Foreign Affairs and Federal Actors in the Indian Democracy
India is an emerging power. Its economic clout has increased substantially and on a more or less even pace since the late 1990s, partly as the consequence of this economic growth and partly as a prerequisite for it, India is an ‘emerging power’. Its economic clout has increased substantially and on a more or less even pace since the late 1990s. Partly as a the country has acquired a higher international profile and ambition. The claim to a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and the increased military capability, both in air and at sea are but two expressions of this new thinking. However, in spite of these expressions and the advantages of a concerted effort, India lacks a clear international agenda and strategy for her international ambitions.1 For instance, in certain areas New Delhi pursues a policy of support for the furtherance of democracy in the world. In other areas, New Delhi pursues a policy that effectively undermines these endeavours, as in its close collaboration with the undemocratic regimes of Sudan and Iran. Another example is the contradiction between India’s interest in close collaboration with its neighbours on the one hand, and its inability to pursue this in practice. Bangladesh is a case in point, which will be discussed later. This chapter will argue that the lack of a coherent agenda and strategy is caused by processes of change in the practice of two interlocked yet separate constitutional provisions, namely, the division of power between the central government and the states, i.e. India’s federal structure, and its democratic setup. Thus, it counters and adds to explanations emphasizing causes such as the Hindu view of life, a lack of ‘instinct to power’, and continued support of non-alignment in international affairs.2 The chapter will further argue that this political dynamic renders the prospects of a coherent agenda even less likely in the future as Indian states increasingly engage in foreign policy and, consequently, would actively contribute to the differentiation of India’s external affairs.