The Approach to Indian Diplomacy:

The Approach to Indian Diplomacy:
How to establish alternative International Relations rooted in India
Toru ITO
Associate Professor of International Relations: South Asia
National Defense Academy of Japan
Phenomena related to international relations are visible almost
everywhere in human society today. The discourse of international relations
(IR), however, has been created and built exclusively in the western world
(Achariya et al., 2007: 292–6). We are so accustomed to jargon such as
balance of power or sovereign state and theories such as idealism / liberalism
or realism born in a particular culture that we often see even the
international relations of the non-western world from the western viewpoint.
More surprisingly, in the face of events in Asia, Africa, or Latin America,
insiders and outsiders often observe, interpret and act in terms of western
India is apparently no exception. It is widely believed that India has
made a clean break with its traditional diplomatic stance of ‘idealism’ in the
era of Jawaharlal Nehru and that it has opened a new avenue for ‘realism’ in
the post Cold War era (Raja Mohan, 2004: XV). Actually, today’s India has
shown no hesitation in building strategic partnerships with great powers
and amassing military muscle including nuclear weapons. It might be
difficult to conjure up an image of a moralistic leader of the Non Aligned
Movement, which criticised alliances and proposed arms reduction, when we
bend our eyes to current newspaper articles on Indian diplomacy.
This paper challenges such a dominant discourse which we have taken
for granted and shows alternative approaches to Indian diplomacy through
history. The international environment surrounding India and the type of its
‘nation-state’ are apparently too different from those of the western world to
be analysed using western principles alone. Moreover, taking cognizance of
India’s original rich legacy of culture, religion and history, it would be
Navnita Behera makes a criticism that is right on the mark that ‘a large proportion of the
South Asian security discourse is not produced by South Asians themselves, but is
“borrowed” or “adapted” from the West’ (Behera, 2002: 13).
unnatural to ignore their impact on international relations as practised by
India. Does the term ‘realism’, when used in India, carry the same meaning
as the common western usage of realism?
1. ‘Linkage politics’ as a ‘fragile nation-state’
The notion of nation-state has emerged from the European experience of
popular revolution in the 17th–19th century. The idea that the sovereign
state which evolved out of the peace treaties of Westphalia should consist of a
homogeneous people has become a standard model since then. The situation
of newly independent states in Asia and Africa after World War II, however,
differs greatly from their apparent precedents in Europe. Almost every
political leader in Asia and Africa has had to face the fact that the people to
be integrated into a new political entity could not be seen to be so
homogeneous as the people in France or the United Kingdom.
Independent India has been a far from a homogeneous nation-state as a
western ideal type. Navnita Chadha Behera writes:
South Asian states do not have the kind of European nation-state that is
assumed to be given and the internal vulnerabilities of the state and the
insecurities of its people are often rooted in the very processes of emulating
a particular kind of state, a model of the Westphalian state denoting a
unified, indivisible sovereign state with centralized political authority
(Behera, 2008: 29).
India has never been a small state. It has remained a superpower in
South Asia and now emerges as a world power. Nevertheless, in India, so
many languages exist, along with religious and ethnic divisions not only
within but across its borders: Punjabi, Kashmiri, Bengali, Tamil, and so on.
Political leadership in India has never been able to take the unity of its
‘nation-state’ for granted because of its own diverse and plural society as well
as the existence of cross-border ethno-religious identities. From the
viewpoint of the western standard, it follows that such a ‘nation-state’ of
India is apparently fragile, however strong its power might become. The
Indian ruling elite has been exposed to internal threats and has been obliged
to counter them first of all.
Mainstream discourse of IR has been completely devoid of such
consideration. Maya Chadda characterised it:
Conventional theories have assumed that the conceptual frame
applicable to international relations of early nation-states can be extended
to explain behavior of third world countries such as India, and that foreign
policy, in this instance India’s policies can be separated from the course of
domestic conflicts. Such a separation seems highly artificial even in the
well-established nation-states in the West; it is totally misleading in
India’s case. (Chadda, 1997: 203)
The foreign policy of India has been worked out and conducted not only
based upon the geopolitical, economic and political strategic interests of New
Delhi but has also been constrained by the recognised vulnerability of its
‘nation-state’. Successive top leaders of India have pursued their foreign
policies in light of the degree to which India approaches the ideal of a
nation-state, lest it be shattered completely through some errant step.
