Indian soft power towards Southeast Asia
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This thesis explores the normative sources of India’s post-independence soft power towards Southeast Asia. The core aspect is to understand how a norms-based approach helps to explain the development of Indian soft power, a state’s ability to peacefully attract others by using tangible and intangible culture, political values and institutions, foreign policy and international regimes. Drawing on a constructivist framework, this research defines India’s key norms, norm entrepreneurs, norm development and their influence on the formulation and implementation of soft power tools. This includes the understandings of the various dynamics of agency and process, their differences and similarities and changes and continuities present within Indian soft power towards Southeast Asia. Utilising qualitative research methods, this thesis will compare Indian soft power towards Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and ASEAN. Data were obtained and analysed through conversational interviews with key informants in India and Southeast Asia, and the analysis of related documents from field research, principally the Ministry of External Affairs’ Annual Reports (1947-2016). The findings indicate that rather than a single norm, there are four sets (parameters) of key norms that mutually shape Indian norms and soft power tools: which are 1) the significance of Indian civilisation; 2) the principle of self-determination; 3) great power recognition, and; 4) human-centric development. The thesis also notes that although the four key norm parameters and their relevant tools remained basically consistent with Indian soft power in general, there were a number of unique and specific dynamics of norms, norm entrepreneurs, norm development, and key tools in soft power projection towards Southeast Asia and towards particular bilateral and multilateral contacts. Soft power is thus exclusively a product of social interaction, being socially developed according to an actor’s specific interaction with its target state through history, context, and culture.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2021-10-18
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 18th October 2021.
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