chapter  10
21 Pages

Indian Strategic Culture: The Pakistan Dimension

ByAli Ahmed

The usual refrain in Indian strategic discourse is that India lacks a strategic culture. This is the self-serving argument of those who want Indian strategy to take a specific turn. In particular, it is the starting point of realists, who by so arguing hope to bring about a realist turn to strategic culture and security policy. Since Pakistan figures high in the thinking of realists, they would like India to adopt a more aggressive, power-oriented prescription in dealing with that country. I argue instead that India’s Pakistan policy is already being influenced by a realist-inclined strategic culture. Not only does strategic culture exist, as against the assumptions of realists, it is responsible for India’s Pakistan posture. This posture has been informed by realism, despite the lament of realists regarding the ostensible absence of an understanding of power in India. The essay, thus, performs a compensating function in attempting to bring balance back into India’s strategic discourse. The problem with the realist understanding is that, were it to carry the day, India is liable to be overly assertive strategically. In the nuclear era, this cannot be without great risk. Therefore, bringing balance back into India’s strategy is vitally important.