Book Review : Pax Indica

India is today, arguably, on the precipice of becoming one of the world's foremost superpowers. Yet, lamentably, the overwhelming majority of our population takes close to no perceivable interest in the mechanism which can take India there - an effective foreign policy. Despite the unprecedented connectivity the world enjoys today and the era of globalization which this has ushered in, we have continually rejected it's importance in our day-to-day life and have remained unrelentingly unaware of it's implications. The significance we accord to foreign policy is virtually unchanged, as if to pretend that we are insulated from events outside our borders. 

Even our media, be it print or electronic, has indeed given external affairs a raw deal. Our media has unfortunately made grabbing eyeballs it's primary goal. Thus, our understanding of foreign policy is by and large, flawed and confused. In this context, Mr. Shashi Tharoor's book Pax Indica is a real eye- opener, not only to understanding the impact of foreign policy but even India's standing in the world. 

The book itself is dedicated fully to Indian foreign policy and it's domestic and historical underpinnings. Armed with a host of statistics, quotes, analogies and annotations, Mr. Tharoor has given a vivid and panoramic description of India's dealings with the world and the way ahead for us. What I find will doubtlessly be of utmost relevance to us Indians is the chapter which deal with India and Pakistan, which he has so aptly titled as "Brother Enemy". Ever wondered why India is considered to be so 'soft' on Pakistan ? Unsure as to why the USA still humors Pakistan despite the latter's alleged terrorist-sponsoring activities?  Reading this shall no doubt answer your queries but also make us regard Pakistan in an entirely new and different dimension. 

Pakistan, is however not the only thing that has been addressed in the book. It has encompassed all that one can wonder about - India's standing with the US, Africa, China, Europe, the importance of soft power (or cultural powerplay as I call it) and even our chances of making to the UNSC as a permanent member. Importantly, he has also pointed out avenues of cooperation between India and China, which we often tend to neglect, having been impressed upon by the media that conflict and competition between us is inevitable. Africa too, proves to be an interesting read, more so, because soft power seems to have played an important role there.

Mr. Tharoor has also effortlessly explained the need for and raison d'etre behind our principled, Gandhian-inspired approach to the world in our early years and the tangible pro-Soviet tilt which colored our policy till the end of the Cold War. Thus, he has indeed smoothly traversed Indian policy-making all the way from independence from the 1947 Non-Alligned era to the recent commercialization of foreign policy we have seen in the aftermath of liberalization.

Mr. Tharoor has also sufficiently criticized the working of our Ministry of External Affairs. What distinguishes this book from the others is essentially his vast experience with the UN and the fact that he has been a part of the foreign policy making circles of our country in recent times. In essence, Mr. Tharoor has in lucid language, analyzed and explained Indian foreign policy in a manner that only one with as much experience and intellect as him can.

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