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CAFF 1070A - India and the World since 1947

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Half a century after Nehru's flamboyant reign, India is back on the world stage. Nehru's immediate successors were forced to concentrate on their region, South Asia, home to so many wars between the 1960s and the 1980s, but since the 1990s, India is on its way to become a global power. While Nehru viewed the world from an international, rather idealistic perspective, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi saw it with a realistic eye, focusing on the region. Since the 1990s, India has been governed by leaders who have wanted to increase India's might – in particular from a military standpoint – and who, once more, have the means to conduct a global policy. They have opted to do so in a realistic fashion that appears to be at odds with Nehru's approach. This seemingly obvious contrast deserves to be studied more closely. The common thread running through the period, and going back before Nehru – reflects a basic continuity : the desire for a national independence that befits a great country with a singular civilisation. Communists from the left and Hindi nationalists from the right find themselves united today in condemning a nuclear agreement with the US that, from their standpoint, undermines national independence. But Manmohan Singh, who signed the agreement, was not willing to compromise this national independence either. To him, it was not a question of relinquishing national sovereignty, but rather, obtaining the support of the United States to speed up India's ascent to power. Since 2014, the BJP government of Narendra Modi epitomizes a nationalistic foreign policy that combines all the features that characterised its predecessors : it resorts to military means more aggressively but, relying on the Indian diaspora, invests in soft power too ; it focuses on South Asia (where the Chinese presence is increasingly worrying New Delhi), but it projects India as a global power in all kinds of multilateral fora. The course will analyse the historical trajectory of India's foreign policy by reviewing the thematic and geographical entry points mentioned above. In addition to diplomatic and military developments, transnational actors like the diaspora will also been considered.


  • JAFFRELOT, Christophe (Research Director, CERI - Sciences Po)
  • SAINT-MEZARD, Isabelle I. (Researcher)

Pedagogical format

At the end of the course, the student is expected to : 1°) Know more about the role of India in the world. 2°) Know more about the sources of information in this domain. 3°) Knowhow to present his views on the subject.

Course validation

To validate the course, the student is expected to pass the following assignments (at least three grades): 1°) a 800-word mid-term outline of students' term paper, which is then reviewed with them (10%). 2°) 4,000-word essay (60%). 3°) Written exam (2 hours) (30%).

Required reading

David M. Malone, Does the Elephant Dance?, New York, Oxford University Press, 2011

Additional required reading

  • W.P.S. Sidhu, Pratap B. Mehta and Bruce Jones (eds), Shaping the emerging world. India and the multilateral order, Washington, Brookings Institution Press, 2013
  • DUTT, V.P., India's Foreign Policy, New Delhi, Vikas Publ. House, 1984
  • SUBRAHMANYAM, K., India and the Nuclear Challenge, New Delhi, Lancer International, 1987
  • ABRAHAM, I., The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb, London, Zed books, 1998