23 November, 2020

Missing In Action

Singh's polemical thesis suggests an absent strategic culture

Missing In Action
THE last Indian foreign minister to write a serious book on external policy was Jawaharlal Nehru. This is at least one reason to read this book! Indian politicians are no longer a particularly writerly or readerly class. Jaswant Singh, who became foreign minister after he wrote this - though not because of it - has written a book you'll either like or dislike. If you believe that independent India has accomplished something and been relatively secure, you'll find Defending India disturbing, to say the least. If you believe that its accomplished very little, you'll congratulate Singh for some plain-talking which is'nt something our politicians generally do.

The Jaswant Singh thesis is essentially the following: that India has no real strategic culture for a variety of reasons; it's had a respectable military tradition but the coming of the British and the nature of the nationalist movement under the Congress Party obscured this tradition, indeed undermined it by an emphasis on pacifism, non-violence, idealism, moralism, and a general fuddy-duddiness; that the armed...



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