India in the Emerging World Order

A Status Quo Power or a Revisionist Force?
04 September 2014

India's foreign policy strategy is driven by a desire to become a major world power and bolstered by the interests of its corporations seeking new markets, but it has come at a cost of deepseated poverty, internal conflicts and repression of social movements.

Transnational Institute’s (TNI) Shifting Power Working Paper Series seeks to help movements navigate our changing multipolar world as well as provide an invaluable source of alternative analysis for students, analysts and journalists.

India in the Emerging World Order: A status quo power or a revisionist force?

Any author vested with the responsibility of appraising India’s position and potential role in the emerging world order could spend a considerable time pondering an appropriate title – ‘The Rise of India as a Status Quo Power’; ‘India as a Reformist Force in the Emerging World’; ‘India in the Emerging World: A Potential Bridge between the North and the South’; and so on. The dilemma surrounding the selection of an appropriate title in fact reflects a deeper confusion pertaining to India’s newly acquired image of a ‘rising power’ and the ability of its foreign policy to live up to that image.

This chapter sets out to trace the changing contours of India’s foreign policy by throwing light on: (i) the historical and sociological compulsions shaping India’s strategic trends and the evolution of India’s model of neoliberalism; (ii) the expression of India’s strategic trends in its changing equations with the powers of the North (especially the US and the former Soviet Union, and now Russia) and the South (especially Brazil, South Africa and China); (iii) the impact of India’s currently evolving synergy with the South (IBSA, BASIC, BRICS) on India’s relationship with the North (G8+5, G20); (iv) the conflictual and cooperative tendencies within India’s strategies at intra-subregional (India-SAARC), inter-subregional (India-ASEAN) and inter-regional (India-Mercosur; India-AU; India-SADC etc.) levels; and (v) the comparative importance of the mutually contradictory forces of nationally-based TNCs and civil society movements in determining India’s foreign policy.

After grasping India’s foreign policy stance in the contemporary neoliberal world, the chapter then evaluates the probability of India becoming a beacon for an alternative in a post-neoliberal world order.


Deepshikha is Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Delhi, India. She is a Research Associate with International Democracy Watch, Italy.