Of course, different leaders have adopted different policies to address
their ‘fragile nation-state’. The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who
had gone through Partition, steered carefully when he endeavoured to build
his new Indian ‘nation’. Various minority groups were not excluded but
rather welcomed into plural India through the ‘Congress system’, ‘a
participant and accommodative model of politics’ (Kothari, 1970: 338–9)
established during his tenure. Most political games were played within the
framework of democratic institutions through negotiation and consensus.
Nehru’s daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was not assured of the
stable ‘Congress system’, however, made a futile attempt to contain the
discontents of various ethno-religious groups. She did not hesitate to use the
methods of centralization, emergency, and even brute force. The Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government which challenged the
secular nation model of Congress, boldly committed itself to overcome the
vulnerability of ‘nation-state’. The ideology of Hindutva was advocated to
make India a homogeneous nation, i.e. a ‘Hindu nation’.
In spite of the different styles, no political leader of India was able to
ignore the reality of domestic heterogeneity when making a decision related
to foreign relations. The ‘linkage politics’ originally used by James N.
Rosenau to describe the overlap of between domestic and foreign affairs in
developed countries, can be seen in India in this sense.
It would be impossible to explain Indian foreign policy toward
neighbours such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka without taking these points into
consideration. Regarding the case of Pakistan is illustrative. When the
Awami League in East Pakistan, which won an overwhelming victory in the
general election in the end of 1970, declared Bangladesh’s independence
from Pakistan, as many as ten million Bengalis sought refuge in West
Bengal and the other contiguous north-eastern states in India to escape
suppression by the Pakistani army. In response to this, Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi made up her mind to interfere in East Pakistan, which caused
the third Indo–Pakistani war in 1971. In hindsight, Mrs Gandhi’s
determination might seem to have derived from her strategic calculation to
take advantage of this opportunity to Balkanise adversarial Pakistan.
However, India’s interference itself resulted at least partly from Bengali
nationalism and possible turbulence in the border states (Bandyopadhyay,
2000: 35–7).
Later, the Kashmir conflict, which turned violent after the end of the
1980s, has shown clear signs of linkage between internal and external
factors. The Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) of Pakistan has provided
substantial support to the Indian Kashmiri radicals who crossed over to
Pakistan part of Kashmir, which led to so-called ‘cross-border terrorism’ such
as the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and 2008 Mumbai attacks. Now New
Delhi must talk to domestic Kashmiri nationalists as well as
Islamabad–Rawalpindi if it is to stabilise the region. The Kashmir conflict,
however, leaves little room for concession even from the Indian side. It would
be self-abnegation for India as a ‘secular state’ to give Kashmir, a Muslim
majority area, to Pakistan or to recognise the independence of Kashmir.
Moreover, it might create a disturbance among the largest ‘minority’ group,
Muslim society all over India, which surely endangers the existence of
‘nation-state’ of India.
India’s policy toward Sri Lanka has been defined more clearly by
domestic considerations. As the majority Sinhalese government
marginalised and attacked minority Tamils after the 1980s, and as many
Tamils in the island surged into nearby Tamil Nadu state of India, Tamil
nationalism which requested to save blood brothers has held sway over state
politics. Two main political parties in the state, Dravida Munnetra
Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
(AIADMK) competed to provide support for different Tamil radicals of Sri
Lanka. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi decided not only to airdrop food and
medical parcels to Tamils isolated in Jaffna, a northern town of the island
but also to sign the Indo – Sri Lanka Peace Accord in 1987 and to send
Indian troops as an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to end the civil war,
only to fail. J.N. Dixit, who served as Indian High Commissioner in Sri
Lanka (1985–89), admitted that India’s interference resulted from the
motive of maintaining the unity of the Indian nation. Dixit said so frankly as
So the first reason why we went into Sri Lanka was the interest to
preserve our own unity… [W]e have to respect the sentiments of 50 million
Tamil citizens of India. They felt that if we did not rise in support of the
Tamil cause in Sri Lanka, we are not standing by our own Tamils and if
that is so, then in the Tamil psyche, Tamil subconscious the question arose:
is there any relevance or validity of our being part of a large Indian
political identity, if our deeply felt sentiments are not respected? (Dixit’s
USI address, cited in Muni, 1993: 61-62)
Even after the end of the civil war, New Delhi steered carefully to build a
strategic relation with Colombo, to which China has approached actively,
with consideration of sentiment in Tamil Nadu.2
As described above, India’s foreign policy toward its neighbours has not
only been defined by regional strategic calculations to build and maintain its
hegemony in South Asia but also by the deliberate considerations to
maintain its national integrity against trans-border ethno-nationalism.
