What Kind of World Power Does India Want to Be?

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By Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Milan Vaishnav. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

What kind of world power does India want to be? Few questions have been asked as often or as intensely since India’s economic take-off in the early 1990s and the corresponding rise in its foreign policy ambitions.

Many of our intellectual debates seek answers to this question by looking back to the dawn of independence in 1947. A new book by political scientist Rahul Sagar, To Raise a Fallen People: How Nineteenth Century Indians Saw Their World and Shaped Ours, invites readers to look even further back to the oft-forgotten, raucous debates of the 19th century.

Rahul joins Milan on the podcast this week to talk about his new book and the intellectual roots of India’s strategic thought. Milan and Rahul discuss the debate over India’s strategic culture, its “half-hearted” approach to great power politics, and the salience of 19th-century debates for understanding the current foreign policy discourse on Russia-Ukraine.

  1. Rahul Sagar, “If it doesn’t learn from the past, the West can lose India (again),” Times of India, May 22, 2022.
  2. Rahul Sagar, The Progressive Maharaja: Sir Madhava Rao's Hints on the Art and Science of Government (London: Hurst, 2022).
  3. Rahul Sagar, “‘Jiski Lathi, Uski Bhains’: The Hindu Nationalist View of International Politics,” in Kanti Bajpai, Saira Basit, and V. Krishnappa, eds., India’s Grand Strategy: History, Theory, Cases (New Delhi: Routledge, 2016).

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