Sub-regional cooperation can be seen in many parts of the world, which has been formed either to make a particular region’s emancipation from underdevelopment or for utilising the comparative economic advantage of a specific geographical area.
The sub regional cooperation, both intra and extra-regional, has contributed to regional economic development as well as to the national gross domestic product (GDP).
It aims to exploit complementarities between geographically contiguous areas of different countries to gain a comparative edge in production for export. Thus, the sub-regional cooperation that straddle national boundaries is making a major contribution to growth and stability in the region.
The eight countries grouping of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a vas combination of various political regimes, socio-economic realities, ethnic differentials, religious and linguistic diversity.
As a result, a regional integration scheme with several states, their clashing ideologies, values and interests, and national/domestic policies, makes it difficult in its efforts to bring regional integration in South Asia .
It has also been stymied by the political tension between India and Pakistan. The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) has now become a non-existent entity.
In this regard, a sub-regional cooperation among the island nations of the northern Indian Ocean countries such as Sri Lanka and Maldives and southern states of India; Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, which carry some degree of cultural and economic commonness, would provide the much needed fillip to the lack of regional integration in South Asia.
The sub-regional economic cooperation concept has taken hold because it is a controlled experiment in regional cooperation whose adverse effects, if any, can be limited to the triangle, but whose beneficial results can subsequently be applied to the national economy as a whole.
It offers the benefits of regional integration without great loss of economic sovereignty. The greatest benefits necessarily accrue to the most industrially mature partner. But even the poorest partner gains in practical terms as a result of job generation, skills development, technology transfer and the infusion of industrial discipline in the local work force.
Sub-regional cooperation has brought not only economic development but increased political connectivity among the member countries, which can be seen in Eastern Europe, Baltic Sea region, and also in Asia. For instance, the “Southern Growth Triangle” (SIJORI), formed in 1989, comprising Singapore, Johor in Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Batam in the province of Riau has helped to mitigate the territorial dispute between the three countries and also emerged as the model of various growth triangles in the region.
Similarly, six countries — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China (Yunnan province) — have formed Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) which was initiated in the early 1990s, well after SAARC was born. Supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), GMS galvanised a natural economic community on the banks of the Mekong River.
The establishment of a power grid GMS shares as well as an optical fibre network connecting the regional countries with Yunnan province helps the understanding of the regional engagement between the ‘Big Brother’ and small neighbours without any hiccups.
There has been a growing perception that India has chosen to ignore the island nations in the context of a newly ‘assertive’ foreign policy which include the ‘look-east’ policy and its strategic relationship with the US.
However, China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean region and its various infrastructure facilities, known as ‘string of pearls’, necessitated New Delhi to rejuvenate its policy priorities.
It is imperative for New Delhi that Sri Lanka or Maldives should never come under the strategic influence of Beijing. Since the LTTE problem is resolved and Sri Lanka needs India’s support for its economic development, a sub-regional cooperation will enhance the bilateral relationship too.
Although India is the largest trading partner of Sri Lanka but the total trade between the two in 2013-14 was $ 5.2 which accounts just 0.68 per cent of India’s total trade. Maldives accounts 0.01 per cent of India’s total trade but India’s economic presence in Maldives is remarkable.
The India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement signed in March 2000 has provided a big boost in bilateral trade which multiplied nearly five-fold over the next decade. However, the economic interaction between South India and the island nations, as the region comes in contiguously advantageous area, is very minimal and trade and investment between them needs to be improved.
In many ways, India is considered as the regional heavyweight and the neighbouring countries are looking up to India for some of its essential materials. The post tsunami humanitarian relief operation and economic assistance by various Indian agencies to the island nations were able build trust and confidence among the people.
However, more functional cooperation in other areas which include science and technology, disaster management, human resource capacity development, and maritime security can play a vital role in bringing regional integration in South Asia.
Starting with localised steps to construct a wider regional regime of confidence building, transparency and openness would be a more favourable approach to keep regionalism progressed.
A peninsular India-island nations cooperation could lead to functional engagement, which in turn, helps stabilise the political cooperation in the entire South Asia.
In this regard this seminar seeks to answer the following questions:
What are the areas in which sub-regional cooperation can be fulfilled?
To identify the problems and prospects of regional trade and investment pattern in the sub-region
Would business community and academia be able bring forth political cooperation?
What are the challenges affecting the regional security environment?
We invite papers on each of the above mentioned themes. Contributions are expected to explore the philosophical significance of the questions emerging within the scope of each theme.
However, good quality papers not falling under any of the above mentioned themes are also welcome.
Papers are invited from policy analysts, researchers from academics and civil society, young scholars and students. Authors are advised to limit their contributions to 4500-6000 words. Abstracts up to 300-words should be prepared for blind review and sent on or before 30 July 2015.
The papers may be sent to [email protected] . A topic sheet containing the following information must be affixed to each contribution: Author’s Name(s) , Title of the Paper , Designation and Institutional Affiliation , E-mail ID., Contact No. The abstract should be in .doc or .docx format.
Last date for sending abstract (as email attachment): 30 July, 2015
Intimation of acceptance of abstract after scrutiny: 1 August 2015
Last date of registration (DD with registration form): 10 August 2015
Last date for sending full papers: 20 August 2015
Dates of the Conference: 30th August – 1st September, 2015.
Early Bird (Till 15th August 2015)
Delegate Fee (with accommodation): Rs. 1400/-
Delegate Fee (without accommodation): Rs 800/-
Participants should send their Registration Fees after the acceptance of abstracts by Demand Draft in favour ofChrist University, Bangalore. (Please write your name and the title of the conference on the reverse side of the draft.)
Venue and Hospitality
The Organising Committee will provide hospitality including breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. Accommodation will be arranged by the committee for which prior information must be provided well in advance.
Ronit Lal Sarangi , [email protected], 8050566690
School of Law, Christ University