India High Commissioner to UK launches book by JGU Professor in London

London, Nov 28 (IANS) The High Commissioner of India to the UK, Vikram K. Doraiswami launched the book titled India’s Moment: Changing Power Equations around the World, by Prof. (Dr.) Mohan Kumar, Dean, Strategic and International Initiatives, O.P. Jindal Global University last week.

The Guest of Honour was the Lord Patel of Bradford, Member of the House of Lords, the UK Chairman, India Business Group and Prof. (Dr.) Mark E. Smith, President and Vice Chancellor University of Southampton.

The Institutional partner was The India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton, represented by Prof. Sabu Padmadas, its Director.

The idea of how India negotiates with the world is at the heart of this book.

Career diplomat Mohan Kumar represented India at multiple international fora over a career spanning three and a half decades.

During this time, he would invariably be told that Indian negotiators were among the best in the business. And yet, several of his interlocutors would ask, in the same breath, why India was such a tough customer when it came to international negotiations.

This book is a sincere attempt to set the record straight. At one level, India is not very different from other countries insomuch as it seeks to protect where necessary, and advance where possible, its national interest. There are several unique aspects about India and the way it approaches international negotiations.

The book dwells on some of those fundamental factors and traces how India’s positions in international negotiations have evolved over time.

The High Commissioner of India to the UK, Vikram K. Doraiswami said: “Ambassador Mohan Kumar is one of India’s leading experts on foreign trade. The hallmark of great writing is to make something highly complex appear simple and lucid and Ambassador Mohan Kumar sets a gold standard in that. The context of India’s story is that at the time of India’s independence, 90 per cent of our population lived below the poverty line and only 16 per cent had access to education. No democracy in the world, including the west, has survived in less propitious conditions, starting with such an unequal society. From there, to now, no system would have been able to reach this level of development. Our challenge has been to leverage international partnerships for growth but at the same time to preserve the complexities of dealing with a country with millions of people living in multiple centuries at the same time. As Prof. Mohan Kumar suggested we need to take decisions on a non-ideological and pluralistic basis which support the national interest of India.”

Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor O.P. Jindal Global University said: “The next century will define India’s role in the world. Mohan Kumar is a distinguished diplomat and scholar who has bridged the gap between theory and practice and I congratulate him on his new book. He has incisively evaluated India’s leadership in key areas of international relations. A central contention of this book is that India has moved, slowly but surely, from being an alleged naysayer to becoming a putative partner for the world in key multilateral negotiations. More broadly, this reflects India’s growing political, economic and strategic clout in the world today. It is only when this transformation is fuller and more substantial that India will be able to fulfil its manifest destiny of becoming a leading power, capable of shaping global rules.”

The author of the book, Mohan Kumar, who is also the Dean, Strategic and International Initiatives, O.P. Jindal Global University said: “It is a great honour that the book is being launched in the presence of such luminaries. It was my experience in Geneva at the WTO, which is the arena of some of the toughest negotiations in the world, that led me to write this book. It is about explaining India’s position and for this purpose I have crafted an integrated framework for assessment of India’s actions in the international arena. This framework, which is borne out of my experience, comprises first and foremost the Gandhi Litmus Test, or what I have termed as the poverty veto. There are a huge number of people living in poverty in India and this has an impact on how India conducts international negotiations. Similarly, realpolitik and domestic politics also play a part. It is the poverty veto which made India object to IPRs in the WTO, to the complete phase-out of coal in climate change negotiations and which made India buy Russian oil. India is well on its way to become a leading power but in order to achieve that, the most important prerequisite is to reduce the number of people living in poverty and make growth inclusive. In terms of geopolitical imperatives, today the power differential with China is big so that we are now required to be closer to the west, especially the United States. This is what IR scholars call external balancing which India achieves through these strategic partnerships. The important conclusion is that India must become a $10 Trillion economy with inclusive growth. It will then be India’s moment – to transition from a balancing power to a leading power in the world.”

The Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, Member of the House of Lords, the UK and Chairman, India Business Group in his address as the Guest of Honour said: “The role higher education plays in the relationship between India and the UK is crucial. It is now widely accepted that India’s position on the world stage is becoming increasingly impactful in influencing nations across the globe. India offers enormous opportunities. With its space programme, India is making significant contributions to the world’s scientific knowledge, technological innovation and space discoveries. During the pandemic, India became the pharmacy to the world. India puts the global south at the centre of the global development agenda. For growth we need higher education, international collaborations like the one between JGU and Southampton University and skill based education. Southampton University has an India research centre and we need to consolidate the India-UK relationship in education.”

Prof. (Dr.) Mark E. Smith, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Southampton in his concluding remarks said: “O.P. Jindal Global University has world class infrastructure and is rapidly developing its reputation as being one of the institutes of excellence. But more importantly, we value our link with India. India clearly has been a major power, but that power is clearly on a rapidly ascending trajectory. We as a leading education institute believe that India is the place to be both in partnership and more importantly we look forward to developing our strategy and partnerships with a whole range of institutions within such an important country.”

The vote of thanks was given by Prof. (Dr.) Sabu Padmadas, Director, The India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton, who said, “This book, which is actually a culmination of experience, reflections, observations and critical insights of the author is absolutely phenomenal. We can all agree that while knowledge empowers, wisdom actually transforms. This Book does precisely that.”



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