Rarely before, in contemporary times, has so much global attention been focussed on India. India’s economic growth, its growing military might, the overwhelming demographic dividend, its hugely successful diaspora, the resilience of its noisy democracy, and the attractiveness of India’s “soft power” are only a few of the reasons that the civilizational-statehas invited so much attention in the last decade. And yet there has always been a kind of awkwardness behind India’s rise as a super power. Not only because India’s greatness only thinly disguises vast pockets of deprivation and is steeped in multiple contradictions but also because there is a reluctance that seems to define India’s coming of age.
The essays in this volume seek to demystify India and the debates in contemporary India for a wider audience. They are essential reading as an introduction to India today. They cover a wide canvas, focussing on India’s foreign policy and the complex world of India’s society and politics. They include chapters on the evolution of India’s foreign policy since independence, the salient features of its diplomacy in the international system, New Delhi’s relationship with great and emerging great powers, the fractured relationship with Pakistan, India’s linguistic dilemmas, and the debates around religion, secularism and multiculturalism. These essays may not provide a straightforward answer to the conundrum implicit in the term, Reluctant Superpower, but they will provide readers with much to think about a country that will, one way or the other, have a profound impact on Asia and the rest of the world.