2. Co-existence of extra-regional revisionism and intra-regional status quo
Does the foreign policy of India have consistent directional
characteristics? On the surface, it is difficult to say ‘yes’. On one particular
occasion, its policy was apparently very progressive, as shown by its
commitment to reform the United Nations (UN), but in another case, its
outlook appears to be extremely conservative, as evidenced by its more or
less negative stance on resolving the Kashmir issue.3 Some might rush into
their conclusions that the former is the sign of idealism and the latter
Manmohan Sign government voted in support of the resolution which was critical of Sri
Lankan government at the UN Human Rights Council in the strong demands by Tamil
Nadu regional parties. In the summer of that year, both regional parties in the state opposed
welcoming the Sri Lankan Junior Football Team and pilgrims as well as training of Sri
Lankan defence personnel in the state, competing with each other to mobilise Tamil
nationalism and anti-Sri Lankan sentiments.
3 As a whole, India has preferred the expansion of economic and human exchanges to
resolving Kashmir issues, which Pakistan has put first in everything.
realism in India. However, if we consider the different fields within which
each policy developed, it will be possible to find historical continuity and
political consensus in Indian foreign policy.
On the global stage outside South Asia, India has been a vocal reformer
since its independence. India has indicated dissatisfaction with the existing
international order or rule and consistently demanded its change in
multilateral diplomacy.
The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru chose the model of
Non-Alignment to secure the independence of India in the dominant global
cold war structure instead of submitting itself to each bloc. It was a rational
choice considering India’s lack of hard power at that time. Non-Alignment
has become a biblical principle since then, even though its semantic content
has changed with the times.4
The Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), which Nehru proposed and
promoted, sharply criticised the cold war order and demanded arms-control
compliance of both blocks. Later it asked for establishing New International
Economic Order (NIEO) instead of the existing order advantageous to
developed economies to stand up against neo-colonialism.
India had defied the nuclear regime such as Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Making
a critical attack on NPT as ‘Nuclear Apartheid’ it has continued to reject
joining NPT in spite of repeated international requirements. At last, India
became the first declared nuclear power outside the framework of NPT in
May 1998. India has asserted its right to enter the international nuclear
control regimes by revising their regulations rather than by relinquishing its
own title of nuclear power since then, which led to the decision of Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG), originally founded in response to the first Indian
nuclear test in 1974, to grant India a ‘clean waiver’ from its existing rules in
2008. No other country in the world has been granted the rights to commence
civilian nuclear trade without complying with the NPT regime.
Committing to various activities in the UN such as Peace Keeping
Even the ‘Hindu nationalist’ BJP government has never denied the value of
Non-Alignment. See the interview to then External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. ‘I
personally believe that non-alignment is still a very relevant philosophy in international
relations because the basic thesis of non-alignment is that we should be able to follow an
independent foreign policy…’ (The Hindu, Aug. 20, 2008). A recently published strategic
recommendation report by former Foreign Secretary and others was titled ‘Non-Alignment
2.0,’ (Khilnani,, 2012).
Operations (PKO), India has not hesitated to voice strong dissatisfaction
with the existing UN system. Every Indian prime minister or external
minister has emphasised the need of the UN reform especially on Security
Council dominated by Big Five (P5) in an annual speech in the General
Assembly irrespective of party affiliation. Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee of the BJP-led government addressed the matter in 2003.
For the Security Council to represent genuine multilateralism in its
decisions and actions, its membership must reflect current world realities.
Most UN members today recognize the need for an enlarged and
restructured Security Council, with more developing countries as
permanent and non-permanent members. (Vajpayee, 2003)
Later in 2011, Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke similarly.
We must address the issue of the deficit in global governance. We need a
stronger and more effective United Nations. We need a United Nations
that is sensitive to the aspirations of everyone – rich or poor, big or small.
