Socio-Political and Economic Challenges in South Asia

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Edited by: Tan Tai Yong

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    List of Tables and Figures

    Tables
    • 1.1 Nuclear Fuel Resource Position and its Energy Potential 4
    • 4.1 Bilateral Trade between China and SAARC 58
    Figures
    • 4.1 Chinese Perceptions of Country (Region) Influence in the World 49
    • 4.2 China and India: Partners or Rivals? 50
    • 4.3 Is it Mainly Positive or Mainly Negative for India to Become Significantly More Powerful Economically? 51
    • 4.4 Is it Mainly Positive or Mainly Negative for India to Become Significantly More Powerful Militarily? 51
    • 4.5 Is India a Positive Force in Resolving Problems in Asia? 63

    Foreword

    Introduction

    South Asia is a diverse region comprising of eight different countries.1 Together, they account for more than one-fifth of the world population. Each country has its own distinct culture, its own rich and proud history. Indeed, it would be a grave mistake to treat the entire region as one geopolitical entity. For us to successfully engage with South Asia, we need to understand not only each as an individual country, but also its relationship to others—both within and outside the region.

    I am thus heartened by the contribution from both the academic and non-academic fields who offer us diverse and interesting views on developments within South Asia, and the region's relations with the world.

    A Promising South Asian Performance

    South Asian economies have been widely reported in international press and fora for their outstanding economic performance in the past five years. The region had grown at an impressive average rate of 6 per cent per annum for the past decade, higher than the world's average of 4 per cent.2 In 2006, India led the region with a remarkable Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 9.4 per cent, while countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh also achieved growth of above 6 per cent.3

    This robust economic growth has improved the living conditions of millions in the region. Poverty rates in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have declined steadily over the past decade.4 The region also achieved great strides in providing education and healthcare services to their population. According to the World Bank, Bangladesh has already attained universal primary enrolment and gender parity in secondary education. Both Bangladesh and Nepal are also on track to reduce child mortality rates by two-thirds by 2015.5

    It is also encouraging that reforms in South Asia, which have taken a slow but steady trajectory, are finally bearing fruit. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh embarked on a series of economic reforms beginning in the late 1970s while India opened up her markets in 1991 by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment, privatising its state owned industries and reforming its labour laws. Pakistan, too, embarked on its own privatisation path, beginning with the banking sector, in 2001.

    South Asia's growth is all the more remarkable when we consider that it was achieved amid daunting domestic challenges. Amidst a vibrant, and at times turbulent political arena, South Asian governments have successfully improved their countries' infrastructure and provided their citizens with higher levels of healthcare and education. Good infrastructure and a skilled workforce are the necessary fundamentals for long-term economic growth.

    These fundamentals, together with the governments' commitment to domestic reforms, attracted the inflow of foreign capital that resulted in the region's sustained economic growth over the past decades.

    The Potential for South Asia to Grow Remains Promising

    Yet there still remains tremendous potential for growth. With a combined domestic market of some 1.4 billion people and a young, educated and driven workforce, economists world over remain highly optimistic about the region.

    The recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Economic Survey of India6 concluded that India could achieve its target of double-digit GDP growth by 2011 if it continues to pursue aggressive reforms. It also noted that real incomes could rise annually on a sustainable basis to double real incomes in a decade.

    Similarly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the economies of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh to each expand by more than 6 per cent annually till 2008. Nepal's economy is also expected to grow by 4.5 per cent next year.7

    Challenges for South Asia Today

    To realise its full economic potential and achieve sustainable growth, South Asian economies need to tackle three key challenges.

    First, South Asia needs to reduce poverty among the general population. This must be translated into more equitable distribution of wealth among the population. Inequality reflects distortions in the economy which give rise to unequal power relations and social tensions. These, in turn, will destabilise the social fabric of a country. This will not only dampen future growth but also possibly undo what had been achieved in the past decades.

    Second, the region needs good governance and the efficient implementation of policies. The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2006–07 highlights the need for ‘soft infrastructure’, such as quality financial system, rule of law, and a system of good political and corporate governance, in order for countries to achieve economic growth in the long run. It also means cutting down on the level of bureaucracy involved. Reuters recently reported8 that it took around 35 days to obtain a business licence in the financial hub of Mumbai. The same report also showed that a similar licence in Australia could be obtained in just two days.

