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Indian Security and Defense Policies under Indira Gandhi

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Since independence, two contradictory tendencies, namely, utopian and power politics have been evident in India's defense and security policies. While Nehru placed emphasis on peaceful resolution of international conflict, neglected the role of military power and sought Indian security needs through diplomatic means, the 1962 border war with China left India humiliated and his security policy in disarray. During the period of his two successors, Shastri and Indira Gandhi, Indian élites amphasized the role of military power to safeguard India's vital interests; a utopian approach became peripheral. Despite Indira's in-house training in the use of statecraft, she did not have a clear perception of India's long-term security needs. Either she depended upon bureaucratic advice to achieve short-term security needs or she took vital security decisions to enhance her personal power and popularity. During this period, an enhancement of India's military and defense capabilities took place on an inertial basis rather than due to Indira Gandhi's initiatives. Despite India's victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan, her thoughtless action in Punjab weakened India's security.

Affiliations: 1: University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada

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