South Asia Chessboard: An India’s struggle for ‘policy of prestige’
The chess board is the world, the pieces the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. The meeting on 10 July between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Ufa in Russia on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit has outlined a new set of chessboard game between India and Pakistan. Both the countries are certainly different form France and German, but South Asia Chessboard (SAC) has been inflicted with same syndrome. The complexity in SAC remains with ‘the problems of territory [are usually intractable]. They appeared to be nearly unsolvable in Europe once’, moreover, these territorial turbulence on the Indian peninsula and its periphery has engulfed ‘the peace’ of the SAC.
The born-enmity between India and Pakistan makes them two orthodox rivals of the SAC. The gravity of this hostility has been engulfed by Jammu & Kashmir issue, which is of ‘strategic significance’ for both the countries.
SAC has significant geostrategic implications for global security landscape but ‘change in the South Asian Regional Security Complex (SARSC) was incremental and slow, rather than sudden and dramatic’. Unlike real any ‘chessboard game’, SAC has two orthodox opponents (India and Pakistan) with nuclear warheads, adding another nuclear enabled player i.e. People’s Republic of China (PRC) into this ‘chess game’ makes regional security architecture more complex. The born-enmity between India and Pakistan makes them two orthodox rivals of the SAC. The gravity of this hostility has been engulfed by Jammu & Kashmir issue, which is of ‘strategic significance’ for both the countries.
On the other hand, covert and overt operations of the PRC against India’s territorial sovereignty and an intimate nexus with Pakistan have been widening the gulf of insecurity. The rulebook for SAC has different connotation due to these multi-dominant actors with some neutral players (i.e. Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh some extent Myanmar). They are neutral but the subjectivity of that neutrality poses various issues (in)-security manufacturing. In the big picture, the SAC stakeholders have various threats in common but no common apparatus to address those.
India’s Struggle for ‘Policy of Prestige’
“The Struggle for Power: Policy of Prestige” was first used by H.J. Morgenthau in his book Politics Among Nations in 1948. According to him the purpose of ‘Policy of Prestige’ is to impress other nations with the power that one’s own nation actually possesses, or with the power it believes, or wants the other nations to believe, it possesses. Moreover, the policy of prestige has two specific instrumentalities to serve the purpose i.e. diplomatic, ceremonial and display of military force. In a span of 31 days, form 9 June 2015 to 10 July 2015 India has significantly showcased the intention to manoeuvre its ‘policy of prestige’ to strengthen national interest.
…visit of Modi to five Central Asian countries and Russia has paved way for India’s re-engagement into the region. It has come after more than two decades that New Delhi has rightfully taken this step to embrace its resourceful neighbours.
On 4 June, militants attacked an Indian Army convoy in Manipur’s district of Chandel, resulting in the deaths of 18 members of the army’s 6th Battalion the Dogra Regiment. According to the revealed sources the attackers were members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Khaplang (NSCN-K) and reportedly crossed over into neighbouring Myanmar. On 9 June, a contingent of the Indian Army’s Special Forces crossed into Myanmar and killed several militants in an operation lasting over 14 hours. Both Indian and Burmese government confirmed that the army’s Special Forces had crossed into Myanmar to execute the operation. It was one of the unprecedented strategic steps initiated by India to curb any threats to India’s national security.
Eight days visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to five Central Asian countries and Russia has paved way for India’s re-engagement into the region. It has come after more than two decades that New Delhi has rightfully taken this step to embrace its resourceful neighbours. This trip has outlined a significant diplomatic ceremonial: the acceptance of India’s full membership into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and diplomatic exchange between India and Pakistan. While the memberships to the SCO was a strategic success but the meeting between India and Pakistan has been getting mixed reviews due to the ‘dark horse’ approach of Pakistan.
However, the saga of India’s struggle for ‘policy of prestige’ remains incomplete, it was not able hit the bull’s eye. The ‘Doval Doctrine’ became successful which clearly underpinned the ‘display of military forces’ as a tool in the ‘policy of prestige’. On other side Pakistan is much more comfortable in zero-sum chess playing. Maybe the ‘unseen power of time’, perhaps brings some positive development between India and Pakistan. It is far from easy, due to prevailing ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ and Pakistan’s misperceptions over India’s perception.
 http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/comm/Hutton/Hut-Chess.html (Accessed 12 July 2015)
 Alka Achrya and G P Deshpande (2003), ‘India-China Relations’, Economic & Political Weekly, Volume 38, Issue 45.
 Barry Buzan (2011), “The South Asian Security Somplex in a Decentring World Order: Reconsidering Regions and Powers Ten Years On”, International Studies, Volume 48, Issue 1.
 Hans J. Morgenthau (1985), Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, New Delhi: Kalyani Publications.