    Third, it needs to continually upgrade its infrastructure. Improvements in infrastructure was one of the reasons why the region managed to achieve the high levels of economic growth over the past decades. However, despite these improvements, South Asia is still behind in terms of providing quality infrastructure such as roads, power and ports. The Asian Development Bank has cautioned that this infrastructural bottleneck, if not resolved, could become an obstacle to sustaining high growth.9

    These three key challenges are not new. I am sure the economies in the region are facing them head on. Judging by what the world has seen over the past decade, I am convinced that each South Asian country can and will find its own unique set of solutions to these challenges.

    Integrating with the Larger Asian Architecture

    Beyond domestic economic policies, the region also needs to look outwards and ride on the growth of the external economy. On this topic, I believe another important component for sustained growth is South Asia's integration with the larger Asian architecture.

    Asia is a dynamic region with vast opportunities. With irrepressible economic giants, namely India and China, fast emerging markets such as Vietnam, and the traditional powerhouses of Japan, Taiwan and Korea, Asia is set to make a big impact on world economy in the coming decades. In order to benefit from Asia's rise and a market of more than half the world's population, South Asia will need to build strong linkages to the greater region and improve its integration with Asia. This will provide a bigger market, and with free trade, will allow South Asia to grow a larger economic pie and provide a better livelihood for everyone. At the same time, Asia must set aside its legacy of historical conflicts. Today, I believe there is political will among Asian leaders to create a stable environment for growth.

    Central to South Asia's integration into a larger Asia will be its relations, not only with each other, but also with ASEAN and East Asia. Historically, the world economy has depended on Asia's intricate trade routes in which South Asia was a key link. South Asia's ancient Silk route with East Asia brought silk and gems from Asia to the West. Its maritime trading linkages with Southeast Asia formed the backbone of the spice trade for centuries.

    Yet South Asia is presently one of the least integrated regions in the world. The annual Globalisation Index10 compiled by A.T. Kearney measures how well a country is connected with the rest of the world in economic, political and technological terms. And South Asia has been ranked near the bottom for the last few years.

    Within the region, the efforts of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to integrate have been marred by complex inter-state tensions and the presence of a dominant power, India. The South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) which came into force on 1 January 2006, may potentially boost trade but it remains to be seen if South Asian countries can overcome their political obstacles.

    Looking to South and East Asia, trade has picked up driven by the growing interdependence between India and China in recent years. Total trade between India and China surged to US$ 72 billion in 2006. However, this figure still pales in comparison to ASEAN's trade with East Asia, which is five times that of India and China.11 South Asia's trade with ASEAN is also low, at one-tenth of ASEAN's trade with East Asia.

    There are encouraging signs though of South Asia's increasing integration with Asia. One important platform has been free trade agreements (FTAs). FTAs promote trade and investments by allowing local and foreign businesses to benefit from a more liberalised and certain business environment. But they are also an important political tool for diplomacy and conflict mitigation. FTAs can be a stabilising force in the region by creating greater interdependence.

    Bilaterally, South Asian countries have stepped up FTAs, with India and Pakistan leading the pack. In 2005, India and Singapore concluded the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), India's first comprehensive FTA with another country. I believe CECA is a good example of benefits brought about by a tighter economic integration.

    Within the year that CECA was concluded, trade between India and Singapore grew by more than 20 per cent to reach US$ 13.3 billion12 in 2006, making Singapore India's 12th largest trading partner. Investments have also seen remarkable growth. Singapore is now host to more than 2,800 Indian companies!

    The process of entering into the CECA has greatly enhanced the bilateral relations between both countries. The environment of confidence and trust created has translated into increased numbers of business and tourist exchanges in both directions. I would say there has been a rediscovery of our relationship, in business and in culture, with India in the last few years sparked by the CECA process and it's a relationship that will grow deeper and stronger.

    Moving on, India has since launched FTA negotiations with Thailand, South Korea, Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Meanwhile Singapore is also in the process of finalising an FTA with Pakistan.

