Raisina Files 2018 unpacks disruption and its interaction with global politics. Disruptive forces have been grouped along the lines of actors, processes, and theatres: three major nation-states whose external engagements are seeing shifts; three processes that are re-organising political, economic, and social spaces; and two old and new arenas where geopolitics are having local, regional, and global repercussions.

Raisina Files, an annual ORF publication, is a collection of essays published and disseminated at the time of the Raisina Dialogue. It strives to engage and provoke readers on key contemporary questions and situations that will implicate the world and India in the coming years. Arguments and analyses presented in this collection will be useful in taking discussions forward and enunciating policy suggestions for an evolving Asian and world order.

  • Debating Disruption: Change and Continuity | Ritika Passi and Harsh V. Pant, ORF


  • Is the US a disruptor of world order? | Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University
  • Russia as a disruptor of the Post-Cold War order: To what effect? | Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Moscow
  • China as a disruptor of the international order: A Chinese View | Yun Sun, Stimson Center


  • Globalisation, demography, technology, and new political anxieties | Samir Saran and Akhil Deo, ORF
  • Minority Report, Illiberalism, intolerance, and the threat to international society | Manu Bhagavan, Hunter College
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution: Evolving Impact | Pranjal Sharma, author, Kranti Nation


  • Revolutionary Road: Indo-Pacific in Transition | Abhijnan Rej, ORF
  • Middle East: Cascading Conflict | Tally Helfont, Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Climate Change, Transitions, and Geopolitics | Karina Barquet, Stockholm Environment Institute

Read here – orfonline.org/research/debating-disruption-world-order/

Books, Raisina Dialogue, Research, Writing

Debating Disruption in the World Order

Politics / Globalisation

US wants stable, durable relation with India: Experts

India Today, New York Global Roundtable , September 26, 2014

Original link is here 

Mr. Saran

Samir Saran, Lisa Curtis and Bruce Jones

The United States is looking for a stable and durable relation with India but a lot will depend on how both sides will align themselves on various global issues be it Ukraine, climate change or terrorism, experts said at the India Today Global Roundtable in New York on Friday.

India has the financial and diplomatic resources today to take forward its interests but Washington will want a stable relation with New Delhi, Bruce Jones, the director of Project on International Order and Strategy, Brookings Institution, said.

The US will like to see how India contributes on global issues. The nuances are tricky but a lot will depend on how New Delhi responds to Washington’s aspirations, he said.

Referring to the BRICS grouping, he said there is a lot of positivity in that initiative, for instance, the BRICS Bank project is a good move but Russia has also created problems in Ukraine and India cannot afford to overlook these issues which will cost its ties with the US.

The World Bank certainly needs a competitor; the Western model of development is pretty poor, he said, adding India’s penchant to ignore Russia’s excesses may hinder its ties with the US.

Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow at Heritage Foundation, said India being a multi-religious multi-ethnic democracy there is a lot of converging interests between India and the US.

The recent trade agreement between India and Japan is quite significant. Japan has committed $35 billion to India. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, however, did not go so well due to the border tensions. The US, however, would never commit such huge sums of money. It is for the private sector to do so, she said.

Columns/Op-Eds, Non-Traditional Security, Politics / Globalisation

Column in The Economic Times: When the US dismembered Pakistan, 2009

by Samir Saran
February 27,2009
in: The Economic Times

The formal capitulation of the Pakistani government to the Taliban and the ‘liberation’ of the Swat valley evoked divided responses from within the region and outside. While voices emanating from India are concerned with this dangerous development, the US foreign policy team has predictably hedged its position and has begun testing the ‘Good Taliban-Bad Taliban’ dictum. The division of Pakistan has unfortunately legitimised the rule and role of two institutions in the politics of Pakistan; its religious extremists and its army and can be seen as a consequence of the US engagement with Pakistan post 9/11. To understand this situation and the initial US response, we must deconstruct the ‘war on terror’ policy of the US and analyse one of its key components: the engagement of the US with its ally Gen Pervez Musharraf. This engagement was political as it had the effect of demoralising the democratic presence in Pakistan.

