Bringing the region back in? Deciphering India’s engagement with South Asia

Report – external series

Miklian, Jason & Jayashree Vivekanandan (2016) Bringing the region back in? Deciphering India’s engagement with South Asia. NOREF Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre: 2016. Oslo: NOREF.

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How does India envision South Asia? What do Indian policymakers envisage the country’s regional role to be? The issues and actors that dominate India’s regional foreign policy give a glimpse of the country’s priorities in the region. The much-touted “shift” in Indian diplomacy under Narendra Modi offers us a window into the priorities of the new government and the extent to which continuity from the past shapes its regional policy today.

This report explores how India works both above and below the regional level in an effort to secure its regional diplomatic and economic priorities. It examines the following five issue areas that have influenced India’s relations with its neighbours: the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India as a humanitarian actor, supraregionalism and subregionalism, border politics, and democratisation. The report closes with reflections on what implications these engagements might have for Indian foreign policy in the future, arguing that a more inclusive and engaged leadership by India could help to resolve some of South Asia’s most vexing and intractable challenges.

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