How vulnerable is India's policy of strategic autonomy?
Date of Issue2019
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Since independence, India has sought to guarantee permanent freedom in its foreign policy as it feared becoming a junior partner of a greater power due to the memory of colonialism. In its current form, this policy is known as strategic autonomy. The basic question is to test whether or not this policy works from a pragmatic, non-ideological perspective divorced from India’s history of colonialism. This paper is structured as a case study on India-Iran-USA relations in order to test whether strategic autonomy works, but it may be used in a similar format to test whether strategic autonomy works when it comes to India’s relations with any other state such as Russia or Japan. After the economic reforms of 1991, India re-oriented its strategic methods and objectives and identified Iran as a key energy, trade, transit and security partner. India exercised its strategic autonomy policy to build a relationship with Iran despite American protests. However, the results established in this case study bring many questions for India’s strategic autonomy policy and whether or not it is sustainable or simply lip service provided by the government for the Indian population to consume. In many ways, India has demonstrated that it can succumb to American pressure as this paper will show.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science