It was also sociological as it redefined the western understanding of Pakistan and altered the space and voice available to the moderates and liberals. This engagement was articulated by the ‘Us vs Them’ foreign policy of the US, a description of the age-old identity discourse between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’. The description of the Muslim as the ‘other’ by the west (‘self’) is an area of historical interest. Much of the discussion establishes the act of describing the Muslims, as a means by which the west (and its media) seeks to define, assimilate and control them and is a result of the urge to create the identity of the ‘other’ through its own interpretative prisms.

This process not only fails to comprehend the ‘other’ in their entirety but diminishes their significance in any engagement. This practice is a political tool that has been consistently deployed in the past. The ‘secular wars’ or colonising endeavours of the western world were represented as a ‘solemn duty’, and as a British parliamentarian of yore put it, as a burden of the white man to civilise the east. The boundaries of this orientalist discussion, post 9/11 have been redefined and comprise of two dominant narratives, that of ‘Islamophobia’ on the one hand and the ‘war on terror’ on the other. Islamophobia arises from a lack of understanding and tolerance of the ‘other’. The ‘war on terror’ rhetoric of the US extends the understanding of the ‘other’ to that of ‘evil’ and justifies violence and war as the preferred means of engagement.

In its effort to punish the ‘evildoers’ (al Qaida), the US needed to depend on a Muslim ‘other’. The Pakistan army and Musharraf became its key ally. Their complicity in supporting global terror networks and the fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan were well known. However, strategic compulsions made it necessary to have them on board. The co-option of a Muslim and a dictator – an ‘other’ twice over – was an interesting challenge for the Bush administration. While it required the administration to discount the evil that Musharraf represented, something it has consistently done in its engagement with Muslim despots and royalty, it had to more importantly sell this unholy alliance to its own people, who were reeling under the ferocity of the 9/11 attacks.

Ironically, it was the military credentials of Musharraf that helped the US to achieve this. It was perhaps the only institution in the Islamic state that could be understood by the west from within the “irrational religiosity” the country was imagined to be. The development of the ‘western’ identity for Musharraf involved constructing him as a ‘moderate Muslim’ who shared the aspirations and virtues of the west (‘self’) and thereafter, justifying support for his dictatorial credentials. Co-option was achieved by projecting desirable qualities readily understood as virtues by the US citizens as attributes of Musharraf. Articles in newspapers across the political spectrum constructed the identity of Musharraf as a moderate, secular and progressive leader with zero tolerance for terrorism. Images of Musharraf lovingly playing with his pet dog struck a chord with western audiences.

Alongside this aggrandisement of the dictator, Pakistan, its civil society, their social and religious practices were subject to reductive portrayal by the western media. The description of the political and religious elements of Pakistan society was constructed around terms like corrupt, weak, fanatics, violent and backward. Their protests were irrational and did not deserve considered response. Many times anti-US demonstrations in Pakistan were presented as expressions of religious extremism and barbarism that pervaded the Pakistani society and what the good General was fighting against. The army rule was thus projected as an important component of Pakistan’s stability and Musharraf as the saviour leading his people towards modernity and peace.

By doing so, a dictator with strong extreme Islamist credentials – the stereotypical ‘other’ – was now imagined as the western ‘self’ while his countrymen, including the moderate and liberal citizens, were reduced to an irrationality whose voices and rights could be ignored. This denial of space and voice to the democratic forces allowed the spectacular rise of the Taliban, who now claim to speak for the ‘other’ who do not wear the uniform.

