Review of ICI Fellow Sanjay Chaturvedi’s Climate Terror Book


We are pleased to share a recent book review highlighting former ICI Fellow Sanjay Chaturvedi and his co-authored book Climate Terror: A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change with Timothy Doyle (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). This latest review was written by Matthew Sparke in the journal Space and Polity (Oct, 2017).

Sparke writes:

As creative as it is critical, this innovative enquiry into the geopolitics of climate change is also at once discomforting and disorienting. It focuses on how the power relations dividing the ‘majority world’ of the global south from the ‘minority world’ of privileged polluters transform how the threats of climate change are both represented and experienced. The two authors, Sanjay Chaturvedi and Timothy Doyle, argue on this basis that it is critical to question all-encompassing anthropocene appeals to a single global ‘we’ of responsibility and response. Without questioning scientific depictions of anthropogenic climatic disruption on a planetary scale, they nevertheless present a compelling series of contrapuntal contrasts between the ways in which the resulting risks are conceptualized by the powerful and confronted by the vulnerable. The result is a sobering review of what they call the ‘climate terror industry’, an industry that in their account constructs ‘climate terror’ at the intersection of a geopolitics of fear and a geoeconomics of hope to advance ‘a largely conservative grand-strategy deployed by faltering sovereign states, at various stages of neo-liberal embrace, to discipline and regulate various faultlines in statecraft’ (page xii)…

As interdisciplinary as they are international in their approach, Chaturvedi and Doyle develop their international relations interventions in a way that draws as much on political geography as it does on political science and political theory. They closely engage the work of many geographers including John Agnew, Noel Castree, Simon Dalby, David Demeritt, Klaus Dodds, Emily Gilbert, Jennifer Hyndman, Rachel Pain, Susan Roberts, Anna Secor, Jo Sharp and, I must acknowledge here, myself. These generous and constructive engagements lead to particularly useful adaptations of critical geopolitical arguments by geographers. The book presents the geopolitics of fear and the geoeconomics of hope in this way as powerfully reterritorializing geostrategic discourses that recode the implications of climate change with imaginative geographies that make some supposed threats and opportunities visible at the same time as they obscure any analysis of the causes of climate change that might disrupt neo-liberal business as usual. It is in this way that Chaturvedi and Doyle show how those who are most vulnerable are recoded through a geopolitics of fear as the most dangerous. Reciprocally they demonstrate that it is through a geoeconomics of hope that climate change is variously securitized and financialized as an opportunity for military planning, market making or both. As a result, the book avoids the theoretical pitfalls of partitioning geopolitics and geoeconomics into distinct eras or spaces, and instead contributes important new evidence about their cogenerational dialectics as entangled geostrategic discourses…

You can read the full review here [pdf] or online here.

You can also read other posts on our site featuring this book and related work below.

CISLI Fellow Xiaowen Hu on China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) Policy in China

We are pleased to share a new book published by Pentagon Press, One Belt One Road: China’s Global Outreach, co-edited by CISLI fellow Xiaowen Hu and JNU Professor Srikanth Kondapalli.

In conjunction with its meteoric rise in the economic spheres, China’s new initiative of One Belt One Road (OBOR) is attracting global attention for its grand scale of potentially connecting Asia, Africa, Europe (and South America) through the much needed infrastructure projects. It is a grand vision of ushering in a new international order albeit based on Chinese characteristics, with an elaborate programme of galvanizing domestic and international audience through not only wider publicity but also constructive and competitive involvement of various stake holders. It has massive budgetary outlays of over $900 billion [of which $50 billion invested so far] out of a required $8 trillion in investments. OBOR projects promise to provide huge opportunities for the domestic manufacturing, financial and tourism sectors to operate and enhance their influence at the global and regional levels.

The OBOR provides several opportunities and challenges to many states and non-state actors in the international system at a time when the Global Financial Crisis and Eurozone Crises are intensifying. If the investments in the infrastructure projects across Asia, Europe and Africa (and South America) materialize, then these possibly could trigger economic opportunities across the regions. This has been the main theme of the official discourse in China. However, many political leaders, scholars, officials and media across the globe raise queries on any “hidden” agenda behind the OBOR projects. These are related to the Chinese efforts to    influence or dominate the international and regional orders, deployment of military and para-military forces, exploration of bases and others. Global and major powers are currently re-adjusting their policies towards the Chinese initiative of OBOR, calculating potential benefits and losses in its trail, and have been making their own initiatives. These aspects are explored extensively in the current volume – both on the functional aspects as well as the bilateral equations and responses of many a country for the OBOR projects.

The volume is divided into two major sections with the first focusing on the major ideas, initiatives, programmes and components of the OBOR, the domestic political debates and participation, ancient cultural and economic roots of the Silk Road, political economy aspects, connectivity plans across the continents, maritime dimension, energy issues, media perceptions and others. The second section focuses on the responses and perceptions of various countries to the OBOR initiative.

