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Comparative Politics Foreign Policy

Will Emerging Powers Promote Democracy?

Original Article: Oliver Stuenkel and Jabin T. Jacob, “Rising powers and the future of democracy promotion: the case of Brazil and India,” Portuguese Journal of International Affairs (Lisbon), No. 4, Autumn/Winter 2010, pp. 23-30.

Extract: The decline of Western dominance, symbolized by the financial crisis in 2008 and the rise of emerging actors such as China, India and Brazil, will fundamentally change the way decisions are made at the international level. Power, and the responsibilities that come with it, will be more evenly spread across a larger number of stakeholders, creating potentially a more equitable world order. Power not only allows rising actors to participate in international negotiations but also increasingly allows countries such as China, India and Brazil to frame the debate and decide which issues should be discussed in the first place. In other words, rising powers will increasingly turn into global agenda setters. Apart from changing the way decisions are made, the rise of non-established powers such as India and Brazil on the one hand and China on the other, will also have an impact on the international discourse on political values and systems of governance.

In the short-run, it does seem likely that the rise of emerging powers will contribute to the decreasing importance of democracy promotion in the international political discourse. African dictators will show little inclination to accept loans laden with conditionalities if they can opt for Chinese, Indian or Brazilian loans without any strings attached and Central Asian despots will seek to take advantage of instability in their neighbourhood or the fear of possible chaos in their own country to play one power against the other. But in the long-run, as they grow and become more confident of their positions in the world order, at least some emerging powers might see that they have little to from kowtowing to dictators. They might also seek increasingly to distinguish themselves not so much from the West as from each other. And at least Brazil and India could well find that their democratic nature is an important marker also of their global identity and that democracy promotion is an useful tool of their national interests worldwide.

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Borders Comparative Politics Foreign Policy Sub-nationalism

Border Provinces in Foreign Policy: China’s West and India’s Northeast

Extract from Jabin T. Jacob, “Border Provinces in Foreign Policy: China’s West and India’s Northeast,” in Dilip Gogoi (ed.), Beyond Borders: India’s Look East Policy and Northeast India (Guwahati: DVS Publishers, 2010), pp. 126-147.

Territory being one of the essential prerequisites for the existence of a state, territorial boundaries and border polities are the focus of much attention from governmental authority. In the case of South Asia, where the nation-state itself is of recent vintage, the many nations that were born at various times from the remains of British India were quick to adopt the caution and suspicion that marked colonial border policy. As a result, borders areas continue to be viewed as requiring strict government (often central government) control and supervision and even development activities are prioritized below security interests. In the case of areas such as the Northeast of India such a policy has meant that a region that was once a bridge connecting peoples, cultures and civilizations, and a centre of trade and commerce has now been reduced to a periphery and dependant on doles and subsidies from the central government. However, this is by no means a situation unique to India. The periphery in China represented by the minority ethnic group-dominated provinces of the vast western region of the country have suffered similarly under central government anxieties that have seen the imposition of heavy-handed state control from Beijing.

However, beginning in the 1990s China has given greater leeway in economic matters, to these provinces of the west under its Western Development Strategy (WDS). In India, too, there is greater attention being paid to connecting India’s Look East Policy (LEP), a foreign policy initiative, with the economic development of the Indian Northeast. Might the WDS and the LEP be compared? This paper examines the rationale for such a comparison and looks at the results derived and their implications.

 

Comparing China’s West and India’s Northeast

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Borders Comparative Politics Foreign Policy Sub-nationalism War and Conflict

Guns, Blankets and Bird Flu

Original Article: Jabin T. Jacob, “The India-Myanmar Borderlands: Guns, Blankets and Bird Flu,” SPIRIT Occasional Papers, No. 6, Sciences Po (Bordeaux), October 2010.

Abstract: The India-Myanmar border regions form a forgotten frontier in the Indian and global imagination. India’s frontiers to the west (Pakistan), to the north (Tibet/China) and to the south (Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean) have always received greater attention. Today, however, the region representing the conjunction of India, China and Myanmar is returning to the centre of attention for a number of reasons both old and new. Violence (‘Guns’) has been endemic in the region since communities and peoples were rent asunder by the imposition and policing of officially demarcated borders between India and Myanmar. Yet, trade (‘Blankets’) – both formal and informal – has managed to carry on. What has added to the importance of the region in the eyes of the national capitals, is the increasing severity of transnational challenges such as drug-trafficking and the spread of diseases (‘Bird Flu’). Together, these three factors have kept both a regional identity as well as specific community identities alive. This paper examines the region-building properties of these factors.

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Categories
Borders Foreign Policy War and Conflict

Another Sino-Japanese spat

Originally published: 29 September 2010

When a Chinese fishing vessel apparently rammed into two Japanese naval vessels on 7 September, few imagined that the ensuing standoff would continue for as long as it did. The incident occurred in waters off the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan. The Japanese released all of the crew but for the captain of the vessel within a week, detaining the latter for well over a fortnight. Whatever the incident says about Sino-Japanese relations, it is notable also for three important reasons involving Chinese external policymaking and regional responses in general.

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Borders Foreign Policy Sub-nationalism War and Conflict

China-Pakistan Relations: Reinterpreting the Nexus

Abstract:  The China-Pakistan relationship has seen several ups and downs in the last decade and especially since 9/11. While Sino-Pakistani ties remain strong, there has been a visible drawdown in Chinese political commitment to Pakistan. Partly, this has been because of Beijing’s concerns about political instability, including terrorism, in Pakistan, and the spread of Islamic radicalism from that country into China. In part, this has also been because China’s global political rise has meant that it is more conscious of its need to adhere to international norms, which includes refraining from nuclear proliferation to Pakistan. In this context, two arguments are made – one, that India is no longer the central concern in the Sino-Pakistani relationship and two, that New Delhi consequently has increased ability to play the game-changer in the ‘all-weather’ friendship between its neighbours.

