A mutual orientation

May 27, 2009.


Swarna Rajagopalan introduces herself and the themes on which she will blog.


People are Asia. The colours and cultures, foods and frenzies, warmth and vigour, passions and politics, states and nations of this large continent are made and re-made by its people everyday. The security of Asia is the security not just of its states but also of its people—as individuals, as families, as clans, as communities, as towns and cities and as larger collective entities than that. Each Asian carries within her memories and habits of many generations, bringing yesterday’s legacy and today’s energy to bear on hopes and anxieties about a secure, just and peaceful tomorrow.

In my posts in this Asian Security Initiative blog, I will make people—especially the people of South Asia—the central referent of “security.” Of course, states and other collective formations matter; but what Amartya Sen and others have come to describe as “human security” will be my fundamental concern here. In my posts, therefore, you will read about the things that make individuals and communities (in)secure such as migration, disaster and gender violence. You will read about the impact of “traditional” security actions and policies on citizens and communities; for instance, the environmental consequences of modern conflict or the way foreign policy relates to cultural issues. I will also very occasionally comment on traditional security concerns, such as foreign policy or inter-state conflict.

But who am I and why should you read me? I am a Bombay-raised, Chennai-based, Illinois-trained political scientist. My journey as a scholar has been an effort to relate the academic and the political to people’s real world, real life experience. Sometimes I think that a scholar is but a story-teller with historical and analytical perspective and as a citizen-scholar, the compulsion is to tell the story that would not otherwise be heard in a particular forum or share the picture that no one might otherwise see.

This blog is one segment of a journey; readers and writers are fellow-travellers here for a short stretch. Each of us will start and finish at different points, sharing our stories along the way, learning from each other and craning to see what the other sees out of the confines of this small window.  No matter that the journey is short, the quarters confined and the view but a porthole, we will define the journey by a mutual commitment to sharing, listening, looking and learning.

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