As the OBOR idea is of recent origin, this volume – with its in-depth focus on a number of related issues – is indispensable for the decision and policy makers across the globe as with the academic and media communities.



CISLI Fellow Lu Yang on the Doklam Standoff

We are excited to share a new column in the Indian Express written by one of our current CISLI Fellows Yang Lu. In her column Lu argues that despite the border tensions in the Doklam area between India and China, “something positive is also happening which would contribute to a better understanding of India in China.” Here is a brief excerpt from her article.

Alongside a very strong nationalist sentiment since the middle of June, Chinese official and social media have witnessed a soar of reports on India. The content of the reports are not only about issues related to the Doklam stand-off and geopolitical discussions, but also cover a broad range of topics about India including its political parties, history, nation-building, religions, ethnic groups etc. In China, India has been very under-studied in comparison with other industrialized countries such as the US, France, or Japan. The Chinese public has usually paid more attention to the developed world and to East Asian countries in China’s periphery. The emergence of a large numbers of articles on India in such a short period has reflected Chinese efforts to understand this giant neighbor.

In other words, the enthusiasm on India created by the success of Aamir Khan’s film ‘Dangal’ in May 2017 indeed suffered a sudden blow by the stand-off at the beginning, but in the long run the desire for a deeper understanding of India has been unexpectedly boosted against the crisis.

India-China relations are multi-faceted and have many components. Strategic and geopolitical issues are only part of the relations. Exchanges in culture, education, science, and business have been proved to be effective in bringing depth and vitality to India-China ties. It would be regretful if we understand relations only through the lens of security and if the development of relations in other areas are hijacked by the border dispute.

You can read Lu’s entire article on The Indian Express.

Former ICI Fellow Mahendra Lama on BRICS Cooperation

In his latest OpEd for the Kathmandu Post, former ICI Fellow and Professor Mahendra Lama discusses the possibilities for using the ties between BRICS states to strengthen a range of options, from fighting terrorism and promoting peace to improving educational opportunities. On the issue of education Lama writes:

Education as a critical theme of cooperation among the Brics members could be a game changer. Besides the activities of Brics Think Tank Council and Brics Academic Forum, there have been three major initiatives in last few years viz., regular meetings of the Brics Ministers of Education and delineation of broad principles of Brics Network University (NU) and actions by Brics University League (UL). Besides taking the Sustainable Development Goal 4, related to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, as a national priority, Brics partners have already identified areas like sharing of macro-data, identifying best practices, applying Information and Communications Technology (ICT) on a much deeper and larger scale, focusing on skills and innovations, and facilitation of mobility of students and teachers as core areas of cooperation.

However, given the physical distance of the members (spanning across four continents), geographical contrasts, politico-historical evolution of member states, relative development status and the governance structures and institutional variations, the Brics member countries have to increasingly adopt non-conventional techniques and practices to initiate and deepen cooperation practices. This is much called for, as Brics, as a cooperation conglomerate, defies the traditional logic and rationale of contiguous geography based regionalism and integration. The very absence of ‘regionness’ makes this grouping both unique and formidably challenging.

Taking education as a core theme, the existing bilateral cooperation endeavours among the Brics member countries have to be gradually transformed into five-country level actions. This is a traditionally available track. On the other hand, the educational institutions at the sub-national geography level within member countries with common socio-cultural, topographical-demographic and bio-diversity-ecological features could be brought to a common five-country level platform. This will be a sharp but rewarding deviation from orthodox framework.

You can read Lama’s full OpEd in the Kathmandu Post.

Former ICI Fellow Shreya Sen & the Rohingya Refugees in India

Refugee by Ani BasharWe are happy to share a recent article which included an interview with former ICKCBI Fellow Shreya Sen. Sen is currently the executive member of the Emerging Scholars and Practitioners on Migration Issues Network and a doctoral fellow at the University of Calcutta. In her comments she raises the importance of legal changes to Indian law, and some of the obstacles to stronger humanitarian protections when national and international law are in conflict. Sen offered the following analysis of the problem in her interview:

“The news about the Rohingya deportation is shocking but certainly not surprising,” said Shreya Sen, executive member of the Emerging Scholars and Practitioners on Migration Issues Network and a doctoral fellow at the University of Calcutta. “It needs to be remembered that international law can be applied in India only if this undergoes a transition into domestic law. This too can happen only if the provisions of international law are not in direct conflict with Indian municipal law.”

