`EU-like South Asian Commons ideal'; The Times of India; April 8, 2017

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Kochi | April 8, 2017

India should look at a South Asian Commons, on the lines of the European Union, which would include China and South East Asia to boost regional cooperation and resolve the tensions in the region, said Nirupama Rao, former foreign secretary and ambassador.Speaking on the dynamics of India’s role as a powerful presence in the Asian continent, she said that the requirements of a multiplex world also apply to that of Asia because the vast proportion of the world’s population is in this region.The former ambassador was delivering 13th quarterly lecture of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) in Kochi on Friday .

She said that the Modi government has followed a principle of flexible geometry which can be adapted to suit the needs of the region. “There is a need for regional cooperation and forming a commons system based on the shared cultural and traditional roots of the regions popu lations,“ she said.

Whenever there is a discussion about foreign policy and India’s relations with the world, the role of Islam is never discussed, she said. Asia and Islam have a common his toric link with the wider world. “India must aim to project its civilizational identity more than religion,“ Rao said.

The unsettled border with China and India’s difficulties with Pakistan over Kashmir will continue to remain points of contention, however, this will be mitigated through sub-regional cooperation. India will be dominant in the region because of its example of assimilation of various cultures and strong democratic ethos. Despite momentary flareups being witnessed with India’s neighbours, it is not a signal of a failure of India’s policy .

Rao said that the recent reaction of the Chinese government to the Dalai Lamas visit to Arunachal Pradesh indicates a new mutation of public opinion. India has and always will stand its ground on border issues although finding a solution would not be easy .

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News related to CPPR 13th Quarterly Lecture by “Asia Policy for India” by Ambassador (retired) Nirupama Rao in other print media

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