    Looking further, regional FTAs can bridge the divides between South Asia and the other regions. The landmark ASEAN–India FTA (AIFTA), when completed, will represent a big step forward towards greater integration between the two regions. India was ASEAN's eighth largest trading partner in 2005 with total trade standing at more than US$ 23 billion. But ASEAN firmly believes that the AIFTA will boost the trade between these two regional economies further by 10–15 per cent annually. Not only that, AIFTA would be a key building block in the formation of a wider Pan-Asian framework, involving other Asian partners like China, Japan and South Korea. This improved regionalism may in turn play a mediating role in South Asia's own intra-regional conflicts.

    On the larger world stage, South Asia could also play a bigger role in the multilateral fora. In the World Trade Organization, India has emerged as a leading voice in the Doha Round. However, as WTO members13 that collectively represent almost a quarter of the world's population, we hope that South Asia can project a progressive voice and play a more active role towards lowering barriers to protected industries. I, personally, hope to see South Asia ‘punch above its weight’ in these fora.

    Conclusion
    • South Asian economies have many strengths—a strong domestic market, world class businesses and talent in research and innovation. There are boundless complementarities and synergies to be found between East and Southeast Asia.
    • However, South Asia's immense potential for growth has to be anchored by stability and sound domestic economic policies. Only then can they maximise the vast opportunities provided by a tighter integration with the wider Asian architecture and beyond.
    • Various Asian leaders, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India especially, have spoken of an ‘Asian Economic Community’. Encompassing ASEAN, East Asia and South Asia, this community is envisaged to be an integrated market linked by roads, air and shipping services.
    • More than that, it will support a confluence of people, ideas and capital. Singapore too shares this vision of a peaceful, prosperous Asia with open borders. Of course the path to an Asian Economic Community will not be an easy one. But I am optimistic, as I believe that the building blocks are already in place.
    Lim HngKiang, Minister of Trade and Industry, Singapore
    Notes and References

    1. This follows the World Bank's classification, and includes Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. Some other classification may include Myanmar (for historical reasons), while the UN includes Iran as a part of Southern Asia.

    2. Source: World Bank, IMF.

    3. Asian Development Bank, South Asia Economic Report, June 2007.

    4. Poverty rates in India, Bangladesh and Nepal decreased by 7 per cent, 9 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively in the 1990s; while in Pakistan poverty rates decreased by 5 per cent in first 2000–2005. ‘A chance to eliminate poverty: Scaling up development assistance in South Asia’, World Bank SAR Regional Strategy Update, January 2007. Available online at http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/0,contentMDK:20113327~menuPK:588249~pagePK:146736~piPK:226340~theSitePK:223547,00html

    5. Op. cit.

    6. Source: OECD Economic Survey of India, 9 October 2007. The survey was first made public on 9 October 2007. It assessed that India is capable of hitting 10 per cent GDP growth by 2011, and that its real income could rise by 7 per cent annually on a sustainable basis if India continues with its reforms.

    7. Source: IMF World Economic Outlook Database, April 2007.

    8. Gupta, Surojit and Sumeet Chatterjee. 2007. ‘Bureaucracy thrives in booming India’, Reuters Business News, 10 October. Available online at http://in.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idlNIndia-29926220071010

    9. Asian Development Bank. 2006. South Asia Economic Report. October.

    10. AT Kearney and Foreign Policy, 2007. ‘The Globalisation Index 2007’, Foreign Policy, November/December. The Annual Globalization Index by AT Kearney which measures how well a country is connected with the rest of the world in terms of trade pacts, investments and participation in international associations, among others.

    11. Trade between ASEAN and East Asia reached US$ 361 billion in 2005. Source: ASEAN Secretariat. Available online at http://www.aseansec.org/stat/Table24.xls

    12. Bilateral trade between Singapore and India was recorded at US$ 19.9 billion in 2006. Source: International Enterprise Singapore (IES). IES is the official database for Singapore's trade statistics.

    13. Among the eight South Asian countries, all are WTO members except for Afghanistan and Bhutan, both of which are observers.