Extract:

“The Afghans they hate us,

The Indians wanna bring us to our knees

How long will it be Lord, till we piss off the Chinese

I got the blues”

Saad Haroon (AlJazeera 2010)[1]

Categories
Borders Political Parties Sub-nationalism

A Parliament for Northeast India

“A Parliament for the North East,” Assam Tribune (Guwahati), 20 June 2010, p. 6. (co-authored with Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman).

 

Extract: To counter the role of the central government as a manipulator of intra-Northeast Indian politics in order to serve supposedly ‘national’ interests, ensure that minorities including women are not marginalized, escape institutional inertia and help the people of the region to deal with the increasing effects of globalization, both positive and negative, Northeast India requires a regional parliament that will function within the ambit of the Indian Constitution but will aim to give the region a weight that is more than the sum of its parts.

 

One such solution could be the formation of a North-East Parliament (NEP) where every ethnic community, small or big, would be represented proportionally across the state boundaries of Northeast India and perhaps include also the hill regions of West Bengal. The proposed NEP would help ethnic communities to make their voices heard in a recognized democratic platform and allow for the formation of cross-state coalitions (much like what happens in the European Parliament) over inter-state and regional issues such as water, environment and infrastructure development among others. More importantly, with adequate powers of legislation and oversight of regional and central government institutions, the NEP would provide a forum where communities have the opportunity to talk and hold the central and state governments to account before they had to pick up the gun.

See the full article at  Jabin-Mirza-AssamTribune-NEP.

 

Categories
Borders Foreign Policy War and Conflict

China-India Relations: Strategic Engagement and Challenges

Original Presentation: “China-India Relations: Strategic Engagement and Challenges,” Centre Asie, Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (IFRI, Paris), 12 May 2010.

Summary: It is necessary for India and China to avoid misperception and misreading of each other’s strategic intentions. But how? Both nations need to invest more in educating their citizens about each other. The number of Chinese scholars on India and South Asia is far too few for building up any meaningful and sustainable interaction with India and South Asia. Similarly, most Indians are ‘experts’/bigots as far as Pakistan is concerned but ignorant with respect to China.

 

The governments meanwhile, need to look problems in the eye. There can be no pussyfooting around sensitive issues. Many solutions for resolving bilateral issues have been suggested over the years and decades, and it is time that the political will was found to implement them.

 

It is unlikely that the Sino-Indian relationship can be a completely happy relationship even if the boundary dispute were resolved. That is not possible in the nature of big and growing powers but conflict is also not inevitable. No matter what the state of Sino-Indian bilateral relations, regional and global problems will increasingly demand solutions that can only be provided by the two countries acting together in some fashion or the other and the level of that cooperation will also determine the quality of the solutions.

Categories
Borders Comparative Politics Foreign Policy Political Parties Sub-nationalism War and Conflict

The States in Indian Foreign Policy

Original Presentation: “The States in India and Foreign Policy: Interests, Influence and Implications,” L’équipe  Politiques comparées et études européennes, SPIRIT, Sciences Po, Bordeaux, 9 April 2010.

Summary: This presentation focuses on an important political dynamic that while in play for some time now, has begun to have visible impact only in recent years. I am referring to the growing power and influence of the provinces/states in India with respect to national decisions, including foreign policy. The presentation actually begins with a short examination of the same phenomenon in China because it has in a sense been going on in that country for much longer.

And I hope that what I say will sort of ring a bell or remind you of some experiences that you know of in your own countries, while remembering the differences in context and historical development, when things sound either very obvious or very different. In India, meanwhile, there is increasing work being carried out on centre-province relations in India in the post-1990 or post-liberalization/economic reforms phase but a lot of this work is related to fiscal transfers and the like and much of the attention is also focused on matters such as countering terrorism and left-wing extremism (because law and order is actually, a provincial or state subject) and more recently on education (Right to Education legislation; education too, is a state subject).

This presentation however, focuses on only one aspect of the centre-province relations in India and that is the nature of influence that provinces exercise on national foreign policymaking.

See the full presentation at:

JabinJacob-2010Apr9-ScPoBordeaux-States in India-FP

Categories
Comparative Politics Foreign Policy War and Conflict

The EU, China and India

Original Article: “The EU, China and India: The Promise of Trilateral Engagement,” Asia Forum, Clingendael Institute (the Hague), 1 February 2010.

Abstract: In the Asian century, the dynamics created by the simultaneous rise of China and India will have important political, economic and security implications for the world. There are both new and old problems between the two countries, ranging from those of a bilateral nature to conflicts of interest that are engendered by larger global ambitions, as well as those caused by differences in political systems and values. While China’s ‘peaceful rise’ is much talked about, its legitimacy as the United States’ successor has not hitherto been questioned. India’s rising global economic and political profile means, however, that it will become an increasingly serious challenger to China. How can the EU intervene in a positive and creative manner to ensure that a ‘new cold war’ does not develop between the two Asian giants? While the EU does engage with China and India in multilateral forums that it promotes, such as the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM), a more focused and regular trilateral engagement is likely to be more effective over the longer term in influencing and shaping the Sino-Indian relationship.

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