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Raisina Dialogue:21@20— Navigating the Alpha Century


Editor's note: Raisina Dialogue will be held in New Delhi, India from January 14th to 16th, 2020, and  theme  is  “21@20: Navigating the Alpha century”. Wang Wen, Executive dean of Chongyang Institute of Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, is invited to attend Raisine Dialogue and will deliver a speech in the session “ Just like US: Exclusive Trade in the Trump Age ”. The agenda is as follows:


21@20: Navigating the Alpha Century

Ministry of External Affairs | Observer Research Foundation

14-16 January 2020

Taj Palace, Diplomatic Enclave

New Delhi, India


14 January 2020


18:00-19:00 Inaugural Session at Durbar

19:15-21:00 Inaugural Dinner Conversations

Shahjehan: Foreign Secretary’s Dinner (By invitation only)

Mumtaz: Embracing a Gig World: Paychecks, Protections, Purpose and Skills (By invitation only)

Industrialisation in the 20th century required vast bureaucracies and centralised systems of management capable of aggregating large pools of labour. The information age is different: digital technologies allow for distributed enterprise and flexible employment opportunities. Digital platforms may certainly create new efficiencies, but also create risks for labour standards and welfare. Can nations with vast informal economies embrace the gig economy while cushioning the social and economic fallout? How can India’s experiences with schemes like Aadhaar and direct transfers inform similar social protection efforts around the world? How should states invest in a new skills and education framework for the digital age? This panel will ask how states should realign their economic social protection policies to accurately reflect the evolving relationship between capital and labour.

Jehangir: Thinking Heads: Reclaiming Trust in the Age of Populism (By invitation only)

A growing wave of discontent has stalled – perhaps even reversed – globalisation, as the ordinary citizen turns her ire towards the ‘elites’ claiming to be honest interpreters of policy. Think tanks are not immune from this scrutiny but have yet to reflect on their role in an era where the truth is flexible and trust in experts is waning. Are think tanks merely victims of a passing political phenomenon, or guilty of defending a status quo that has disadvantaged local communities? This panel will introspect on the responsibilities of the ideas industry in a more polarised, mistrustful and inward-looking world.

Roshanara: Right to Breathe: The Battle for Clean Air (Dinner with the Lawmakers) (By invitation only)

In cities around the world, air pollution has reached a crisis point. As a ‘wicked’ public policy challenge, with complex drivers, addressing it requires an all-of-the-government approach. What are the international best practices that may inform government policy? What is the role of local businesses, communities and municipalities? How can financial and consumption markets be made stakeholders in this battle? What regulatory nudges can incentivise environmentally friendly state policies?

21:30-22:30 Conversations over Kahwa

Mumtaz: Unstable Regimes: Fake News, New Media and our Political Futures

Misinformation and influence operations have adversely implicated the stability of democratic regimes. Now that more actors are capable of manipulating behaviour and sentiment in the digital public sphere, states have struggled to contain the growing crisis of fake news. Will state responses to fake news inevitably lead to new censorship regimes? How, if at all, should media organisations demonstrate their credibility? Which actors are best placed to respond to this challenge? Will states be compelled to exercise more sovereign control over data and information flows?

Roshanara: A Rock and a Hard Place: New Rules for India and the EU in a Multipolar World

With China and the US loudly proposing zero-sum models for globalisation, is it time for the EU, India and others to reject these binaries? Can India and the EU partner effectively at multilateral institutions to preserve a rules-based order? Can they script normative propositions for new geographies and domains such as trade and security in the Indo-Pacific or responsible state behaviour in cyberspace? This panel will ask whether both actors can shed old hesitancies to embrace a partnership capable of serving the needs of the 21st century.

Rani Bagh Roundtables: Author’s Corner: India, Then and Now I

January 2020


09:00-10:00 Panel discussion 

Durbar: Hacking Democracy: Defending Pluralism in the Digital Age

10:00-10:30 In Conversation

10:30-10:50 Break

10:50-11:30 In Conversation

Durbar: The India Way: Preparing for a Century of Growth and Contest

11:30-12:30 Panel Discussion 

Durbar: Competing Nationalisms, Universal Norms: Street Power in 21st Century Diplomacy

12:30-13:00 Durbar: In Conversation

13:00-14:30 Lunch Conversations 

Shahjehan: New Arc of Cooperation in Rising Rimland: from Vladivostok to Chennai (By invitation only)

The future of global growth is being written where Eurasia meets the Indo-Pacific. For sustained growth, this area will need stability. Yet this era is also marked by a shift away from containment and stable alliances to one marked by issue-based convergences. How can powers with a common interest in growth and stability find ways to work together? Which will be the spaces of contestation, and which of co-operation? How can these rimlands be further integrated to their mutual benefit?

