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11-December-2023-Special Article

December 11, 2023 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


India’s foreign policy is encountering significant challenges within its immediate neighborhood, particularly in South Asia. Despite India’s global aspirations and endeavors to lead the global South, regional complexities hinder its progress. The emergence of a powerful neighbor, especially China, poses unique challenges that require a nuanced understanding. This situation demands a careful examination through the lens of international relations theories, particularly John Mearsheimer’s theory of offensive realism.

John Mearsheimer’s Theory of Offensive Realism:

John Mearsheimer, a notable international relations theorist, proposes offensive realism, which asserts that states prioritize their security and survival by maximizing power relative to others in an anarchic international system. This pursuit of dominance results in competition, insecurity, and potential conflict among states.

Dilemmas before India in Current Geopolitics:

Political Dilemma:

Anti-India Regimes: Rise of politically anti-India regimes, as seen in the Maldives, creating diplomatic challenges.

Potential Ideological Shifts: Elections in Bangladesh may lead to an ideologically anti-India government, complicating regional stability.

Structural Dilemma:

Chinese Influence: China’s growing influence challenges India’s regional dominance and economic appeal. Structural shifts make it challenging for India to compete effectively for material benefits.

Normative Dilemma:

Changing Regional Dynamics: China’s non-normative approach disrupts India’s historical dominance in setting norms. Absence of viable alternatives forces South Asian states to consider non-normative alignments.

How China Stands Out from India:

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Economic Influence: China’s extensive engagement in the Belt and Road Initiative enhances connectivity and trade. China’s financial capabilities give it a substantial advantage over India in economic influence.

Outreach to South Asian States: China proactively engages with states like Taliban-led Afghanistan, military-ruled Myanmar, and crisis-hit Sri Lanka. While India engages diplomatically, China’s scale and financial backing yield a more significant impact.

Border Dispute Resolution Strategy: China’s distinct strategy of resolving border issues contributes to its unique standing in the region.

Why India Faces These Dilemmas:

Diminishing Presence of the United States:

  • The changing regional geopolitical landscape, marked by the reduced U.S. presence, creates a power vacuum.
  • The absence of the United States allows China to fill the void and assert its influence.

Rise of China as a Geopolitical Buffer:

  • China’s substantial rise serves as a geopolitical buffer for smaller states, influencing their strategic choices.
  • Neighboring states leverage their relationships with both India and China to pursue their interests.

Neighbours’ Strategic Autonomy and China’s Appeal:

  • Smaller states assert strategic autonomy but show a different inclination toward China.
  • China’s appeal as a powerful player allows neighboring states to navigate between India and China strategically.

Potential Result of Geopolitical Shift:

The evolving geopolitical dynamics could potentially lock India into an unfriendly South Asia if innovative measures are not undertaken promptly.

What Should India Do?

Engage Friendly External Actors:

  • Strengthen bilateral and multilateral ties with neighbors based on mutual respect, trust, and cooperation.
  • Emphasize historical, cultural, and economic links while offering assistance in various areas.

Flexible Diplomacy:

  • Adapt diplomatic strategies to engage with diverse stakeholders in neighbouring countries.
  • Focus on reducing hostility rather than harbouring animosity toward anti-India elements.

Expand Diplomatic Personnel:

  • Invest in diplomatic resources, including personnel, to effectively represent India’s interests.
  • Enhance public diplomacy and cultural outreach to showcase India’s achievements, diversity, and soft power.


Navigating the challenges posed by China’s rise and shifting dynamics in South Asia requires strategic recalibration. India must prioritize economic connectivity, regional security cooperation, and soft power to foster positive relationships. Active participation in regional platforms, strategic communication, and a patient, long-term vision are imperative for India to emerge as a stabilizing force in the evolving South Asian landscape.

Mains Question:

  1. Examine the geopolitical hurdles encountered by India within its nearby region. Evaluate potential strategies for India to effectively address these challenges and enhance its influence in South Asia, taking into account the ascendance of China and the evolving dynamics of the region. (150 Words).


December 11, 2023
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: