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Does the Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy

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Does the Elephant Dance? elegantly surveys key features of contemporary Indian foreign policy. David Malone identifies relevant aspects of Indian history, examines the role of domestic politics and internal and external security challenges, and of domestic and international economic factors. He analyzes the specifics of India's policy within its South Asian neighborhood, a Does the Elephant Dance? elegantly surveys key features of contemporary Indian foreign policy. David Malone identifies relevant aspects of Indian history, examines the role of domestic politics and internal and external security challenges, and of domestic and international economic factors. He analyzes the specifics of India's policy within its South Asian neighborhood, and with respect to China, the USA, West Asia, East Asia, Europe, and Russia as well as multilateral diplomacy. The book also touches on Indian ties to Africa and Latin America, and the Caribbean. India's 'soft power', the role of migration in its policy, and other cross-cutting issues are analyzed, as is the role and approach of several categories of foreign policy actors in India. Substantive conclusions touch on policies India may want or need to adjust in its quest for international stature. This book will appeal to both scholars and students of international relations as well as policymakers, diplomats, journalists, strategic affairs experts, and informed readers.


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Does the Elephant Dance? elegantly surveys key features of contemporary Indian foreign policy. David Malone identifies relevant aspects of Indian history, examines the role of domestic politics and internal and external security challenges, and of domestic and international economic factors. He analyzes the specifics of India's policy within its South Asian neighborhood, a Does the Elephant Dance? elegantly surveys key features of contemporary Indian foreign policy. David Malone identifies relevant aspects of Indian history, examines the role of domestic politics and internal and external security challenges, and of domestic and international economic factors. He analyzes the specifics of India's policy within its South Asian neighborhood, and with respect to China, the USA, West Asia, East Asia, Europe, and Russia as well as multilateral diplomacy. The book also touches on Indian ties to Africa and Latin America, and the Caribbean. India's 'soft power', the role of migration in its policy, and other cross-cutting issues are analyzed, as is the role and approach of several categories of foreign policy actors in India. Substantive conclusions touch on policies India may want or need to adjust in its quest for international stature. This book will appeal to both scholars and students of international relations as well as policymakers, diplomats, journalists, strategic affairs experts, and informed readers.

30 review for Does the Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    Malone delivers a surprisingly intimate and forgiving account of India’s sometimes exasperating mix of foreign policy and external relations. This book is a refreshing break from the posturing and grandstanding typical of many Indian writers and the partisan and sometimes startlingly ignorant rhetoric coming from most foreign commentators on international relations. The author manages to see the issues from a uniquely Indian viewpoint (gleaned from his seemingly chummy relationship with most of o Malone delivers a surprisingly intimate and forgiving account of India’s sometimes exasperating mix of foreign policy and external relations. This book is a refreshing break from the posturing and grandstanding typical of many Indian writers and the partisan and sometimes startlingly ignorant rhetoric coming from most foreign commentators on international relations. The author manages to see the issues from a uniquely Indian viewpoint (gleaned from his seemingly chummy relationship with most of our prominent scholars - anecdotes litter the book) and to a large extent internalizes the many contradicting tendencies (mostly domestic, unsurprisingly) that influence the outcome of India’s foreign policies and comes up with a coherent attempt at showing that it is not as discordant and incomprehensible as it might appear at first to the outside (or even inside) observer. Malone gives hope that there is no need to get lost in the cascade of apparent contradictions that might spew from our overly eloquent delegates and that with the right kind of effort India too can be deciphered by her foreign allies and also by her own students. This gives pause for thought about the right method towards approaching other similarly situated countries which seem to have as patently a lack of ‘grand strategy’ and a similar tendency for ‘getting-through’. This book is a strong case for more scholarship and less diplomacy in international relationships. It seems to be good advice.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Akshi

