Indian IR’s Subregional Moment: Between A Rock and A Hard Place?

Indian IR’s Subregional Moment: Between A Rock and A Hard Place?

23 November 2015

The subregional turn in Indian diplomacy marks an interesting discursive shift in Indian foreign policy and its engagement of the Asian neighbourhood. Delhi’s ‘new’ reading of borders is an admittedly feel-good narrative of rethinking borders as bridges and speaks a comfortable cosmopolitan language. But behind this celebratory rhetoric, the subregional moment in Indian IR has been a bittersweet one- caught between colliding dualisms that have today resulted in a conflicted and confused narrative. While it speaks of a liberal vision of globalism it has at the same time been curiously resistant to step away from the reductionist logic of borders as barriers. The paper engages with this puzzle and the severe distortions it has produced in India’s eastern borderlands. The paper argues for the need to look at subterranean processes that are subverting the idea of borders as territorial dividers and bringing together a new set of actors with an interest and stake in deepening subregional integration. These dynamic processes constitute, what the paper calls, subterranean subregionalism(s), a form of integration that mainstream research and policy has so far chosen to ignore.