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Event Report: Nuclear Dimensions and Strategic Competition in the Asian Region

C3S Report No: 0012/2017

On the 2nd of August 2017, the Chennai Center for China Studies, along with the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Madras, and the National Maritime Foundation, Chennai Chapter, welcomed Ms. Akriti Vasudeva and Mr. Travis Wheeler from the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. to give a lecture-discussion on “Nuclear Dimensions and Strategic Competition in the Asian Region.”

After introductions and welcoming remarks from Commodore Vasan, Ms. Vasudeva began with a brief introduction to the work of the Stimson Center. Their research spans many topics, including transnational security in the Asian sub regions. Other programs she mentioned include online coursework, publications, and regional engagement.

The first program discussed was the South Asian Voices publication, an online academic body open for submissions from students and scholars around the world. They currently have over 130 contributors and growing. Content is available in Urdu, Hindi, and English, and they are able to submit published articles to accredited mediums like The Diplomat and The Wire. Submissions can be sent to authors@southasianvoices.org.

Mr. Wheeler presented the other Stimson program: the “Nuclear South Asia” online course. This free class allows students to learn from 85 lecturers, spanning seven chapters. The information goes through nuclear history, policy, risk-reduction, global perspectives, and much more. At the time of the presentation, there was 1800 enrollments and counting. The course can be found at www.nuclearlearning.org.

Mr. Wheeler spoke on Strategic Competition in South Asia. His first section was on Doctrine and Capabilities, looking at India and Pakistan’s policy on the use of nuclear force and deterrence scenarios. The second talked about Maritime Competition, focusing on China-Pakistan ties and India-U.S.ties. The third section looked at Diplomatic Gambits like India’s bid for membership into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The final section summarized the issues and the silver linings in regards to Indo-Pakistan relations. Questions from the audience ranged from disputed territory involving CPEC and Pakistan’s multi-warhead missile capabilities.

The second lecture came from Ms. Akriti on the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership. She discussed the key elements of the partnership, like the Civil Nuclear Deal and military exercises. Given the youth of the current administration, she urged that any policy statements were hypothetical, and could change drastically. Some observations presented were Trump’s focus on defense deals and suggesting Pakistan fight terrorism coming from its territory. A question arose of U.S. ability to act with India given their economic dependence with China, but the U.S. is not deterred on financial ground.

After the lectures, General V.R. Raghavan was invited to give his thanks and insights on the issue. After the vote of thanks, all three guests were offered mementos from Director Vasan.

[Compiled by Marc Unger, Intern, C3S. Marc is studying BA in Political Science (2019) at Elizabethtown College, U.S.A and is briefly studying at Madras Christian College, Chennai as part of an exchange program.)

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