    More like 3.5/5 Malone's book has a general reputation of being a great read for Indian Foreign Policy and it definitely is ( one reason definitely being the coherence that a single author book has as compared to an edited volume). It is a great book to read as an introduction, especially for a general reader who may not belong to the discipline. The book gives a good overview of the relevant chronology of events and brief analysis though there are not many new arguments that it offers. If you re More like 3.5/5 Malone's book has a general reputation of being a great read for Indian Foreign Policy and it definitely is ( one reason definitely being the coherence that a single author book has as compared to an edited volume). It is a great book to read as an introduction, especially for a general reader who may not belong to the discipline. The book gives a good overview of the relevant chronology of events and brief analysis though there are not many new arguments that it offers. If you read this with a decent level of familiarity with the subject then the book can get slightly repetitive. Further, since it was published in 2011 it seems a little dated now (it is wonderful how just four years can make a book on FP seem that way). However, not being too harsh, there are parts of the book I really enjoyed and the chapter on India-EU relations is much better than the ones I have come across elsewhere. Similarly the topics like the East Asian and West Asian policy and the bilateral ties with the US are also covered well. It is also always interesting to look at Indian strategic thought and policy from the eyes of a non Indian. Lastly, I've come to realize that when it comes to a subject like Foreign Policy, it is better to read at least two different authors before forming opinions. And on that note, I'd say, Malone's book is a good choice for one of the two.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Parth Agrawal

    The author is a former Canadian diplomat who has served in India. I picked up this book because I thought that it would be interesting to understand Indian foreign policy from a 3rd person's point of view and since his name was suggested in the Pax Indica of Mr. Shashi Tharoor . His division of the chapters, on the basis of which he has explained the story is noteworthy as I've come to realize, through the last few books of mine, that arrangement of a story will determine how easy is it to remem The author is a former Canadian diplomat who has served in India. I picked up this book because I thought that it would be interesting to understand Indian foreign policy from a 3rd person's point of view and since his name was suggested in the Pax Indica of Mr. Shashi Tharoor . His division of the chapters, on the basis of which he has explained the story is noteworthy as I've come to realize, through the last few books of mine, that arrangement of a story will determine how easy is it to remember it He starts with the Indian history in order to set the background first upon which, the current geopolitics is played. This technique was also used by Mr. Robert Kaplan in his book Monsoon so I guess setting up the milieu is an important act. From here on, the author starts the narrative from an Indian point of view. It starts with the Subcontinent region which includes the important multilateral forum SAARC(South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation). This was founded by India in 1985 and since then till 2007 there were 7 members-> India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives. In 2007, even Afghanistan became a part of this. The basic problem with this group has been mutual distrust amongst the member countries. Since India is the perceived regional hegemon, smaller members feel threatened regarding their sovereignty. Any kind of cooperation from Indian side is perceived as 'big brotherly' attitude by the neighbor. Well the bigger neighbors like China and distant neighbors like US don't really help the Indian cause. Because of all these reasons, India has lately been trying to escape the very neighborhood to which it belongs as the prevalent civil wars, Islamic radicalization, economic destitution and intransigence on the neighbor's part doesn't provide any incentive to India to help in their development. But as the saying goes-> " A nation is a prisoner to its geography" There are many such stories in the book. Recently, Indo-US relations has gained a lot of traction. I would suggest that the readers go through this book such that they can look at these developments through the prism of history and then realize what's the reason behind any stance by any country on any issue. Don't fall prey to the media and the participants into picking sides. These battles are not of good or evil. Look at all these things from the historical point of view and then try to figure what could be the possible reasons for things being said in that particular matter