Mumtaz: Cracks on the Roof of the World: Growth, Stability and Assault Rifles in the Heart of Asia (By invitation only)

Central Asia is the location, once again, of a Great Game between great powers. How will this region be implicated by Beijing’s geo-economic statecraft and its efforts to integrate its far west? Will the US’ continuing attempts to exit Afghanistan provide an additional source of uncertainty? Can Russia, the traditional security provider in the region, balance its historical interests and contemporary developments? What alternatives must the world provide to Central Asian countries seeking markets and investment on their own terms?

Jehangir: Deepening Delivery: How Healthcare is Changing the Politics of Development (By invitation only)

Over the past decade, the world has made significant progress towards achieving universal health coverage (UHC) through improved political and policy commitments, led by countries like China and India. While many transitioning health systems try to leapfrog binding constraints by leveraging technology, issues like access to quality medicines remain challenges for large populations. Can healthcare in the emerging world shift away from a high-margin, low-volume business model to a low-margin, high-volume model? Can technological, financial and social disruptions accelerate this shift? Are new alliances of unlikely partners emerging? With global political attention and commitments toward health increasing manifold, how is the now mainstreamed narrative of UHC acting as a catalyst of change?

Roshanara: Regime Meltdown: New Powers and the Arms Control Failure (By invitation only)

The architecture of peace and security was primarily constructed by the great powers of the 20th century. In a world characterised by multipolarity and unilateralism, many of these arrangements are crumbling, if they have not already fallen apart. Will the norms that underpinned earlier arms control regimes continue to shape state behaviour, or should the world prepare for an era of escalatory military developments? Do existing international institutions possess the political will or capacity to facilitate new negotiations about these arrangements? How will the interests of new powers from Asia and Africa affect future regimes? This panel will interrogate the root causes for the failure of extant arms control agreements and discuss possible scenarios for the future of these regimes.

Raja Bagh: Lunch with the Lawmakers


Content Sub-Continent: Catalysing our Digital Futures

While new information technology industries are rapidly emerging from India, in sectors ranging from e-commerce, cloud computing and entertainment, India's technology policy architecture retains many of the rules first developed in the early 2000s. Who are the new economic actors in the digital economy and what is their impact on the market and society? Are current governance frameworks responsive to the needs of the digital economy? What are the priority areas for reforms in technology policy and how can they serve India’s development needs?

14:30-14:50 Ministerial Address at Durbar

14:50-15:50 Panel Discussion


Durbar: Greenbacks for Green Tech: Paying for Innovation so that Innovation Pays

The battle against climate change is at an inflexion point. The failure of the latest CoP and related efforts indicate that the world is struggling to respond to climate change. The onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents a tremendous opportunity for states to discover a new relationship between their economic and environmental policies. How will these pathways to growth be financed? Is global finance making the right choices at a crucial time for the fight against climate change – and for global growth? How can the emerging world transform its development model, and what can the global community do to assist the green transformation?

15:50-16:10 Ministerial Address at Durbar

16:10-16:30 Break

16:30-17:30 Panel Discussion

Durbar: #SheLeads in the Alpha Century: The New Narratives of Transformations and Change

Often ignored in discussions about strongman politics is how women are steadily cementing their place in the halls of power. How are women leaders affecting political outcomes around the world? How have countries and cities benefited from women leadership? How can corporate practices strengthen efforts at promoting women leadership? This panel will discuss how women leaders are scripting stories of change around the world.

17:30-17:50 Ministerial Address at Durbar:

17:50-18:10 Break

18:10-18:55 Conversation

Durbar: Geopolitics and God: Identity and Religion in the Digital Age

For centuries, religious institutions have mediated our individual and social relations with God. Will digital technologies breathe new life into this relationship, or will they fragment identities beyond the ability of religious ideologies to mobilise them? Will techno religions and silicon prophets exacerbate religious divides and old civilisational conflicts? How are traditional beliefs and customs adapting to the politics and society of the digital age? This panel will explore how new technologies are altering our oldest beliefs about life, the universe, and everything.

18:55-19:45 Panel Discussion

Durbar: Fluid Fleets: Navigating Tides of Revision in the Indo-Pacific

Is the “Indo-Pacific” an organic expression of connectivity, a community of nations, or a strategic construct? The answers to these questions will define national security postures in the region over the next decade. As things stand now, the Indo-Pacific is caught between two conflicting realities: as a region for geopolitical competition and one where Asia’s development futures will be decided. This panel will respond to the big questions about the Indo-Pacific: Who defines it? Who will bear the costs of this strategic orientation? What purpose does it serve? And how will it be managed?

19:45-21:15 Dinner Conversations

Shahjehan: Reimagining the East: A Trade Route through Dhaka (By invitation only)

Long divided by artificial regional constructs, the communities and markets of South and South East Asia are organically tying the region together. Dynamic economies in the region centring on Bengal are driving this trend. Can this region provide solutions for emerging disruptions such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and climate change? How can the region be a hub for the process of Asian integration? Can communities in the Bay of Bengal script the new norms and frameworks for the Indo-Pacific? What are the implications and interests for the rest of the world in a rising Bay of Bengal?

