India in South Asia : Domestic Identity Politics and Foreign Policy from Nehru to the BJP book cover
1st Edition

India in South Asia
Domestic Identity Politics and Foreign Policy from Nehru to the BJP

ISBN 9781138888449
Published May 21, 2015 by Routledge
176 Pages

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Book Description

South Asia is one of the most volatile regions of the world, and India’s complex democratic political system impinges on its relations with its South Asian neighbours. Focusing on this relationship, this book explores the extent to which domestic politics affect a country’s foreign policy.

The book argues that particular continuities and disjunctures in Indian foreign policy are linked to the way in which Indian elites articulated Indian identity in response to the needs of domestic politics. The manner in which these state elites conceive India’s region and regional role depends on their need to stay in tune with domestic identity politics. Such exigencies have important implications for Indian foreign policy in South Asia.

Analysing India’s foreign policy through the lens of competing domestic visions at three different historical eras in India’s independent history, the book provides a framework for studying India’s developing nationhood on the basis of these idea(s) of ‘India’. This approach allows for a deeper and a more nuanced interpretation of the motives for India’s foreign policy choices than the traditional realist or neo-liberal framework, and provides a useful contribution to South Asian Studies, Politics and International Studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Nehru and the Invention of India 2. Nehru and the Birth of India’s Regional Policy: the case of Pakistan and Nepal 3. ‘The Empress of India’: Indira Gandhi and the Idea of India 4. A ‘New’ Phase in Indian Foreign Policy: The Case of Pakistan and Sri Lanka 5. The BJP Era and the Construction of Indian Identity 6. A ‘Hindu’ Foreign Policy: Dealing with Pakistan and Bangladesh 7. Conclusion

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Sinderpal Singh is a Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.


"Singh’s work is likely to be of enduring value. It will effectively shift the median in the literature on Indian foreign policy away from purely power- and interest-based analyses to a more nuanced understanding of a complex reality that encompasses ideational themes. The book is timely at a juncture when India is engaged in an energetic debate over its identity. The BJP’s efforts to invigorate domestic politics with a new Hindu-pragmatic identity and the promise of a more decisive foreign policy befitting an emerging power will be better understood by readers who have had the benefit of the historical grounding and conceptual tools provided by this book." - Rajesh Basrur, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Pacific Affairs