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Recovering/Uncovering the ‘Indian’ in Indian Diplomacy: An ‘Ancient’ Tadka for a Contemporary Curry?

Vikas Kumar

Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 2018, vol. 5, issue 2, 197-215

Abstract: There is a growing awareness in India of the need to nurture indigenous international relations (IR) traditions. India’s IR community, though, has only a cursory familiarity with indigenous traditions. Most Indian IR scholars and practitioners invoke indigenous traditions in a superficial manner. Non-English nouns are superimposed on full-fledged analyses, which creates an illusory bond with the tradition, rather than being an organic part of the argument. Often such nouns are either not found in the original sources referred to or appear in a very different context in those sources. Hurried attempts to indigenise Indian IR thought and practice result in a clumsy repackaging of contemporary ideas as ‘traditional Indian.’ It is only through empirically and theoretically sound protocols of recovery/re-engagement that the IR community can learn to think in and through the Indian tradition, and adapt the tradition to speak to contemporary challenges. Presently, without the scaffolding of heterodox Western IR traditions and Western scholarship on pre-modern Indian languages and knowledge traditions, India’s Anglophonic IR community cannot even critique the mainstream paradigm of the West. As a result, despite India’s long history of reflection on interstate relations, Western assessments and theorizations continue to dominate the modern scholarship on India’s IR, with Indians mostly reacting to foreign assessments.

Keywords: Arthasastra; dharma; Indian diplomacy; Kautilya; Max Muller; non-Western IR (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/2347797018783108

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