Introduction: India and Its Search for a Major-Power Role

Baldev Raj Nayar, T. V. Paul
  • Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/cbo9780511808593.001

Introduction: India and Its Search for a Major-Power Role

Why is it important?

This book investigates the dynamics of the interaction between the world's major-power system and India's attempt to enter it, and the prospects of India's integration into that system as well as its implications for world politics. Although having long been an issue of some importance in the postwar international system, India's search for a major-power role has gained special significance in the light of its nuclear tests in 1998. In this work, we attempt to answer the following three principal questions: What are the sources of the conflict between the world's major-power system and India over India's attempt to enter that system, and what is the extent to which there is convergence and divergence among the existing major powers over that question? What factors are responsible for the largely muted, moderate and stretched-out – rather than activist, confrontational and precipitous – nature of India's aspiration to a major-power role? And what are the prospects for India's peaceful entry into the major-power system in the twenty-first century? In answering these questions, we provide a largely international-system-level analysis, although domestic and individual-level factors are given their due importance as well. First, the central argument is that India's foreign-policy behavior has been driven by the desire to achieve major-power status, and that the sources of the conflict between India and the major-power system have been fundamentally systemic, given on the one hand India's extant status as a rising power, its potential capabilities, and therefore its perceived “status inconsistency”, and on the other the adverse impact that India's entry would have on the power positions of the present major powers and their allies, both regionally and globally.

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