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.

Chinese FDI in Latin American Extractive Industries – Adriana Abdenur


We are excited to share an upcoming publication from former India China Fellow (2008-2010) and Postdoctoral Fellow Adriana Abdenur, currently at the Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil. Professor Abdenur’s article on Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America and the Caribbean looks at the growing role of China as an investor in extractive industries, and how Chinese actors are engaged in these sectors. The full text of the article, “Skirting or Courting Controversy? Chinese FDI in Latin American Extractive Industries,” will be available soon from the International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement.

Here is the abstract for Professor Abdenur’s article.

China has become a key player in the development sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), not only due to trade but also because of the growing scope and visibility of its foreign direct investments (FDI). However, Chinese investments in the region are far from homogeneous, not only oscillating over time and space, but also varying across modes of incorporation into LAC economies. In the extractive industries, Chinese actors rely on a wide gamut of strategies to open up markets and to help ensure access to oil and minerals. This chapter breaks down the concept of FDI into three umbrella categories—greenfield projects, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures—to analyse how Chinese capital enters LAC extractive sectors. The chapter argues that, faced with a relatively unfamiliar landscape and new sources of uncertainty, Chinese companies tend to ‘test the water’ through mergers and acquisitions, as well as joint ventures, before delving into greenfield activities like direct mining or drilling. This cautious approach signals a degree of institutional learning on the part of Chinese stakeholders, as well as the desire to avoid charges of neo-colonialism, imposed dependency, and lax adherence to formal regulations.

More information about Professor Abdenur’s article, and the full text once released, can be found on the International Development Policy website.


Student Fellows Making Headlines in India


Kate from BeyondAMC Games with students in India

Kate from BeyondAMC Games working with students in India.

Three of the India China Institute’s Student Fellows are currently working in Belagavi, India to bring new gaming approaches to social problems. Their company, BeyondABC Games, is working to engage young people around pressing social issues through a variety of interactive media. Recently they were in Herwadkar at a local school using their game, TOUCH, to raise awareness about issues of personal safety and improper sexual contact.

Danny, Kate, Ker, and Jack from US and Canada are currently in Belagavi promoting their BeyondABC gaming company which is on a mission to to create social change through play (Education through games).

Through games, kids can freely explore without worrying about consequences, allowing them to understand the relationship between cause and effect. In a virtual world they can be whoever they want, and figure out life in a safe environment. In games it’s ok to make mistakes, because you can just restart the level. You can push boundaries, break things and build them back up again. We believe games have the potential to create a more socially aware generation.

You can read the full article online here.

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