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An overview

As India has risen economically and militarily in recent years, its political clout on the global stage has also seen a commensurate increase. From the peripheries of international affairs, India is now at the centre of major power politics. It is viewed as a major balancer in the Asia-Pacific, a major democracy that can be a major ally of the West in countering China even as India continues to challenge the West on a whole range of issues – non-proliferation, global trade and climate change. Indian foreign policy was driven by a sense of idealism since its independence in 1947. India viewed global norms as important as it kept a leash on the interests of great powers and gave New Delhi “strategic autonomy” to pursue its interests. But as India itself has emerged as a major global power, its foreign policy has moved towards greater “strategic realism.” This book is an overview of Indian foreign policy as it has evolved in recent times. The focus of the book is on the 21st century with historical context provided as appropriate. It will be an introductory book on Indian foreign policy and is not intended to be a detailed examination of any of its particular aspects. It examines India’s relationships with major powers, with its neighbours and other regions, as well as India’s stand on major global issues. The central argument of the book is that with a gradual accretion in its powers, India has become more aggressive in the pursuit of its interests, thereby emerging as an important player in the shaping of the global order in the new millennium.

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Foundation on behalf of the Dalai Lama.3 A  number of reasons were alluded to for such an action. Perhaps the Prime Minister wished to assuage the concerns of the Indian communist parties, then part of the ruling coalition, that the Indian foreign policy was tilting toward Washington in order to send the message that India desired to preserve the upward trajectory in Sino-Indian ties. Yet outside observers remained perplexed about the goals of the Indian government, since it contravened India’s long-held position that the Dalai Lama is a not a mere political dissident 2

in Indian foreign policy
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Indian foreign and security policy-making structures

. When clear decisions on foreign and defense policy issues do not emerge from these levels, alongside sustained following attention paid to their implementation, the subordinate levels can become paralyzed by inertia. The Ministry of External Affairs is the primary government interface for most international citizens and organizations concerned with Indian foreign policy. Its origins date back to before Indian independence, and the position of Minister for External Affairs is considered one of the most prestigious appointments for senior Indian politicians. However

in Indian foreign policy
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India and Latin America

. This was the first instance where an Indian prime minister met almost a dozen leaders of South American countries at one place. Though India has had cordial diplomatic relations with almost all Latin American states, some of these partnerships have attained important strategic value for Indian foreign policy. One of the most important bilateral relationships is with Brazil. India and Brazil share strong convergence in the current state of global politics: both are rising powers looking forward to assume leadership roles in their respective regions; both aspire for

in Indian foreign policy
An emerging partnership

declaration about the civilian facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The successful conclusion of 24 Indian foreign policy the nuclear pact in 2008, though not without difficulty, underscores the great distance India’s ties with the United States have traveled since the end of the Cold War. This chapter discusses the evolution in Indo-US ties over the last two decades and the key factors which are propelling this change. US–India ties after the Cold War The demise of the Soviet Union liberated Indian and US attitudes from the structural confines

in Indian foreign policy
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India struggles to retain its relevance

bilateral visit to Nepal by an Indian prime minister in seventeen years, an example of Indian foreign policy’s skewed priorities. Nepalese polity, cutting across party lines, had welcomed the assumption of power by Modi, with most expressing hope that Nepal would be a beneficiary of Modi’s developmental agenda. And Modi reached out to Kathmandu promptly as a sign that he is serious about prioritizing India’s South Asia policy. Nepal, too, reached out to Modi in an unprecedented manner – the Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala, breaking protocol and receiving Modi at

in Indian foreign policy
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India and Bhutan

arrived in 1999. It is the first country to monitor gross national happiness, an alternative to GDP, to balance a tentative embrace of modernity with an effort to preserve traditions. But Bhutan, which made the transition from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy in 2008, is struggling with high unemployment and a growing national debt. It is a tribute to the ham-fisted manner in which Indian foreign policy is managed that even India’s relations with Bhutan had seemed in trouble in the last few years. The withdrawal of subsidies to Bhutan on petroleum products

in Indian foreign policy
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Convergence across time

the dependence on the West. Instead of minimizing the superpowers’ role in the subcontinent, India had to opt for maximizing it to give the policy of bi-alignment.4 India’s pro-Soviet position at the Bandung conference in 1955 further consolidated these ties. The Soviet leadership started voicing support for India’s general foreign policy orientation, as well as its position on specific issues such as Kashmir and Goa.5 As a result, while the Soviet policy toward India was a response to American and Chinese diplomatic moves in the region, Indian foreign policy was

in Indian foreign policy
From activism to forced diffidence

emerged that have complicated Indian security.4 Internally, Indian security is challenged by a plethora of insurgencies which are a product of a range of factors including a desire for greater autonomy and resentment over inequality and injustice. Externally, India’s immediate neighborhood continues to be the theater of the most serious challenges. Scholars of Indian security have for the most part focused on India’s external threats, especially from China and Pakistan. A rapidly rising China 198 Indian foreign policy may pose the greatest military threat to India if

in Indian foreign policy
“Acting” East with an eye on China

vessel, identify itself and explain its presence in the South China Sea after 138 Indian foreign policy leaving Vietnamese waters.4 Completing a scheduled port call in Vietnam, the Indian warship was in international waters. In June 2012, the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), opened nine blocks for exploration in waters also claimed by Vietnam.5 Oil Block 128, which Vietnam argues is inside its 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) granted under the UN Law of the Sea, is part of the nine blocks offered for global bidding by CNOOC. By

in Indian foreign policy