Security Challenges
Volume 16, No.3 (2020)

India and a Regional Rules-Based Order: Equity and Inclusion

The adoption of the language of the ‘Rules-Based Order’ (RBO) is one of the most significant changes to Indian foreign policy brought about by the Bharatiya Janata Partyled government, headed by Narendra Modi, which first came to power in May 2014. It went hand in hand with three other important developments. The first was the deliberate effort to find a new set of concepts to inform and articulate Indian foreign policy to replace older Nehruvian ideas like ‘non-alignment’ and ‘strategic autonomy’ — an effort that eased the adoption of the language of the RBO. The second was the assumption of a more assertive stance concerning China. And the third was an intensification of cooperation and dialogue with key strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific, which began with a flurry of personal diplomacy by the new Prime Minister and Sushma Swaraj, his External Affairs Minister, during their first eight months in office. During that time, Modi went to Japan, the United States and Australia, while Swaraj travelled to Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea, both making clear that New Delhi was keen to deepen bilateral ties with all.

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