For this the United Nations and its principal organs, the General Assembly
and the Security Council, must be revitalized and reformed. The reform
and expansion of the Security Council are essential if it is to reflect
contemporary reality. Such an outcome will enhance the Council’s
credibility and effectiveness in dealing with global challenges. Early
reform of the Security Council must be pursued with renewed vigour and
urgently enacted. (Singh, 2011)
India has been an ardent advocate of democratisation in the other
international organizations. Above all, the World Trade Organization (WTO)
and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been under fire. India has
demanded that those economic organizations mainly dominated by the
western developed countries should be restructured to reflect more opinions
and interests of developing countries.
As explained above, India is inclined to become a challenger against the
existing economic, political and security order and to rule without
submitting to them in silence. Of course, India does not completely ignore the
existing order and rule. However, more often than not, India tends to
embarrass other dominant members by requesting some meaningful change
of them. It is exclusively on the global field that India has acted thus. In this
sense, we can call India a ‘revisionist’ of the existing global order and rule on
the global field.
Turning our eyes to South Asia, however, the figure of ‘revisionist’ India
vanishes into thin air. Instead, one often sees India endeavour to maintain
the status quo of the region. India has opposed any change of the existing
situation inside of the region. To put it concretely, India has strived to foil
any attempt to change the regional configuration of power and territory and
has rejected the notion of outside intervention from the US, China, or the UN
in regional conflicts.
The Kashmir dispute with Pakistan is a typical case. According to J.N.
Dixit, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who brought the dispute to the UN
at the beginning of 1948, realised that the UN is not only ineffective but also
harmful to resolving the Kashmir dispute from Indian side soon after his
attempt failed (Dixit, 1998: 40). India has refused to invite the UN or other
external powers to the negotiating table since then. Later, the Simla
Agreement of 1974 after the third Indo–Pakistani war has provided India
with a legal basis to exclude third-parties by prescribing that both countries
‘are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral
negotiations’ whereas Pakistan has struggled to internationalise it to involve
other major external powers. In addition, India does not seem to have been
so interested in capturing the other side, ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)’
whereas Pakistan has strived to annex ‘Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) forcibly
by war and terrorism. Navnita Chadha Behera writes:
India has no proactive military strategy in operation in Kashmir despite
the hostilities there… India has consistently displayed predominantly
defensive and risk-averse behavior in reaction to wars initiated by
Pakistan… India’s objective in Kashmir is to maintain the status-quo; to
hold and protect what it has. (Behera, 2006: 64)
From an Indian perspective, it is not an immediate priority to ‘resolve’
the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan by war or negotiation. India seems to
want the existing Line of Control (LoC) to be maintained and the Indian side
to be stabilised in its heart without redrawing the border in spite of its
official position that all of Kashmir including the areas controlled by
Pakistan and China are an ‘integral part of India’. The Kashmir issue is
often put on the back burner in the ongoing India-Pakistan peace dialogue,
but there seems to be less objection to its exclusion in India than in Pakistan.
Actually, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi supported and recognised East
Pakistan independence, which might appear to contradict the principle of
status quo in the surface, but as stated above, Mrs Gandhi’s decision should
be interpreted as a response to the affluence of refugees and
ethno-nationalism primarily, and as the rare chance to preclude repeated
Pakistani attempts to change the regional status quo secondarily. India
strived to restore stability with Pakistan soon after liberation of East
Pakistan as Bangladesh even though India had gained military supremacy
over Pakistan. India has acted as a status quo power in the region in most
other cases including its relations with its larger northern neighbour,
India has managed to discourage external major powers from using their
influence over the region. Regarding domestic conflicts in the island nations,
India has experienced sending its own troops for their resolution. In 1987,
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi formed the IPKF to perform peacekeeping
operations in Sri Lanka that were not based upon the UN mandate but upon
the bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka. In the following year,
he dispatched Indian forces to the Maldives to foil a coup attempt and to
restore order based upon a request from President Gayoom. The former was
motivated by the necessity of maintaining Indian unity first of all, as stated
above, but failed miserably, whereas the latter yielded results with the view
to each original purpose. However, both cases are also interpreted as Mr
Gandhi’s attempts to exclude outsiders’ interference in regional affairs.
