Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts A Rising India’s Search for a Foreign Policy

A Rising India’s Search for a Foreign Policy


As India seeks to become a major player on the international political stage, it will face two major internal constraints. First, India will have to recognize the need to exploit the extant structure of international system to its advantage more effectively. Structural constraints are the most formidable ones a state encounters in its drive towards the status of a major power. Yet, Indian foreign policy continues to be reactive to the strategic environment rather than attempting to shape the strategic realities. While such an ad hoc response to the structural imperatives carried little costs when India was on the periphery of global politics, it holds grave risks now that India seems poised to play a significant role in global politics. Second, India must come to grips with its discomfort with the very notion of power and in particular its wariness of the use of “hard power.” Throughout history, all major powers have been required to employ the military instrument skillfully. India’s reluctance to accept a more sophisticated understanding of power, in general, and military power, in particular, will continue to undermine Indian foreign and security policy.

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