Event ReportsPublished on Mar 15, 2011
Observer Research Foundation and the Experimental Creativity Centre (ECC), Moscow, completed the second leg of their collaborative research project on the theme "Understanding the Emerging Contours of Power and Hegemony - Contemporary Geo-political Narratives" in New Delhi on March 15-16, 2010.
Understanding the Emerging Contours of Power and Hegemony
Observer Research Foundation and the Experimental Creativity Centre (ECC), Moscow, completed the second leg of their collaborative research project on the theme "Understanding the Emerging Contours of Power and Hegemony - Contemporary Geo-political Narratives" in New Delhi on March 15-16, 2010. This was part of the ongoing interaction between ORF and ECC on a range of issues of global significance.

The Russian team consisted of Dr Sergey Kurginyan, Ms Vera Sorokina, Mr. Michael Dmitriev, Mr. Eduard Kryukov, Mr. Yuri Bardakchiev and Ms Maria Podkopaeva. Speakers from ORF included Mr Sunjoy Joshi, Mr. Wilson John, Dr Rajeswari Rajagopalan, Ms Angira Sen Sarma,  Mr. Kaustav Chakrabarti and Mr. Rahul Prakash.

The conference opened with presentations on non-proliferation issues. In the first presentation, Mr. Bardakchiev dealt with the principal components of the non-proliferation regime and evaluated the options for addressing proliferation concerns. He questioned the effectiveness of the existing non-proliferation regime and the concept of global zero. Mr. Bardakchiev stressed the importance of the modernisation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the global balance of forces is changing and the era which saw the establishment of the NPT is nearing its end. In her paper, Dr Rajeswari Rajagopalan analysed the emerging nuclear non-proliferation challenges in Asia from an Indian perspective. She put in context the developments taking place in Asia in the proliferation sphere, especially with its emphasis on conventional and non-conventional military power. The four major non-proliferation challenges in Asia-China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation, North Korea, Iran, and the state of the non-proliferation regime were discussed in the presentation.

In the session on climate change, Ms. Vera Sorokina spoke about the ’Geo-climatic’ concept as an instrument of global governance, business and ideology. She argued that climate change has become one of the key areas that require international cooperation and stressed the importance of climatic component in the sustainable development. She criticized the western environmental initiatives which tend to overlook the role of human rights and human development. Such initiatives inevitably aggravate the contradictions between the developed and developing countries. Mr Sunjoy Joshi spoke on "Climate Change Discourse - Discovering New Vectors of Influence". According to him, the current debate on climate change takes place in a heavily-contested space and the dominant discourse is trying to force a consensus over subaltern discourses. Mr Joshi pointed out that as far as energy utilization and climate change are concerned, in the coming years, the world is likely to witness differently-shaped regional alignments with priorities getting re-defined. This will force the Asian countries to engage more with their neighbours.

Mr. Michael Dmitriev gave a presentation on drug-trafficking as a factor of global destabilization with a special focus on Afghanistan. According to him, there is an increasing trans-nationalization of drug trafficking today as the traffickers actively expand their routes to new corners of the world. With such expansion, the drugs generate more pockets of instability, extremism, organized crime, and terrorism. Mr. Dmitriev spoke about the trends and dynamics of drug-trafficking in Afghanistan and pointed out the immediate threats faced by Russia in this regard. He criticized the US position that the anti-terrorist forces in Afghanistan will focus solely on fighting terrorists but not deal with issues of drug control. Mr. Rahul Prakash, who spoke on the same topic, examined the role of the U.S, NATO, Pakistan, India, Russia and Afghanistan in containing drug-trafficking. He explained the various counter-trafficking strategies being implemented in Afghanistan. He reckoned that India and Russia are likely to face serious drug-trafficking challenges in the coming years and stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries to bring under control the illicit opium trade and the consequent security concerns.

Mr. Eduard Kryukov spoke on the topic ’Radical Islam and Neo-fascism’. He argued that there have been instances of Fascist-Islamist alliance, after the First World War and gave examples of former Nazi sympathizers in the service of Arab regimes. According to him, "the alliance between Islamic radicals and the Nazis originated more than 80 years ago on the basis of anti-Semitism, anti-communism and hatred of the liberal West". In their presentation on terrorism focusing on Afghanistan, Mr. Wilson John and Ms. Angira Sen Sarma argued for increased cooperation among India, Russia and the Central Asian Republics to resolve the Afghan crisis. Combining the resources for reconstruction works could be one of the ways of achieving this.  However, other regional players like Pakistan, Iran and China cannot be ignored as they too have vital stakes in Afghanistan, they said.

Ms. Maria Podkopaeva gave a presentation on the Af-Pak region and its strategic significance, especially in the context of terrorism emanating from there. She discussed the vital links the Af-Pak region shares with Central Asia, especially the Ferghana Valley. Ms. Podkopaeva traced the routes through which organizations like the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan found its way via Afghanistan into the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan. Mr. Kaustav Chakrabarti, speaking on the same topic, explained that while India and Pakistan share some common concerns in Afghanistan, their association with rival groups has prevented them from cooperating in any fruitful manner. However, Mr. Chakrabarti argued that cooperation between the two South Asian countries through joint nation-building teams carries the potential to yield several positive results. According to him, the mechanism of deploying joint Indo-Pak nation-building teams will concurrently yield five positive outcomes - provide necessary human resource, bridge ethnic and political polarities, device institutions to help India and Pakistan verify each other’s role, foster cooperation and reduce mistrust, and ultimately, provide a viable means to enforce Afghanistan’s neutrality.   

The papers  presented at the two seminars held in Delhi and Moscow and the proceedings will be published as a volume.

(This report was prepared by Ajish P Joy, Associate Fellow, Observer Research Foundation)

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