India’s Defence and Security Priorities

Henry Kissinger offered a pithy definition of foreign policy a few years ago when he described it as “the art of establishing priorities”.1 This commonsensical definition can be applied to defence policy as well.

But then, one of the staples of the popular and even academic discourse on India’s national security during the last few decades has been the assertion that India does not have a defence policy. Such a view is widely shared not only by Indian and foreign scholars and analysts but also by retired high-ranking civilian and military officials.

Thus, George Tanham famously asserted that Indians do not have a history of thinking strategically.

Indian decision makers do not engage in purposive action. Instead, they react in an ad hoc manner to the actions and initiatives of other countries, as Bharat Karnad, as well as VP Malik and Gurmeet Kanwal, have argued separately. Read More

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