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gaurav Moghe

    It is a book one should read to understand India's foreign policy in a concrete and comprehensive way. Does the Elephant Dance? is written by Former Canadian Ambassador to India David Malone. The book has covered almost all the dimensions of India's foreign policy and has discussed some pertinent issues, including internal threats and Indian economy. Malone has written in an unimpassioned and unbiased manner about India's critical relations with the U.S., Russia, China, and South Asian and South It is a book one should read to understand India's foreign policy in a concrete and comprehensive way. Does the Elephant Dance? is written by Former Canadian Ambassador to India David Malone. The book has covered almost all the dimensions of India's foreign policy and has discussed some pertinent issues, including internal threats and Indian economy. Malone has written in an unimpassioned and unbiased manner about India's critical relations with the U.S., Russia, China, and South Asian and South-East Asian neighbors. The book also analyzes India's role in not-so-important-regions of West Asia, Central Asia and East Asia. Beyond the bilateral ties, Malone has also covered India's role in Multilateral forums and has also discussed the crucial role of Indian economy in diplomacy. Although I found the book vast in both scope and content, it lost the deserved limelight to Tharoor's equally impressing, Pax Indica. However, given a choice to buy only one book between them, I will pick Malone's for 3 reasons: 1. Shashi Tharoor has largely shown a positive image of India. Malone, being a non-Indian, has critically analyzed India's Foreign Policy. As a student of IR, one seeks to discover all aspects (positive and negative) of India's foreign policy. 2. Malone's book is more comprehensive in its coverage. He first tells about the historical ties and then delves into the prospects and challenges of the present relation. He also discusses relations from cultural, economic and political point of view. 3. Malone has also discussed internal threats to India in a separate chapter, something which Tharoor did not mention much. It's a must read for the foreign policy enthusiast in general and Indian foreign policy buffs in particular. The book has enough to douse your curiosity and flare new interest in international relation. Good read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Umesh Kesavan

    Well written overview of Indian foreign policy. Malone's views are sharp and succinct.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Madhav

    Malone has brilliantly took note of change in tone of India's foreign policies, however haphazard they might have been occasionally, over the years post-independence. Mostly reactive in nature, at times these policies have indeed been servant to the circumstances. Given how Sino-Russian relationship, and Chinese dominance in general, seems to be in a position better than it ever was, and recent development of hostility of some of her neighbours- like Maldives- towards India, and also with the re Malone has brilliantly took note of change in tone of India's foreign policies, however haphazard they might have been occasionally, over the years post-independence. Mostly reactive in nature, at times these policies have indeed been servant to the circumstances. Given how Sino-Russian relationship, and Chinese dominance in general, seems to be in a position better than it ever was, and recent development of hostility of some of her neighbours- like Maldives- towards India, and also with the recent change in the government (with a sharp departure in 'governance' and its ideology), I would really like if he would revisit the subject. A concise yet detailed take on India's foreign policy, this is a must read for anyone who is interested in how India, as a country, interacts with her counterparts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Priya Kapoor

    an interesting read, although it's been some time since it was written but still largely relevant

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aasif

    4.5 being precise. The book is well compiled and a great description of Indian foreign policy. It made ny learning easy which seemed otherwise near impossible. Thanx David Malone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sree RengaNathan Ayyapalam

    Good read on india’s foreign policy right thru the Nehruvian non alignment to contemporary multilateral diplomacy .

