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Power and Diplomacy: India’s Foreign Policies during the Cold War


The notion that a monolithic idea of ‘nonalignment’ shaped India’s foreign policy since its inception is a popular view. In Power and Diplomacy, Zorawar Daulet Singh challenges conventional wisdom by unveiling another layer of India’s strategic culture. In a richly detailed narrative using new archival material, the author not only reconstructs the worldviews and strategies that underlay geopolitics during the Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi years, he also illuminates the significant transformation in Indian statecraft as policymakers redefined some of their fundamental precepts on India’s role in the subcontinent and beyond. His contention is that those exertions of Indian policymakers are equally apposite and relevant today.

Whether it is about crafting a sustainable set of equations with competing great powers, formulating an intelligent Pakistan policy, managing India’s ties with its smaller neighbours, dealing with China’s rise and Sino-American tensions, or developing a sustainable Indian role in Asia, Power and Diplomacy strikes at the heart of contemporary debates on India’s unfolding foreign policies.

Power diplomacy

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Book launch and discussions

Zorawar Daulet Singh’s impeccable articulation of Indian foreign affairs has attracted the support of many in the intellectual community. His authority on the subject matter has made his book launches a prestigious affair, with notable academics, journalists and politicians being a regular presence at the event, among others. A creative approach to keeping these launches discussion-centric while revealing untold stories assists in moving these launches beyond a mere publicising event and into a stage for worthwhile conversations.

Endorsements from book cover

‘A perceptive and thought-provoking analysis of the deeper wellsprings of Indian thinking on foreign policy during the first three decades of the republic, with topical relevance today, as we craft responses to the changing world order around us.’

Shivshankar Menon

‘A tremendous achievement. As a diplomatic and strategic history of the drivers in Indian foreign policy during the Cold War, it is the best account available.… [A] masterful overview of some of the key architects of India’s place in the contemporary world. A brilliant and important book.’

Paul McGarr

‘Revisionist scholarship at its very best. Conceptually sophisticated and historically rich, this book convincingly shows that there was much more to Indian foreign policy during the Cold War than suggested by an undifferentiated idea of nonalignment. Its historical arguments will also speak to current debates on India’s role in Asia.’

Srinath Raghavan

‘A meticulous and scholastic study of India’s foreign policy in the Cold War years…. The study would go a long way for enriching those who seek to understand Indian foreign policy.’

Vikram Sood

In the press

Shounak Set: Cambridge Review of International Affairs

‘The author’s conceptual framing and methodological finesse reveal an unparalleled analytical incisiveness—this, along with the novelty of the argument, makes Power and Diplomacy a stellar classic’

Ambassador T.C.A. Raghavan: China Report

‘…a lasting scholarly contribution to the study of Indian foreign policy’

Anton Harder: The Book Review

‘…a masterful new account of Indian foreign relations in the Cold War.’

Sumit Ganguly: The Journal of Asian Studies

‘…a carefully researched, cogently argued, and well-organised work.’

Lydia Kulik: World Affairs

‘Daulet Singh adds depth to the otherwise oversimplified description of Indian foreign policy as a procession from Jawaharlal Nehru’s idealism to Indira Gandhi’s realism.’

Anindya Jyoti Majumdar: ‘Beyond sides’: The Telegraph

‘…an interesting read in the evolution of India’s foreign policy.’

Stuti Bhatnagar: Australian Outlook

‘…provides rich and timely lessons for contemporary debates about India’s strategic posture and realignment and is set apart by its instructive methodology.’

Sandeep Dixit: ‘Foreign policy model in the Cold War era’, The Tribune

‘The alternative explanations for each of the foreign policy events and the Indian reaction are the book’s most tantalisingly portions, making Zorawar, the Yuval Noah Hariri of Indian foreign policy during the Cold War years, because of his dissection of every possible motive.’

Ambassador Shyam Saran: ‘Eyes On Offshore Lights’, Outlook

‘It is not often that a young scholar of international relations takes the plunge to offer original insights, based on extensive research, on the evolution of India’s foreign policy, with particular reference to the Cold War period. In Power and Diplomacy, Zorawar Daulet Singh has not hesitated to question the analysis and assessments of prominent Indian and foreign scholars and has come up with some persuasive interpretations. He deserves commendation…’

Ambassador Skand Ranjan Tayal: The Indian Foreign Affairs Journal

‘This work would be valuable to strategic analysts for studying the contours of India’s foreign policy choices in the Cold War period. It would be a useful input for practitioners and experts grappling with India’s possible response to the Cold War-II emerging between USA and China right on India’s periphery.’

Anita Inder Singh: ‘The two faces of nonalignment’, Business Standard

‘The author throws light on the ways in which the competing ideas of Indian officials, their reactions to regional and world events — and the personalities of both prime ministers — shaped India’s diplomacy.’

Constantino Xavier: Seminar

‘Power and Diplomacy is a piece of outstanding historical and evidence-based scholarship that makes a timely contribution to today’s policy debates on the direction and degree of India’s multiple alignments.‘

Ambassador Chandrashekhar Dasgupta: India Today

‘The book throws new light on India’s foreign policy, including a full account of the internal debates on policy options within the foreign policy establishment.’

Suhasini Haidar, ‘Coming in from the Cold War’: The Hindu

‘…an enriching (read) for the serious student of foreign policy.’

Ambassador Kishan S. Rana, ‘When India played Peacemaker’: Gateway House

‘…an intellectual tour de force, impressive on many counts’

Carnegie India hosted a discussion on the book featuring Zorawar Daulet Singh, Suhasini Haidar, Srinath Raghavan and Rudra Chaudhuri. Details of the discussion can be accessed here.