FIS Presents Distinguished Lecture on India-China Competition

Houston: On Sunday, August 23, 2020, the Foundation for India Studies (FIS) presented its first virtual webinar in its Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture, titled “India China Competition in South Asia: the Past, Present and Future,” was presented by Dr. Constantino Xavier of the Brookings Institute in New Delhi.

Dr. Xavier’s presentation focused on the competition between the two largest countries by population in terms of their efforts to support and influence neighboring countries in South Asia, such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Among other things, Dr. Xavier highlighted the importance of economic collaboration and the modernizing of India’s economy as critical next steps in strengthening India’s position as a major power in the region. Along with his analytical take on the future of Indo-Chinese relations, Dr. Xavier cast a critical eye on both the present and past of the centuries’ long relationship between the two countries. One element Dr. Xavier described as particularly important was India’s prior and current stance towards economic development, including analysis of both PM Nehru and Modi’s similar but divergent stances toward economic self-reliance.

In addition to a riveting and thought-provoking lecture, Dr. Xavier answered numerous questions posed by the community in a live Q/A session. The first question was posed by Col. Raj Bhalla, DVM, MS (Ret.), a prominent leader and member of the Houston Indo-American community and an advisory board member of FIS who first joined the Indian army in 1953. Other Q/A participants chimed in from various places across the globe, including Kyrgyzstan, India, and all across the United States, posing incisive questions across a panoply of subjects. Questions ranged from current assessments of America’s upcoming election on India’s relationship with China, to granular, academic questions regarding political and economic theory. The questions were presented to Dr. Xavier by FIS’ event chair and event moderator, Nischay Bhan, a Houston native and attorney who also serves as the organization’s Secretary. Mr. Bhan conducted the webinar seamlessly from start to finish, guided by FIS Chairman and Founder, Krishna Vavilala and ably supported in all aspects of technology and planning by Chandra Sekhar of Washington,D.C.,Harsha Devulapalli of New Delhi and FIS Directors, Amanda Vavilala and  Harshith Marepalli of Houston,

The event was run in a timely manner, and due to the sheer amount of community involvement and the number of questions posed by audience-goers, was extended past its scheduled time by audience request. The lecture by Dr. Xavier marks just the first of many ZOOM-based lectures from FIS, which as part of its fifteen-year anniversary celebration remains committed to providing the Indo-American community with timely, insightful and thoughtful lectures regarding current issues.

Other events handled by FIS include the Indo American Oral History Project and the MLK Grande Parade. Other distinguished lectures presented by FIS include a look at Indo Israeli relations with the consuls-general of India and Israel, a lecture with anti-corruption advocate and former Indian Supreme Court justice, Santosh Hegde, and an unbiased take on India’s 2019 Election by Dr. Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.