India’s nuclear diplomacy has historically been organised by defence, not offence. But did the 2019 Balakot airstrike mark a shift in this policy?
Deep K. Datta-Ray, Professor, Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India; Visiting Senior Fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
The history of Indian diplomacy conceptualises diplomacy racially — as invented by the West — and restrictively — to offence. This is ‘analytic-violence’ and it explains the berating of Indians for mimicking diplomacy incorrectly or unthinkingly, and the deleting, dismissing, or denigrating, of diplomatic practices contradicting history’s conception.
To relieve history from these offences, a new method is presented, ‘Producer-Centred Research’ (PCR). Initiating with abduction, an insight into a problem — in this case Indian diplomacy’s compromised historicisation — PCR solves it by converting history’s racist rationality into ‘rationalities’.
The plurality renders rationality one of many, permitting PCR’s searching for rationalities not as a function of rationality but robust practices explicable in producer’s terms. Doing so is exegesis. It reveals India’s nuclear diplomacy as unique, for being organised by defence, not offence. Moreover, offence’s premise of security as exceeding opponent’s hostility renders it chimerical for such a security is, paradoxically, reliant on expanding arsenals.
Additionally, doing so is a response to opponents. This fragments sovereignty and abdicates control for one is dependent on opponent’s choices. Defence, however, does not instigate opponents and so really delivers security by minimising arsenals since offence is eschewed. Doing so is not a response to opponents and so maintains sovereignty and retains control by denying others the right to offense.
The cost of defence is courage, for instance, choosing to live in the shadow of nuclear annihilation. Exegesis discloses Balakot as a shift from defence to offence, so to relieve the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leadership of having to be courageous. The intensity of the intention to discard courage is apparent in the price the BJP paid. This included equating India with Pakistan, permitting it to escalate the conflict, and so imperiling all humanity in a manner beyond history.
Published in: India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs
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