This week, a new book on Indian foreign policy was released in Delhi, written by India’s preeminent foreign policy commentator, C Raja Mohan. Mohan’s work and previous book have marked recent shifts in Indian foreign policy and also how broader shifts in international politics have shaped India’s approach in foreign affairs. His last two works, Shifting the Rubicon that explained how a new international India was born after the end of the cold war and Samudra Manthan that captured fluid maritime rivalries in the Indo-Pacific, have in a way led to this book on Modi and his impact on Indian foreign policy.
The book was released this past week in Delhi at the Observer Research Foundation where Mohan is now based. A video of the event is here. The Wire has a write-up on the event and the book. Briefly, Mohan argues that Modi’s tenure thus far has been a departure insofar as foreign policy is concerned. Breaking Indian foreign policy into three eras or ‘Republics’ Mohan argues that the recent one under Modi represents a dramatic break from the shibboleths and traditions that have sustained Indian foreign policy. This was rather deftly contested by former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, who notes and identifies continuities in this government’s foreign policy from previous governments implying that existing institutional channels have worked to ensure that India’s interests are now (and were then) protected and served by the diplomatic corps. Interestingly, the event was also marked by some remarks from current foreign secretary, S. Jaishankar, who backed Mohan’s claims by asserting that under Modi’s leadership, there has been a decisive break from the past in many areas – most notably in how foreign policy and national development are now firmly connected with the former servicing the latter. Near the end he also vividly commented “Are we content to react to events or should we be shaping them more, on occasion even driving them?” Is this the new ‘old’ Indian foreign policy?
I hope to read and review the book in the coming months. You will find it on this blog soon.