Indian Journal of Politics, Vol. XXXIX, No. 1&2, January-June 2005, pp.43-58
GEO-RELIGIOUS FOUNDATIONS OF TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION AMONGTHE MUSLIM COUNTRIES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION
“There is no complete region less than the world” said Halford J. Mackinder in 1937 and in1943 he held: “Regions can not be accurately delimited, for their boundaries are inevitably zones of compromise as between limits based on different criteria.”
the concept of ‘region’ in geography,ironically, has suffered from vagueness, relative neglect and lack of an agreed definition.Generally, ‘region’ is an idea, and a method to study world politics, its divisions on regional basis are mostly personal preferences, somewhat arbitrary, for the boundaries of the region beingquite ad-hoc. And this idea is so nebulous, so personal and peculiar, that its expression andconcretization can take different shapes. Hence the variety in its definition; “A domain where manydissimilar beings, artificially brought together, have subsequently adapted themselves to a commonexistence” (P. Vidal de la Blache); “An area characterized throughout by similar surface features andwhich is contrasted with neighbouring areas”,
(N.M. Feneman). A distinguished geographer RichardHartshorne writes “any regional division is not a true picture of reality, but it is an arbitrary device of the student… depending on what elements appear to him as most significant.”
Accordingly, the study of politics and economics of particular geographic regions has long been in use and one finds in the contemporary terminology the regions referred to as ‘WesternEurope’, the ‘Middle East’, or the ‘Southeast Asia’, and so on. The implication of thesenomenclatures is that the states of such regions are in many respects interdependent and interrelated.A region is also peculiarized using the criteria of social and cultural homogeneity, political attitudeson external issues expressed in voting in the United Nations, political interdependence reflected in participation in inter-governmental organisations, economic interdependence seen in the correlation between intra-regional trade and national income and, of course, the geographic proximity.
The configuration of the region is arrived at by mapping the basic attributes of the states inthe area and their major patterns of relations. The stress being upon geography together with theinsights of area specialists sensitive to factors such as consciousness of regional identity, felt cultureand other perceived affinities.
The geographical setting of a region, “provides us with a basis for understanding today’s political map and for anticipating change”,
holds Cohen, and, the geo-politicalmap is closely attuned to the economic map of a region. A geo-political region “expresses the unityof geographic features”, and [it] “can provide a framework for common political [and economic]actions. Contiguity of location and complementarity of resources are particularly distinguishingmarks of the geo-political region...”
Evolution of Indian Ocean as a Geo-religious Region:
Department of Evening Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. e.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org