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Mrs. Gandhi's Neighborhood: Indian Foreign Policy toward Neighboring Countries

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During Indira Gandhi's regime, although India continued to play an important role on the world stage and among the non-aligned nations, regional issues and concerns figured prominently in India's foreign policy. Although it may be difficult to separate the geo-political factors, domestic political developments and Indira Gandhi's personality and style of functioning in the conduct of India's external relations, a state-by-state review of her relations with the states of South Asia would demonstrate interaction between Indira's personality and a host of other factors which influenced India's dealings with her neighbors. It was during Indira Gandhi's prime ministership that Pakistan was reduced in size, Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign state in the East, Sikkim was annexed and absorbed in India and a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was formed. Indira Gandhi did not initiate all these events, although she played a crucial role in their development. A careful analysis of the period demonstrates (1) that regional relations took place within a well-established Iudo-centric and India-dominant geopolitical context; (2) that Indira Gandhi's personal style of reacting to internal and external threats with massive force had a considerable impact on relations with neighbors; and (3) that India's relations with other South Asian nations during this period depended greatly upon the composition of leadership in the neighboring countries as well as upon Mrs. Gandhi's personality and policies.

Affiliations: 1: Kansas State University-Manhattan, Kansas, U.S.A.


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