The journal focuses on the South Asian region through a compilation of articles by experts in foreign relations and gives special attention to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh which have been witnessing a ?difficult transition to democracy?. Undoubtedly it is for the people of each country to decide on the system of governance but India'sconcern lies in ensuring that her neighbours work well because India's?interest is in a stable and peaceful periphery and she will continue to work with her neighbours to achieve this goal,? says the editor. Though India'sgoal to improve relations with her neighbours has proved fruitful in the last few years, yet it has to be pursued further to its logical end through dialogue and exchange of visits in an atmosphere of peace and calm.
Despite India'sconcerted efforts to build good relations, the path has not been without thorns. At times New Delhi has been frustrated by her neighbours? failure to comprehend the compulsions driving India to take steps that she has taken. The journal carries some very interesting articles by eminent diplomats, particularly an interview with the late Madhavrao Scindia who died a premature death and who said that Pakistan'squest for an atom bomb started well before India'speaceful nuclear implosion at Pokharan in 1974. He said, ?The fact that Pakistan'snuclear challenge is grimmer and more real than China is revealed by an analysis of its nuclear policy, the basic features of which are parity with India as a nuclear power without nuclear weapons; thereafter manufacture of nuclear weapons with three clear-cut objectives in mind, viz. deter India'snuclear force, acquire international status and prestige and instil a sense of pride for the country among its people.?
Shri JS Mehta, former Foreign Secretary in his paper entitled ?The Future of South Asia?, acclaims the major fallout of the US intervention in Iraq in the form of improved Indo-Pakistan relations. He says India seems uncontaminated by the growing irrationalities of Islamophobia and anti-Americanism. India's?unique pluralist civilisation is well placed to adjust to globalisation and modernisation? and ?now India-Pakistan statesmanship should jointly aim to galvanise SAARC.?
NN Jha, former ambassador of India, speaking on ?Nepal Conundrum? says that India must express its full support for solidarity with the democratic forces of Nepal. Secondly India must exert to bring about an understanding between anti-Maoist groups and forces, irrespective of political antecedents.
PK Budhwar, former ambassador, talks of China and says her role in South Asia, particularly her so-called ?all weather friendship? with Pakistan needs careful watching and monitoring. Secondly India has to convey to her neighbours that ?there is a premium for them in having good, friendly and cooperative relations with India? and that she is all for peace and harmony but will ?never compromise on our genuine and legitimate national interests, security, peace and well-being of our people and not let our neighbours view us as a ?soft State?,? which is the impression going around.
BC Upreti, talking of India'sNepal policy, says that political upheavals in Nepal have implications for India due to the open border between the two, closer social inter-linkages and affiliations of Nepali political leaders and groups with their Indian counterparts. The questions of revision of the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, sharing of river water resources, open borders, etc. need to be discussed threadbare to build a friendship on strong foundations.
Priya Suresh, speaking on Indo-Sri Lankan relations, says that India should look forward to a unified multi-ethnic society in Sri Lanka where minorities, especially the Tamilians, can live with dignity and freedom while safeguarding Indian interests. ?It would be apt if India would continue its non-intrusive policy towards the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.?
The latter half of the journal carries a chronological listing and description of important events which would serve as a guide to students appearing for important examinations.
(Foreign Policy Research Centre, E-mail: [email protected])