    Preface

    South Asia is on the move. Alongside the traditional challenges of security and stability, the region is now undergoing economic growth and political change. Collectively, the South Asian region has grown at a rate that is higher than the global average. India had led the way with its impressive growth in the last one and half decades. The neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, despite their challenges, have recorded strong growth as well. Remarkably, this phenomenal economic growth of the region could potentially increase even further. The governments of the South Asian countries have recognised the impact of the progress they have made and are committed to build upon this through further initiatives. The fact that the people of South Asia express a desire for democracy is in itself a signal for a positive change. Indeed, while many obstacles and domestic political problems would have to be overcome before democratisation can take root, South Asian countries such as Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan have boldly embarked on this path. If they can stay the course, they will soon be able to reap the dividends of these significant political changes.

    It is unfortunate that not all constituents of society share the benefits derived from globalisation and economic growth. South Asia will have to deal with these social challenges to strengthen their growth potential. Sound governance and a robust policy environment will be critical for success in this regard. Although countries in the region, such as India and Bangladesh, have managed to reduce their poverty rates, much more resources and attention are needed to overcome this challenge. Only when poverty is significantly reduced, if not eradicated, can South Asia be said to have arrived.

    This volume of conference papers examines the broad challenges faced by South Asia in the short and medium terms. The papers were written in conjunction with the Third International Conference on South Asia held in Singapore on 25 October 2007. The theme for this conference was ‘Socio-Political and Economic Challenges in South Asia’. These papers offer an extensive discussion of such challenges in South Asia, including domestic issues in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan and South Asia's external relations with key global players such as East Asia and the United States.

    The keynote address for the conference was delivered by Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore's Minister of Trade and Industry. In his address, Lim heralded the impressive economic performance of the South Asian countries in the past five years. While heralding the potential growth of South Asia, he accepts that issues such as poverty, governance and adequate infrastructure need to be addressed. In addition, Lim states that there is an increasing need for the South Asian countries to be more outward-looking and to integrate deeper with the rest of Asia. In doing so, South Asia will have to address the opportunities and challenges present in its external environment as much as its internal one.

    In Chapter 1, C. Uday Bhaskar explores, from the Indian perspective, the strategic and security implications of the July 2005 India–United States Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. He accepts the tangible gains India derives from the deal are retention of its nuclear weapons, despite not being a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty, and access to nuclear technology, which is key to its economic development. However, he argues that it is the intangible and symbolic strategic advantages accruing to India that warrants closer scrutiny. These strategic gains will materialise along four fronts, which are politico-diplomatic, techno-economic, military and human resource. Bhaskar concedes that the realisation of the nuclear deal would have a negative effect on India's relations with China.

    In Chapter 2, Stephen Philip Cohen discusses the United States' Foreign Policy Towards South Asia and the challenges it faces. In evaluating ties with India, he admits that there has been considerable progress in bilateral ties and there is a great deal of optimism for the future even though the outbreak of another India–Pakistan conflict and the failure of the Indo–United States civilian nuclear agreement may derail this rapprochement. In assessing the United States' relations with Pakistan, he concedes that the United States has failed to engage Pakistan beyond its military and has especially ignored its civil society; a policy that has hampered Pakistan's growth as a modern Muslim state. Cohen also points out that the United States has overlooked the other South Asian countries, considering them a part of India's strategic realm, although a joint effort between both states would have been more effective in stabilising them.

    C. Raja Mohan discusses South Asia's engagement with East Asia, with a focus on India and non-economic cooperation, in Chapter 3. He suggests that although East Asia may have had reservations about engaging the South Asian states before, it will become increasingly necessary for it to recognise and accept the political and strategic influences emerging from the subcontinent. In this sense, and due to the economic liberalisation and globalisation of South Asia, East Asia can no longer depend on historical perceptions and experiences as a definitive guide to future engagement between the two regions.

    In Chapter 4, Yang Dali and Zhao Hong discuss the implications of the rise of India from a Chinese perspective. They contend that the historical Chinese notion of India as an inward-looking and insignificant state has changed. With India's strong economic performance and its rising importance in international affairs, China has now come to accept India as a comprehensive power and has increased its engagement with it. Despite this, Yang and Zhao highlight the many issues of contention between the two Asian giants, which support the pessimistic view that bilateral relations between India and China could be characterised more by competition and rivalry rather than cooperation.