Indian caution and trepidation at external major powers’ activities in the
region can be seen in peace and war. It is often said that Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi decided to deepen the strategic relation with the USSR
through the Indo–Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1971
before the war with Pakistan to block possible Chinese interference. Now
Indian leadership is elevating its sense of vigilance over Chinese ambition to
expand its influence on the Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. India is
endeavouring to counter the enterprise to change the regional configuration
of power as China strengthens its relations with Nepal, Bangladesh,
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and others.6
India has not sought revision of the border with China since its independence, adhering to
the British MacMahon Line. Although India recognised Tibet as a part of China in the 1954
Panchsheel Treaty, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi reiterated India’s position regarding Tibet
as ‘autonomous region of China’ when he visited Beijing in 1988.
6 Regarding Sri Lanka, India opened its new consulate in Hambantota in 2010 where China
supported construction of a huge ‘civil’ port.
Considering the difference of the fields, we can conclude that India has
adopted ‘extra-regional revisionism’ and ‘intra-regional status quo’ as its
guides to foreign policy since independence. On one hand, India as a newly
independent state, as a developing country, or as a rising power in the world
has sought a more suitable global order for itself that takes the place of the
existing one, expressing dissatisfaction with its current circumstances. On
the other, India as a superpower or as a hegemon in the region has been so
content with the status quo that it has endeavoured to maintain its
dominant position. It is quite logical that there has been co-existence of
‘extra-regional revisionism’ and ‘intra-regional status quo’ in India’s foreign
policy, reckoning its power gap separately in the world and in the region in
our calculations.7
3. Pragmatism as Artha-styled realism’
Strange as it might sound to outsiders who hold a moralistic and
idealistic image of Mahatma Gandhi, it seems that dominant Indian IR
scholars call themselves ‘realists’ rather than ‘liberalists’ now whereas there
are emerging some in the new generation who introduce a post-modern
critical or constructivist approach (Behera, 2007: 341–68; Behera, 2008:
1–50). One can readily find numerous articles published in daily papers,
magazines, and other media every day, in which prominent Indian
strategists, former diplomats and ex-military are expecting their country to
act on the principle of realism. According to Kanti Bajpai, the approach of
structural realism has been extremely popular in Indian foreign policy and
security analysis (Bajpai, 2005a: 2–3).
However, outsiders will be surprised to know how diversified a range of
concrete measures Indian ‘realists’ devise. On the one pole, one can see
hawkish realists who often propose to take hard-line measures toward
India’s unfavourable neighbours. They tend to attach little importance to
peace dialogue, regional cooperation human and economic exchanges,
stressing the significance of military power to protect national interests. One
of the leading Indian strategists, Brahma Chellaney writes the following.
[T]he historical pre-eminence of military power remains intact and is
One can also notice subtle changes in India’s attitude in the region today. For instance,
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated at 14th SARRC Summit in 2007, ‘India is ready to
accept asymmetrical responsibilities’. (Singh, 2007)
unlikely to be disturbed. Competition and conflict, inherent in an
international system, based on nation-states, make military muscle the
central determinant as to which states command political clout and set
international rules, including on trade. (Chellaney, 1999: 527-528)
According to him, ‘[t]here is no instance in history of a state becoming
wealthy without military power or security’ (Chellaney, 1999: 531). It follows
that India should enhance military power if it is to maintain regional peace
and to become a global power.
On the other pole, however, we can see more moderate realists in Indian
strategic circles. They propose that India should strengthen strategic
relations with major powers, especially with hitherto estranged western
powers such as the US. What is more, they recommend that India should
take action to improve relations with its traditionally adversarial neighbours
such as China and Pakistan to stabilise the region and to be a global power.
They often indicate the significance of interdependence, cooperation and
peace dialogue to realise Indian national interests. C. Raja Mohan is the
most famous realist of this type:
A modest foreign policy is not necessarily a dull or less challenging
enterprise, for there is so much that India must do to complete its
territorial consolidation, settle its unresolved disputes with Pakistan and
China, promote regional economic integration and expand areas of
cooperation with the great powers. (Raja Mohan, 2003: 269)
Some might wonder if we can categorise his perspective as realism.
Being based upon western IR standard, he might be positioned as neoliberals
rather than realism (Bajpai, 2006: 69–72).8 However, the important point is
that Raja Mohan himself has appreciated and advocated India’s change from
idealism to realism (Raja Mohan, 2003: XV). Apparently, he positions himself
as a representative realist.
That is exactly a hallmark of dominant ‘realism’ discourse in India. It is
not a means – military power or dialogue- but an end – national interestthat defines Indian ‘realism’. In other words, ‘realism’ is comprehended as
the aggregate of every possible military and non-military means to achieve
national interests in India.
