India and Eastphalia

David P. Fidler
James Louis Calamaras Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Sumit Ganguly
Rabindranath Tagore Professor of Indian Cultures and Civilizations and Professor of Political Science
Indiana University—Bloomington

Much of the attention paid to the growth in the political, economic, and strategic importance of Asia focuses on East and Southeast Asia, with China’s rise featuring most prominently in analyses. However, examination of the possible development of an international order influenced by Asian power and ideas must also include consideration of the other big, emerging Asian power—India. This article explores India’s complex role in the potential dawning and functioning of an Eastphalian international system. First, we look at features of India’s economic and political rise in the past ten to fifteen years in order to give the reader a sense of India’s place in the shift of power and influence in international relations toward Asia. Second, we examine India’s commitment to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as an ordering framework for India’s worldview and foreign policy. Third, we argue that despite India’s increasing geopolitical prominence, Indian leaders have failed to develop consistent and coherent strategies for India in relation to the shifts taking place in world politics and economics. Fourth, we argue that India’s indecisiveness may combine with massive domestic problems the country faces, such as crippling levels of continuing poverty, to render Indian power and influence increasingly impotent in and irrelevant to the evolution of an Eastphalian world order. Fifth, we explore whether India could carve a path other than irrelevance, a path that would instead make India the indispensable nation in stabilizing the Eastphalian world. By “indispensable” we mean the country that could bridge East and West in the multipolar world this century will experience and, in the process, play a decisive role in melding the lingering promise of democracy with the stubborn imperative of sovereignty.

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