In the early 1990s, Indian foreign policy strategy underwent a profound shift from one of resistance to and distancing from the major power system to one of integration with it and thence seeking upward mobility within it. This paper begins by tracing the external and domestic sources of the shift and goes on to identify the process of integration. Its main focus is on highlighting the process of ‘Sanskritization’ or the quest for higher status within the states system, which is undertaken by means of (a) the emulation of great powers’ symbols and practices; and (b) networking. Three areas are investigated with respect to status seeking strategy: India’s relations with major powers, its relations with collective groupings, and its use/non-use of hard power. The thrust of the paper is to demonstrate that status seeking is an important component of state behaviour that is distinct from (though not easy to separate analytically from) security seeking. This has significant implications for both policy and theory.
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