Mumtaz: Scorched Earth: Communities, Conflicts and Migrants (By invitation only)

Despite the well-established causal connection between climate change and migration, global and regional responses to climate refugees have been slow to evolve. Part of the reason is political: the global mood has turned hostile to immigration. Technical challenges persist as well. Can the world develop an international legal framework to address climate change as a driver of migration? Is there an evolving consensus on how to define environmental refugees? This panel will explore how best to accelerate policy solutions that respond to this new global challenge.

Jehangir: De-securitising Development: Reclaiming the Blueprint for the Future  (By invitation only)

Approaches to development that privilege the role of security agencies will invariably marginalise local communities and civil society, who remain the most interested actors in the outcomes of development policies. Does the securitisation of the climate change and development agenda incentivise conflict between nations, given that national security policies are unilateral, and not cooperative, by design? This panel will ask how communities can mobilise to arrest this trend and reclaim agency over this debate.

Roshanara: Politics and Economics of Contest in the 21st Century (By invitation only)

Boardroom: Ministerial Dinner (By invitation only)

21:15-22:15 Conversation over Kahwa

Mumtaz: The Bias Bug: Responding to Automated Patriarchy

Digital technologies were once celebrated for their potential to emancipate women from perverse gender norms. Not only does this promise remain unfulfilled, tools like social media and AI are increasingly amplifying bias against women. And with STEM industries largely dominated by men, it is unclear how far corporate ethics have attempted to arrest this trend. Do solutions lie in fairer data sets, equal representation, corporate practices, and rules and legislations? Or will more radical political responses emerge from the new social and political churn that the 4IR will accelerate? This panel will ask whether the 4IR will create opportunity for a more just society, or whether it will entrench old inequities.

Roshanara: iRadical: Countering Online Hate and Violence

Viral and incendiary content is increasingly tearing at the social fabric of communities, especially those with pre-existing social faultlines. The battle for mind space and ideas is increasingly intensifying in the virtual world, with adverse spillovers into our political systems. Recent efforts, such as the Christchurch call, demonstrate that countering violent extremism is now a global agenda. How can states, business and communities respond to this challenge? Are there emerging national consensuses on the privacy-security debate? And how will states’ different views on online security impact communities and companies going forward?

Rani Bagh Roundtables: Author’s Corner: India, Then and Now II

16 January 2020


Durbar: Poachers as Gamekeepers: Can Terror Incubators Counter Terror?

The struggle against terrorism has dual frontlines: both weak or militarised states, and platforms and online communities that have been weaponised by recruiters and purveyors of radicalisation. What tools does the global community have to punish behaviour from states that have traditionally viewed “non-state actors” as a tool rather than a threat – or in which significant and entrenched interests have sympathy for officially disavowed terror organisations’ goals? And can a global response to terror ignore the online spaces that serve as incubators of terror? This panel will seek out-of-the box solutions for the fight against terror, both online and off.

10:30-10:50 Ministerial Address at Durbar:

10:50-11:10 Break

11:10-11:30 Ministerial Address at Durbar:



Durbar: Between Atlantic and Pacific: The Future of Europe

A crisis of identity has gripped the EU’s foreign policy. The continent is caught between its Atlantic moorings and its growing equity in Asia. As the EU invests more resources and energy in Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, will it find that its interests in these regions do not fully converge with those of its principal partner, the US? Will the EU engage with China and Russia to secure its political future? Will such new priorities strain its partnership with the US and can a stronger relationship with India provide the EU more room to manoeuvre? This panel will ask whether there exists a European consensus on these issues and will explore how to continent is responding to shifts in the global balance of power.

12:30-13:00 Durbar: In conversation

13:00-14:30 Lunch Conversations 

Shahjehan: Junction India: Towards an East Indian Ocean Community for Growth (By invitation only)

Home to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the eastern Indian Ocean has so far been relegated in popular imagination to just this: a transit route. This panel will explore pathways for deeper integration between the states than inhabit these waters. Do states share a common vision for managing SLOCs in these waters? What common infrastructure investment and technology interests do states in the region share? Is there a consensus around the region’s security architecture? This panel will ask whether states that operate in the Arabian Sea, the East Indian Ocean and East Africa possess the appetite for integration and explore the region’s potential as a new hub for development and growth.

13:00-14:30  Lunch Conversations

Mumtaz: The Art of the Plan: Deciphering Key Trends @ 20 (By invitation only)

This panel will ask the custodians of policy planning to investigate the key trends will shape the world order in the coming decade. What cleavages and anxieties continue to define foreign policy planning? Which coalitions and partnerships are best suited to respond to 21st century challenges? What emerging domains and sectors will emerge as strategic priorities for states?