    Lok Raj Baral provides an insight into the domestic politics of Nepal and its challenges in Chapter 5. He underlines the importance of inclusion of the Maoists in the process to establish democracy in Nepal. He argues that the Seven-Party Alliance was pragmatic in including the Maoist-based Communist Party of Nepal in the alliance and in acceding to their demands. Baral asserts that any exclusion of the Maoists would have meant that political fragmentation would have condemned Nepal to a longer period of political uncertainty.

    In Chapter 6, Farooq Sobhan evaluates the current domestic political issues in Bangladesh and the bearings these have on the outlook of the country. In doing so, he offers a credible assessment of the historical and contemporary caretaker government systems in the country. In his view, the future stability of the country hinges upon the success of the current caretaker government in implementing wide political reforms in Bangladesh. Sobhan feels that the fundamental achievements here will be to bring about changes in the political parties and their elected representatives and, above all, to firmly establish a base of good governance on which Bangladesh may pursue economic and social development.

    Sunil Bastian, in Chapter 7, provides an overview of Sri Lanka's efforts to deal with key developments in recent times. He suggests that it is vital for the Sri Lankan government to secure the south-western and western parts of the country, due to their strategic contribution to the economy, if the country is to overcome the hindrance of separatist movements. However, challenges also emerge through the resistance of the political class to reforms and the limitations of the proportional representation system of elections in Sri Lanka. Besides political issues, Bastian also sheds light on the structural issues that exist in the Sri Lankan economy such as inequality and the working conditions for the country's rural population and women.

    In Chapter 8, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema provides an overview of the key developments in Pakistan in 2007. He highlights the continued threat of terrorism to Pakistan's stability and government. As such, he asserts that the government needs to be more effective in its policies of curbing insurgencies and also the negative influence of some foreign entities on the country. Despite this, Cheema argues that Pakistan must continue to be an integral part of the United States-led global fight against terrorism. He believes that this effort will keep Pakistan in the United States radar and help maintain their symbiotic relationship, which is integral to the peace and stability of Pakistan and Southwest Asia.

    The Institute of South Asian Studies is grateful to the speakers for their support and contributions, which have been vital to making the Third International Conference on South Asia a success. I am confident that this volume will strengthen the existing body of work available on a theme that has not only aroused the interest of many, but has also great strategic significance.

    Professor Tan TaiYong, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies
  • Acknowledgements

    The International Conference on South Asia brings together academic specialists as well as leaders in the world affairs to provide fresh insights into and analyses of the evolving economic, political and social landscapes of South Asia. It focuses both on recent developments within the region and on the region's relations with the rest of Asia and the world at large.

    Launched in 2005, the conference is the flagship event of the Institute of South Asian Studies. It was prompted by the need to understand South Asia from a variety of perspectives and to examine avenues for greater cooperation and collaboration throughout Asia and especially among South Asian neighbours.

    The present volume is the third in a series devoted to publishing the proceedings of this annual event. Given the growing political and economic weight of South Asia in the world, the analyses and deliberations contained in this series deserve to be shared across a wide audience within and outside South Asia.

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    About the Editor, Institute of South Asian Studies and Contributors

    The Editor

    Tan Tai Yong is the Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies. He is currently Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore.

    He has written extensively on South Asian history as well as on Southeast Asia and Singapore. His recent books include Creating Greater Malaysia: Decolonisation and the Politics of Merger (2008); Partition and Post-Colonial South Asia: A Reader (co-edited, 2007); The Garrison State (2005); The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia (co-authored, 2000) and The Transformation of Southeast Asia: International Perspectives on De-Colonisation (co-edited, 2003).

    Institute of South Asian Studies

    The Institute of South Asian Studies was established in July 2004 as an autonomous research institute within the National University of Singapore (NUS). It is dedicated to the study of contemporary South Asia. It aims to generate knowledge and insights about the region, and to disseminate them in a manner that is useful to policymakers, the business community, academia and civil society.

    The Institute is actively engaged in developing key multidisciplinary research programmes and generating publications pertaining to economic, political and social developments in South Asia. It also organises conferences, seminars and public lectures to promote general, academic and professional awareness of South Asia. At the same time, it interacts with governments, international bodies and the business community and has established linkages with centres of South Asia research worldwide and think tanks in South Asia. Lastly, it assists NUS to develop research on South Asia.

