US - INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW

14 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2018 Australia, all fellow democracies with whom it had previously had sour relations. What are the other issues impacting Modi's foreign poli- cy? While foreign policy is driven by notions of building a strong econ- omy, he is a nationalist firmly committed to India's territorial integrity. He is willing to take risks to defend India against external threats. India does not have a claim outside its waters but it is willing to take strong steps under Modi to protect those. Hence the stand on Doklam at the trijunction of India-Bhutan-China where he took a very strong stand to defend Indian security interests by opposing Chinese construction of a road allegedly on Bhutanese territory that would threaten India and its access to the resource rich northeast of the country. From your time spent in China, what is your impression of the Chinese view of India? The Chinese scholars I interact with at Tungji University in Shanghai tell me they respect three aspects of a country’s for- eign policy -- one is "clarity of vision"; the other is strength; the third is non-interference. And in all three areas, Modi has in their view done well, though they are concerned by what they see as a gradual drift of India closer to the US and Japan, witnessed by increased military exercise, a more robust military supply rela- tionship. Another element in India’s response to China is growing Chinese assertiveness especially in the South China Sea but also in its growing ties with Pakistan. It is not that India will sign a military pact with the US, Japan or Australia. It will not as India remains committed to strategic autonomy. India would not partici- pate in an effort to box in China – and expects China to avoid similar moves toward India. Let's switch to India's domes- tic politics and Prime Minister Modi's relationship to his party and the RSS. Your first book on the RSS was in 1988, and now your next one is to be released in August. What drives the rela- tionship between Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party, and the RSS and what changes has the RSS undergone over the decades? Most writing on the RSS has been decidedly pro or anti often with an unstated agenda on one side or the other. The exceptions are the writings of the late Suzanne and Lloyd Rudolph, who were my advisors at The University of Chicago and who helped shape my views on India and how to write about it. On changes in the RSS since the first book. “The Brotherhood in Saffron” which was written some 25 years ago, the changes have been significant. This is not sur- prising for an organization as vast as that of the RSS and its thirty Pranab Mukherjee with Mohan Bhagwat for RSS's Tritiya Varsh Training program event flyer. Photo: rrs.org

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