22nd Panchanad Annual Lecture
USE of soft power and a big stick should become one of the cardinal principles of India’s foreign policy in order to meet strategic challenges emerging largely from neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan.
Delivering the 22nd annual lecture of the Panchanad Research Institute the US-based eminent international jurist Prof Ved P Nanda of the Denver University expressed grave concern at the manner China has been aggressively pursuing expansionist policies, economically and territorially, which, he said needed to be addressed urgently.
Since both , India and China, are the potential super-powers in the region, it was imperative that India engaged China diplomatically, commercially and culturally.
Prof Nanda, who has been a John Evans University Professor at the University of Denver and Professor of Law and Director of the International Legal Studies Programme at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, suggested that India, in tune with its cultural and historical heritage, should diplomatically use “soft power” to increase its influence in the region and wield a small stick as well to dispel the impression of being a soft state.
He said India had never demonstrated expansionist tendencies in its foreign policy. “Our culture in which motos like universal brotherhood and well-being of entire humanity have been the cornerstones, should become the language of our diplomacy and foreign policy to increase our influence on foreign lands”, he added.
Without compromising its cultural values India needed to balance its interests in the region. For instance, he said, as China had been deploying large number of surveillance ships in the Indian ocean and making territorial gains in the PoK , India should counter it firmly to re-assert its position. “We could be partners with China on some grounds, yet be rivals with it to gain political influence in the region”, Prof Nanda stated.
He also wanted India to neutralise threats of terrorism which had their base in Pakistan. In order to effectively address these challenges he wished there was qualitative improvement in India’s body politic which must focus on good governance.
Commenting on the FDI controversy, he said, it was for India to decide what should be the limit to the FDI in retail and how did it regulate and monitor the foreign investments. “But you cannot shut your doors on it. Globalisation is like a juggernaut which can’t be stopped. It is for the country to decide how to respond to it”, he added.
Prof Nanda spoke in detail on the turbulence in the Arab countries which, he said, had become a new flash point for the world, along with the turmoil that had engulfed the Middle East countries. India, he said, need to be watchful to the developments lest the fire reached our doorsteps.
In his presidential address Dr Chandan Mitra, MP, wondered if India was seriously addressing its strategic concerns. He said India’s relations with all countries in the neighbourhood had worsened over the years. India was fast losing its advantage of being a big nation in the region. He said the Indian Ocean would be next place of contention between India and China and added that sources of energy were likely to be the flash points in days to come.
Shri Shyam Khosla, chairman of the Panchnad Research Institute, called upon the nation to be prepared for a prolonged war of attrition with China and Pakistan. Cross-border terrorism and secessionist forces, he observed, should be dealt with a firm hand, the way the US had been tackling them.