    Contributors

    Lim Hng Kiang is Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry and also is the Deputy Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and a Board Director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC). Born on 9 April 1954, Mr Lim received his secondary and pre-university education at Raffles Institution. In 1973, he was awarded the President's Scholarship, as well as the Singapore Armed Forces Scholarship to read Engineering at Cambridge University. He graduated with First Class Honours (Distinction) in 1976.

    Mr Lim spent the next nine years in the Singapore Armed Forces, where he held both Command and Staff appointments. In 1985, Mr Lim was awarded a scholarship for Masters in Public Administration at the Kennedy School in Harvard University. On his return in 1986, Mr Lim served in the Ministry of Defence and then in the Ministry of National Development as Deputy Secretary. In January 1991, Mr Lim was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Housing and Development Board.

    He began his political career in the 1991 general elections where he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC). In the 1997 General Elections, Mr Lim was elected MP for West Coast GRC and has returned unopposed to the same GRC in the 2001 and 2006 general elections. He was appointed Minister of State for National Development in 1991 and subsequently in 1994 as Acting Minister for National Development and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. In 1995, he was promoted to Minister of National Development and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs. He held these posts until 1998 when he was made Second Minister for Ministry of Finance while retaining his ministerial responsibilities at the Ministry of National Development. He held this position at the Ministry of Finance until 2004. In 1999, Mr Lim was appointed the Minister of Health until 2003 when he was appointed as a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office. In 2004, he was appointed to his current position as the Minister of Trade and Industry.

    C. Uday Bhaskar retired from the Indian Navy on 31 March 2007 after 37 years of active service. Prior to retirement, he was the Member Secretary of the Government of India Task Force on Global Strategic Developments. Earlier, he was the Officiating Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, until September 2005. He was appointed Deputy Director of IDSA in July 1996 and was holding additional charge since 1 August 2004.

    Commodore Bhaskar is counted among the leading defence analysts in India and has contributed over 60 research articles, papers and reviews to professional journals and books published in India and abroad. His articles have appeared in US Naval Institute Proceedings, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and in books published by the US Naval War College and the Royal Navy Defence Studies amongst others. He has worked on nuclear proliferation, India–US relations and maritime issues and is currently working on Comprehensive Security in the post-Cold War period. He has edited a number of books including India's Security and Foreign Policy Challenges, Indo-German Dialogue: Quest for International Peace and Security and volumes on nuclear non-proliferation as well as a compilation of essays in honour of Sri K. Subrahmanyam.

    He is a regular contributor to many leading national dailies and his works have also been published in newspapers abroad in Hong Kong, Japan and the United States of America (USA). He has contributed extensively to the op-ed columns of different newspapers and magazines over the last 15 years. He is on the panel of experts for security and foreign policy issues with Indian radio and television, BBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera. During the Gulf War of 1991, Commodore Bhaskar was one of four defence analysts in India invited to write a daily column for a leading national newspaper, The Statesman.

    Commodore Bhaskar is a guest lecturer at the National Defence College, New Delhi; the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and the Indian Administrative Service Academy, Mussoorie. He has also lectured in schools, colleges and universities in France, India and the USA. The latter include the Olin Institute, Harvard; Columbia University; University of Chicago; Georgia Technology Institute; University of Georgia; Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey; the Old Dominion University, Norfolk and Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs. He has participated in seminars abroad including the India–US Strategic Symposia held with the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS)/National Defence University. He has served on the executive of Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP)–India.

    Awarded the Vishist Seva Medal in 1985, Commodore Bhaskar is a recipient of the Prime Minister's letter of commendation. He is the founder editor of the naval journal Quarterdeck. He is a former editor of Strategic Analysis and is currently on the editorial board of Contemporary Security Policy and the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal. He is a life member of the United Service Institution of India (USI) and is a member of the India International Centre (IIC) where he serves the Executive Council. He is also on the Advisory Committee of the India Habitat Centre (IHC).

    Stephen Philip Cohen has been Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution since 1998. Professor Cohen was previously a faculty member at the University of Illinois from 1965 to 1998. He also served as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation, New Delhi and a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State, and has taught at Andhra University, Keio University, Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control.

