building should include important stake-holders like India, China and Japan as also all other principal beneficiaries of energy supplies and open sealanes. A Persian Gulf littoral that is integrated through a web of regional cooperative structures will offer more opportunities for socio-economic advancement of its peoples and lay the foundation for eroding political rivalries and harsh nationalist impulses and for bringing about regional stability and peace.

    For us in India, a “Look-West” policy towards this part of West Asia, aimed at engaging in this dynamic, would thus be as relevant for safeguarding and promoting India’s interests as its Look-East policy that has been in place for some years.

    I am confident that this conference would shed useful light on these perceptions and contribute to the effort. I wish it all success.

    I thank Ambassador Deware for inviting me to inaugurate this Conference.
     
  10. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Oman, India to enhance relations, says envoy


    2010-11-08 19:20:00
    New Hyundai Verna OfferAds by GoogleNow Pay Less for Hyundai Verna Pay Rs. 9999 instead of Rs. 11462! www.Hyundai.com/Verna
    New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) Omani ambassador to India Humaid Ali Al-Maani Monday said India and Oman share a 'very special' bond and their relationship will be 'enhanced' further.

    'India is a very special partner for Oman and we are working to enhance this relationship further, not only in our cultural cooperation but in trade and political matters as well,' Al-Maani told IANS, after inaugurating a two-day seminar on literature and cultural heritage of India and Oman at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here.

    The university also hosted two scholars from the country, on the eve of its 40th National Day, who stressed on the similarities between the languages of India and Oman.

    'Urdu has many Arabic words and Arabic too has many Indian words in it. So does our cultures, clothing etc. We have also also shared great trade relations,'said Dr. Said Sulaiman Al Isaie, one of the visiting scholars.

    Another scholar, Dr. Ahmed Abdur-Rahman Salim Bil Khair, presented a paper titled 'Role of Kerala in Arabic language in India'.

    'This is my paper because Kerala was the place Arab traders first travelled to and it has influenced the culture and language a lot,' he said.
     
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    India needs new Look-West policy: Vice President


    2010-11-20 18:00:00

    New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) Vice President Hamid Ansari Saturday called for the adoption of a new Look-West policy aimed at the Gulf and West Asia that can secure the country's economic, strategic and cultural interests in the region, which has a huge non-immigrant population of over six million Indian workers.

    'For us in India, a 'Look West' policy towards this part of West Asia would be as relevant for safeguarding and promoting India's interests as its Look-East policy aimed at East Asia that has been in place for some years,' Ansari told a conference.

    'The strategic relevance of the sub-region to India has to be located in geographic and economic terms,' Ansari said in his inaugural address at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) conference on India and GCC Countries, Iran and Iraq: Emerging security perspectives.

    Nearly 100 delegates from India and the region are participating in the two-day conference.

    The GCC countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Ansari said: 'The focus of Indian interest in the region would remain on the desirability of having friendly governments, regional peace and stability, access to oil and gas resources, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf through the Straights of Hormuz, continued market access for Indian trade, technology, investments, security and welfare of the Indian workforce, particularly in times of the distress emenating from disturbed local or regional conditions.'

    The vice president also pointed out that the region is within the security parameters of India and the operational radius of the Indian Navy.

    'The latter's participation in the anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea is a case in point. If needed, it can escort shipping and interdict forces hostile to it,' he said.

    Ansari said it is 'evident' that given the geo-political imperatives of the eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf, security perspectives and threat perceptions do not converge.

    'The concerned states want to prosper and avail of the benefits of development. The Gulf lands are essential for the world's economic health since they are a principal source of hydrocarbon energy as well as a major market for industrial goods, technology and services. Therefore the peace of these waters must be maintained,' he added.

    Ansari, who was ambassador to Iran and Saudi Arabia, cited several of India's trade ties with the Persian Gulf region.

    India imports over 63 per cent of its crude oil from these regions. These countries account for 22 per cent of India's total trade. The UAE is one of the top trading partners of India with a total trade of $ 43.5 billion, ahead of China and the US. Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest trade partner and Iran stands ninth. Indian non-immigrant workforce of nearly six million work in these countries.

    'A Gulf regionalism that is outward looking, flexible and dynamic, consistent with regional diversity would contribute to regional and global welfare, peace and security.

    'This would also enable these nations to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from enhanced economic integration, as also to face the common threats of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, securing energy exports, security of sea lanes, tackling pandemics, natural disasters and others,' Ansari said.
     
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    UAE is part of our extended neighbourhood: Pratibha

     
  13. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    India needs new Look-West policy: Indian Vice President.

    New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari Saturday called for the adoption of a new Look-West policy aimed at the Gulf and West Asia that can secure the country's economic, strategic and cultural interests in the region, which has a huge non-immigrant population of over six million Indian workers.

