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Wednesday Seminar | Good Fences Make Good Neighbours: Looking at India, with China in Mind | 29 November, 2023 @ 3 P.M. IST | Zoom Webinar

29 Nov 2023
Subrata K. Mitra
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Time: 3:00 PM

I am a political scientist by training. Comparative politics, foreign policy, rational choice, and South Asia are among my areas of interest. I had already ‘encountered’ China twice, in 1962 and 1971, but the chance to be actually in the country, and to speak to Chinese diplomats and scholars, and encounter society in the context of its everyday life, came to me in 2012 when I was invited to Tsinghua University to deliver a set of lectures on India’s foreign policy and domestic politics. During this visit, I was able to spend time in a Chinese village with a Muslim minority population which gave me a unique opportunity to observe the political system at the micro-level. It also gave me a point of comparison for my earlier experience of fieldwork at the village level in Odisha and Gujarat. The four areas of my academic repertoire where I feel the presence of China the most, and which I will discuss, are: 1. statecraft and foreign policy; 2. governance by stealth; 3. endogenous modernity; and 4. the modern state with Asian features. My interaction with the Chinese in China, and in Germany, has also helped me realise why pragmatism and unsentimental lucidity is a far better way forward in dealing with China than the sentimental Hindi-Chini-Bhai-bhai, and any exaggerated sense of mutual convergence of interests.


About the Speaker

Subrata K. Mitra is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Heidelberg University, Germany and an Adjunct Professor at Dublin City University (DCU), Dublin, Ireland. Prior to this, he was the Head of Department of Political Science (1994-2014) at South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University. He has been a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University (Beijing), University of California, (Berkeley), National University of Singapore (Singapore), University of Nottingham (UK), University of Paris (France), Central University, Hyderabad (India), Quaid-i-Azam University (Islamabad/Pakistan), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi). Indian and Comparative politics, rational choice, governance, citizenship, political theory and foreign policy are among his main interests. His recent books include, The 2019 Parliamentary Elections in India: Democracy at Crossroads?; Governance by Stealth: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Making of the Indian State; Politics in India: Structure, Process, Policy;  Kautilya’s Arthashastra: An Intellectual Biography – the Classical Roots of Modern Politics in India; Citizenship and the Flow of Ideas; Reuse: The Art and Politics of Integration and Anxiety;  When Rebels become Stakeholders; The Puzzle of India’s Governance; and India: Statecraft and foreign policy.


About the Chair

Ambassador Asoke Mukerji is a Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi; an elected member of the Governing Council of the United Service Institution (USI) for 2023-2025; and a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London. He teaches diplomacy at the Diplo Foundation, and writes and publishes regularly on international affairs in India and abroad. He served for over 37 years in the Indian Foreign Service, retiring as India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York in December 2015. He has represented India in various forums including in negotiations at the UN General Assembly in New York for Agenda 2030 and in the Commonwealth in 2007, and chaired the WTO Committee on Special Commitments for Trade in Services. He was India’s chief negotiator for the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and chair of the SAARC Steering Committee. On the bilateral front, he represented India in the UK (2007-2010), Kazakhstan (2005-2007), Russia (2001-2005), the UAE (1998-2001) and in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Charge d’affaires in 1992. He has published several books including, Stamped in Memory: Dubai’s Postal Service 1909-1999, India and the United Nations 1945-2015: a Photo Journey, Valour and Sacrifice: the first Indian Soldiers in Europe 1914-1916, and Gallipoli Revisited (2022).


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