India at the Global High Table: The Quest for Regional Primacy and Strategic Autonomy

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India at the Global High Table: The Quest for Regional Primacy and Strategic Autonomy
By Teresita C. Schaffer and Howard B. Schaffer
Brookings Institution Press, 2016
350 pp.

The Schaffers draw on their long experience in the U.S. diplomatic corps to provide insight into the history of India’s goals and negotiating styles. Strategic realities impose certain imperatives on India, including the need to pursue economic development, confront Pakistani enmity, balance the rising power of China, and constrain the foreign policy options of smaller neighbors. But the manner in which India conducts its diplomacy is shaped by its self-image as home to a superior civilization, its resentment of colonialism, its suspicion of U.S. intentions, its humiliation over its defeat in the 1962 border war with China, and the elitist culture of its foreign service. These factors help explain its aversion to alliances and multilateral commitments and its reluctance to settle issues pragmatically, which have led some people to characterize Indian diplomacy as “preachy” and “pricklish,” as the Schaffers relate. Despite warming relations between India and the United States, the authors doubt that New Delhi will cooperate as much as Washington would like. 

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