The reluctant realist:a study of India’s Afghanistan policy from 2001 to 2018 in light of India’s civilizational strategic culture

Shuja, Hameed (2019) The reluctant realist:a study of India’s Afghanistan policy from 2001 to 2018 in light of India’s civilizational strategic culture. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Whether or not India has a distinct ‘strategic culture’ is becoming an increasing important debate, thanks to the country’s growing military and economic strength and her emergence as a major regional power. New Delhi’s current Afghanistan policy can serve as a litmus test. This thesis, within the context of this very debate, raises a fundamental question: What factors have influenced and shaped India’s Afghanistan policy since 2001, and how has Kabul responded? To provide plausible answers, this thesis, by utilizing primary and secondary data collection methods, employs two distinct, yet conceptually overlapping structural theoretical frameworks to make three detailed, equally important and mutually complimentary arguments. First, the study argues that certain aspects of India’s current Afghanistan policy can be traced back to her civilizational as well as contemporary ‘strategic thinking’. The fear of an ‘enemy state’ and the desire to befriend ‘a state that has enmity with the enemy state’ still influences Indian psychology just as it did during the days of the Maurya Empire. Kautilya’s ‘Mandala Theory’ provides the conceptual and theoretical framework for such an analysis. Second, based on Buzan and Wæver’s ‘Regional Security Complex Theory’, this research argues that existing structural constraints (the Pakistani factor) and the ‘penetration’ of the South Asian security complex by external powers (the United States) also influence India’s foreign policy options in Afghanistan. Third, the thesis argues that Kabul has failed to ‘institutionalize’ its foreign policy apparatus. As a result the ‘Afghan perspective’ in this debate is quite often ignored and remains under-researched. Unearthing the ‘Afghan narrative’ and understanding Kabul’s strategic responses to New Delhi is necessary in order to gauge the success, or failure, of India’s current Afghanistan policy. Hence, a very significant contribution this thesis makes is a detailed analysis of Afghanistan’s strategic calculus and foreign policy options vis-à-vis India.

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16 Aug 2019 10:30
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 02:20