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Indian foreign policy as public history: globalist, pragmatist and Hindutva imaginations
Published in Routledge
Volume: 20
Issue: 5
Pages: 565 - 588
Public histories are narratives straddling across space and time, challenging the inside/outside distinction. Indian foreign policy makers have engaged in a selective remembering of the past in an attempt to script the making of a postcolonial state. The study takes up three cases from India’s foreign policy in elucidating how different imaginations of India’s identity has been refashioned to legitimize its foreign policy. These three cases point to Nehru’s decision to join the Commonwealth, Vajpayee’s strides for nuclearization and Modi’s approach toward the diaspora. We argue that foreign policy makers in India have either refrained from engaging with ‘public history’ due to their uncritical positioning in structural realism or erected versions of the past that happily rationalize their contemporary practices. The deployment of public histories has taken place to invoke India rightful place in the international order and as instruments in shaping public consensus which advances the interests of the elites in validating their foreign policy choices. This elite-driven exercise is shot through the dominant Western imaginations and cognitive categories although these elites self- consciously took charge of the destiny of a nation that had to be refashioned as ‘post- colonial.’. © 2021 Taylor & Francis.
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