Training Course

International Affairs

The Indic Perspective of International Relations

             When we intend to unearth and discover the norms of India’s Foreign Policy and the attendant Global polity then we can follow the tenet of the Indic conception of International relations. The Indic perspective of International Relations, foreign policy and attendant diplomacy involved has been all neglected relegated to the backburner due to a prejudice and academic indigence in India , which is a  hiatus that needs to be corrected as far as the general and de riguer narrative is concerned. When Prime Minister Modi beseeches the entire nation concerning the tenet of Vishwaguru in the context of Foreign Policy then its not about an idiom of copy cats but he intends to hark back to the Indic perspective of International relations and attendant foreign policy.

                  Binoy Sarkar, an Indian scholar has stressed way back in the year 1919 into materializing the Hindu Theory of International relations. He goes on to introduce the concept very pithily. He contended that, “ " Great misery," says Shookra, "comes of dependence on others. There is no greater happiness than that from self-rule." This is one of the maxims of the Shookra-neetil bearing on the freedom of the rastra, or the land and the people in a state. Kautilya also in his remarks on "foreign rule" expresses the same idea in a negative manner. Under it, we are told in his Artha-shastra,2 the country is not treated as one's own land, it is impoverished, its wealth carried off, or it is treated "as a commercial article." The description is suggestive of John Stuart Mill's metaphor of the "cattle farm" applied to the "government of one people by another." The doctrine of independence (svarajya, aparadheenatva) implied in this conception of external sovereignty was obviously the foundation of the theory of the state in relation with other states. These concepts can more or less be grouped under the doctrine of mandala, that is sphere or circle (of influence, interests, ambitions, enterprise, and what not). This doctrine of mandala, underlying as it does the Hindu idea of the "balance of power," pervades the entire speculation on the subject of international relations. It is hinted at by Shookra and referred to by Manu India had a non violent and non-cooperative idea of dissent and public opinion in the period of the Independence struggle which made India’s foreign policy inclined towards political neutrality and Panchsheela. But with the advent of the Narendra Modi ‘s Regime, the concerns of wooing US and extending India’s outreach through linkages with West Asia, Africa, Indo Pacific and attempting a tight rope walking in the realm of Diplomacy becomes the order of the day, which a UPSC aspirant needs to amalgamate within the framework of a generalist’s approach. The contemporary concerns of cyber warfare, cyber crime, Climate change negotiations, Disarmament and the shrinking role of the State in the post pandemic world too form a core concern of any syllabus on International Affairs. Lets look back at the initial wanderings of Pandit Jawaaharlal Nehru in the realm of foreign Policy.

Nehruvian times

The times of Nehru entailed a more complex and a nuanced approach to international relations and foreign policy. The various nations were divided in the warring and confrontationst camps of the Cold war- namely the Warsaw Pact and the NATO group of nations. Nehru held that neutrality from the competing power groups will be the correct foreign policy stance for India as getting mired in any of the power blocks would antagonise one of the powerful super states, namely United States and Soviet Union.

The new nation wanted to chart an independent trajectory of self reliance and exceptionalism with a higher moral perch for itself. This policy decision and Nehruvian tilt appears to be rather high flown and unrealistic as for getting one’s voice heard in the larger international system, the Indian union had to first of all create a niche and sphere of influence for itself which could only be attained after traversing a trajectory of growth, development and foreign policy planning in the initial decadal cusp of the growth story of the great but newly independent nation. Thus, the Nehruvian approach to self reliance was rather fangled. So was his rather Idealistic notion of anointing India with the glitter of being the leader of the developing world of nations as a separate third grouping of States which neither followed the United States nor did kow-tow along with the trending of Kremlin. 

