Foreign policy does not exist in a cultural vacuum. It is shaped by each country’s experience and self-perception. India’s foreign policy is as deeply informed by its civilizational heritage as it is by contemporary ideas about national interest, and the themes of autonomy and independence have emerged and recurred in India’s foreign policy calculus over decades. As India continues to modernize and seeks to exercise influence in the contemporary world, it is vital to examine the country in the context of its history and traditions.
On November 2, 2017 Aparna Pande, research fellow and director of the Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia at the Hudson Institute, explored the deep civilizational roots of India’s engagement with the world during a talk on her book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy (Harper Collins, 2018).
Dr. Pande began her talk with a brief overview of her recently published book, From Chanakya to Modi. She detailed the four main schools of Indian foreign policy, broadly discussed Indian foreign policy as it stands today, and addressed the obstacles it must overcome in the future. Throughout her talk, Dr. Pande emphasized the role India’s historic identity plays in shaping the Indian government and its citizens’ perception of India. This identity, she argues, informs India’s global posture and foreign policy decisions.
During the Q&A, Dr. Pande delved deeper into the Indian Foreign Service and foreign policy. Moderated by Professor Irfan Nooruddin, the director of the Georgetown India Initiative, Dr. Pande answered questions on a variety of issues including India’s position on the UN Security Council, U.S.-India relations, and the Indo-China standoff in Doklam. Additionally, she discussed India’s role in the larger South Asian region and India’s relationship with its immediate neighbors Bangladesh and Pakistan. Dr. Pande’s talk provided insights into Indian foreign policy’s historical origins and current practices.
This event was co-sponsored by the South Asia Policy & Research Initiative (SAPRI) at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Georgetown University India Initiative.
Aparna Pande is a research fellow and director of the Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia at the Hudson Institute.