India as a ‘civilisational state’

In recent years, Indian foreign policy has seen a sharp surge in projections of the ‘civilisational’. Under the Modi administration, civilisational tropes are used to promote certain identities and ideologies to domestic audiences, and to leverage soft power and geopolitical currency internationally – such as the International Day of Yoga (IDY) at the United Nations General Assembly. While civilisational tropes and discourses are not novel – Jawaharlal Nehru, famously deployed in the years leading up to and following India’s independence – the signifiers associated with ‘civilisation’ or ‘civilisational state’ are today markedly different from those rehearsed by the Nehruvian regime; instead drawing on longer and more recent formulations of the Hindu Right. What to many international audiences may appear benign or arcane are well understood within India as violent and exclusionary claims on who and what is India/Indian. What explains the resurgence of the civilisational as a vehicle to talk about India in the current political moment? This panel will take this question as its analytical starting point to investigate how exactly the civilisational manifests in and through Indian foreign policy practice and discourse (including through the appropriation of decoloniality and postcolonial tropes), and how it intersects with domestic political agendas and ideologies. Cross-cutting questions include: * How do civilisational state discourses animate India’s foreign policy choices, behaviour, agendas, and actions, and how have these changed over time? * What kinds of resources, ideologies and intellectual traditions are being marshalled, and by whom? * What are the articulations between foreign policy and the domestic politics of India’s civilisational state claims? * How do articulations and claims about India’s identity as a civilisational state compare and contrast with those made by other powers, such as China and Turkey?