    "For us in India, a 'Look West' policy towards this part of West Asia would be as relevant for safeguarding and promoting India's interests as its Look-East policy aimed at East Asia that has been in place for some years," Ansari told a conference.

    http://www.siliconindia.com/shownew...letter&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=Subscriber
     
  14. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Looks west policy should also be pursued vigorously . Thats the region where money and oil is. We can secure our future oil needs as well as access to a big market.
     
  15. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    India needs new Look-West policy: Indian Vice President.

    New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari Saturday called for the adoption of a new Look-West policy aimed at the Gulf and West Asia that can secure the country's economic, strategic and cultural interests in the region, which has a huge non-immigrant population of over six million Indian workers.

    "For us in India, a 'Look West' policy towards this part of West Asia would be as relevant for safeguarding and promoting India's interests as its Look-East policy aimed at East Asia that has been in place for some years," Ansari told a conference.

    "The strategic relevance of the sub-region to India has to be located in geographic and economic terms," Ansari said in his inaugural address at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) conference on India and GCC Countries, Iran and Iraq: Emerging security perspectives.

    Nearly 100 delegates from India and the region are participating in the two-day conference.

    The GCC countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Ansari said: "The focus of Indian interest in the region would remain on the desirability of having friendly governments, regional peace and stability, access to oil and gas resources, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf through the Straights of Hormuz, continued market access for Indian trade, technology, investments, security and welfare of the Indian workforce, particularly in times of the distress emenating from disturbed local or regional conditions."

    The Vice President also pointed out that the region is within the security parameters of India and the operational radius of the Indian Navy.

    "The latter's participation in the anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea is a case in point. If needed, it can escort shipping and interdict forces hostile to it," he said.

    Ansari said it is "evident" that given the geo-political imperatives of the eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf, security perspectives and threat perceptions do not converge.

    "The concerned states want to prosper and avail of the benefits of development. The Gulf lands are essential for the world's economic health since they are a principal source of hydrocarbon energy as well as a major market for industrial goods, technology and services. Therefore the peace of these waters must be maintained," he added.

    Ansari, who was ambassador to Iran and Saudi Arabia, cited several of India's trade ties with the Persian Gulf region.

    India imports over 63 percent of its crude oil from these regions. These countries account for 22 percent of India's total trade. The UAE is one of the top trading partners of India with a total trade of $43.5 billion, ahead of China and the U.S. Saudi Arabia is India's fourth largest trade partner and Iran stands ninth. Indian non-immigrant workforce of nearly six million work in these countries.

    "A Gulf regionalism that is outward looking, flexible and dynamic, consistent with regional diversity would contribute to regional and global welfare, peace and security.

    "This would also enable these nations to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from enhanced economic integration, as also to face the common threats of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, securing energy exports, security of sea lanes, tackling pandemics, natural disasters and others," Ansari said.

    Full Article
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  16. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Asian Relations Conference 2010 on
    "INDIA AND GCC COUNTRIES, IRAN AND IRAQ: EMERGING SECURITY PERSPECTIVES"

    November 20-21, 2010
    NEW DELHI
    Organized by : Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Association of Asia Scholars (AAS)

    On the eve of Hon'ble President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil's week-long visit to UAE and Syria starting from 21st November, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and Association of Asia Scholars (AAS) hosted an international conference on "India and GCC Countries, Iran and Iraq: Emerging Security Perspectives" . The conference was held at India Habitat Center in New Delhi during 20-21 November 2010. The annual meet was an initiative to revive the spirit of the precursor, Asian Relations Conference, first held in 1947 and attended by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

    The Conference was inaugurated by Hon'ble Vice President of India, Shri M.Hamid Ansari on 20th November morning and it concluded on 21st afternoon with a Valedictory Address by Foreign Secretary of India, Ms Nirupama Rao.

    The Conference had 19 eminent international experts from Iran, Iraq and the GCC Countries, China, and Europe and also another 18 other senior academics and retired officials and diplomats from across India making formal presentations. Over 150 invited participants joined in for these two day deliberations.

    The conference opened with welcome remarks by Ambassador Sudhir Devare, DG, ICWA. Delineating the rationale for initiating the Asian Relations Conference Series, he stated that, "Just like in the case of India's 'Look East' policy from early 1990s, from early 2000s, India's foreign policy has been increasingly active in the western flank of its extended neighborhood that includes countries like Iran, Iraq, and the GCC countries i.e. Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman. This Region has witnessed India's growing inter-linkages and interdependence in economic, resource and diaspora in recent years."

