In societies where seniority is highly valued, it’s hard for young analytical talent to be heard, and even harder to connect across the India-Pakistan border, given the difficulties young analysts have in obtaining visas.
Retired diplomats and military officers have cornered the market of punditry on the subcontinent. In Pakistan, commentators usually defend their military’s decisions and then blame New Delhi for reluctant choices. There isn’t much in the way of second-guessing, at least in public, and especially on nuclear-related issues. For a taste of this commentary, I recommend reading Tariq Osman Haider and Shahzad Chaudhry.
Indian commentary is more lively and diverse. Some pundits critique from the Left. Others criticize their government for its lax attention to meeting national security requirements. Hawkish commentators sometimes call for a nuclear force posture on a par with China, and worry about India being perceived by its neighbors as a “soft” state. Military officers who have chafed at the bit while on active duty are free to give expression to their frustration in retirement. For a sampling of these views, I recommend reading Vijay Shankar and Arun Kumar Singh.
Having qualified for Social Security benefits and Medicare, I will refrain from complaining about the demographics of the subcontinent’s punditariat. It is, however, regrettable that most think tanks and media outlets in India and Pakistan allow few opportunities for younger analysts to express themselves. One notable exception is the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, which has an excellent forum for short pieces by younger analysts.
To help stimulate cross-border dialogue on security issues and to promote more normal and cooperative relations on the subcontinent, the Stimson Center is launching a website for a rising generation of strategic analysts. We call the website South Asian Voices: Generation Why. The address of the new site is www.southasianvoices.org. You can read about it here.
“Kyon” means “why” in both Hindi and Urdu. Stimson is calling this a website for Generation Why because talented young analysts in India and Pakistan are questioning why relations remain so strained between their countries. They deserve more of a say in their region’s future.
Stimson will host the server and website for South Asian Voices and is seeking a wide range of blog posts and comments from Indians and Pakistanis on security issues, broadly defined. The site is modeled after Arms Control Wonk, and has been designed by the Wizard of Oz behind ACW, Greg Broquard at Hexive. My colleague at Stimson, Julia Thompson, will manage the website.
We invite posts relating to current research projects, topical issues and whatever seems important to say that is relevant to security on the subcontinent. Stimson welcomes light-hearted commentary in addition to serious blog posts.
All blog posts on the website will be in English. Blog posts and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Indian and two Pakistani security bloggers writing for the new website will be selected each year as visiting fellows at Stimson, courtesy of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The new website is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.