    His books include The Idea of Pakistan (2004), India: Emerging Power (2001), The Indian Army (revised edition, 2000) and The Pakistan Army (revised edition, 1998). He is currently co-authoring two books, Four Crises and a Peace Process (2007) and India as a Military Power (forthcoming, 2009).

    Professor Cohen received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Political Science and Indian Studies from the University of Wisconsin.

    C. Raja Mohan is currently a Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Earlier, Professor Mohan was Professor of South Asian Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He also served as the Strategic Affairs Editor of the Indian Express in New Delhi, and the Diplomatic Editor and Washington Correspondent of The Hindu.

    Professor Mohan has a Masters degree in Nuclear Physics and a Ph.D. in International Relations. He was a member of India's National Security Advisory Board during 1998–2000 and 2004–06. Professor Mohan was a Jennings Randolph Peace Fellow at the US Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., during 1992–93.

    His recent books include Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India's New Foreign Policy (2005) and Impossible Allies: Nuclear India, United States and the Global Order (2006).

    Yang Dali is the Director of the East Asian Institute in Singapore. He was previously Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

    Among his books are Remaking the Chinese Leviathan: Market Transition and the Politics of Governance in China: (2004); Calamity and Reform in China: State, Rural Society and Institutional Change since the Great Leap Famine (1996) and Beyond Beijing: Liberalization and the Regions in China (1997). He was a team member and contributor to The United States and the Rise of China and India, by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

    Professor Yang has served on the editorial boards of leading academic journals, including American Political Science Review and World Politics.

    Zhao Hong, Ph.D. (Xiamen University, China), is an Associate Professor at the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies, Xiamen University, where he teaches International Political Economy and ASEAN's International Relations with Big Powers.

    His latest publications include China's Oil Venture in Africa (forthcoming), India and China: Rivals or Partners in Southeast Asia (2007), India's Changing Relations with ASEAN in China's Perspective (2006) and ASEAN and Economic Cooperation in East Asia (2006).

    His research interests are focused on issues of China–ASEAN Economic Integration, Sino-India Energy Cooperation and East Asian Economic Community.

    Lok Raj Baral (Ph.D.) is Professor and Executive Chairman of Nepal Centre for Contemporary Studies (NCCS), Kathmandu. He served as Professor and Chairman of Political Science Department of Tribhuvan University during 1976–89. He attained his Ph.D. from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Professor Baral started his teaching career as a Lecturer at the Postgraduate Department of Political Science in 1965.

    His major works include Oppositional Politics in Nepal (1977 and second revised edition in 2006); Nepal's Politics of Referendum: A Study of Groups, Personalities and Trends (1983); The Politics of Balanced Interdependence: Nepal and SAARC (1988); Regional Migrations, Ethnicity and Security: The South Asian Case (1990); The Regional Paradox (2000); South Asian Growth Quadrangle (co-editor, 2000); Leadership in Nepal 2001 (co-author); South Asia: Democracy and the Road Ahead (edited, 1992); Looking to the Future: India–Nepal Relations in Perspective (1996); Refugees and Regional Security in South Asia (co-editor, 1996); Political Parties and Parliament (edited); Local Leadership and Governance (co-author); Elections and Governance (co-author); Participatory Democracy (edited, 2006); Nepal: Facets of Maoist Insurgency (edited, 2007) and Non-Traditional Security: State, Society and Democracy in South Asia (edited, 2006). His numerous articles and chapters have been published in the leading academic journals of the world, edited books and monographs. His other articles regularly figure in national and foreign dailies and weeklies. Professor Baral is on the editorial advisory committees of different international journals. He is also the editor of the Journal of Contemporary Studies published by the NCCS.

    Lok Raj Baral has headed many organisations. He was the President of the Nepal Political Science Association, the Nepal Council of World Affairs, and the Society for Constitutional and Parliamentary exercises. He was also a member of the delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in 1990, as well as Nepal's Ambassador to India in 1996–97.

    Professor Baral has lectured in Bangladesh, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Professor Baral was also a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, and Fellow at Chr. Michelsen Institute at Bergen, Norway.

