Geo-political situation of India's neighbourhood to change drastically: Mathai
New Delhi, July 13 (ANI): Foreign Ranjan Mathai on Friday said that India would have to work more to get positive geo-political results in the challenging environment that its neighbourhood presents.
Releasing a book 'India's Neighbourhood Challenges in the Next Two Decades' at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) here today, Mathai said he expected the geo-political situation in India's neighbourhood to change drastically in the next two decades.
India's neighborhood, he said, needs to be viewed from the perspective of whether events like the Arab Spring (revolutions), or the rise in oil prices, would affect traditional, or emerging centres of power, both in the short and long-term.
India, Mathai said is engaged with its extended neighbourhood through various fora and platforms, which is providing seamless continuity in relationships.
Admitting that the dividing line between terrorists and trans-nationals is disappearing, he, however, said that common interests must be factored in while making policies for South Asia.
"The dividing line between terrorists and transnational criminals in disappearing. Access to technology is increasing the dangers that we face. Even as South Asian nations struggle to bridge their internal digital divides, they now have to divert resources to foil cyber criminals operating in virtual world," he said.
Commenting on the role of domestic factors in framing foreign policy, the Foreign Secretary said, "Domestic factors will influence policy towards neighbours. We have created presence in some state capitals beyond the traditional passport offices by having branch secretariats."
"We have created within the (External Affairs) Ministry a development partnership administration that will take charge of any development and aid programme with other countries.
This will help in optimising programmes that are being devised for development cooperation particularly with our neighbours," he added.
Mathai said the higher growth trajectory of countries such as India and others has "led to a discernible peaceful shift of global politico and economic centres of gravity."
"This has increased their weight and profile in international relations and enhanced their capability to influence global events," he said.
Mathai said global shifts are often accompanied by an "inevitable backlash" as such movements are not welcome by those who lose due to these changes.
"The determined effort to choke our growth through environmental norms and regulations is one such example. We also need to consider that the upsurge now called Arab Spring and the changes it could bring to oil markets in future, who would be affected most by it. Would it be traditional centres of power or will it be the emerging ones," he said.
On the challenges in India's neighbourhood, Mathai said, "The promotion of a politically stable and economically secure periphery is a paramount foreign policy objective for India."
He said such a policy was essential to meet challenges of fostering sustainable growth and "to ensure that regional differences could not be exploited by those who would be happy to see us absorbed in these disputes."
Mathai said India has been "hard at work in fostering interconnectivity and mutual confidence in multiple areas, in promoting trade and investment and trying to leverage India's rapid economic growth for a win-win arrangement with our neighbours."
"South Asian Economic Union, which is often spoken about, is possibly a distant dream but even an expanded set of economic connections will not only transform the economies of Asia but will be a force for political stability," he said.
Mathai said there were very few areas in the world where the logic of regional cooperation are as obvious as in South Asia "but it is also a fact that there are very few regions where the challenges in creating the structures for regional cooperation are so daunting."
He said countries are dealing with both historical challenges and challenges of the 21st century.
"For example, the problem of demarcating the borders are now accompanied by completely different set of issues which arise due to irrelevance of borders due to globalisation," he said.
On the growing expectations from governments, Mathai said if they are not able to meet the requirements of their people, they create "fragile and weak" states.
he foreign secretary said 2012 marks 20 years of India's engagement with the ASEAN and a commemorative event will be held in September to celebrate it.
He also said that while building strong ties with all its neighbours and other countries, India is also attempting to build an 'Indian Ocean Littoral Community'. (ANI)
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