As India and China emerge at the forefront of fast-unfolding realignment of alliances in Asia, insight into what drives the aspirations of a regional power beyond more obvious security needs is critical. The India-China relationship has been defined by crucial moments in history over the last several decades. The motivating question in this seminar is – how has Indian foreign policy been influenced by Chinese perceptions of India’s self-image? The speaker examines this question by looking at divergences in Indian behaviour concerning Tibet. Why did India not act during the invasion of Tibet in 1950, but grant asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959? The speaker argues that India’s self-image and the desire that others respect this image shaped its foreign policy choices. He finds that India’s non-action in 1950 was guided by the perception that these priorities were not threatened, whereas, in 1959, perceptions of threat motivated action. Such abrupt reversals or discrepancies in Indian policy become intelligible when examined through aspects of India’s self-image vis-à-vis China as refracted through India’s interactions with other actors in the region.
About the Speaker
Deep Pal is a Non-Resident Fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and a recent graduate from the doctoral program at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. His doctoral research investigates the Sino-Indian relationship since the mid-20th century and the role of ideational variables in foreign policy. Prior to his PhD, Deep analysed foreign and security policy issues in Asia at NBR and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. He has contributed to publications such as Foreign Policy, China Brief, The Diplomat, and The Wire. Deep has a master’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University and over a decade’s experience as a political and business journalist in India.