Journalists' Workshop on Indo-Pacific Cooperation

The Indian School of Business is partnering with The U.S. Consulate General, Hyderabad, to schedule a series of activities throughout the year 2021 to arrive at a Joint Vision between India and the U.S. for the Indo-Pacific Region in the Post-Covid-19 World Order.

Due to global pandemic the frameworks for global and regional cooperation goes beyond security and sovereignty considerations to put people’s survival and wellbeing, both at the individual and societal level, at the centre stage. Many of the emerging challenges need global outlook and in this context the Indo-Pacific region, which is home of more than 50 percent of the global population and rich in mineral and marine resources, play an important role. The geo-strategic and asymmetric challenges in the context of Indo-Pacific region needs to be relooked.

Duly supported by a generous grant by the U.S. Consulate Hyderabad, ISB will be organising multiple interactions with media and the civil society over the year. To kickstart this partnership, we organised a virtual Journalists’ workshop on the topic ‘Indo-Pacific Regional Cooperation: Contestations, Continuities and Change’ on April 07 -09, 2021. The objective of the workshop was to equip the journalists on understanding the vast Indo-Pacific issue in a systematic manner and also to look into aspects of continuities and changes especially in the context of Indo-U.S. relations. We specifically picked up three critical areas in the Indo-Pacific which needed a systematic understanding – security, geopolitics, and economic cooperation.

The proceedings of the workshop started with a welcome and a theme address by DNV Kumara Guru, Director External Relations, ISB who set the table and talked about the strong partnership with the U.S. Consulate. This was followed by a special address by Sean Ruthe, Political and Economic Chief, U.S. Consulate General, Hyderabad who laid down the U.S. perspective on Indo-Pacific Strategies (IPS) having three major components of security, governance, and economic cooperation. This was followed by special Masterclasses by three experts focusing on security, economic cooperation and geopolitics delivered across two days.

·         First Masterclass was on ‘Security Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region’ by Lt. Gen. Prakash Menon, who was the former Military Advisor at the National Security Council Secretariat and is also associated with multiple institutions. Primarily he leads the Strategic Studies Programme at Takshashila Institutions, Bengaluru. He systematically laid down the security architecture in the Indo Pacific region and emphasised that geo-strategically India is well placed to play an important role. China was at the centre of his presentation and also touched upon QUAD, Indian Ocean, ASEAN, and others. He opined that India could play a constructive role in strengthening the Indo Pacific cooperation and that the Western powers especially the United States are relatively stronger in military power than China.

 

·         Second Masterclass was on ‘Strategic Economic Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region’ by Alexander Slater, the Deputy Managing Director for U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), who offered a political economy perspective of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and specifically emphasised on the importance of a strong Indo-U.S. relations for a successful Indo-Pacific cooperation. He said: “The US-India partnership is the driver of a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. Leveraging the bilateral relationship’s “trust assets” to overcome its “trust deficits” will be critical to maximizing economic and social progress. Stronger US-India trade and investment ties can do this by using these assets to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth and job creation in both countries.”

 

·         The third Masterclass was on the Geopolitical Issues in the Indo-Pacific by a Sinologist Shikha Aggarwal who is currently the Visiting Fellow at National Chengchi University at Taipei. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the India Foundation, New Delhi. She touched upon various dimensions of geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region in the context of China, including the European angle, the Korean angle, the US angle, and the Indian angle. However, she strongly opines that the success of Indo-Pacific indeed depends on how best China is engaged in the cooperation. She says: "Indo Pacific strategies, as an alternative to China must explore strengthening partnerships on semiconductors and computer chips manufacturing. Otherwise, Indo Pacific as a region cannot succeed without China".

Overall, the three Masterclasses gave a good perspective to the Journalists and tried to approach the Indo-Pacific issues in a systematic way. Though the aspects of security, geopolitics and economic cooperation are strongly interrelated, it was important to see things from those angles. Expert speakers felt that it is important to have a level playing field in the Indo-Pacific region for which the contestations with China must be addressed by not only preparing against it but by also exploring ways and means to engage China for the larger Indo-Pacific regional cooperation.

David Moyer, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate Hyderabad thanked the journalists for participation and encouraged them to talk more on the Indo-Pacific issues in a systematic way. We had around 35 journalists participated from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, and New Delhi. Journalists’ feedback was very positive and appreciated the initiative.