India and Decolonising the World Order

Jyrki Käkonen


The independence of the colonies did not mean the end of colonialism in the international system. The international institutions of political, economic, and security management remained colonial. The return of China and India as major players in world politics and their attempt to determine their place in the world politics by themselves from their own perspectives has triggered decolonisation, both in the world politics and in the study of international politics.

The role of South Asia in changing world politics is crucially influenced by Indian politics. Since independence, India’s goal has been to become one of the world’s leading powers, if not the leading one, at least morally. Here, India looks to its mythical past in history and the restoration of lost greatness, which defines Indian politics in its neighbouring regions of South Asia and, more broadly, throughout Asia.

India’s problem, however, is China’s similar efforts to restore its own mythical greatness and leading role in the world system. In pursuing it, China is seeking to limit India’s influence in Asia, especially in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. In this way, the tension between China and India plays a central role in the foreign and security policy of the entire South Asian region. It also challenges India to seek partners with whom it could jointly limit China’s growing influence in its own neighbouring regions and, more broadly, throughout Asia.

Keywords: decolonisation, international order, India, China, South Asia, Indian Ocean.

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