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Dr. Sumit Ganguly

A Distinguished Professor of Political Science and holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington. A specialist on the contemporary politics of South Asia is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 20 books on the region. His most recent book is "Deadly Impasse: India-Pakistan Relations at the Dawn of a New Century for Cambridge University Press".

Meenakshi Ganguly

South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. She has worked on a broad range of issues including police reform, sexual violence, discrimination based on religion or caste, freedom of expression, and armed conflict. She has also advocated for the protection of women and children from violence, including sexual abuse, and for a human rights approach to India’s foreign policy.

Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Ganguly served as the South Asia correspondent for Time Magazine, covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Michael Kugelman

He is the Deputy Director of the Asia Program and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center. Mr. Kugelman writes monthly columns for Foreign Policy’s South Asia Channel and monthly commentaries for War on the Rocks. He also contributes regular pieces to the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank blog. He has also produced a number of longer publications on South Asia, including the edited volumes Pakistan’s Interminable Energy Crisis: Is There Any Way Out?, Pakistan’s Runaway Urbanization: What Can Be Done?, and India’s Contemporary Security Challenges

Amb. Kanwal Sibal

A career diplomat who retired as Foreign Secretary to the Government of India. In 2017, The Government of India awarded him with the Padma Shri award for his distinguished services in the field of Public Affairs. Amb. Sibal also served as the Ambassador of India to Turkey (1989 to 1992), the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington ( 1992 to 1995), the Ambassador of India to Egypt (1995 to 1998), the Ambassador of India to France (1998 to 2002) and Ambassador to Russia (2004 to 2007). He was a member of India's National Security Advisory Board from November 2008 to November 2010.


Promoting #humanrights has long been a cornerstone of the #foreignpolicy of major western nations. Of course we can question their sincerity and consistency, but there is no doubt that this has earned them immense #softpower and raised their global standing. On the other hand India, just as other developing countries, has traditionally squirmed at any mention of Human Rights, seeing it as unnecessary interference by a hypocritical west.

Now as India gains international clout, its foreign policy would have to expand beyond just pursuing its self interest, defined narrowly in security and economic terms. India would be expected to take on greater leadership in influencing its neighborhood and the broader world. The question is could promotion of #democracy and Human Rights both at home and abroad serve as the guiding principle for India’s foreign policy?

Several related questions follow. In what ways could this limit India’s strategic flexibility? Would India uphold the established definition of Human Rights or come up with an alternative view of its own? Would this mean India having to depart from its official non-interventionist stance? Does India even have the wherewithal to bring about any meaningful change outside its borders? If not then what possibly could moral grandstanding achieve?


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