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From the Periphery


Amrita Venkatraman

SPOTLIGHT ON NEIGHBOURS: TALKS AT THE IIC
Edited by I.P.Khosla
Konark Publishers, 2008, pp. 304, Rs. 600.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 5 May 2008

This book assesses the condition of inter- and intra-state affairs of India and its neighbours in the post-Cold War period. This analysis is vested in the post- 1990s period because during that decade South Asia was overcome by ‘liberal internationalism’ that left the region largely peaceful. The early part of the new millennium saw the outbreak of ‘general turmoil in the neighborhood’. For instance, General Musharraf took over power in Pakistan in October 1999; the attacks of 9/11 led to the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan and this had repercussions in Pakistan; there was an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and this led India to launch a ‘border response’ against Pakistan; Khaleda Zia was elected to power in Bangladesh in 2001 but she was unable to stabilize militant and terrorist groups in the country; Nepal was attacked by Maoist militants; in Sri Lanka the LTTE problem continues unabated; and in 2001 Bhutan debated for a new constitution and the king handed over power to elected representatives. These affairs have affected India and its foreign policy because India is an important axis in South Asia and its neighbours form the periphery. This book is an endeavour, to assess the nature of divergences within India’s neighbours in a detailed yet precise manner, and in some cases understand the impact that this will have on India. Some countries that have been considered from this perspective are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.   Some themes that are revealed in this analysis are that the Taliban’s resurgence and reemergence since 2004, despite US plans for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, causes intra-sect violence in the country. This mobilizes Pakistan to work towards restoring the Taliban’s lost dominance and furthering an Islamic bloc in the region. This impedes Indian efforts to help with the reconstruction of Afghanistan in a democratic manner and facilitates Pakistan’s intentions of countering India’s rise through ‘proxy-war’. Dev Mukharji asserts that Bangladesh is being ‘pulled apart’ by inter-party politics, lapses in the judicial system, chaos created by Islamic militants, corruption in the Army and the role played by the ISI. In the midst of this, India would need to continue to sort out its relationship with Bangladesh. Bhutan’s turn towards democracy and the implementation of its new constitution could cast a shadow on the role of the ‘Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan’. India ...


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