About Neighbourhood Studies
The Indian Neighbourhood Reader (INR) is an academic initiative by the National Institute of Advanced Studies as a part of their research activities on area studies. The INR's focus will go beyond politics and security; it aims to comprehensively monitor and analyze developments in the entire Indian neighbourhood. The INR has a larger geographic scope; given the historic, ethnic, political and economic linkages, the INR looks at the neighbourhood beyond the SAARC geographic prism. The focus will include parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East, along with maritime developments in the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
The goal of the Indian Neighbourhood Reader is to examine various areas including internal politics, economy, social developments, demography, and external relations. Given the emphasis on science and technology, and maritime at the Institute, the INR would like to have these two areas as special verticals in the Indian neighbourhood studies.
The Indian Neighbourhood Reader is committed to realizing the noble vision of NIAS' founders by empowering budding scholars to delve into the study of the Indian neighbourhood. The Institute plans to collaborate with its MoU partners in Bangalore, Chennai, and Pondicherry to identify and train promising scholars in the field of neighbourhood studies. This process will begin at an early stage, during their graduation itself, and will consist of workshops and internships. As a natural corollary of the above, the Institute plans to build a network of institutions and scholars working on the neighbourhood. The INR would also aim to bring the Indian scholars working on the neighbourhood together every year in an annual conclave in Bangalore. Subsequently, the INR would build linkages with institutions and individual scholars across the neighbourhood and create a larger network.
In terms of outputs, the INR kicks off with a Daily Brief on the neighborhood, and will progressively broaden its research on the neighbourhood. In the short term with a Neighbourhood Weekly, but eventually, the INR will publish commentaries, reports, and databases on contemporary issues with a historical context.
In terms of outcome, the larger objective of the INR is to make NIAS a centre of neighbourhood research, prepare databases, build capacity amongst young scholars, and create a network across the region.
June 2023 | CWA # 991
May 2023 | CWA # 957
Lakshmi Parimala H
May 2023 | CWA # 951
March 2023 | CWA # 934
About the team
Melvin George is a Research Intern at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. He is currently a postgraduate scholar at Loyola College, Chennai. He is currently working on a commentary on Russia's strategy in the Ukraine War and The Indian Neighbourhood Reader. His other area of interest includes East Asia.
Immaculine Joy Paul is a Research Intern at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. She is currently a postgraduate scholar in the Department of Political Sciences at Madras Christian College, Chennai. She is currently working on The Indian Neighbourhood Reader and Africa Weekly. Her area of interest includes gender studies and South Asia with a focus on Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Lakshmi Parimala H is a Research Intern at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. She is currently pursuing her postgraduation in the Department of International Studies, at Stella Maris College, Chennai. She is currently working on The Indian Neighbourhood Reader. Her area of interest includes maritime studies and developments in South Asia particularly Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #93, 16 September 2023, Saturday
The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #93, 16 September 2023, Saturday
Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Dhriti Mukherjee, and Lakshmi Parimala. H
The Cabinet gives nod to seven to eight agreements to be signed during PM’s China visit
On 15 September, the cabinet assented to the agreements, understanding, and MoUs to be signed during the upcoming visit of PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal to China. According to two ministers, at least seven to eight agreements will be signed on agro-industrial parks, cooperation in agricultural sectors, cultural cooperation, and construction of a north-south corridor and a cross-border transmission line. Besides the above, PM Dahal is likely to take up issues like cross-border energy cooperation, implementation of BRI, and writing off loans of the Pokhara International Airport and five Chinese planes. Nepal further seeks to reopen border points with China closed due to the pandemic, mainly traditional trading points. On the other hand, there is an emphasis on the PM to take up the recent hiccup in the relations, regarding the newly published map of China which excluded the three areas of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura. (Anil Giri, “Cabinet okays eight deals for Dahal's China visit,” The Kathmandu Post, 16 September 2023)
The international isolation leads junta to strengthen its ties with China and Russia, says The Irrawaddy
On 16 September, The Irrawaddy reported that the Myanmar junta is increasing its ties with China and Russia because of its increasing international isolation. Union Election Commission (UEC) chairman, the Central Bank of Myanmar governor, five ministers of foreign affairs, transport, investment, industry, and tourism are in Russia. A UEC member, deputy home affairs ministers, four other ministers of commerce, agriculture, construction, and health are in China. This is the second China visit within the month of September for the commerce minister Aung Naing Oo. (“Junta Watch: Wooing Follows War Crimes in Ethnic Areas; Flurry of Visits to Russia and China; and More,” The Irrawaddy, 16 September 2023)
Srettha to reveal funding source for 10,000-baht wallet scheme within two weeks
