ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India’s Grand Strategy Needs a Second Act


Grand strategy, the historian John Lewis Gaddis said, is the aligning of “potentially unlimited aspirations with necessarily limited capabilities” across “space, time, and scale.” Having witnessed the United States (US) overreach during the Cold War, Gaddis knew the costs of failing to match ends with means all too well. In a somewhat different context, India is facing a chasm between its global aspirations and the reality of its national power. A confluence of disruptive factors has now made the business-as-usual approach simply unsustainable. A course correction if not undertaken and executed sensibly could imperil India’s rise for the next generation.

Let us begin with the key themes that underpinned India’s post-Cold War foreign policy transformation. The end of the Cold War removed or certainly muted the role of ideology in inter­national politics. And, because that was closely followed by the disappearance of one of the superpower contenders, it also radically changed the balance of power that had prevailed since the end of World War II. It was in this unipolar moment that many of the core assumptions of India’s role in the 21st century were defined. These included a rapprochement and active engagement with the sole superpower who also held the fate of the international economy as well as numerous other institutions in its hands. This culminated in the 2005 Indo–US nuclear deal, an understanding that was more important for its geopolitics rather than alternative energy technology for Indians. A second major premise of India’s foreign policy since the 1990s has been to facilitate integration with the global economy. Even more crucial was the percolating of ideas that discouraged economic statecraft and industrial strategies during the globalisation process. In the age of an open liberal economic order, such measures were seen as passé and impediments to the free flow of capital and merchandise.

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Updated On : 3rd Jan, 2020
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