New Delhi: With India’s rise in stature on the global stage and emergence as a major economic power, New Delhi is set to host an international conclave on geopolitics and geo-economics in the beginning of March.
Being organised by the external affairs ministry and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the flagship conference called Raisina Dialogue 2016 from March 1 to 3 here is designed to explore and examine the prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world.
“It is predicated on India’s vital role in the Indian Ocean region and how India along with its partners in the region and beyond can build a stable and prosperous world order,” the ORF said in its agenda paper.
“The 2016 conclave will focus on Asia’s physical, economic, human and digital connectivity and will attempt to discover opportunities and challenges for the region to manage its common spaces, as well as the global partnerships needed to develop common pathways in this century,” it stated.
Being seen as India’s answer to the Shangri La Dialogue, the annual “Track One” inter-governmental security forum held by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, the Raisina Dialogue is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral conclave involving policy and decision makers, including cabinet ministers from various governments, high-level government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia.
At the inaugural panel on March 1, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will be joined by former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga, former Seychellois president James Mancham and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.
Sunjay Joshi and Ashok Malik, director and senior fellow of ORF, will also be in the panel, which will be moderated by ORF vice-president Samir Saran.
Among other leaders and luminaries from abroad who are expected to attend the conclave are Member of the European Parliament from Germany Jakob von Weizsacker, former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing, Member of Russian parliament Vyacheslav Nikonov, Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Yasumasa Nagamine, former head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma and US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Manpreet Singh Anand.
Across multiple sessions on March 2 and 3, panellists will discuss issues ranging from the challenges confronting the Eurozone that continues to see slow growth to the need to create smart borders that will allow enhanced trans-border movement of people, goods and ideas and minimise potential cross-border security challenges.
A session on “Connecting a Continent” will explore new trends and developments in the multiple layers of connectivity and regional integration across Asia like physical linkages, economic and trade flows, a common ocean economy, and a shared security architecture.
One session will focus on the various trade agreements that exist in the region and their impact on India and Asia, namely the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
A session on “Asia’s Strategic Order” will explore opportunities for near-term regional cooperation to meet the changing balance of power in Asia, examine the role of nuclear weapons vis-à-vis stability in the region, and discuss new measures to counter proliferation risks in the region.
There will also be a session that will explore how India will navigate the dual imperatives of enhancing its economic integration with its east and strengthening its political partnerships with powers to its west.
A session on “Securing Digital Asia” will discuss the trends shaping cyber policy planning in the Asia Pacific, a focal region in the creation, evolution and maturation of cyber norms, obstacles and opportunities that lie ahead for companies and businesses, and measures to strengthen protection of critical and commercial information structures.
Terrorism will also come up for discussion in one session that will be devoted to asymmetrical and sub-conventional security threats from state and non-state actors that threaten to undermine Asia’s efforts to integrate its economies and societies.
Hydro-economy, the future of energy and women’s role in politics and diplomacy will also be among issues that will come up for discussion.