    He added that, "the growing importance of the region is testified by the fact that President A P J Abul Kalam had visited UAE in year 2003, the esteemed King of Saudi Arabia was the Chief Guest at India's Republic Day celebrations for 2006 and hon'ble Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Saudi Arabia in March 2010. Similarly, visits from other heads of State/Government and other eminent personalities from these countries to the India have also witnessed and increase underlining the urgent need today to ensure that both sides see each other as integral part of their foreign relations discourses and initiatives".

    The Conference was comprised of the inaugural and valedictory sessions in addition to seven thematic sessions.

    Inaugurating the two-day conference organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Association of Asia Scholars (AAS), the hon'ble Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari listed several reasons why the comfortable status quo could be disturbed: Divergence in perceptions and policy on extra-regional politico-military presence, an undeclared arms race and disruptive challenges from non-state actors and new technologies.

    The Vice-President spelt out the factors that make this region indispensable to India, besides cultural proximity thanks to centuries of interaction with the GCC, Iraq and Iran.

    These include high dependence on oil (over 63 per cent per cent of crude requirement); nearly a quarter of India's total trade with two countries among its top four trading partners; an Indian non-immigrant workforce of 60 lakh and a two-way investment profile that would grow. In addition, the area is within the security parameter of India and within the operational radius of the Indian Navy, whose participation in anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea is a case in point. If needed, the Navy can escort shipping and interdict hostile forces.

    Turning his attention to the region, Mr. Ansari mentioned four imperatives to usher in peace and security in the real sense. The first and foremost principle should be an inclusive, open and transparent process of community building. Second, the accent should be on soft regionalism based on informal dialogue and consultation mechanisms.

    The third should be consensus building and open structures to establish cooperative and beneficial norms of state behavior. And finally, complex regional problems should be addressed through cooperation and partnership.

    Professor Swaran Singh, President AAS thanked the hon'ble Vice President for his inaugural address and for highlighting the importance of these countries for India.

    Over seven thematic sessions, the presenters discussed issues including the rising economic and strategic relevance of this entire region on India's western flank Speakers pointed to the fact that while South Asia's accelerating pace of economic growth has been accompanied by its continued struggle against the menace of transnational terrorism it has today come to have global ramifications especially for the stability, peace and prosperity of this region. Links of terrorism with radical Islam need to be understood in perspective and Islamic countries have a special responsibility to participate in such an exercise. Added to this turmoil are the issues of socio-economic development, energy and environmental security, which also underline how their futures remain deeply inter-twined. This makes India's equations with these countries especially pertinent to examining the contours of the larger canvass of Asian relations.

    The 2010 Conference had seven working sessions dealing with both the "big" questions of high-politics, political economy and security as also will debate specific bilateral relations, especially from perspectives of engagement by and of India. In terms of regional structures, the conference dealt with both multilateral as also bilateral cooperation mechanisms amongst countries in the region. Special focus was on issues of non-traditional security threats as also economic relations including trade and investment that have triggered a greater cooperative orientation in Asian relations. There were sessions on emerging new areas of cooperation including sharing of resources, nuclear proliferation, energy security and climate change.

    The conference provided a forum for free and frank dialogue amongst experts from India and the Gulf countries on all issues that hinder cooperation as also on positive trends that could facilitate cooperation to make Asian relations meaningful and result-oriented.

    The sessions were chaired by Ambassador C.R.Gharekhan, India, Professor Gulshan Dietl, JNU, India, Ambassador Ranjit Gupta, India, H.E. Shaikh Humaid Al-Maani, Ambassador of Oman in India, Ambassador Akbar Khaleeli, Professor M.S. Agwani, Ex-VC, JNU, New Delhi, India, and Ambassador Sudhir T. Devare, DG, ICWA, New Delhi and Prof. Brahma Chellaney, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi.

    The sessions were interactive with several questions raised from the participants and answered by the eminent panelists.

    The Foreign Secretary, GOI Ms. Nirupama Rao in her Valedictory Address highlighted that, "the countries of the GCC, Iran and Iraq will be fully a part of the Asian renaissance, giving the growing demand from the rest of Asia for energy resources and investible finances a, and in light of the increasing diversification and sophistication of West Asian economies as they seek to become financial and knowledge hubs not just of Asia but of the whole world." She further added that, "as with Europe in the last century, intra Asian interdependence will dramatically increase and the costs of any forced disruption of these linkages will become higher."

    In her concluding remarks she stated, "India looks forward to an enhanced partnership with the countries of the GCC, Iran and Iraq. This is not only a strategic and economic imperative but would also represent a natural progression from our historical and civilizational ties which have few, if any, parallels in the world.

    The Conference concluded with closing remarks by Ambassador Sudhir Devare, DG, ICWA.

    Dr. Reena Marwah, Secretary General, AAS thanked all the delegates and participants in the conference.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011

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