CPPR Centre for Strategic Studies was launched on 16th August 2013 by Prof K.C Abraham, Academic Director, CPPR.

During the launch, Dr D. Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR mentioned the need for a focused research approach so as to identify and resolve external and internal security challenges faced by countries specifically India. Mr. David Gainer, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate, Chennai introduced the chief guest of the day, Dr Ernest Bower, Senior Advisor & Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies, Centre for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), Washington D.C.

Please read the original transcripts of Mr Ernest Bowers talk and interaction during the event. Click here Bower Transcript

Speaking of the pitfalls in USA’s post-cold war strategies, Dr. Bower mentioned how in the current scenario it was crucial for USA to build deep ties with ASEAN as well as countries associated to ASEAN such as India. He also expressed his apprehension about the poor impact President Obama’s November 2009 trip to China the reasons for which he suggested could be USA’s weak financial situation, political divide, outside focus as well as issues related to withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. He emphasized how USA has re-strategized its approach to an ASEAN Centre approach to a great extend that was initiated by Hilary Clinton. The United States looks forward for mutual understanding, respect and co-operation with ASEAN primarily in terms of economic affairs seconded by security affairs.

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Mr Bower highlighted how India has given S.E Asia much foundation in terms of religion, culture, language etc. but yet hasn’t fully engaged with S.E Asia. Interestingly, Dr. Bower mentioned how they talk more about ‘Indo-Pacific’ than ‘Asia-Pacific’ and how the S.E Asia and E. Asia concept has become quite blurred. He repeatedly emphasized on the need to have frequent honest discussions between India and the USA so as to understand better what India’s interest would be in Indo-ASEAN engagement and how USA could align with India and work together. To relate to, he mentioned how Vietnam speaks directly to USA and is a promising partner in terms of the knowledge sharing process on China as well as ASEAN. He said they expect similar ties ensuring ‘Strategic Trust’ with India.

Further, Dr. Bower repeatedly disagreed to questions that pointed towards USA’s concerns about China rising to the status of a super power. However he did frankly mention how USA will be killing the ‘golden goose’ if it spoils its relations with China as it will affect the trade flow via the South China Sea that accounts for 2/3rd of the world’s trade flow.

He hailed the initiatives taken by Chief Ministers of few states who encourage business with USA and specifically pointed towards Mr. Narendra Modi’s involvement in bringing in a huge business from the Ford group. Mr. Bower stressed on the high education standards of a state like Kerala and is shocked why the high potential of the state remains untapped. He looks forward for business proposals from Kerala that will strengthen US ties with Kerala.

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Remarks were made by Mr.P.K.Hormis Tharakan, Advisor to CPPR emphasing that India is priority is Security issues and economic concerns are secondary. After a vibrant and frank question and answer session, the session ended successfully with a vote of thanks.

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To Read the Transcripts of the lecture, Click here Bower Transcript