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An Insider's View

B.G. Verghese

By Muchkund Dubey
Pearson, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 306, Rs. 699.00

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 2-3 February/March 2013

A review of India’s external relations by a former Foreign Secretary always makes for a good read as it has elements of an insider’s view not just from a ringside seat, but as a key player. Muchkund Dubey’s treatise is a scholarly work that looks at India’s place and aspirations in a changing world. The sheet anchor of the country’s foreign policy was nonalignment and the Non-Aligned Movement strove to promote peace, development, disarmament, decolonization (accomplished), the establishment of a just and equitable world order and the strengthening of multilateralism under the United Nations. Dubey argues that though the Cold War is over, the basic premises of NAM survive and remains a bulwark against the new hegemony of great powers and military and economic consortia in a globalized world. It is however increasingly difficult to get a consensus within NAM as the numbers have grown exponentially. Big powers too are prone to use carrot and stick policies to win ‘non-aligned’ support. Though India has graduated to G-20 and is a non-NPT nuclear power, it is seen by many smaller nations as a champion of their rights in matters such as negotiating complex issues and liabilities under climate change protocols. India has also challenged unilateral initiatives to change established boundaries as in the former Yugoslavia, to foster claims to self-determination in countries not under colonial rule, and intervention in nations during periods of turbulence under the doctrine of the right to protect. Dubey notes the rise of regional groupings and laments the failure of SAARC to take off partly because of the great asymmetry among the members, the fears and foibles of some of the smaller partners and Pakistan’s obduracy in projecting India as a dangerous hegemon in consequence of its pursuit of an artificial identity based on its failed two-nation theory. The idea of SAFTA too has not moved forward as envisaged by the SAARC leadership following the report of a group of Eminent Persons, of which Dubey was a member. India has been rigid in its attitude sometimes and Dubey rightly commends Inder Gujral for his statesmanship in propagating the ‘Gujral Doctrine’ of non-reciprocity, certainly in immediate terms. The collapse of the Soviet Union in some ways created a unipolar world. But the rise of Europe and regional groupings like ASEAN, BRICS, IBSA and, of course of China and an emergent Russia, together ...

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