Jehangir: Ministerial Interaction with Young Fellows (By invitation only)

Roshanara: Digital Binaries: 5G and the New Tech Wars (By invitation only)

Emerging technologies are fast becoming the principal source of friction in the international system, with a digital cold war seemingly inevitable. 5G communications technologies are perhaps the first victim of this rising tide of techno-nationalism. With ‘decoupling’ best describing global technology systems, will states be forced to choose between incompatible propositions? How will this implicate development pathways for emerging economies? This panel will investigate the geopolitical implications of emerging technologies and offer potential future scenarios for the global digital economy.

Rani Bagh Roundtables: Author’s Corner: Leaders and Leadership

14:30-14:50 Ministerial Address at Durbar

14:50-15:50 Durbar: Just like US: Exclusive Trade in the Trump Age

With the processes of globalisation under scrutiny around the world, the appetite for multilateral trade has waned considerably. And with its principal architect—the US—determined to repudiate long-held economic consensuses, the future is uncertain. Will exclusive economics continue to define national policy in this decade? Will flows of technology be the first casualty of today’s economic nationalism? Do other states possess the appetite or economic means to fill this gap? Can emerging economies incubate new arrangements?

15:50-16:10 Ministerial Address at Durbar:

16:10-16:40 Break

16:40-17:40 Durbar: Digital Crossroads: New Norms for a New Society

Digital technologies operate at great velocities with little concern for borders—and national and international systems have struggled to address rule-setting, market forces, and conflict resolution. The schism between real and virtual has undermined trust in digital technologies and fuelled domestic polarisation and zero-sum international behaviour. Can the norms of the analog age be adapted to digital societies? What institutional changes can ease this transformation? This panel will ask what norms and architectures public, civic, and private leaders can coalesce around to maintain the stability, safety and security of our increasingly interconnected world.

17:40-17:55 Ministerial Address at Durbar

17:55-18:55 Durbar: Plural Waters: Strengthening Democracy in the Indo-Pacific

The common interests that bound the transatlantic community underpinned the international liberal order. With the global balance of power fast shifting to Asia, the Indo-Pacific will define the architecture of the 21st century. Do leaders in the region share an overarching and common vision for the region and its role in the world? Or will old divides and fault lines limit the Indo-Pacific’s’ potential? Are pluralism and democratic arrangements an essential feature of this region? How can states and communities in the region collaborate to script and defend democratic norms for the region in this century?

18:55-19:15 Break

19:15-19:25 Valedictory Address

19:25-20:30 Showstopper at Durbar Coalitions and Consensus: In Defense of Values that Matter

As the century turns 20, what values are under threat in a world increasingly defined by diverging interests? Can states coalesce around shared values – and what values are worth defending? Can states with dissimilar political regimes come to a consensus around value frameworks? Which coalitions and partnerships can support this process? This panel will ask if states can transcend today’s polarised political moment to defend the values that matter.

Vote Of Thanks

20:30-22:00  Dinner Conversations Shahjehan: Coded to Kill: Proxy Wars and Autonomous Systems (By invitation only)

The implications of autonomous weapons on strategic postures and humanitarian law is uncertain. With international institutions unable to arrive at a consensus on these issues, it is almost certain that LAWS will be deployed before regimes are incubated to manage them. Which regions will first see the deployment of LAWS? How are states are integrating these systems into their weapons arsenals? How can the creation of international rules be accelerated?

Mumtaz: E-mobility and the City: Innovation on The Move (By invitation only)

The e-mobility revolution is being accelerated by three interrelated trends: the onset of the 4IR and falling costs of production; political action against climate change; and shifting attitudes to urbanisation and car ownership. Burdensome investment rules, inefficient infrastructure for power distribution, and high consumer costs continue to hinder EV adoption. How can states, businesses and city leaders overcome these barriers? How can these stakeholders facilitate flows of innovation, finance and governance solutions between each other?

Jehangir: Interaction with Young Fellows (By invitation only)

Roshanara: Connecting Waters: Sustainable Infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific (By invitation only)

Countries in the emerging world require trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment to meet the needs of their rapidly maturing economies. A host of ‘mega-infrastructure’ initiatives have been launched in recent years to respond to these initiatives. However, bad standards for governance and finance have often placed recipient economies under crippling debt. How can states with shared interests in a free and open global economy create infrastructure investment standards that serve the interests of emerging economies? What role must environmental and political concerns play in the norms underpinning the emerging world’s big infrastructure build-out? How must global finance deal with its failure to address the infrastructure gap in the emerging world?

22:30 onwards

Durbar: Young Fellows @ 10 – Communities Forever (By invitation only)

Cocktails, Conversations and Celebrations

Key Words: Raisina Dialogue   India   China   RDCY  

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