Does Diplomacy Matter?

An Online Weekend Course


Shyam Saran

Course Dates

19, 26 and 27 March 2022


INR 4,000  


5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (19)
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM (26)
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM (27)

Course Faculty

Shyam Saran

Shyam Saran is a former Foreign Secretary of India and has served as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy For Nuclear Affairs and Climate Change. After leaving government service in 2010, he has headed the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a prestigious think tank focusing on economic issues (2011-2017) and was Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board under the National Security Council (2013-15). He is currently Life Trustee of India International Centre, Member of the Governing Board of the Centre for Policy Research and of the Institute of Chinese Studies, a Trustee at the World Wildlife Fund (India) and Member of the International Advisory Council of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Saran also serves as a member of the Governing Board of Welham Girls’ School. He has recently published a book, How India Sees the World. Shyam Saran was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, in 2011 for his contributions to civil service. In May 2019, he was conferred the Spring Order Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan for promoting India-Japan relations.

Guest Faculty

Ashley J. Tellis

Ashley J. Tellis holds the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, specializing in international security and U.S. foreign and defense policy with a special focus on Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

About The Course

There are 3 sessions each for 2hours. I shall break up each sessions into sub-sessions of an hour each. Each sub session will consist of a half hour presentation followed by a Q&A and open interaction for half an hour.

Session 1 – March 19th 2022 (2 hours)

Does Diplomacy Matter?
The session will explore the relationship between strategy, foreign policy and diplomacy. What is the role of each? Is it true that there are as many foreign policies as there are agencies of government which engage with foreign entities? What role does the Ministry of External Affairs have in a more complex environment? What impact has technology made on diplomacy? For example, we now have “Twitter Diplomacy.” Have recent developments made diplomacy less relevant?
Session will be broken up into two sub-sessions of an hour each with a 15 minute break . First sub-session will look at national strategy and foreign policy formulation and the institutional structure behind it with special reference to India.
The second sub-session will focus on diplomacy and how the conduct of diplomacy has been changing in recent times and examine how relevant it remains, how adaptable it has been and what may be its future as a discipline.

Session 2 – March 20th 2022 (2 hours)

Negotiating for India: The Indo-U.S. Civil Nuclear agreement as a case study
In the first hour, we shall look at the background to the agreement, the legacy issues that had to be overcome before embarking on the negotiating exercise. What was the negotiating brief given to the negotiating team. Key issues in the negotiations and how these were dealt with. Was the outcome worth the effort? Did the outcome undermine India’s nuclear deterrent and the autonomy of its nuclear programme? If it was for the promotion of civilian nuclear energy what has been achieved?
In the second hour we shall set up a conversation between the Indian presenter and a key U.S. participant in the negotiations to get a perspective from the U.S. side. How were some difficult but key differences resolved? On each, an Indian perspective will be followed by an American perspective. We shall have a 20 minute Q&A.

Session 3 – March 27th 2022 (2 hours)

Is a China-Centric International Order Inevitable?
The first sub-session will focus on the emergence of China as the second most powerful economic and military power in the world, with significant and growing technological capabilities. Its rapid emergence represents a major shift in both regional and global geopolitics. What does this mean for the economic and security architecture in Asia? Since Asia is becoming the centre of gravity of the global economy and a security theatre where there are significant and expanding military deployments, what does this mean for the international order, dominated so far by the West? Are we headed for a China-centric Asian and eventually a China-centric international order? How different might that be in comparison to the existing international order? How does China see the world?
The second session will focus specifically on India-China relations. Why has the relative peace and tranquillity on their contested border broken down? Is a return to status quo ante demanded by India possible? If there has to be a new equilibrium in the relations how may that be achieved? How effective is the Quad in constraining China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific? What may be the likely impact of the likely trajectory of U.S.-China relations on India-China relations?

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    Course Objectives

    Experience New Learning & Mental Models on Important Topics

    Gain Exposure to Diverse Readings, Research and Resources

    Learn to Engage in Critical Debate & Discussion

    Expand your Perspective across Disciplinary Boundaries

    Develop Analytical & Critical Thinking Faculties

    Madhavi Menon

    Professor of English, Ashoka University

    Director, Centre for Studies in Gender & Sexuality

    Director of the PhD Programme in English

    Ph.D. Tufts University

    Madhavi Menon is an eminent theorist and scholar of gender, sexuality, politics, and identity. 

    She joined Ashoka University in 2013 as one of its founding faculty members. She went on to establish the university’s Centre for Gender & Sexuality Studies (CSGS), which is the first of its kind in India. Previously, she was a professor at Ithaca College and American University

    Most prominently known for her work on queer theory and Shakespeare, she has also edited the collection Shakesqueer and written three books on Shakespeare and sexuality. She is also most recently the author of Infinite Varieties: A History of Desire in India and Law of Desire: Rulings on Sex & Sexuality in India. 

    In addition to being Director of CSGS, she is the Director of the Ph.D. programme in English and Professor of English at Ashoka University.