On 15 September, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that within the next two weeks, he will reveal the funding source for Pheu Thai’s flagship policy of 10,000-baht wallet scheme. According to the proposed scheme that aims to stimulate the local economies, all Thai citizens of age 16 and above will be eligible for the handout that can be used at local shops and businesses within four kilometres of the recipient’s registered address. Sretha said: “In two weeks, I will reveal the source of funding as my talks with finance officials reveal that more than 200 billion baht will be added to the state finances.” An online media called The Standard said: “Stimulation of the economy will not happen immediately the day the digital wallet is launched as we need to increase production capacity first.” (“PM to reveal wallet funding source,” Bangkok Post, 16 September 2023)
The plan to give tablet computers for children will cause more harm than good: Suchatvee Suwansawat
On 15 September, Democrat member Suchatvee Suwansawat wrote in a Facebook post urging the government to halt the programme announced by Education Minister Pol Gen Permpoon Chidchob and his deputy Surasak Phancharoenworakul, to provide students and teachers nationwide with a tablet computer each. The program that was previously implemented by the previous Pheu Thai government had serious problems as it would affect motor skill development and their ability to interact with other people. Mr. Suchatvee Suwansawat said: “The ministry needs to be certain about what age groups of children are ready to use the devices. Otherwise, it will cause more harm than good…Children's emotional development could be affected if they spend a lot of time on tablets or other devices.” He said the advice of the mental health specialist must be taken to help the policymakers to make the right decisions as the children are vulnerable. (“Dems call for pause of tablet plan,” Bangkok Post, 16 September 2023)
Fisheries amendment bill to tackle illegal fishing activities passed
On 16 September, Daily Mirror reported that the Sri Lankan parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on Food Security and Agriculture has approved the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) bill. The bill aims to address unlawful fishing activities in Sri Lankan waters. The primary concern pertains to Indian fishermen engaging in these activities in Sri Lankan waters, especially in the northern sea. Currently, the country’s legal provisions only hold the license holder responsible for illegal, Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, without specifying who exactly that entails. However, the proposed legislation seeks to broaden the scope of accountability by including not only the boat owner but also the skipper and any person onboard to be charged for IUU fishing. (“Sri Lanka brings new law to tackle IUU fishing amid unlawful fishing by Indian fishermen,” Daily Mirror, 16 September 2023)
Iranian authorities detain Mahsa Amini’s father on her death anniversary
On 16 September, the day marking one-year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, the Iranian security forces briefly detained Mahsa Amini’s father, Amjad Amini, releasing him later. Mr. Amini was warned by the security forces to not mark the anniversary of his daughter's death. The Iranian authorities have ramped up security on the streets ahead of the one-year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, to ensure that there are no protests marking the anniversary. On 16 September 2022, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in Iran, who was detained for not following the hijab rule, died in police custody. This gave rise to protests in many cities across Iran, with women burning their headscarves, cutting their hair, and chanting the slogan: “Woman, Life, Freedom.” These protests snowballed into calls for regime change. (“Protests erupt across Iran on death anniversary of Mahsa Amini,” ANI News, 17 September 2023)
Torkham border reopens after eight- day closure
On 15 September, the Torkham border crossing reopened after an eight-day closure due to clashes between border forces. Hundreds of travellers and trucks were stranded during this period. Pakistani authorities conditioned the reopening on assurances from Kabul that Afghan territory would not be used for attacks on Pakistan. This development brings relief to stranded individuals and boosts trade prospects between the two nations. Pakistan's special representative for Afghanistan Asif Ali Khan Durrani, emphasised the importance of expanding trade ties and improving law and order for increased bilateral trade. (Ibrahim Shinwari, “Torkham border reopens after eight days,” Dawn, 16 September 2023)
ECP to frame contempt charges against Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhry
On 16 September, Dawn reported on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to schedule a hearing for 26 September to frame contempt charges against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhry. The charges relate to contempt of the ECP and the chief election commissioner. Notably, all three individuals have been asked to appear in person for the hearing. Additionally, on the same day, the ECP will resume a hearing related to the confiscation of PTI's “prohibited funding.” (“ECP to frame charges against PTI leaders in contempt case,” Dawn, 16 September 2023)
Huge price increases for diesel and petrol
On 15 September, following the interim set-up's assumption of power in August, the price of gasoline was increased by PKR 26.02 per litre and that of high-speed diesel (HSD) by PKR 17.34 per litre. This represents yet another significant increase in the cost of petroleum goods. On September 14, there was widespread speculation that the price of kerosene oil will increase by roughly PKR 10 per litre and that the price of gasoline and HSD may increase by PKR 14 and PKR 16 per litre, respectively, for the upcoming two weeks. But the rise was much higher than anticipated. According to a statement from the finance ministry, “Owing to the increasing trend of petroleum prices in the international market, the government has decided to revise the existing consumer prices.” ( “Petrol, diesel witness massive price hikes," The Express Tribune, 16 September 2023)