discourse and action on Water and Rivers
India’s North Eastern Region (NER) is surrounded by five countries – Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar with the transboundary river basin of Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) covering around 1.7 million square kilometres, impacting over 620 million lives. Lying underneath the mighty Himalayas, a defining feature of the region is the many rivers that intersect the multiple aspects of livelihood, culture, tourism, trade, connectivity and local community development within this region. Given the critical importance of promoting regional cooperation on shared waterways in Eastern South Asia, the Bay of Bengal, extending upto the Indo-Pacific region, the broad contours of consensus which emerged as a possible way forward from the recent initiatives of Asian Confluence is re-imagining river development through multi-faceted regional cooperation and stepped-up connectivity. As rivers are envisioned as a metaphor for connecting lands, people, cultures and tradition spurring growth and trade related activities; special emphasis must be laid on promoting best-practices in order to protect and preserve rivers through conscious and planned endeavours. The scope for bilateral and multilateral exchange, knowledge sharing and dialogues needs to be explored in this regard.
Towards the goal of generating enhanced and deeper understanding of region and its uniqueness through involving stakeholders from across a wide spectrum of the state and society, Asian Confluence (a unit of Divya Jeevan Foundation), a civil society led development organisation, in collaboration with the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), India’s oldest foreign policy thinktank and an ‘institution of national importance’ by the Act of Parliament in 2001, has been promoting the “Young Scholars Forum” series of Annual Seminars with the overall aim of:
• Promoting scholarship on unique opportunities presented by the Northeastern region in the greater backdrop of India’s role in Asia as part of the “Act East Policy”, furthering the agenda of convergence between multilateral cooperation, local development and national security considerations to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
• Promoting and sharing best practices between young scholars from various universities across India and its eastern neighbours on the specific theme of the conference, while generating greater awareness on the various developmental initiatives underway in the region, recognizing the importance of young scholars from the region as key decision makers in the times ahead.
Traversing all the five fundamental verticals that the Asian Confluence works in, namely culture, tourism, trade and connectivity, education and ecology, the Young Scholars forum, established in 2014, has been actively engaging younger scholars to delve into deeper and intricate issues that will dictate the future course of development of the region. In recognition of the immense potential for new and innovative scholarship on this region, the forum has been conceived as an evolving platform, engaged in research and advocacy, drawing on the region’s unique natural geography, geological and geopolitical significance, and economic potential and cultural diversity. The program is looked upon as an attempt at realizing a vigorous popular interaction from, by and about this region beyond the binaries of statist interventions and business initiatives, engaging young minds to move beyond the contingency of history and political geography of divided borders and lives into a future that seeks to view the region in positive and progressive terms.
The Young Scholars Forum (YSF) has its genesis in the conference “The Shillong Dialogue”, held in collaboration with the ICWA in 2015, in which the role of younger academia was recognised as a key opinion shaper for the region.
The Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) is the supporting partner of The Young Scholars Forum 2019.
Conference Room, The Asian Confluence Center,
Lady Veronica Lane, Laitumkhrah, Shillong,
Date: 18 – 19 March, 2019
- The Asian Confluence Center, Shillong, Meghalaya, India