As part of the 2010 EPIIC International Symposium of the Tufts University Institute for Global Leadership, the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University co-hosted a panel on “South Asia 2060” as part of its larger project by the same name. EPIIC is a major student-run international symposium held each year at Tufts University on a different theme. The theme this year was “South Asia: Conflict, Culture, Complexity and Change” which matched very well with the Pardee Center project on South Asia 2060.
The panel titled, South Asia 2060 was held on February 21, 2010 and was attended by over 100 participants and students from the greater Boston area. The Pardee Center co-sponsored the panel as part of its South Asia 2060 project in which eminent thinkers from and beyond South Asia are being brought together to imagine the region?s future in terms of the various challenges and opportunities it is likely to face in the coming five decades (also see here). This is the second such event that the Center has co-hosted under the auspices of the South Asia 2060 project. The first was a panel held at Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan’s annual conference in December 2009.
The panelists at this symposium included Prof. Sugata Bose, The Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs and Director of the South Asia Center at Harvard University, Dr. Stephen Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, Prof. Jamshed Barucha, Provost and Senior Vice President of Tufts University, and Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Chair of the Physics Department at Quaid-e-Azam University, Pakistan. Moeed Yusuf, Pardee Center Research Fellow and co-coordinator of the South Asia 2060 initiative opened the panel by introducing the Pardee Center project and explaining its rationale and objectives.
Each of the speakers then discussed a particular aspect of South Asia, looking ahead. Prof. Bose took his cue from history to highlight that India had always been greater than its geographical spread and in terms of its culture, traditions, and presence had always transcended its borders. Dr. Cohen discussed futuristic scenarios for South Asia and argued that a well-integrated South Asia could be an unchallengeable super power given its size, resources, and diversity. Yet, more realistically, he saw South Asia in 2060 being somewhere between an integrated and a completely shredded region. Provost Barucha highlighted the critical importance of education in the region and while noting India?s many successes stressed that India remained behind the curve, especially in higher education. Nonetheless, he foresaw the possibility of India becoming a destination for foreign students over time and the Indian culture influencing many of those who do choose to study there. Prof. Hoodbhoy highlighted the dangers of Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons and remained circumspect about the capability of the world either to rid itself of nuclear weapons or for the South Asian powers to stay away from the brink time and again. The panel ended with an energetic and lengthy question and answer session with the audience.