In the News, Politics / Globalisation

India’s global strategic outlook and US foreign policy

15 January 2011

India’s global economic orientation and strategic outlook are important to U.S. economic and security policy and interests. An increasingly global strategic outlook from India will impact U.S. foreign policy in significant ways. A conference co-hosted by Observer Research Foundation and the Heritage Foundation at Washington D.C. on 8 December 2010 examined the issues involved and the interplay between India’s economic path and its global strategic outlook to gain insight into the future of US-India relations.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Kim R. Holmes, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation, invoked President Obama’s visit to India saying that it showed the growing importance of India to the US. He said that markets reforms have the ability not only to improve lives of Indians but also to transform the basis of the relations between India and the US.

Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar, in her keynote address, said that globalisation and the liberalisation of India’s economy have altered the way India interacts with the world and the transformation of its engagement with the US is part of this process. She said India and the US have agreed to work together to promote an open, balanced and inclusive architecture of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. India sees the US as a valuable partner in meeting its development aspirations, in building peace and security in its neighbourhood and in the wider Asian region and in addressing shared global challenges. She spoke on a wide range of issues in Indo-US relations, including the security situation in Asia, Afghanistan, cooperation in counter-terrorism, the new Indo-US dialogue on homeland security and nuclear disarmament among others. She stressed on the need for the two countries to work together on these issues.

The first session, ’The Health of the Globalisation Model and Rise of Alternatives’, looked at the disagreements between the US and India at the WTO, particularly on issues like outsourcing. The session focussed on how and when the two countries could cooperate in global trade and finance. It also looked at how and when the two countries could cooperate in dealing with the rise in prices of energy and food, in the backdrop of more warnings about global resource scarcity. The speakers at this session were Ambassador Susan Esserman, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Sunjoy Joshi, Director, Observer Research Foundation and Ashish Chauhan, Deputy Managing Director, Bombay Stock Exchange. The session was moderated by Ambassador Terry Miller, Director, Center for International Trade and Economics, The Heritage Foundation.

The second session ’India’s Globalisation Experience/Future’ examined potential Indian paths of economic globalisation, including trade in goods and services, movement of capital, information and people. It focussed on the opportunities for cooperation between India and the U.S. created by those paths. The speakers at this session, moderated by Walter Lohman, Director, Asian Studies Center of The Heritage Foundation, were Kapil Sharma, General Manager, North America, Tata Sons, Ltd., Dr. Derek Scissors, Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation and Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation. The key messages emanating from this session included how India needed to transform significantly in terms of regulation, markets access and social inclusion as these would inhibit or aid development of the bilateral relations. India is also a global player with its global MNCs and more discussions were needed on the interaction of companies like the Tata Group and Reliance with the world.

In his luncheon address, Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs, touched on the need for India and the USA to work together in dealing with the challenge of nuclear proliferation. He highlighted the US’ commitment to support full membership for India in multilateral export control regimes. He said that the two countries have decided to take mutual steps to expand India-US cooperation in defence, civil space and other high-technology sectors. Another area of cooperation that he focussed on was cooperation in the energy field, particularly in clean energy and the bilateral Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE). He argued that enhancing India’s food security is vital for continuing India’s globalising trends and sustaining the burgeoning strategic economic partnership between India and the US and said that the two have agreed to collaborate in agriculture for an ’evergreen revolution’ in India. Other issues that he focussed on were bilateral health cooperation, joint development projects in Afghanistan and cooperation in higher education.

In the final session, ’How Globalisation Will Impact India’s Strategic Outlook’, the focus was on how globalisation has impacted India’s global strategic outlook. It looked at convergences and divergences in U.S. and Indian perceptions of India’s expanding global role. Another issue that was examined was how Indian globalisation would impact specifically on its military modernisation efforts and the US-India defence relationship in the future. US and Indian priorities for expanding bilateral cooperation in the unfolding global strategic setting were also examined. The speakers at this session were Vikram Sood, former Director of India’s Research and Analysis Wing and now Vice President of Observer Research Foundation, Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation, Dr. Evan Feigenbaum, Director, Eurasia Group, Dr. Harinder Sekhon, Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation. The session was moderated by Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation.

(This report is prepared by Uma Purushothaman, Junior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation)

For video, please click on http://www.heritage.org/Events/2010/12/India