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anurag

    'Does The Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy' is a study of Indian foreign policy and its evaluation on various parameters. The author of this book, David M. Malone who served as the ambassador of Canada to India, has seen the framing of Indian foreign policy from close quarters and has met with actors involved in decision-making. Malone, while talking about why a book on foreign policy, says that in India there are few books on the subject and much needs to be done. In the start 'Does The Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy' is a study of Indian foreign policy and its evaluation on various parameters. The author of this book, David M. Malone who served as the ambassador of Canada to India, has seen the framing of Indian foreign policy from close quarters and has met with actors involved in decision-making. Malone, while talking about why a book on foreign policy, says that in India there are few books on the subject and much needs to be done. In the starting few chapters, the author tries to present the historical context of India's ties and narrates the incidents of the past which can invoke emotions in the present. The author also delves into the colonial past of the India and the policies shaped by this burden of the past. The author divides the Indian foreign policy broadly into three periods where differences in policy decisions can be distinguished from other periods. The first one was under the leadership of prime minister Nehru. This period was marked by the ideological posturing where India supported anti-colonist struggle everywhere in the world tried to be the leader of poor countries recently freed from the clutches of the colonialism. Although India detached itself from the harsh realities of the bipolar world, it continued to focus on domestic issues and consolidation of India as a nation, which was predicted by many as doomed to fail given its inherent diversity and widespread poverty and illiteracy. Malone characterizes the second phase by the presence of a visible socialist tilt in Indian domestic politics under the leadership of Indira Gandhi and later under her son, Rajiv. Although India continued its lip service towards Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), it signed a security pact with USSR and became a major purchaser of Soviet defense equipment. This may have been necessary given the lavish aid being given to Pakistan by US and China, and India starting to pay the price for its idealism. The third and final phase of Indian foreign policy started with the liberalization of the Indian economy in early 90's and has continued till date. During these two decades, India became much confident and it used its economic might in foreign policy decision making. Conversely, foreign policy objectives were largely seen from an economic angle. The author also emphasizes that if India has to emerge as a superpower, it has to solve longstanding issues in South Asia and improve relations with its neighbors. No country can be a superpower if its own backyard is messy. The author sees the situation improving in this area with India renewing a cooperation treaty with Bhutan and agreeing to a greater role for UN in Nepal. The defining factor for the regional disturbance in South Asia is the longstanding rivalry between Indian and Pakistan. The author says there has to be a give and take if the problems between these two countries are to be settled and being a bigger country, India has to give more and take less. This position taken by the author seems difficult to realize given political compulsions of two countries. The author also discusses India's role in multilateral organizations and concludes that the country has become more assertive riding on its economic power. The role of India in trade negotiations under WTO has been consistently criticized by Western powers and sometimes countries initially supporting India jumped the ship. The main contention is the protectionist policies such as agricultural subsidies. Another area where India has been labeled as a spoiler is climate talks. While environmentalists have been insisting that India should cut emissions, India's point has been that a fast developing country will burn fossils to satisfy its energy needs like the West did in the past. It can be said that in these cases, the author has taken the West's line without thinking much about India's domestic compulsions. It must be said that five years can bring a huge change in a matter as fast changing as foreign policy. Although the broad contours of the India foreign policy remain same, there has been many changes including India's proactive role in multilateral organizations like BRICS, IBSA, and G20. Backed by its impressive economic performance, India has cemented its place as a rising world power. The author also says that India should invest more in human resources in the area of foreign policy, who can provide independent and valuable advice when required. http://www.yayawar.in/2016/06/book-re...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Saurabh Singh

    A book generally lies somewhere between two ends of the spectrum i.e. factual and conceptual cum analytical. Former end may consist mostly of monotonous facts (statements of truth and not only verifiable figures) arranged chronologically or thematically, which for me is a put off. Whereas the other end of the spectrum consists of in depth analysis of the reasons behind the facts i.e. events of the past and present and future projections based on analysis of historical and contemporary happenings A book generally lies somewhere between two ends of the spectrum i.e. factual and conceptual cum analytical. Former end may consist mostly of monotonous facts (statements of truth and not only verifiable figures) arranged chronologically or thematically, which for me is a put off. Whereas the other end of the spectrum consists of in depth analysis of the reasons behind the facts i.e. events of the past and present and future projections based on analysis of historical and contemporary happenings. Personally i like the book tilted in the favor of analytical end of the spectrum and “Does the Elephant Dance?” fulfills my expectation in this respect beyond chapter 5 i.e. after 100 odd pages. Though in fairness initial 100 pages were somewhat redundant for me (which is not a negative for the book per se) as i have read about the content, mentioned in initial five chapters, elsewhere and that to in detail but other readers might find them useful. So initial chapters describing India's political and cultural past right from ancient Mauryan empire to British Raj imperialism, India's contemporary external and serious internal security concerns, its economy especially post 1991 globalization reforms etc. were okay, nevertheless set the tone for the book and India’s foreign policy (FP) evaluation, as nation’s FP has its roots in its political and cultural past. However from chapter 6 onwards, there is ample food for thought e.g. Impact of LPG and USSR disintegration (end of cold war) on not only India's foreign policy but also its economy. Though dispassionate analysis of India’s FP is not an easy task as it requires eschewing, to an extent, one’s personal ideological and political leanings and analyzing how India’s FP has worked in past vis a vis India’s stated objective. Also was and is its FP based on some transcending principles or was and is the national interest the only guiding principle. Here to his credit David M. Malone, while being an outsider/foreigner and yet one who has lived India, brings fresh critical perspective e.g. on India's dealing in multilateral settings. Therefore, India over-commits to multilateralism but fails to match its commitment (Though this can be said for almost any nation where global multilateral commitment have to be balanced with domestic political, economic, social compulsions and national interest). Elsewhere also Malone strips India’s foreign policy of the rhetorical tone taken by it in past and to an extent at present and presents contradiction between India’s stated FP principles viz. National sovereignty and territorial integrity, Global humanism, non-alignment etc. and there application in practice. Thus Malone’s many argument may be disconcerting for Indian readers but nevertheless will nudge readers towards dispassionate analysis, devoid of national interest dogma, of India's interaction with the world. However Malone is fair in his criticism and does recognize success of India’s foreign policy such as dealing with the bi-polar world during tumultuous and partisan cold war era. Though author has to greater extent been successful in covering India's relations with most of the important global state actors, but has failed to analyze Indo-Pak relations, which occupies greater bandwidth in India's FP, in greater detail. And though India does not have robust relation with Latin America (except of course Brazil) , but still some pages could have been dedicated to it. Also Africa-India relations (especially sub-Saharan Africa) could have been dealt in some more detail. As for me my favorite section remains chapter 8-"India's West Asia Policy: Delicate maneuvers". As west Asia has always been an attractive albeit troubled region and author beautifully outlines India's, enviable, deft diplomatic and foreign policy balancing in achieving friendly relations with almost all ,mutually hostile, nations in the region. In fact India’s NAM policy shows its mater class while dealing with puzzling west Asian equation. All in all author does a fine job and takes the reader through exciting journey of success and failures in India's dealing with the world. Though few areas, as mentioned above, could have been dealt in greater detail. Nevertheless this book deserves a place on book shelves of lovers of discourse on India’s FP and international relations, as it provides a comprehensive take on India’s FP in past and its evolution into present.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Siddhant