She said that domestic legal mechanisms for regulating immigration flow remain absolute and supreme, their authority unquestioned, enabling India to disrespect the principle of non-refoulement. This fundamental principle of international law protects a refugee or asylum seeker from being forced to return to a place where his life is likely to be at risk, and is one of the major elements of the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention. It is also believed to constitute a rule of customary international law, which refers to international obligations arising from established state practice. For instance, the United Nations Convention against Torture (1984), which India is a signatory to, bans refoulement on grounds of possible torture. But New Delhi has not yet ratified the treaty, which means its provisions are not legally binding.

You can read the entire article on


Meet New ICI Visiting Scholar Luna Ranjit


ICI would like to welcome Luna Ranjit as the newest Visiting Scholar at the India China Institute.

As a visiting fellow at ICI, Luna will advice on new initiative on social justice, religion, and Dalits. She will give a public lecture in the Fall or the Spring. She will use the time to document her experience as the co-founder and former Executive Director of Adhikaar, and conduct research on citizenship, movement of people, and equity.

You can learn more about Luna on her profile here.

ICI Scholars on the India China Border Issue


We have already shared some of the recent articles by ICI Fellows and affiliated scholars on the developing story of the most recent border tensions between India and China. Today we offer several more recent articles from our ICI network, including Professors Nimmi Kurian and Mahendra Lama.

Kurian was recently part of the ChinaFile discussions hosted by the Asia Society titled “Why are India and China in a Border Standoff?” A handful of prominent scholars were invited to share their thoughts on the border dispute and what their take was on some of the underlying issues and concerns. In her piece Kurian argues:

Part of the reason it has ended up with a bad bargain with China is that India’s crisis diplomacy has often worked without a credible notion of what the endgame is. This could well be a problem of not knowing what the problem is. For instance, the confidence-building measures India has negotiated with China have by and large aimed at conflict prevention, content with only “managing” differences. This explains why the 1993 and 1996 agreements and confidence-building measures have not segued into a higher order goal of conflict transformation. By setting the bar of peace low by design, is it any wonder that India has ended up hitting lower?

You can read the entire piece from Kurian, as well as read the other contributions to the discussion, at the Asia Society website here.

The other piece comes from Professor Mahendra Lama. His Op-Ed on the topic appeared in the Nepali newspaper Kathmandu Post, “No One Wants War.” Lama argues there is already a history of cooperation that should be built on to restore the temporary rifts between the two countries, and that neighboring states need to also play a more constructive role as mediators. Here is an excerpt from the piece by Professor Lama:

It is critical for these two Asian giants to move towards cooperation and integration instead of a competitive-rivalry framework. This would result in a win-win paradigm of an Asian Century. The bilateral parleys that have been occurring over the last 30 years have been reinforced by exchanges between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there are a number of forces—rumour mongers, war jingoists and intolerant institutions—that are trying to drive a wedge between the two countries. These negative forces thrive in a situation of instability and conflict. A majority of the countries in South Asia share a common border with both China and India; as such they will have to calculate the costs of conflicts on societies, economies and geographies. Regional civil societies therefore, must come together to prevent conflict.

You can read the full Op-Ed on the Kathmandu Post website here.

What are your thoughts on the border issue? Let us know in our latest online poll.  Take Poll


CFP – Envisioning the Future and Understanding the Realities of India’s Urban Ecologies


Envisioning the Future and Understanding the Realities of India’s Urban Ecologies

An Interdisciplinary Conference hosted by Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University
In partnership with the Consulate of India, Atlanta

March 15-17, 2018


About the Conference:

India, a land of ancient wisdom and cultural world heritage, is home to the world’s first cities. In the last twenty years it has experienced unprecedented growth, development, and change, altering its physical, cultural, and social landscape with dramatic effect. Today, its cities embody a paradoxical mix of globalization, modernity, and advanced technology with regionalism, tradition, and religion, juxtaposed with extreme poverty and inequality. Sustainability, in all its facets has emerged as a key problem in India’s development story. Urbanization is not an
independent variable of development, but an integral part and product of the development process itself. Therefore, there is a need to understand urban issues as part of a larger development process affecting both rural and urban communities and livelihoods, employing historical and contemporary perspectives (with regional and global implications). Building off research in the fields of Sociology, Biology, and Architecture, the conference will examine contemporary urban growth in India and its effects on the everyday ecologies of its people. Our goal is a more holistic understanding of India’s urban ecologies, their interdependence, and the need for more sustainable strategies for urbanization. India’s cities can provide applicable lessons to the more global concerns of urbanization around the world.

More information available here on the conference.

