Mongolia’s Buddhist Diplomacy and India’s Union of Religious and Foreign Policy

The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), along with Indian, Japanese, and Mongolian partners, hosted its third Samvad (which, in Hindi, means “dialogue”) conference in Ulaanbaatar over last Friday and the weekend. As reported in BDG’s news article on the conclave, Mongolian political and religious leaders took this event very seriously. In his closing speech on the final day of the 7th, Swaminathan Gurumurthy, chairman of the organizing Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) and director of the Indian Reserve Bank, reaffirmed that there is not yet an “endgame” or fixed destination point for Samvad.

“With each Samvad, we get clarity,” he proclaimed. “You cannot swim if you do not enter the water first and try something.” Gurumurthy’s perspective had been pre-empted several days before by an organizing partner, who affirmed that they were discovering new opportunities and identifying shortcomings for themselves as they went along.

Watchers of national strategic cultures might feel restless with this “swimming” approach. In his excellent comparative study of China and India’s strategic cultures, China and India: Asia’s Emergent Great Powers, Chris Ogden notes presciently that while India’s strategic culture might not be as “clear-cut” as those of its colossal neighbor or the superpower that is the United States, there are underlying continuities driving the tactics and means that, to Chinese and American analysts, appear non-cohesive or ad hoc:

This Was Published in Teahouse on 15 September 2019.

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