India’s ‘Strategic Autonomy’ and the Club Model of Global Governance: Why the Indian BRICS Engagement Warrants a Less Ambiguous Foreign Policy Doctrine

January 2015

India’s global policy strategy is on the verge of major changes. Non-alignment as a cornerstone of foreign policy has become outdated given the power shifts in a multipolar world, especially through the emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), which has put India in the position of being perceived as a potential new global player. Without formulating an explicit doctrine, India has applied a three-fold approach with obvious inconsistencies: traditional multilateralism in global forums, bilateralism in the region with selected strategic partners and increasing involvement in clubs (such as BRICS). The most recent power shifts, however, will warrant a more explicit formulation of principles to clearly position the country in a world with self-assertive nations such as China and Russia. India’s role in BRICS might be an indicator as well as a litmus test for a revised strategy.