Shorenstein APARC, in collaboration with India's Observer Research Foundation, will hold a conference on regionalism and regional integration in South Asia at Stanford University. This is the third in a series of academic conferences on regionalism organized by Shorenstein APARC, following earlier conferences on regionalism in Northeast and Southeast Asia. The conferences have yielded important edited volumes, published in association with The Brookings Institution press. The conference papers from this conference as well will be issued as an edited volume in that same series.
Globally, the trend towards regional integration and the rise of regional institutions as actors in the international system has been on the rise. The paradigm for transnational regionalism is the European Union but we have also seen a growing role for regional organizations in Latin America, in Central Asia and even in North America. In Asia, there is increasing interest in the creation of an East Asian Community, driven in large part by the rise of intra-Asian trade and investment, propelled by China. Regionalism has been on the agenda in South Asia since the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. Yet the progress toward regional cooperation and integration in South Asia has been very slow. However the dynamic growth of the Indian economy may be giving a new impetus to regionalism, driven by forces of business and the market.
This conference will examine the prospects for regionalism in South Asia, looking at the factors that drive greater regional integration and the obstacles to regionalism. It will place South Asia in the comparative framework, examining how South Asia compares to other experiences globally, including in Asia and Europe. The conference will explore the different perspectives on regionalism from within South Asia. It will focus on the role of India, as the largest power in the region and look at how much India drives or blocks greater regionalism. And finally, the participants will examine the interests of other powers in South Asian regionalism.
Funding for this conference was provided by the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, The Observer Research Foundation, Jet Airways, Mr. Kanwal Rekhi, insure1234.com, and G1G.com.