NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

By Anmol Jain and Sarjeet Amin
Pandeet Deendayal Petroleum University, India

NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

Image Attribute: South Block, PDPU 

"Goshti - गोष्ठी"- South Block's inaugural event got a resounding, frankly, unprecedented response both from students and faculty. 

Often asked, yet significant question was put forward to the gathering – What is terrorism? It brought out a variety of answers and perspectives but one overarching opinion was that these transnational groups are freedom fighters for one set of people and terrorists for another. 

NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

The Chief Guest, Mr. Rahul Guhathakurta, the founder of IndraStra, and faculty mentors from International Relations Department of School of Liberal Studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University - Dr. Sanjay Pradhan and Dr. Sitakanta Mishra gave their opening addresses. 

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Mr. Guhathakurta said that there are two differing international views – that of the terrorists and that of the victims. He argued that terrorism is manmade after all. Dr. Sanjay Pradhan viewed terrorism as a dilemma – one that is difficult to resolve as it involves the question of 'who is right'. This makes terrorism extremely subjective and according to him two things could lead to terrorism – external support and domestic policies. Dr. Sitakanta Mishra held the view that a functional definition of terrorism is needed. 

NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

Image Attribute: South Block, PDPU 

Students added on to the discussion by highlighting the importance of ideologies. Some said that Nawaz Sharif's invocation of Burhan Wani as a 'young leader' in his UNGA speech was an attempt by Pakistan to depict him as a freedom fighter.  

Amidst all the talks of whether India should show restraint or retaliate head on, an essential question was posed by Dr. Sitakanta Mishra – Is violence a viable method? Even if it is viable, is it acceptable – be it the government or the citizens? Dr. Sanjay Pradhan weighed in by saying that violence is not just a means but also an outcome. There was a section suggesting that we should be thinking with our brains, and not our hearts. A very objective analysis of whether India 'can' pursue aggressive retaliatory policies, and deal with the repercussions. 

Another side felt confident that India is capable but 'should' it actually go ahead? It seemed unlikely to others based on the argument that Pakistan of 2016 isn’t the Pakistan of 1971, and there’s a possibility of Pakistan using nuclear weapons. To this there was a rebuttal that India today isn’t the India of 1971 either. The possibility of an unprovoked nuclear attack by Pakistan has always remained according to many. 

NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

Image Attribute: South Block, PDPU

Director of SLS, Professor Dr. Nigam Dave said that we must not get sentimental. Dissociating things like art and cricket from politics is not possible in a country like ours. The key to fulfilling our national interests is our soft power. He strongly advocated prohibiting various Pakistani nationals working and earning profits from Indian market while all the violence goes on in the background. 

Instead of talking about destabilizing Pakistan, we should be talking about stabilizing it, said Mr. Phalgun Kumar. He talked about how most people in Pakistan are non-violent, and not looking forward to their government and army waging a war against India. More rational voices are not heard as much as the louder, oppressive ones. This is where the youth of Pakistan and India will play a role in bridging the communication gap. Dr. Dave immediately countered citing the example of hateful social media interactions saying that the ground reality may not be as rosy as Mr. Kumar's assessment. 

Concluding the formal discussion, Mr. Guhathakurta quoted and explained Yuri Bezminov's definition on subversive activities in which one state targets another and the four stages of subversion: demoralize, destabilize, crisis and normalize. According to him, the right course of action would be putting in diplomatic efforts – something he praises Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi to have understood really well. Even at the cost of criticism, the PMO India has put in efforts over the past 2 years that yielded the continual support that we see today from the international community. 

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Sitakanta Mishra.

NEWS | PDPU Ghandhinagar Kick Starts "South Block", An Inter-disciplinary IR Club

Image Attribute: South Block, PDPU
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