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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Indira Gandhi’s foreign policy illustrates realist theory in being more attuned to power relations and pragmatic solutions than to moral principles or liberal institutions. Throughout her two tenures in office she manoeuvred successfully to an improved status, especially when dealing with the Bangladesh crisis. Had Mrs Gandhi been a ‘hard realist’ she might have effectively curtailed Pakistan’s capacity to make mischief. She could have used India’s regional dominance to build a South Asian community and formulate a strategy for the adjacent Persian Gulf. She did not do so, and her domestic policy blunders led to her downfall in 1977. On her return to power she did not disrupt India’s beneficial ties with the Soviet Union, tried to mend relations with China, and took steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States. She hosted several high-level international conferences but her domestic political blunders, as in Punjab, ultimately cost her life.

Keywords: Indira Gandhi, India, realist theory, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Persian Gulf, Soviet Union, United States

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