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date: 22 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter locates India’s foreign affairs within the federal structure of the country’s constitution. As a formal matter, India’s constitution strongly favors the central government’s authority, especially in matters of foreign policy and defense. India’s foreign policymaking processes, however, do not strictly correspond either to a unitary or a federal model and often are responsive to contextual dynamics. As the chapter explains, the central government has over time pursued a pragmatic approach in dealing with subnational engagement in the country’s foreign policymaking, without bringing about substantive and formal structural changes either in the constitution or the front-line institutions dedicated to foreign policy decision-making. Such pragmatism has been prominently evident in the area of international trade, especially since the onset of economic liberalization. Moreover, despite the constitutional preeminence of the central government in matters of foreign policy and defense, state entities in the era of coalition politics have successfully deployed extraconstitutional means, mostly through bargaining and pressure tactics, to influence the central government’s foreign policy processes. Federalization of foreign policymaking therefore, though limited, is an ongoing process in India’s vibrant polity.

Keywords: India, foreign policy federalization, subnational units, coalition politics, foreign trade, defense, Indian constitution

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