Indian Foreign Policy: The Politics of Postcolonial Identity from 1947 to 2004, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Indian Foreign Policy

The Politics of Postcolonial Identity from 1947 to 2004, 1st Edition

By Priya Chacko


238 pages

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Paperback: 9781138843868
pub: 2014-09-12
Hardback: 9780415665681
pub: 2011-11-28
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The rise of India as a major power has generated new interest in understanding the drivers of its foreign policy. This book argues that analysing India’s foreign and security policies as representational practices which produce India’s identity as a postcolonial nation-state helps to illuminate the conditions of possibility in which foreign policy is made.

Spanning the period between 1947 and 2004, the book focuses on key moments of crisis, such as the India-China war in 1962 and the nuclear tests of 1972 and 1998, and the approach to international affairs of significant leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru. The analysis sheds new light on these key events and figures and develops a strong analytical narrative around India’s foreign policy behaviour, based on an understanding of its postcolonial identity.

It is argued that a prominent facet of India’s identity is a perception that it is a civilizational-state which brings to international affairs a tradition of morality and ethical conduct derived from its civilizational heritage and the experience of its anti-colonial struggle. This notion of ‘civilizational exceptionalism’, as well as other narratives of India’s civilizational past, such as its vulnerability to invasion and conquest, have shaped the foreign policies of governments of various political hues and continue to influence a rising India.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Part 1: India as a ‘Moral Power’ 1947-1964 2. Nuclear Technology, Disarmament and the Ambivalence of Postcolonial Identity 3. Rejecting the ‘Fear Complex’: Constructing an International Politics of Friendship 4. Friendship to ‘Betrayal’: The India-China War Part 2: Grappling with Postcoloniality: 1964-2004 5.Interventions and Explosions: Wither an Ethical Modernity? 6. India in South Asia: Danger, Desire, Friendship and Fraternity 7. Foreign Policy, Identity and the BJP: Correcting the 'emasculation of state power'? 8. Conclusion

About the Author

Priya Chacko is a Lecturer in International Politics in the School of History and Politics at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Her research interests include the normative basis of Indian foreign policy, non-Western thought in International Relations, and India’s engagement with Africa and global governance.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins ( and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General