chapter  8
16 Pages

China in India’s strategic thought

WithIan Hall

India’s strategic elite has long disagreed about how to manage relations with China. This chapter explores the four most influential schools of strategic thought—Nehruvianism, Realism, Liberalism, and Hindu nationalism—and their influence on India’s China policy since independence. It argues that over time, Nehruvian thinking, which calls for New Delhi to try to establish a diplomatic understanding with Beijing based on mutual respect and accommodation, and Liberal thinking, which maintains that greater economic interdependence will help alleviate tensions elsewhere in the bilateral relationships, have been displaced by Realist and Hindu nationalist approaches. Realists argue that China poses a multi-faceted challenge to India that needs to be met with a concerted effort to build and wield economic and military power. Hindu nationalists, on the other hand, agree that India needs to augment its hard power, but also argue that New Delhi can tap reserves of cultural and religious soft power to shape its relations with China and the wider region.