Nehru too objected to United States when a n aid basket of 400 million dollars was opened up for the Indian antagonist, Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Nehru met the British Foreign Secretary and Dean Rusk, which resulted in the Indian Prime Minister asking the American establishment not to aid and abet the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as India feared that the American aid will be channelized against India. US reassured Nehru that  the aid will be utilized to contain Soviet influence in the region but Nehru quipped during the negotiations that, “ I never heard of a gun which fires in only one direction.” The Nehruvian era too witnessed the American aid in the Food crisis in India when the Green revolution for the issue of foodgrain security was initiated by the American establishment after President Eisenhower contended that, “ India and its people are a hard working collectivity and United States being a true friend of New Delhi will provide aid in this hour of crisis and food hardship being faced by India.”

In the letters, to Vijaylakshmi Pandit, his sister, who Nehru affectionately called as, “Nan Dear”, Nehru writes that, “ There is nothing very special about the talk with McGhee. Macghee began by saying that the United States had no desire to force their viewpoint on us and it was for us to decide. Naturally, they wanted us to support their great moral crusade and so on and so forth. I tried to explain to him our moral and historical background, our analysis of the situation, and our conviction that war can never solve this or any other difficulty, and would inevitable bring ruin to the world. Finally, he said that he was desirous of it that we should be in close touch with each other and have consultations even though we might not agree.

It’s an old saying and maximalist adage in the pantheon of International Relations that if a rising nation has to domineer and over it all, subsist in the larger tract of the global terrain then akin to a newly unbridled fish, it ought to learn to swim with the Alligator and the sharks too. The same strain of thought can be said to be true about the Indian geo political and geo economic proclivities too in the contemporary context. It has been observed that in context of PM Narendra Modi, India needs to attempt a difficulty and tactful tight rope walk between the antipodal and antagonistic instincts of both the Super powers of the order of United States of America and Russia in order to posit itself anew in the contemporary multilateral and multi polar geo strategic construct of the larger international system.

               Paul Kennedy has written a classic work of IR, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” where-in, the charted territory and the crests and troughs faced by the myriad global powers has been traced in the larger context of the vicissitudes of the international system comprised by the global comity of nations. The rise and fall of nations and Empires has to be understood in the larger rubric of how a nation with great power ambitions responds and indulges in its own acts of omission and commissions in order to leave an indelible footprint in the larger global firmament.

“ Paul Kennedy as an ace historian and an International Relations observer contends that, “The international bestseller is a sweeping account of five hundred years of fluctuating economic muscle and military might. Kennedy’s masterwork begins in the year 1500, at a time of various great centres of power including Minh China, the Ottomans, the rising Mughal state, the nations of Europe. But it was the latter which, through competition, economic growth and better military organisation, came to dominate the globe – until challenged later by Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Now China, boosted by its own economic prowess, rises to the fore. Throughout this brilliant work, Kennedy persuasively demonstrates the interdependence of economic and military power, showing how an imbalance between the two has historically led to spectacular political disaster. Erudite and brilliantly original, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the politics of power. Thus, the work dwells upon the notion of  how Empires and civilizations have performed and rose to historic pre eminence in their strivings to successfully traverse the tract of the international system. The work too attempts to spawn a strategic balance between the economic clout and the standardised military component of power and dominance in the comity of nations as vast as China and US in the larger odyssey of the Global polity.

                      James Joll writes that, :Important, learned, and lucid... Paul Kennedy's great achievement is that he makes us see our current international problems against a background of empires that have gone under because they were unaible to sustain the material cost of greatness;and he does so in a universal historical perspective of which Ranke would surely have approved.”  Christopher Lehman reviews in the New York Times, that, "His strategic-economic approach provides him with the context for a shapely narrative....Professor Kennedy not only exploits his framework eloquently, he also makes use of it to dig deeper and explore the historical contexts in which some 'power centers' prospered....But the most commanding purpose of his project...is the lesson he draws from 15 centuries of statecraft to apply to the present scene....the final section is for everyone concerned with the contemporary political scene

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International Affairs

International Relations is a novae discipline. As nations exist, the relationship between them needs to be studied amply in order to comprehend the myriad dynamics of the larger international system. The narrative on International Relations can be further chiseled down to a few segments which can resonate well with the construct of larger international Affairs.  

