India’s reaction to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China has been on two counts. First is the issue of sovereignty, especially the CPEC route that passes through what India refers to as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which is projected as flagship project of the BRI; second is the argument of non-transparency and the financial risks that are likely to create unsustainable debt burden in countries playing the BRI game, that may lead to the state collapse or creating a new colonialism where strategic assets would be handed over to China.
All these are likely to have several implications to India’s strategic environment and impinge on India’s security. Connectivity remains however a key part of India’s foreign policy. India has been cautious in investing in projects that will bring politico-economic dividends to its foreign policy rather than competing with China. As we shall see, all is not China centric, and India has both bilateral and multilateral approach to connectivity projects that are being pursued through bilateral agreements and through sub-regional and regional cooperation.
Dr Smruti S Pattanaik is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), New Delhi, where she coordinates the Pakistan Project. She holds a PhD in South Asian Studies from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is a noted expert on South Asian Affairs and has lectured on these issues in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, besides receiving fellowships from FMSH Paris, the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and Melbourne University, amongst others.
Dr Pattanaik has published more than 50 articles in various journals and has more than 40 chapters in edited books. She is the author of “Elite Perception in Foreign Policy: Role of Print Media in influencing Indo-Pak relations, 1989-99” and has edited two books, “South Asia: Envisioning a Regional Future” (2011), “India-Bangladesh Relations: Historical Imperative and Future Direction (2012). She is also on the board of Strategic Analysis, the main journal published by IDSA.
The debate will be chaired by Prof. Jean-François Huchet (Vice-President for Research, INALCO), with Dr. Jean-Luc Racine (Asia Centre / FMSH) as discussant.
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