The political scenario in West Asia has undergone a significant transformation in the years following the ‘Arab Spring.’ Regimes have been toppled by both foreign intervention as well as popular protests and the region has descended into a hotbed of sectarian tension manifested through armed insurgencies and civil wars. While the major powers of the world attempt to grapple with an increasingly complex and difficult geopolitical situation, India’s reaction to recent turmoil has been marked by an absolute reticence to engage with the region. Choosing to err on the side of caution, India has avoided taking pro-active measures to respond to the crises in Syria, Iraq, Iran or Yemen; being content to just evacuate its citizens during an emergency. However, given the high stakes that India has in the region – ranging from energy security and trade to remittances from its widespread diaspora, several scholars have been baffled by India’s determination to sit on the sidelines rather than exert its influence to gain a stronger foothold in the region and help shape its future.
OOF is delighted to announce the launch of its project “Look West: India’s Leadership Role in West Asia” – a six month project through which the Foundation will attempt to stimulate a national conversation on the subject and explore the potential for India to intensify its engagement with the region. The 1st Roundtable is designed to function as a precursor to targeted discussions and conferences on concrete steps and actions that the Government can/should take to tackle specific crises – such as ISIS, the sectarian divide, Israel-Palestine conflict, etc. The objective of the 1st Roundtable will thus be to:
- Canvass and document the wide spectrum of opinion that exists among the Indian strategic affairs community on India’s role in West Asia
- Stimulate an in-depth discussion among academic experts and practitioners on the need for a more assertive role for India in West Asia.
Specific subjects that the discussion will be geared towards are:
- The evolution of Indian foreign policy towards West Asia
- Factors and drivers guiding India’s lack of engagement with West Asia in recent decades
- India’s geostrategic, geopolitical, and economic interests in the region
- The pros and cons of India taking a more proactive stance in the region and adopting a leadership role in responding to crises
- P R KUMARASWAMY :: Faculty Member, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
- Dr. ISHRAT AZIZ (AMB) :: Former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Tunisia
- ANIL WADHWA :: Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India