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Towards An Alternative Paradigm?

K. Subrahmanyam

Edited by Navnita Chadha Behera
Sage, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 342, Rs. 695.00


This book is a necessary reading for all policy makers and academics interested in developing International Relations as a discipline in the country. In the first chapter the editor Navnita Behera has set forth comprehensively the present position in respect of the study of International Relations in South Asian countries and has enumerated the reasons for the lack of adequate attention being paid to this area. She starts with the lack of proper teaching materials and text-books and goes on to list the absence of institution-building strategies, totally inadequate funding, absence of a well-knit national community engaged in effective international communion, absence of a publishing culture and lack of career opportunities, to explain the present state of affairs. She has also focused on problems of student training arising out of there being no undergraduate courses. The history of evolution of Indian foreign policy under Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors and the deep divide between the foreign policy bureaucracy and academic community have been analysed to highlight the isolation of the discipline. She has devoted attention to the weakness underlying the epistemic foundations of theoretical work on the subject and her strongest indictment is about the scholastic community’s steadfast refusal to critically interrogate the character and ‘efficacy’ of the state system in the region. She is highly critical of the absence of debate in the country of the philosophical underpinnings, political strategies and goals of diverse conceptualizations of nationalism as also the teaching of India’s historical traditions and political philosophy as part of International Relations syllabus.   As Behera says:   South Asian states do not have the kind of European nation-state that is assumed to be given and the internal vulnerabilities of the state and the insecurities of its people are often rooted in the very processes of emulating a particular kind of state, a model of the Westphalian state denoting a unified, indivisible sovereign state with centralized political authority. . . The western nation state, as pointed out earlier, had emerged within the largely homogenous societies of Europe. A mechanical application of the nation-state idea with its monolithic credo and unitary state structures on the deeply multicultural societies of South Asia was structurally flawed.   The book is a compilation of essays presented at a workshop in Goa in 2003 in which 26 scholars from across the South Asian and Southeast Asian regions participated and presented contributions on analternative paradigm from a South Asian ...

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