For instance, Raja Mohan urges the Manmohan Singh government to engage Pakistan
(Raja Mohan, 2012a) and to deepen strategic dialogue with the US and China (Raja Mohan,
2012b) to play a pivotal role in Afghanistan after withdrawal of the US Army.
We can trace the history of this characteristic to an ancient Indian
strategic text, The Arthashastra which is said to have been written by
Kautilya, the advisor of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. It is noteworthy
that The Arthashastra dwells on political and diplomatic means as well as
military means to achieve Artha, i.e., national interest. Kautilya
recommends the six methods – making peace, waging war, staying quiet,
preparing for war, seeking support and dual policy depending on the
situations, power equations to bring unification and peace to the
Subcontinent (Rangarajan, 1992: 542–744).
The important point is that Kautilya counsels the monarch to act
according to circumstances, from peace to war. In that sense, we will be able
to recognise and categorise Indian Artha-styled realism as ‘pragmatism’. In
fact, we can find that most Indian scholars use the terms of ‘pragmatism’ or
‘pragmatic’ as well as ‘realism’ or ‘realistic’ in their writings. More
importantly, it seems that both terms are often used as synonyms or
parallelly in their articles.
While growing realism in India has yet to overcome traditions of
naïve idealism and political divisiveness, Beijing epitomizes strategic
clarity and pragmatism… (Chellaney. 2006: 25)
A conversation between Delhi and Beijing on defining their
respective red lines and finding ways to address each other’s main
security concerns has been long overdue. Such a dialogue is critical for
launching a pragmatic and realistic engagement between the two nations.
(Raja Mohan, 2010)
The tradition of Indian Artha-styled realism is visible in the discourse of
political leadership. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used the word
‘realism’ when he declared his determination to pursue peace processes with
Pakistan immediately upon assuming office:
Vis-à-vis Pakistan, we have consistently declared our commitment to the
peace process and to carrying forward the dialogue process. Our approach
to talks will be based on realism… (Singh, 2004)
Taking the tradition of the Arthashastra into our consideration, no
contradiction exists between ‘coercive diplomacy’ after 2001 Indian
Parliament Attack and ‘composite dialogue’ after 2004 SAARC summit both
of which the same BJP-led Vajpayee government adopted toward Pervez
Musharraf’s Pakistan. 9 Here, war or other hard-line measures might be
recommended on one occasion, but peace or other reconciliatory lines are also
defended on the other occasion in terms of national interest based upon
As one scholar of IR and South Asian studies outside the region, I
presume that the classic of the Arthashastra has impacted upon the Indian
mode of thinking subconsciously even though it has been rarely read first
hand today. As a result, India has developed a peculiar type of ‘realism’ that
is indigenous to its history and culture, which is similar to pragmatism
rather than to realism in the western IR.
A leading Indian IR scholar, Amitabh Matoo regrets that the studies of
international relations have lagged behind in India and notes the need for
upgrading them (Matoo, 2009). Above all, most Indian scholars have
harboured less interest in theory (Bajpai, 2005b: 25), although the situation
now is apparently changing bit by bit. Such poor academic assets in IR might
have engendered the uncritical acceptance of western theory in non-western
societies including India.
However, from the viewpoint of outside scholars, India has a huge
potential for creating an alternative approach that can challenge the western
dominant one, considering its diversity as a nation, its peculiar power
environment, and its rich tradition. To sum it up, ‘linkage politics’ as a
‘fragile nation-state’, co-existence of extra-regional revisionism and
intra-regional status quo, and pragmatism as Artha-styled realism’ have
been the essence of Indian foreign policy from past to present as described
above. Here is the possibility of establishing Indian indigenous IR from the
field instead of taking dominant western IR for granted. That will be
crucially important for non-western societies and for India given the fact
that the reality we acknowledge every day is bound by the theory we adopt.
Mobilising Indian troops to the border, Vajpayee government exerted a lot of pressure on
Pakistan to adopt stringent measures against its terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and
Jaish-e-Mohammed which attacked Indian Parliament at the end of 2001. Two years later,
however, Prime Minister Vajpayee flew to Islamabad and announced to open up the
intergovernmental talks with Pakistan on a variety of bilateral issues including Kashmir.
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