India's role in global politics draws increasing attention from the international community. Unprecedented economic growth, rising fundamentalism in national politics and the knife-edge of nuclear-fuelled tension with an unstable Islamic government in Pakistan are all bound up in Indian claims to geopolitical ascendance. At the same time, Central Asia has re-emerged as a site of international contestation or a 'new Great Game', with Russia, China and the US vying over security and energy interests in a politically unstable region. In this fresh and penetrating analysis of India's foreign policy, particularly on Central Asia, Emilian Kavalski illuminates India's international ambitions and capabilities, and its complex dynamics with great powers USA, China and Russia. India and Central Asia provides a timely and much-needed assessment of the foreign policy of a rising power. Drawing on theoretical perspectives in International Relations, Kavalski shows how India's foreign policy is intimately related to its domestic politics. The 1998 nuclear tests marked a decisive break in India's external affairs; policy formulations after the tests present a qualitatively different interpretation of the country's role in and the character of the post-Cold War system. Key to these new policy narratives is assertive posturing on the global stage, an idea built on several symbolic ideas or 'myths' used to justify foreign policy to a domestic audience, such as a new ideology of national strength (Hindutva) and a prevailing narrative of self-aggrandizement. The case of Central Asia is especially revealing on the influence of India's domestic mythmaking narratives on its foreign policy. Kavalski assesses the tension between assertiveness and regional cooperation in India's 'Look North' policy and provides a unique understanding of Indian perceptions of the emergence of a 'new Great Game' in the region. He also traces India's stance on the agency of Russia, China, the European Union, the USA and NATO in the region, with new insights not accessible through accounts of bilateral relations. India and Central Asia offers an indispensable account of the domestic sources of India's emerging international agency. It is essential for scholars, researchers and policy makers interested in the changing patterns of global politics and the roles that both India and Central Asia play in these transformations, and all those interested in Asian studies, political science, international relations and security studies more widely.
India and Central Asia
The International Relations of a Rising Power