'Agartala Doctrine' a solution to policy paralysis?

Posted By: PTI
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New Delhi, Feb 21: The Agartala Doctrine that focuses on pro-active but positive engagement with neighbours has fitted in well with India's Bangladesh policy since Indira Gandhi to Manmohan Singh and may be a useful complement to Narendra Modi's neighbourhood policy, says a new book.

The proposed national doctrine draws on Tripura's long proactive history of handling its neighbourhood.

'Agartala Doctrine' a solution to policy paralysis?

Differing from both the Monroe doctrine of dominance and the Gujral doctrine of unilateral magnanimity, it is rather based on the idea of "appropriate response" and has grown out of the line of action chosen by Tripura's chief ministers from Sachin Singh to Manik Sarkar.

Journalist Subir Bhaumik, who has edited "The Agartala Doctrine: A Proactive Northeast in Indian Foreign Policy," published by Oxford, makes a strong pitch for this doctrine as a possible line of action for states in Indian foreign policy.

"By his visits across the SAARC countries, Modi has stressed the need to strengthen India's relations with its neighbours. In a way, Modi unwittingly has practiced the 'Agartala Doctrine' of appropriate response with Pakistan so far. He invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony but did not hesitate to ask Indian security forces to respond in full measure to provocations on the border," he writes.

The book draws on contributions from scholars and diplomats, journalists and specialists with known expertise in the northeast and its immediate neighbourhood, its foreign policy, and the emerging process of regional cooperation in Asia.

In the book's foreword, former Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni writes, "We want northeast India to connect and reach out to the Bay of Bengal, the High Seas and the Deep Sea Bed. The India-Bangladesh maritime boundaries issue has been resolved and both nations can join hands to create a 'blue economy' that will benefit our peoples. Northeast India, so long nearly land-locked, will be a major beneficiary when that happens."

"We could also usher in regional cooperation with sovereign States lying respectively to our east and north. We could create an extraordinary amalgam of sovereign States - Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar- in which the Northeast India Region would play a deeply significant part. We could extend that even further; we could extend that to BIMSTEC including Sri Lanka and Thailand as well," she suggests.


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