How does India see itself in the modern world and what factors help us understand its foreign policy decisions? Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong mandate has opened up a series of new policy initiatives to explore in both hard power and soft power terms, highlighting what India uniquely brings to the global stage. But there also appear to be many inherent contradictions in Indian foreign policy, as the country looks to be a global power in some settings, an emerging developing country power in others and a poor Global South participant in yet others. The different arms of India’s foreign policy apparatus can (and do) argue for all of these approaches simultaneously in an effort to further their respective policy goals.
In order to explore this playing field, the report gives a brief background to India’s global interactions, and then explores contemporary foreign policy drivers through India’s engagements in five representative issue areas: climate change, energy security, food security, economic engagements and the Responsibility to Protect. It concludes with thoughts on how India’s interactions in pursuit of its interests in terms of these global issues can illustrate the varied and often contradictory components that constitute the country’s varied current foreign policy engagements.