‘Politics of Security’ Focus of Virtual India Center Conference


The India Center hosted a conference on “The Politics of Security in India: Progress and Challenges” during the month of October. The conference took place virtually as a series of three panels that featured international experts from academia and think tanks to discuss international, domestic and human security issues in India.

Security constitutes a central issue in Indian politics. India is the world’s largest democracy with almost 1.4 billion people and a highly diverse population. It is also one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world. From an international security perspective, India’s role is crucial for regional and global stability, and India is a strategic partner for the U.S.

In recent decades India has made major strides to improve different dimensions of security for its population and has improved indicators such as life expectancy, extreme poverty and access to education especially for girls. India is seeking to stimulate economic growth and promote inclusion and sustainability through comprehensive policy approaches in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Yet, significant challenges to security remain. For example, development has been uneven across population groups and geographic areas, and gender inequities persist. India is an emerging major space power, but also faces border conflicts, foreign policy challenges and internal conflicts and tensions. The slowing economic growth of recent years has been amplified by the Coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a massive economic contraction that will severely impact further progress in advancing India’s goals to provide security for its population.

The conference’s three panels addressed different dimensions of security. The first session was titled “Water, Gender, and Border Security.” Arkaja Singh, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, presented her work on securing access to drinking water in Indian Cities. Brian Turnbull, Ph.D., University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, discussed his research on gender quotas in elections in India. Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, provided insights on the India-China border conflict and its implications. The session was moderated by David Dumke and Rebecca Schiel, Ph.D., both at UCF.

The second panel featured presentations on “Historical and New Perspectives on the Politics of Security.” Shyam Tekwani, MFA, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawaii, discussed India’s new security order and challenges to democracy. Sanjib Baruah, Ph.D., Bard College, presented his research on nation, nation-building and postcolonial Sovereignty in Northeast India. Rochisha Naraya, University of Central Florida, discussed the economics of gendered regulation in early colonial India from a historical perspective. The session was moderated by Jonathan Powell, Ph.D., and Schiel, both at UCF.

The third, and final, panel on “The Politics of Security: Gender, Terrorism, and Space” addressed a diverse set of topics. Seema Shekhawat, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, addressed issues related to gender security in India. Anup Phayal, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Sambuddha Ghatak, Ph.D., San José State University, co-presented their collaborative research on BJP policies and terrorist violence in India. Roger Handberg, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, presented an analysis of the Indian space program to serve both internal security by assisting development and international security. The panel was moderated by Rochisha Narayan, Ph.D., and Schiel, of UCF.

“I am grateful that we were able to bring together such an outstanding set of international experts to our conference despite the limitations posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. The presentations and ensuing discussions were insightful and stimulating and provided new perspectives on the concept of security and its application in the Indian context,” said Kerstin Hamann, Ph.D., interim director of the India Center and Pegasus Professor and director of the School of Politics, Security, and International Relations.

Hamann also gratefully acknowledges the support the India Center, the Office of Global Perspectives and International Initiatives, the College of Graduate Studies, the  College of Sciences, the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity, and the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs (all at UCF) and the Chr. Michelsen Instiute/Norwegian Research Council for their support that made the conference possible.







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