As part of its South Asia 2060 project, the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future co-hosted a special high-level event and panel discussion on ‘Visions of a Region’s Future: South Asia 2060’ in Singapore . The event was held at the National Library of Singapore on August 12, 2010.
Co-hosted with the Singapore Institute for International Affairs (SIIA) leading and oldest think tank focussing on global and international affairs, the event attracted an audience of over 100, including senior diplomats from Singapore as well as from South Asia (including the High Commissioners of both India and Pakistan to South Asia), leading business leaders (including those with personal and business roots in South Asia), scholars and interested others. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The event was moderated by Dr. Simon Tay, Chairman of SIIA and one of Singapore’s leading scholars of international affairs who began by introducing the topic and its importance. This was followed by keynote remarks from Dr. T.C.A. Raghavan, the High Commissioner of India to Singapore, who laid out a set of challenges that the region faces and will face into its future. This was followed by keynote remarks from Singapore’s Ambassador Gopinath Pillai who is also the Chairman of ISAS. Amb. Pillai looked at the longer-range future of South Asia and argued that while there are many potentially positive forces at work, there are also potentially destabilizing forces and eventually the balance will be decided by the region’s ability to cooperate as a region into the future.
The keynote remarks were followed by a panel discussion with Prof. Adil Najam of the Pardee Center, Prof, Amitendu Palit of ISAS and Mr. Manu Bhaskaran of the Centennial Group – all authors in the Pardee Center’s South Asia 2060 book. Prof. Najam started by introducing the larger South Asia 2060 project and then laying out some of its emerging findings, in particular the importance of a “South Asian identity” in determining the region’s regional future. Mr. Bhaskaran focussed his remarks on the rise of China and the emerging dynamics of tension between a rising China and a rising India. He argued that the relationship will remain tense, will define the region’s future, but will not become violent. Finally, Prof. Amitendu looked at the region’s economic future and argued that human resources and labor and knowledge dynamics will be central to this future. The panel discussion was followed by a lively question session.
This was the third panel discussion related to the South Asia 2060 project which was co-hosted with partner institutions. Earlier, similar high-level panel discussions were held in Pakistan (co-hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute) and at the 2010 EPIIC International Symposium at Tufts University. The project will lead to the publication of book including essays by leading scholars, policy practitioners, and thinkers from across and beyond South Asia, including many who presented at these events.