When we intend to unearth and discover the norms of India’s Foreign Policy and the attendant Global polity then we can follow the tenet of the Indic conception of International relations.

The Indic perspective of International Relations: Foreign policy and attendant diplomacy involved has been all neglected relegated to the backburner due to a prejudice and academic indigence in India , which is a  hiatus that needs to be corrected as far as the general and de riguer narrative is concerned. When Prime Minister Modi beseeches the entire nation concerning the tenet of Vishwaguru in the context of Foreign Policy then its not about an idiom of copy cats but he intends to hark back to the Indic perspective of International relations and attendant foreign policy.

 Binoy Sarkar, an Indian scholar has stressed way back in the year 1919 into materializing the Hindu Theory of International relations. He goes on to introduce the concept very pithily. He contended that, “ " Great misery," says Shookra, "comes of dependence on others. There is no greater happiness than that from self-rule." This is one of the maxims of the Shookra-neetil bearing on the freedom of the rastra, or the land and the people in a state. Kautilya also in his remarks on "foreign rule" expresses the same idea in a negative manner. Under it, we are told in his Artha-shastra,2 the country is not treated as one's own land, it is impoverished, its wealth carried off, or it is treated "as a commercial article." The description is suggestive of John Stuart Mill's metaphor of the "cattle farm" applied to the "government of one people by another." The doctrine of independence (svarajya, aparadheenatva) implied in this conception of external sovereignty was obviously the foundation of the theory of the state in relation with other states. These concepts can more or less be grouped under the doctrine of mandala, that is sphere or circle (of influence, interests, ambitions, enterprise, and what not). This doctrine of mandala, underlying as it does the Hindu idea of the "balance of power," pervades the entire speculation on the subject of international relations. It is hinted at by Shookra and referred to by Manu India had a non violent and non-cooperative idea of dissent and public opinion in the period of the Independence struggle which made India’s foreign policy inclined towards political neutrality and Panchsheela. But with the advent of the Narendra Modi ‘s Regime, the concerns of wooing US and extending India’s outreach through linkages with West Asia, Africa, Indo Pacific and attempting a tight rope walking in the realm of Diplomacy becomes the order of the day, which a UPSC aspirant needs to amalgamate within the framework of a generalist’s approach. The contemporary concerns of cyber warfare, cyber crime, Climate change negotiations, Disarmament and the shrinking role of the State in the post pandemic world too form a core concern of any syllabus on International Affairs. Lets look back at the initial wanderings of Pandit Jawaaharlal Nehru in the realm of foreign Policy.

Foreign Policy

The times of Nehru entailed a more complex and a nuanced approach to international relations and foreign policy. The various nations were divided in the warring and confrontationst camps of the Cold war- namely the Warsaw Pact and the NATO group of nations. Nehru held that neutrality from the competing power groups will be the correct foreign policy stance for India as getting mired in any of the power blocks would antagonize one of the powerful super states, namely United States and Soviet Union.

The new nation wanted to chart an independent trajectory of self reliance and exceptionalism with a higher moral perch for itself. This policy decision and Nehruvian tilt appears to be rather high flown and unrealistic as for getting one’s voice heard in the larger international system, the Indian union had to first of all create a niche and sphere of influence for itself which could only be attained after traversing a trajectory of growth, development and foreign policy planning in the initial decadal cusp of the growth story of the great but newly independent nation. Thus, the Nehruvian approach to self reliance was rather fangled. So was his rather Idealistic notion of anointing India with the glitter of being the leader of the developing world of nations as a separate third grouping of States which neither followed the United States nor did kow-tow along with the trending of Kremlin. 

Nehru too objected to United States when a n aid basket of 400 million dollars was opened up for the Indian antagonist, Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Nehru met the British Foreign Secretary and Dean Rusk, which resulted in the Indian Prime Minister asking the American establishment not to aid and abet the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as India feared that the American aid will be channelized against India. US reassured Nehru that  the aid will be utilized to contain Soviet influence in the region but Nehru quipped during the negotiations that, “ I never heard of a gun which fires in only one direction.” The Nehruvian era too witnessed the American aid in the Food crisis in India when the Green revolution for the issue of foodgrain security was initiated by the American establishment after President Eisenhower contended that, “ India and its people are a hard working collectivity and United States being a true friend of New Delhi will provide aid in this hour of crisis and food hardship being faced by India.”

