The India Way: Strategies For An Uncertain World, by S Jaishankar

Book Summary by Krishna Kaushal Shreedharan, Research Intern, PIC

The general global geo-strategic matrix has changed due to the rise of Asia, USSR’s breakdown and Russia’s rebirth, Africa’s economic potential and America gradually losing its footing as the world hegemon. The seismic shift in technology and politics has made it so that power must now take into account cyber, digital and physical connectedness as well as technological research and development, in addition to ‘hard’ military and economic capabilities.
In this backdrop, S Jaishankar, the author and India’s Minister of External Affairs, provides readers insights into how New Delhi formulates its foreign policy and examines various issues from the past and present and its effects on global politics in the future.
The author alludes to the idea that international contacts at bilateral and multilateral levels have advanced from a world of agreements towards a world of convergences, spelling out the changes in the functioning of modern international relations. The reader can recognise important factors that affect and influence the dynamic interplay between state players, which in turn determines the course and result of contemporary politics. He also offers a front-row view of India’s political attitude in international settings and outlines a plan for how India might fulfil its potential in the years to come.
The eight chapters here are taken from talks he gave over the past two years and cover a wide range of subjects, including the emergence of a new world order, the US’ shifting priorities, China’s rise and its ramifications, the Indo-Pacific dynamic, nationalism and its challenges, and the Mahabharata as a lens to assess India’s strategy in the light of post-Covid-19 international realities. A few recurring themes that appear in several parts are a key sign of shifting priorities in Indian foreign policy.
The book’s main concern is how India and other Asian powers’ political and diplomatic vision has been impacted by the swift change in the global order brought about by China’s ascent and the US’ relative decline. In addition to stating that India’s strategy needs to be changed in order to take on more capabilities and responsibilities, Jaishankar argues that the fluid state of affairs and changes in the global order have forced many basic presumptions and principles of international relations to be reconsidered.
In his opinion, “Indian Street” has done better than “Lutyens’ Delhi” 2 — the district in the nation’s capital designed by Sir Lutyens during the colonial era where the Indian elite reside — in accepting the phenomena of change. The author makes clear to his readers that India’s strategy has changed and is now driven by its ethnic nationalism, which draws its ingenuity from Hindu culture and the teachings of the Mahabharata, in contrast to the previous “traditional” understanding of nationalism based on the principles of non-violence and the Nehruvian idea of Non-Alignment.