Kolkata an Essential Place for Building Pan Asian Connectivity

The Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference is being hosted by the U.S. Consulate General-Kolkata, the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University, and the Observer Research Foundation.  A two-day event in Kolkata on March 10th-11th, the conference brings together business, academic, government, and civilian experts from the United States, India, and Southeast Asia to examine the opportunities and challenges as India and its neighbors take on greater roles in the region.

The U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, will address a Special Session on March 11th focusing on regional connectivity; viewing it as a place where the United States and India’s strategic and economic interests converge.  In his keynote address at the Inaugural Session on March 10th, Neil Kromash, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of South & Central Asia noted, “Promoting pan-Asian connectivity is an issue that has, and will continue to have a strong and enduring U.S. commitment, and where we see great opportunities for cooperation with the countries of the region.”  According to Dr. Sumit Ganguly, Director, Center on American and Global Security, Indiana University, “Kolkata, the financial hub of eastern India and known as the country’s intellectual and cultural capital, is a germane location for the event as a gateway to India’s eastern neighbors and an essential place of connectivity in the region.”

The purpose of the Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference is to highlight the most recent scholarship on South Asia’s ties to Southeast Asia and East Asia, thus identifying trans-regional issues in the domains of security, counter-terrorism, trade, and environmental affairs.  The security session will explore a range of security issues that impinge on India’s northeast especially as they pertain to the adjacent states such as Myanmar, Bangladesh and beyond. Scholars on this panel will deal with questions of regional insurgencies, human and drug trafficking, transnational terrorism and related matters.  The next session will deal with a range of trade related issues including questions of tariff and non-tariff barriers, regional connectivity that either facilitates or hobbles trade and the prospects of boosting regional trade links.  The environment session will deal with a plethora of issues that transcend India’s national boundaries and percolate into significant parts of Southeast Asia. These involve the sharing of river waters, environmental degradation, demographic shifts and invariably the effects of global climate change.

The Building Pan Asian Connectivity Conference is generously supported by the U.S. Department of State.  It wasinitiated by U.S. Consulate General Kolkata with Public Affairs funding as part of the U.S. Mission in India’s strategic policy conference series, which started with the Maritime Security Conference in Chennai in June 2014 and includes the U.S.-India Relations Conference later this month in New Delhi.