    Malone provides an in-depth analysis of India's foreign policy beginning from Independence to the 21st century. He brilliantly explains the journey of Indian foreign policy from post-colonial idealism to present day pragmatism which is largely driven by economic needs. An interesting feature of the book is that Malone dedicates individual chapters to India's various strategic relationships and provides a historical context and a course for the future of each of these. One glaring oversight is that Malone provides an in-depth analysis of India's foreign policy beginning from Independence to the 21st century. He brilliantly explains the journey of Indian foreign policy from post-colonial idealism to present day pragmatism which is largely driven by economic needs. An interesting feature of the book is that Malone dedicates individual chapters to India's various strategic relationships and provides a historical context and a course for the future of each of these. One glaring oversight is that Malone has shed little light on India's relationship with South America. However, this book is strongly recommended for scholars and foreign policy enthusiasts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This was a highly informative book that gave insights into the relationship of India between various nations/regions around the world. What was helpful, was Malones short history of India, that gave a perspective of its past and also how is has progressed through time in regards to its self image, but also its relations with various countries such as Russia, China, US, Pakistan, Europe, 3rd world countries. As its economy has grown, so has its influence and hence the way it has dealt with the re This was a highly informative book that gave insights into the relationship of India between various nations/regions around the world. What was helpful, was Malones short history of India, that gave a perspective of its past and also how is has progressed through time in regards to its self image, but also its relations with various countries such as Russia, China, US, Pakistan, Europe, 3rd world countries. As its economy has grown, so has its influence and hence the way it has dealt with the rest of the world. This is a very readable book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Margarita

    An exceptionally written book with a well rounded approach that is suitable for both scholars and non-scholars. Malone provides adequate context for those unfamiliar with India’s history. Although a little repetitive at times, the key points are well worth reiterating.

  15. 5 out of 5

    N

    Grei, men ikke særlig spennende eller elegant oversikt over indisk utenrikspolitikk.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shantanu Mishra

    LOVED IT!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vilva Ram

  18. 4 out of 5

    Udaya Dinakaran

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rahul Sharma

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aamina Jazeel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ishita

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashutosh Patil

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pratik Anand

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sumeet

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ravi Jha

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justin Wong

  27. 5 out of 5

    Soumyajit Kar

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rhitamjeet Saharia

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jayant Nahata

  30. 4 out of 5

    Arfa Usmani

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