“India is a country harder to describe than to explain, and easier to explain than to understand and also India is a place for seeking, not concluding”Anand Giridharadas (2009)
Review of Globalization of World Politics: This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read on international relations. This is a very thick book of more than 500 pages and looks quite heavy from outside. But if you are an IR geek, you will absolutely love this book and will not put it down till you finish reading it. And if you are preparing for civil services and your optional subject is ‘Political Science and International Relations, this book will help you to cover the second part of this paper and also help in fetching good marks. Most importantly, this book helped me to build a strong understanding of IR concepts. This book is divided into five parts: The historical context, Theories of world politics, Structures and Processes, International issues, and Globalization in the future. My favorites are ‘Theories of world politics’ and ‘International issues’ sections. Theories of world politics discuss realism, liberalism, neorealism, Marxism, post-colonialism, etc. in a very detailed manner and the beauty of international issues section is that it took one important issue and entwine its’ trajectory with international relations that help you to see these issues from a unique angle. For instance- culture in world affairs and terrorism & globalization.
Review of Global Politics: This book is very similar to the Globalization of world politics but the style of writing is very different as it’s written by Andrew Heywood. I would suggest reading both books because both give a very different perspective on similar issues. This book is insightful if you are an IR geek or preparing for civil services. I can bet that all those news articles related to foreign issues will make more sense if you have already read these books.
Review of Does the Elephant dance?: This is one of the best books I ever read on Indian Foreign Policy. David Malone served as the High Commissioner of Canada to India from 2006 to 2008. Though this book came out in 2010, it is still relevant because the author has deeply examined how Indian history, culture, internal domestic politics has an important role to play in India’s relations with other countries. This book is quite comprehensive where the author has dealt with India’s relations with all its neighbors as well as the USA, China, West Asia, East Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Russia. I really found the last chapter- “The Evolution of Indian Multilateralism: From High Ground to High Table” of this book quite interesting where the author has written about India’s evolution from idealist moralizer to the often-pragmatic deal maker and how India’s soft power has an important role to play in the philosophy of Indian multilateralism.
Review of Pax Indica: This book came in the year 2012 when I was in full preparation mode for the civil services examination. And it also came just after David Malone’s book Does the Elephant dance? So it was a kind of continuation read on Indian Foreign Policy with all updated facts. Except for the last chapter, other chapters are the same thing as in other books on relation of India vis, a vis other countries, and obviously in a super-refined language of Shashi Tharoor. In the last chapter, he talks about ‘multi-alignment’ as a grand strategy for India in the 21st century. According to the author, the name of the book Pax Indica has no similarity to Pax Romana or Pax Britannica rather it must be built and sustained on the principles and norms that India holds dear at home and abroad.
Review of Challenge and Strategy: This was the first book I read on Indian foreign policy when I started preparing for the Civil services examination. Rajiv Sikri was an Indian diplomat with more than 36 years with Indian Foreign Service and though this book is quite old and a lot of things have happened in Indian foreign policy since this book was written. However, as this book has been written by a seasoned diplomat, it gives you a lot of insights into India’s relations with other countries and especially focuses on policies and strategies that can be used by Indian diplomats and policymakers to make India a major player at the International level.
Review of Flying Blind: India’s Quest for Global Leadership: This is the latest book written on Indian foreign policy, by a young and bright author Mohamed Zeeshan. He is a prolific writer who regularly writes on Indian foreign policy. The author asks many difficult questions in this book: Does India have a grand strategy? Does India have a strategic vision to become the “Vishwaguru”? According to Zeeshan, India’s foreign policy lacks vision and it has consistently shown acting in a panic mode. India’s relations with other countries are overshadowed by domestic/local interests and also Indian diplomatic establishment postures fence-sitting many times when it should take a firm stand on various issues. He argues that India needs a more coherent strategy of international relations through which the country should champion the cause of global good. This book can serve as a starter for those who want to deep dive into the field of Indian Foreign policy.
Miscellaneous Books/Reading Materials: And even if you read all books related to IR in the world and have not read IGNOUs booklets, then I would suggest you to stop reading this blog and go download all IGNOU materials right now. And one more very important thing, you need to read the history of India and the world before plunging into the field of International Relations because as someone said:
“Know the history of these countries before getting to know their relations.”
I will also suggest one nice strategy for everyone who is trying to understand any concept in totality, then must not stick to one book rather explore all kinds of books, articles, newspapers, magazines, etc. written on that topic. Please find some of the books/magazines/newspapers below I referred to during my preparation:
- The Hindu ( follow Suhasini Haider) and it’s Foreign Affairs page
- Indian Express and it’s coverage on international issues
- World Focus magazines
- Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) policy briefs and articles are must-read to understand strategic perspective
- International Relations by Aneek Chaterjee: Only a few topics(Decision-making theory, Systems Theory) from this.
I always believed that India as a nation had something unique. As a birth-place of Buddha, Gandhi, and Ambedkar, India has shown and will always show the path of peace, harmony and also live up to the spirit of the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’. I will end with this beautiful quote by Mark Twain.
“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most artistic materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!”Mark Twain, writer, America
Please also read the following post where I have written the review of all the books related to Modern India and Indian Government and Politics:
If you gained something from this post, click the link below to buy me a coffee.
6 thoughts on “India and the World”
An extremely erudite review of some essential reads in the field of IR and political science, this review hugely helps the reader to determine the exact benefit she can get from the books reviewed. For someone who is about to embark into a serious IR, Pol Sci read, I would definitely recommend you go through Rithambara’s review to know what to read and why.
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Thank you so much Arun for reading and sharing your thoughts!!
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Read it, was very informative. Especially the last part where you shared the strategy. Thank you! 😃
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Thank you for reading!
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