The Vajpayee-Manmohan doctrine

Issue 19 - Oct 2008
Dhruva Jaishankar

Conventional wisdom has it that India lacks a foreign policy strategy or doctrine; that is, some sort of overarching framework within which a set of prioritised foreign policy objectives, widely accepted as being in the national interest, can be accomplished. Several analysts have pointed to parliamentary bickering on issues such as the India-US nuclear agreement, competing visions of the national interest articulated by various political parties, and conflicting statements by senior leaders as evidence of a fractured, disorganised and inchoate foreign policy.

However, many of these perceived shortcomings can be attributed to other factors—India’s notorious bureaucratic blocks, widespread political opportunism, and frequently contradictory and ambiguous government rhetoric—rather than actual foreign policy schizophrenia.

Moreover, this argument is predicated upon a scarcity of information and derives from taking public statements at face value, rather than a careful analysis of India’s foreign policy track record.
Extrapolating from the Indian government’s behaviour, rather than its statements, reveals a
starkly different picture. Indian actions over the past decade are demonstrative of a new foreign
policy strategy, one that is remarkably resilient, refreshingly free of ideological divisions, and
reflective of a clear understanding both of India’s national interests.

Read the rest on Dhruva Jaishankar’s blog.