In the letters, to Vijaylakshmi Pandit, his sister, who Nehru affectionately called as, “Nan Dear”, Nehru writes that, “ There is nothing very special about the talk with McGhee. Macghee began by saying that the United States had no desire to force their viewpoint on us and it was for us to decide. Naturally, they wanted us to support their great moral crusade and so on and so forth. I tried to explain to him our moral and historical background, our analysis of the situation, and our conviction that war can never solve this or any other difficulty, and would inevitable bring ruin to the world. Finally, he said that he was desirous of it that we should be in close touch with each other and have consultations even though we might not agree.

India and the saga of Great Powers: United States of America

It’s an old saying and maximalist adage in the pantheon of International Relations that if a rising nation has to domineer and over it all, subsist in the larger tract of the global terrain then akin to a newly unbridled fish, it ought to learn to swim with the Alligator and the sharks too. The same strain of thought can be said to be true about the Indian geo political and geo economic proclivities too in the contemporary context. It has been observed that in context of PM Narendra Modi, India needs to attempt a difficulty and tactful tight rope walk between the antipodal and antagonistic instincts of both the Super powers of the order of United States of America and Russia in order to posit itself anew in the contemporary multilateral and multi polar geo strategic construct of the larger international system.

Empire and the International System: Paul Kennedy has written a classic work of IR, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” where-in, the charted territory and the crests and troughs faced by the myriad global powers has been traced in the larger context of the vicissitudes of the international system comprised by the global comity of nations. The rise and fall of nations and Empires has to be understood in the larger rubric of how a nation with great power ambitions responds and indulges in its own acts of omission and commissions in order to leave an indelible footprint in the larger global firmament.

Paul Kennedy as an ace historian and an International Relations observer contends that, “The international bestseller is a sweeping account of five hundred years of fluctuating economic muscle and military might. Kennedy’s masterwork begins in the year 1500, at a time of various great centres of power including Minh China, the Ottomans, the rising Mughal state, the nations of Europe. But it was the latter which, through competition, economic growth and better military organisation, came to dominate the globe – until challenged later by Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Now China, boosted by its own economic prowess, rises to the fore. Throughout this brilliant work, Kennedy persuasively demonstrates the interdependence of economic and military power, showing how an imbalance between the two has historically led to spectacular political disaster. Erudite and brilliantly original, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the politics of power. Thus, the work dwells upon the notion of  how Empires and civilizations have performed and rose to historic pre eminence in their strivings to successfully traverse the tract of the international system. The work too attempts to spawn a strategic balance between the economic clout and the standardized military component of power and dominance in the comity of nations as vast as China and US in the larger odyssey of the Global polity.

India and Its Neighbors:

South Asia exists as a conduit between the ever volatile region of West Asia and the extent of a turbulent China infested South East Asia and with the Indian nation sharing its neighborhood with two arch antagonists such as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China, New Delhi’s near neighborhood policy assumes great significance. India’s bilateral subsets with Pakistan and China make for interesting case studies but with the Ukraine war assuming catastrophic proportions, the Euro centric nature of world politics too plays an important role in determining questions of war, polity and political economy.

Description

International Affairs

  1. Taiwan China conflict
  2. U.S. Exit from Afghanistan and resurgence of Taliban
  3. India Myanmar relations post coup d' etat
  4. Indo-Nepal Border Dispute
  5. 50Years of Indo-Soviet treaty
  6. India-UAE negotiations for CEPA
  7. EU Unveils Indo-Pacific Strategy
  8. 1st In-person Quad Summit
  9. Aukus grouping
  10. Regional Comprhensive Economic Partenership (RCEP)
  11. Comprehensive and Progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific partnership (CPTPP)
  12. SCO Summit

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