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.
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 Indianforeignpolicy 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
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 Indianforeignpolicy. 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
Indian foreign and security policy-making structures
Harsh V. Pant
. 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 Indianforeignpolicy. 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
declaration about the civilian facilities with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The successful conclusion of
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
bilateral visit to Nepal by an
Indian prime minister in seventeen years, an example of Indianforeignpolicy’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
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 Indianforeignpolicy
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
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
may pose the greatest military threat to India if
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, Indianforeignpolicy was
vessel, identify itself and explain its presence in the South China Sea after
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.