The session —‘East South Asia,’— at the Jaipur Literature Festival, engrossed the audience with panelists presenting a bird’s eye view of the region.
The panel talked about the issues, the common features and disconnects of countries like Bhutan, Thailand, Myanmar and the South East states of India.Tshering Tashi, contemporary historian, made a joke that when you type in ‘East South Asia’ into Google, it only shows up results for ‘South East Asia,’ which suggests the region is considered geographically irrelevant in terms of analytical data research. Tashi spoke about the Indo-Bhutan war and the policy of the Bhutanese King that no bullets be fired, because he knew their army would never sustain the counterattacks, and he wanted relations between Bhutan and India to be cordial.
Somi Roy, film producer and writer said that East South Asia was “a fascinating topic” and observed that the region was steadily remapping the demographics of the Indian sub-continent. Roy felt that India was ‘pretty Delhi-centric’ and argued that there should be a more multi-centric dispersion of economic and political policies.
Wipas Srithong, award winning writer from Thailand, spoke about the curbing of human expression and how there is practically no freedom of speech in his country. He said that the ‘East South Asia region ‘has lots of potential’ and a mechanism should be developed to foster and channelise that development.Pradyot Burman, general secretary of Tripura Congress, spoke about the issue of trading between Burma and India, and Thailand and India, which is still very costly because there is no direct trade route and heavy restrictions are imposed by the Border Security Force.