Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vivekananda International Foundation & the Heritage Foundation: A Bilateral Initiative



A Seminar on “Perspectives on Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region” was held between 30th April and 1st May 2012 in New Delhi. The Heritage Foundation was represented by Mr. Walter Lohman, Director, Asian Studies Center, Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center and Mr. Dean Cheng, Research Fellow, Chinese Political & Security Affairs. The focus of the Seminar centered primarily on the India-U.S., India-China and India-U.S. – China relationships in the 21st Century.

The Director of the Vivekananda International Foundation, Mr. Ajit K. Doval initiated the proceedings and emphasized the global shift in power towards Asia, and India in particular, that could be described as a swing state in global international affairs. Walter Lohman on his part reiterated the status of the U.S. as a resident power in Asia marked by a strategic outplay in the Asia Pacific owing primarily to China’s spectacular rise and Asia’s response to it.

Emerging Global Strategic & Economic Environment in the Asia Pacific was the theme of Session I with presentations made by Ambassador P.P. Shukla, Joint Director, Vivekananda International Foundation, Mr. Walter Lohman, and Ambassador Rajiv Sikri, former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. India-China and India-U.S Relations was the theme for Session II that included presentation by Mr. Walter Lohman, Prof. Sujit Dutta, Gandhi Chair, Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Milia Islamia, Ms. Lisa Curtis and Brig. (Retd.) Gurmeet Kanwal, Adjunct Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington. Session III focussed on the theme of China’s Military Modernization Programme that was chaired by General N.C. Vij, former Chief of Army Staff, followed by presentations by Mr. Dean Cheng, Brig. (Retd.) Arun Sahgal, Joint Director, Institute of National Security Studies and also Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, Center for Chinese Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Session IV dealt with the theme Maritime Security and Military Space Concerns chaired by Vice Admiral (Retd.) Raman Puri, former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and the session was marked by presentations by Vice Admiral (Retd.) Barry Barathan, Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda Foundation, Mr. Dean Cheng and Brig. (Retd.) Rahul Bhonsle, of Security Risks.com.


The second day of the proceedings focused on the Salience of Tibet, Af-Pak and Myanmar in Indian and U.S. foreign and strategic policies and chaired by Ms. Lisa Curtis. Mr. Thubten Samphel, Director, Tibet Policy Institute, Dharamshala, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Ravi Sawhney, Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda Foundation, Mr. Dean Cheng, and Mr. Walter Lohman made the presentations on the issues delineated above. The final session of the Seminar was on Indo-U.S. Relations and the Way Forward and Chaired by Ambassador P.P. Shukla followed by presentations by Ms. Lisa Curtis and Ambassador Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary. The concluding remarks were made by Ambassador Satish Chandra, former Deputy National Security Advisor and currently, Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation.

He noted that the seminar had promoted a better understanding of the situation in the Asia Pacific and also a better appreciation of the U.S. and Indian perspectives in this regard. Hopefully, this initiative would serve as the first of many such bilateral endeavours between the two organizations. The deliberations during the course of the seminar were distinctive by the high level of convergence in the perspectives of the Indian and U.S. proponents with a desire for more effective cooperation.
Report prepared by Nidhi Bhatnagar

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