...says Salman Khurshid, Minister for External Affairs, India
August 14, 2013, 9:20 pm
"India needs to have cognitive and accommodative conversation with China. The conversation should be in a voice which has strength, effectiveness, confidence and belief and not a meek voice. The conversation should be accommodative from time to time with domestic need", said Salman Khurshid, Minister for External Affairs, India, while delivering the 6th CUTS 30th Anniversary Lecture at New Delhi today.
The theme of the lecture was "Regional Integration of India with Asia". Also speaking on the occasion were Mr. Ajay Chibber, Director General, Independent Evaluation and former Assistant Secretary General, UN, Rajiv Kumar, Senior Fellow and Centre for Policy Research. Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, MP chaired the session.
Speaking on the occasion, Khurshid acknowledged that, given the criticality of integration of India with Asian countries, the approach that we take to further the economic integration and to face the various economic, political and social challenges to bring the nation together, is extremely important.
He highlighted that Indo-Pacific region is one of the under-explored areas to be worked upon. Also, there is a need for India to provide links with Central Asia. He identified Tapi gas pipeline as one of the most forward looking link of India with Central Asia.
While, mentioning the importance of tri-lateral highway between India, Myanmar and Thailand, Khurshid said that linking with countries conceptually is more important than linking physically. There is a need to do away with the traditional way of thinking and start thinking out-of-the-box.
Khurshid mentioned that there is a growing and important need for proportional representation in India for better governance, which would lead to enhanced and effective economic integration within Asia. "India need to acknowledge that it has a pivotal role in Asia and especially SAARC countries given its physical size and the size of its economy and to obtain benefits of regional integration from other countries with Asia, it will have to fulfill its own role as a leader and trade facilitator", he added.
Identifying the importance of Indo-China integration and equating thirst and hunger of China to spread its wings with that of India, he said that although China has already reached in most of the places where India plans to reach, yet India already has historical links with many countries in Asia, Africa, Europe. In these areas to expand, India will only have to nurture the green shoots while China will continue to deepen its presence. To move ahead, the destiny and destination of the two countries should combine.
Khurshid also identified the importance of economic integration of India with Turkey after overcoming the hostile thought process within Turkey. He highlighted that India’s successful integration with Asia will help it in having a firm standing in Asia. He ended his lecture on a positive note with hope for effective economic integration of India with Asia: "There is nothing more beautiful to know that there is a certain dawn tomorrow after the night".
Ajay Chibber, the new Director General of the Independent Evaluation Office, agreeing with Khurshid on importance of India-Turkey and India-China relationships also highlighted the importance of Myanmar as a bridge between India and China. He was hopeful that 21st century like the 19th century will again be the Asian Century with Asia contributing 60-70% to the global economy.
Rajiv Kumar, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, asserted India must show power of its example to be successful and there is a strong need for regional cooperation in South Asia than regional integration. He highlighted that unless there will be economic integration within India, economic integration with Asia will not move ahead.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, MP, said that bad politics must not come in way of good economics. He said that while building a common market in Asia is a dream, there are several steps to achieve that goal. He stressed on better connectivity leveraging our legacy bonds within the South Asian region. "We have overcome the trust deficit with China, but we need to close the gap of balance in trade. Future lies with integration and not segregation in the whole Asian region".
There was a lively Q&A session, when numerous micro and macro issues were raised by the over 100 participants in the hall. Myriad issues were raised by the participants such as the importance of integration with Africa, competition as a tool for integration, hurdles faced in creating domestic integration in India, etc.
Marking an end to the session, Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International in his summarisation highlighted the need for effective implementation of Article 307 of the Indian Constitution talking about economic integration within India and expressed his hope and expectation to continue working towards economic integration with Asia and Africa. (CUTS South Asia)