Think tanks to bridge Iran-India expert communities

The Iranian Presidency’s Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) hosted several think tankers, diplomats, and scholars on January 15, discussing Iran-India think tank diplomacy, and opportunities and challenges of their bilateral relations, especially regarding India’s procrastination in developing Iran’s Chabahar Port. GPTT’s co-founder, Dr. Seyed Mohammad Sadegh Emamian who attended the meeting, while appreciated the opportunity for deepening the mutual Iran-India understanding, pointed out the main potential areas of mutual interests, as well as some important concerns from the Iranian point of view.

His remarks were as follows:

“Thanks CSS and Mr. President for organizing Iran-India Think tank Dialogue and I would like to welcome our Indian colleagues in Tehran.

The rationale behind this intellectual diplomacy event is to provide a mutual understanding of both societies beyond official diplomatic relations. Both Iran and India are very big and diversified countries, so diplomats do not necessarily represent whole societies. We need to enrich mutual public understanding whilst mainstream media is dominated by Western perspective.

So, think tanks could play the role of bridge between two societies that traditionally and civilizationally have been very close, but new generations are almost disconnected. So, I always welcome any platform for think tank or any other forms of intellectual diplomacy.

We now have a long list of issues to discuss about or to find a common ground for cooperation. Let’s to be constructive today and I am moving beyond issues of disagreements.

  • Both countries are inherited culturally rich civilizations. So, as I have heard from our Indian colleagues in other meetings, both countries are deeply concerned about the aggressive invasion of globalized liberal values, threatening their identity, culture and tradition.
  • As an expert of digital policy, I have been in touch and I have shared several platforms with my Indian colleagues on how to protect digital sovereignty. It seems as a mutual concern to preserve digital assets including domestic platforms and local productions, in a world predominated by transnational giants.
  • Another commonality might be on our perspective on emerging international order. Last time that I had been invited by an Indian counterpart, I admired their rather symbolic commitment to keep Russian colleagues invited, in a clear contrast to the American delegation preference. I found India still very much keen to be seen as still a non-aligned country supporting a multipolar international order.

However, there are very existential concerns in the way that could affect Iran-India bilateral relationship. The most important issue is a very iconic and historical moment we are living in with regards to ethnic cleansing operation conducted by substantially apartheid Zionist regime in Gaza. Whilst most of countries across the world has condemned Israeli regime and a group of countries led by South Africa are trying to keep them accountable for their genocidal acts in Gaza, it seems India is still an important silent country. We expect India to actively take part in pro-Palestine freedom fighting movement. Last but not least is about Unilateral Coercive Measures against Iran that has been to some extent over-complied by India. We think that if India cannot or do not find some ways to move beyond those UCMs, our bilateral economic relationships will be stocked.

Anyway, GPTT has always stressed its interest to expand its relationship with Indian think tanks and I would like to thank CSS again for its innovative and active role in facilitating such a platform.”

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