Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan and Russia

By Henry R. Nau; Deepa M. Ollapally | Go to book overview

3
India
Foreign Policy Perspectives of an Ambiguous Power

DEEPA M. OLLAPALLY AND RAJESH RAJAGOPALAN

As India rises, it faces a number of foreign policy choices. Some of these choices are influenced by the great power system in Asia, but because the Asian—and global—power system is evolving, India’s choices are unsettled ones. Irrespective of what these conditions are, however, India’s choices will ultimately be determined by how Indian decision makers and opinion shapers see these choices. Unlike other major powers, India does not have a well-articulated grand strategy or national doctrine to guide its foreign policy. India’s rise has not been accompanied by White Papers, Prime Ministerial doctrines, or any other clear and open statements by the government about what its objectives are for India’s global role. This is not surprising—official India rarely spells out its long-term vision with discrete steps to be taken to achieve its goals. Without considering whether this is due to a lack of purposeful thinking or whether it is a clever attempt to maintain flexibility, the outcome either way is a certain amount of ambiguity. Thus, it would be fair to term India “an ambiguous rising power.”

At the same time, there has been an abundance of public, expert, and media discussion on this issue over the last five years. There are contending perspectives promoted by domestic groups that could potentially influence Indian foreign policy choices. This chapter outlines the main schools of thought in India, their historical roots, and their likely impact on critical regional and global issues—from dealing with India’s

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