Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, “Rising India’s Foreign Policy: A Partial Introduction,” in D. Suba Chandran and Jabin T. Jacob (eds.), India’s Foreign Policy: Old Problems, New Challenges (New Delhi: Macmillan, 2011): 1-22.
Current Indian foreign policy is informed by a realization that a combination of economic reforms and the end of the Cold War has steered India into a position of some considerable influence in the post-9/11 world. This is influence of a kind that India did not have in the years following Independence. What India had then was a moral standing which it could make little use of, boxed in as it was by the contingencies of a Cold War division of the world. This division allowed very little leeway for the Indian policy of non-alignment, which ended up being not so much an alternative as a means of holding the line, until India could find itself in a more favourable geopolitical situation. Further, unlike in the post-Independence phase, India today often appears reluctant to exercise what influence it has outside South Asia and sometimes even within the region, keenly aware of the several continuing limits on its capabilities and having suffered from blowback on the few occasions it did, as was the case most tragically, in the assassination of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
Even as some old problems continue to keep India off-balance in international affairs, notably the issue of Kashmir, the world has also not stood still and new problems – both traditional and non-traditional – have emerged that have required India to step up and take a position on. These have included the fall of the monarchy and the ascension of the Maoists in Nepal in the immediate neighbourhood, the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme in the extended neighbourhood, and issues of global import such as climate change. And all this, even as the Indian foreign policy establishment remains woefully ill-equipped and understaffed to meet these challenges. What then are the patterns of Indian foreign policy behavior in the new century?
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Presentation: “Political Economy of Arunachal Pradesh in a Rising India,” Center for China’s Borderland History and Geography Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, 14 December 2010.
Summary: Arunachal Pradesh’s disputed status, unique socio-cultural makeup and difficult geographic location have elicited multifaceted responses from Indian policymakers. First, its disputed status and the shock of the 1962 border conflict have given it some features in common with other disputed territories bordering China, namely, a legacy of poor physical and communications infrastructure. Second, Arunachal’s demographic composition of minority ethnic groups has meant that it has like other states in Northeast India been protected from a demographic influx from the rest of India and its citizens enjoy special economic rights. Finally, the difficult geographic location of the Arunachal Pradesh has meant that it largely remains exoticized in the mainstream Indian imagination and hence little studied, and even lesser understood both by those in government and those outside.
However, in the post-liberalization era, and particularly in the new millennium with the dispute with China persisting, each of these three factors have also begun to shape Arunachal in slightly different ways from the rest of its Northeast Indian neighbours and indeed from the rest of the country. For one, the Indian government has abandoned its old policy of keeping border areas underdeveloped and is engaged in a massive infrastructure build-up in Arunachal. This naturally has a huge impact on previously important cultural and environmental concerns in the state. For another, Arunachal’s location is now sought to be used as an advantage in India’s economic outreach to Southeast Asia and southwest China. The presentation examines in detail how all these factors affect and mould the political economy of Arunachal Pradesh and the implications thereof for Sino-Indian relations.
Download presentation: JabinJacob-2010Dec14-CASS-PolEcon-Arunachal