Potential topics include:

  • Is there a distinctly ‘Indian’ Urbanism?
  • Rural Urbanization and Urban Planning
  • Balancing Growth and Development
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Cities
  • Dispersed Cities
  • Infrastructure and Innovation in Historic Cities
  • Global/Smart City Development in India and its Implications
  • E-governance and Technology
  • Green Cities and Sustainability
  • Current Trends, Future Projections, and Key Challenges for Sustainability
  • Inclusive Growth: Slums, Urban Villages, and the Challenge of Urbanism
  • Value Struggles: Waste, Work and Ecology
  • Agrarian Crisis and Land Acquisition
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
  • Impacts of Urbanization on the Environment
  • Urban Health and Quality of Life
  • Global Warming, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Re-emerging Diseases
  • Infrastructure & Industrialization: Impact on Air, Water, Sanitation & Pollution


Guidelines for Submission of Papers: 

To participate, please submit papers of no more than 5000 words. The entire paper submission (title page, abstract, main text, figures, graphs, tables, references, etc.) must be in ONE document created in either Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx), or Rich Text Format (.rtf). Please include your name, institutional affiliation, position or title, contact phone number, and e-mail. If you wish to propose a panel, please submit the names and institutional affiliation of all panelists.

Attach the document to an email message. Type “Year of India Conference” in the subject line and send it to Dan Paracka.

Deadline for Submission of Proposed Papers is September 8, 2017.

Select Papers will be eligible for publication in a Special Issue of KSU’s peer reviewed Journal of Global Initiatives focused on India.


The Importance of National Legislation for Refugee Protection in India – Shreya Sen

Image credit John Flannery: Flickr. are pleased to share a recent article written by one of our former ICKCBI Student Fellows Shreya Sen. She is currently a Doctoral Fellow at the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Calcutta. Sen’s latest piece is titled Understanding the importance of a national legislation for refugee protection in India. Sen argues that “the establishment of a domestic protection regime for refugees is of utmost necessity” in India, noting that only some kind of a formal mechanism can truly respond to the “interests, concerns and requirements of refugee and asylum seeking groups residing in India.” Sen agues one way to do this is by incorporating the UN Convention on Refugees into India’s legal framework, a move which she argues would require establishing a national law for refugees that would be able to respond to and help asylum seekers.

Here is an excerpt from her piece.

India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees or it’s Protocol of 1967. There is also no uniform national legislation that caters to the well-being of refugees in India. Policies adopted for refugee welfare in India are usually ad-hoc in nature, their implementation depending entirely on the whims and fancies of the political parties in power. Yet India has been home to refugees for nearly seven decades, with asylum seekers arriving in large numbers from as far and wide as the African nations of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia as well as from neighboring South and Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and from East Asian countries such as China.

This paper looks to assess the importance of domestic legislation for refugee protection in India through: 1) a discussion of India’s international humanitarian obligations, with particular reference to its reluctance to accede to the 1951 Refugee Convention; 2) an examination of the prevailing legal conditions for refugees in India; and 3) a scholarly analysis of the various ways in which national legislation can benefit the refugee population in India. In conclusion, this paper argues that the establishment of a domestic protection regime for refugees is of utmost necessity, as it is only such a regime that can successfully respond to the interests, concerns and requirements of refugee and asylum seeking groups residing in India.

You can read the full post online at Rights in Exile.

Healing the India-China Border Trauma – L.H.M. Ling


We’re pleased to share another engaging and insightful post from former India China Fellow (2008-2010) and New School Professor L.H.M. Ling. In her latest piece for the Asia & The Pacific Policy Society, Professor Ling engages the renewed border tensions between India and China, and calls for a different approach to the traditional Western power politics and border securitization discourses as a solution to strengthen historic India-China relations. Here is an excerpt from her piece.

On 20 October 1962, Chinese and Indian forces exchanged fire in Ladakh and across the MacMahon Line in the Himalayas. A month later, the war ended as mysteriously as it had begun, yet has shadowed Sino-Indian relations ever since. A ‘trust deficit’ keeps tabs on a series of mutual grievances: the disputed borderlands of Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang; China’s support of Pakistan and presence in Kashmir; India’s ‘Look East’ policy (that is, closer relations with the United States) combined with its unswerving support of the Dalai Lama and his exiled Tibetan community in Dharamsala.

These tensions have flared again recently. Both India and China have been upgrading and expanding their military presence in the Indian Ocean. As two of the world’s fastest-growing economies, they compete fiercely for crucial energy resources in Asia, Africa and Latin America. With one-third of humanity living in these two nuclear powers, a mere skirmish between them could destabilise the region and affect the security of the entire globe.

Still, conventional analysts of international relations would shrug: what’s new? After all, isn’t the international arena just like Hobbes’ state of human nature: “nasty, poor, brutish, lonely, and short”? And doesn’t this kind of power politics apply to everybody and everywhere, regardless of history, culture, language, religion or worldview?

In this view, non-Hobbesian, not to mention non-Western, ways of thinking and doing, relating and being, do not matter. At best, India and China can expect a third, more powerful actor – that is, the US – to intervene and enforce a temporary salve. At worst, war breaks out.

Read the full article by Professor Ling on the APPS Policy Forum website.

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