Indian Strategic Culture

Authored by: Rajesh Basrur

Routledge Handbook of the International Relations of South Asia

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032159881
eBook ISBN: 9781003246626
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter begins by defining the concept of strategic culture and highlighting some major distortions in the literature in both the general and Indian contexts. It then refines the concept by distinguishing between two subcategories. “Mutable Strategic Culture” reflects foreign policy uniqueness over time, but is subject to change. In contrast, “Deep Strategic Culture” consists of core attributes that retain a high degree of continuity over an extended period of time and are impervious to shocks. In the Indian context, Mutable Strategic Culture is examined with respect to military intervention/non-intervention, where two distinct (successive) strategic cultures are identified; and nuclear restraint, where a long-standing strategic culture shows significant cracks over time. Deep Strategic Culture is highlighted with respect to two areas that have remained fundamentally unchanged over 75 years: a preference for strategic autonomy and a desire for status.

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