Think Tanks at the Centre

International Society for Asia Pacific Studies (ISAPS)

While the strategic significance of the Asia-Pacific region is demonstrated by history and geography, the region’s inherent potentialities portending that the 21st century would be the Asia-Pacific Century are brought out by the emerging global economic architecture. As a result of globalization process and the impact of the new economic order, the socio-cultural landscape has been subjected to an amazing metamorphosis. Fast changing global political, economic, social and cultural scenario makes it imperative for the discerning social scientists to get themselves involved in the study and research of transformation of human society. Paradoxically, their research

findings are not reaching the wider scholar community in the absence of an effective means of communication due to limited access to the periodicals being brought out in a manner that smacked of traditionalism. It is in this backdrop that a modest attempt has been made to launch an e-journal to disseminate scholarly expertise of social scientists in the Asia-Pacific region.

The establishment of the Society for Asia-Pacific Studies is the manifestation of enthusiastic response of the gamut of scholars to the proposal for creating a forum which would facilitate a variegated research activity. It is a matter of gratification that a biannual e-journal entitled Asia-Pacific Journal of Social Sciences has successfully published three issues since 2009. Apart from publishing the journal, this Society seeks to provide a forum for many other activities such as promotion of various academic activities across different disciplines of social sciences; mobilization of the synergy of the Society for Asia-Pacific Studies through periodic meetings; publication of an array of periodicals, newsletters, journals, books etc., holding seminars/workshops/debates

on a regular basis depending upon the financial potentialities of the Society; organizing Guest Lectures by eminent Scholars/Specialists in the disciplines concerned for dissemination of knowledge among the students, the faculty and the public; mobilization of necessary financial and material resources for undertaking the multifarious activities which are in conformity with the stated objectives of the Society; initiating extension activities availing the services of the Scholars and Academicians of different disciplines of Social Sciences of Asia-Pacific region; establishment of linkages (MoUs, Agreements etc.) with other related institutions/organizations within India and the wider Asia-Pacific region and reinforcing the capabilities of the Society through teaching, research and capacity building; and acquisition of required buildings and infrastructure to promote the stated activities.

It is earnestly hoped that broader participation in the form of enrolling as members of the Society and extending support for achieving the goals of the Society besides continuing to contribute research articles and comments to the Asia-Pacific Journal of Social Sciences being brought out by the IASPS, would enable the Society to fulfil its mission of imparting a great deal of knowledge to one and all.

Objectives

  • To create an academic platform and to promote various academic activities across different disciplines of social sciences.
  • To mobilize the synergy of the Society for Asia-Pacific Studies by means of periodic meetings.
  • To bring out a variety of publications like periodicals, newsletters, journals, books etc.
  • To conduct seminars/workshops/debates on regular basis based on the financial potentialities of the society.
  • To organize Guest Lectures by eminent Scholars/Specialists in the disciplines concerned for dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of students, faculty and public.
  • To mobilize necessary financial and material resources for conducting the multifarious activities of the Society.
  • To conduct extension activities availing the services of the Scholars, Academicians and Administrators of different disciplines of Social Sciences of Asia-Pacific region.
  • To establish linkages (MoUs, Agreements etc.) with other related institutions/organizations within India and the Asia-Pacific region and to strengthen the capabilities of the society in terms of teaching, research and capacity building.
  • To acquire required buildings and infrastructure to fulfill all the said objectives.

Association for Area Studies in India (AASI)

Area Studies, which are multidisciplinary in character, encompass study and research on a wide gamut of aspects including history, political processes and developments, sociology, culture, language and literature, geography and diaspora of different geographical areas. Hence Prof. M.S. Rajan, the doyen of Area studies specialists, has defined Area Studies as a “geographical extension and integrated application of the traditional disciplines to the study of foreign lands”. Area Studies tradition, as evident from the annals of mankind, is as old as human civilization. However, it was during the Cold War period that Area Studies began to acquire a new dimension due to strategic and political considerations. Following the termination of Cold War, Area Studies are looked upon to cater to the needs of nations characterized by new economic ties and interdependence with the shrinking of the world. Thanks to the awesome developments in the spheres of information and technology, the developments in one part of the world come to have impact on other parts of the world. The Area Studies, thus, not only gained added importance and adopted new trends and approaches, but also got themselves adapted to the spatio-temporal dynamics.

India had close and cordial ties with many of its neighbours in Asia. India’s peaceful cultural and commercial interaction with its Asian neighbours were snapped during the colonial era. With independent India maintaining relations of friendship and cooperation with various countries of the world besides playing an active role in global affairs, there was an imperative need to pay due attention to promoting Area Studies in India. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the architect of India’s foreign policy, was keen to associate the academic community with the foreign policy pursuits of young nation.

Indian School of International Studies (ISIS), which was founded in 1955 due to the efforts of H.N. Kunzru, K.M. Panikkar and A. Appadorai and the able support of Nehru, was the forerunner of Area Studies programme in India. Area Studies programme had its origins in Indian Universities in 1966 when Area Studies centres were established in three Universities, namely, Jaipur University, Rajastan; Jadhavpur University, Kolkata; and Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. Even though Area Studies programme had its beginning s in 1990s, it received boost in 1976 when various Universities were encouraged by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to set up Area Studies Centres despite the fact that the organization of Area Studies Centres was a cost-intensive effort unlike the traditional disciplines. Currently there are well over 50 Area Studies Centres in India involved in training a body of scholars specializing in various aspects of a given area through interdisciplinary research and teaching. Though well-conceived and well-organized, Area Studies Centres in India have since long been afflicted with a host of problems impinging on the prospects of the Area Studies. In this context, Association of Area Studies in India (AASI) was established in Tirupati in 2012 with the following objectives:

Aims and Objectives of the Association          

The Association desires to:

  • create an academic forum for the Area Study scholars and other interested individuals and institutions.
  • facilitating regular interaction and networking among the Area Study Centres and scholars.
  • disseminate information about the Area Study scholarship and developments.
  • promote study and research in the discipline of Area Studies.
  • promote close liaison between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Govt. of India, and the Area Study Centres under the Indian Universities.
  • keep abreast the MEA and its concerned Divisions of the academic activities and programmes periodically undertaken under the UGC-Area Study Programme (ASP).
  • bring to the notice of University Grants Commission the issues and problems concerning the administration of ASP under the Indian Universities.
  • encourage and solicit the cooperation of relevant institutions and agencies interested in foreign and diplomatic issues of relevance to Government of India.
  • involve fellow associations and academic bodies engaged in research and programmes broadly relevant to ASP.