Atul Mishra, The world Delhi wants: official Indian conceptions of international order, c. 1998–2023, International Affairs, Volume 99, Issue 4, July 2023, Pages 1401–1419
Examining India’s official thinking on international order over the past quarter-century, this article maps the shift in the country’s preference from liberal internationalism to the rules-based international order (RIO). It argues that despite Delhi’s current narrative of a ‘New India’, the country’s order conception shows continuity in being essentially reformist and mostly consistent with the pillars of the 1945 order. While its marked unease with liberalism is a consequence of the changes afoot in India’s domestic politics, this development is consistent with, and contributes to, the decline of liberalism as a global force. The current Indian preference for economic protectionism also reflects the larger trend of economic deglobalization. The description of India as a resurgent civilizational state rather than a liberal democracy, while discursively arresting, does not indicate a divergence with the West on the grand strategic question of order-building. Upon reconstructing the Indian iteration of the RIO, the article finds it to be geographical—focused on Asia and the Indo-Pacific—rather than universal. Finally, it posits that India’s persisting problem of inadequate power and its risk-averse responses to great power revisionism are likely to undermine its efforts to effectively partner with democracies to shape the emergent RIO.