    Farooq Sobhan currently serves as the President of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute. In addition, he has also been appointed as a Special Envoy to the current Government of Bangladesh. A career diplomat, his 33 years in the Bangladesh Foreign Service includes postings to Beijing, Belgrade, Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, New Delhi, New York and Paris.

    In his distinguished career, Ambassador Sobhan has been involved in several multilateral initiatives. These honorary positions include being the Chairman of the Group of 77 at the United Nations (UN), Chairman of the Third World Forum's Committee on Economic Cooperation among developing countries and Chairman of the UN Commission on Transnational Corporations among other responsibilities. Ambassador Sobhan has also served as an Advisor to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce and Industry and has been instrumental in establishing closer cooperation between Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbours.

    Ambassador Sobhan has written extensively on international issues including a book entitled Opportunities for South-South Cooperation (1986), while co-authoring another book, Shaping South Asia's Future: Role of Regional Cooperation (1995) and also edited several of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute's (BEI) publications on South Asian issues. Ambassador Sobhan's academic interests have included a stint as a Visiting Professor at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

    Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Dhaka University, Ambassador Sobhan obtained a Master of Arts from Oxford University.

    Sunil Bastian is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), Colombo, Sri Lanka. His research work has focused on the relationship between Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict and the promotion of a market economy.

    Mr Bastian has published widely, and is the editor of Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka (1994). He has co-edited with Nicola Bastian, Assessing Participation: A Debate from South Asia (1997) and with Robin Luckham, Can Democracy be Designed? The Politics of Institutional Choice in Conflict-torn Societies (2003). His most recent publication is Politics of Foreign Aid in Sri Lanka, Promoting Markets and Supporting Peace (2007).

    In addition to his research, he has worked as a consultant to numerous donors during the past 20 years. He also serves on the Boards of the Centre for Poverty Analysis and Centre for Policy Alternatives—two civil society organisations in Sri Lanka.

    Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema was born at Sialkot where he completed his early education. Subsequently, he moved to Government College, Lahore, where he completed his Masters in History. He also completed a Masters in Political Science from Punjab University, a Certificate in Peace Research and International Relations from Oslo University (Norway), a Diploma in International Relations from Vienna University (Austria), a M. Litt. in Strategic Studies from Aberdeen University (UK) and a Ph.D. from Quaid-i-Azam University (Pakistan).

    Dr Cheema has been a teacher for almost 28 years both in Pakistan and abroad. In Pakistan, he has taught at Government College (Lahore), Pakistan Administrative Staff College (Lahore) and Quaid-i-Azam University (Islamabad). Abroad, he has worked in various capacities like Research Fellow, Senior Fulbright Scholar, Visiting Scholar at the Australian National University (Australia), School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University (USA), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore) and Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). As a Visiting Lecturer, he has also delivered lectures at many professional and training institutions including National Defence College (Rawalpindi), Command and Staff College (Quetta), Joint Staff College (Rawalpindi), Foreign Service Training Institute (Islamabad), Information Services Academy (Islamabad), Allama Iqbal Open University (Islamabad), Pakistan Administrative Staff College (Lahore) and the Intelligence Bureau Academy.

    Until July 1995, he was working as a Professor of International Relations at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad and thereafter, he worked for the Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan, as Director General of the Academy of Educational Planning and Management. From November 1996 to September 2000, Dr Cheema worked as a Professorial Iqbal Fellow at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany. During his 19-year stay at the Quaid-i-Azam University, he served as the Chairman of the International Relations Department as well as of the Defence and Strategic Studies Department for more than 14 years. Since October 2000, he has been working in the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) as its president.

    Dr Cheema is also a scholar of international repute. His articles have regularly appeared both in national as well as international academic journals, popular magazines and daily newspapers. He has published more than 120 research articles and over 600 other general articles. In addition, he has authored many books and monographs and regularly contributes articles to the leading Pakistani English dailies. He has been and still continues to be a member of many international and national academic associations. He has served on the editorial advisory board of many international academic journals and still continues to be on the boards of many including BIISS (Journal of Bangladesh, Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Bangladesh), Asian Affairs, An American Review (a Journal of Heldref Publications, Washington, USA), Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (Saudi Arabia), Strategic Studies (Pakistan), etc.

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