Kamaldeep Singh Sandhu is a doctoral student at the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London. His research interests include South Asian security, military culture and defence diplomacy. An alumnus of National Defence Academy, Pune and Army War College, Mhow, he has served as an officer with the Indian army’s Parachute Regiment for ten years. He completed his MA in ‘War in the Modern World’ from the department of War Studies at King’s College London in 2014. His MA thesis analysed the asymmetric escalation of conflict, from sub-conventional to nuclear level, between India and Pakistan.
India’s Defence Diplomacy in the Immediate Neighborhood: 1998 – 2018
Defence diplomacy has been defined as the use of armed forces for purposes other than war to pursue foreign policy and security objectives of a state. Although the concept is not new and has been in use since the beginning of organised warfare, the practice of modern defence diplomacy is novel in certain parts of the world, especially South Asia. India, in particular, had shunned defence diplomacy for many years – due to the nature of civil-military relations after independence; the world divided by the Cold War and India’s stand on the Non-Alignment Movement; and also due to the unexplored potential that defence diplomacy had to offer.
However, things changed at the turn of the century. The economic growth that had begun in the early 1990s had a cascading effect on India’s hard and soft power projection capabilities. Since then, India has emerged as a significant player in regional and global affairs and has used all the available tools to expand its influence and status in the international order. In the last two decades India’s defence diplomacy contacts and activities have increased tremendously especially in the immediate and the extended neighbourhood. The Indian armed forces had succeeded in developing a magnitude of trust and relationship with the countries that they engaged with.
Yet, India has not been able to achieve the desired relationship with the countries in these regions. The relationship continues to be dominated by coercive measures and lack of confidence rather than by cooperation and trust. The good relations and understanding between the armed forces could not translate into trustworthy political affiliations. Or in other words, the success of the defence diplomacy could not be translated into a successful foreign policy of friendly relations with the immediate neighbours. The literature on the subject identifies a few reasons behind this anomaly yet leaves a huge gap in understanding the way India conducts its defence diplomacy. The factors that drive and shape India’s defence diplomacy and connect it with the government’s desired foreign policy need to be explored and examined in detail. This is the challenge I tackle in my thesis.
Defence Diplomacy, Military Culture, Military Psychology, South Asian Security, Indo-Pakistan Relations
Dr Harsh Pant, Dr Walter Ladwig III