Tharoor firmly believes that India is well qualified to help incorporate rules and define norms that will guide tomorrow's world
For students and those interested in foreign policy, Shashi Tharoor’s book Pax Indica – India and the World of the 21st Century offers insights on how India’s foreign policy has evolved since its independence. In the very first chapter, Tharoor says that foreign policy is no longer merely foreign for it affects people right where they live. For instance, he exemplifies how a fisherwoman in Thiruvanathapuram may not have the slightest idea who the foreign minister of India is or care about the America withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, however she is well aware of the impact of price rise of diesel or kerosene and can comprehend the nuances of international economics when a foreign trawler catches fish in waters her husband and his ancestors have fished for generations. Foreign policy is as relevant to her life as it is for the diplomats in the pin-striped suit who speaks for India in global forums. For the ones who are novices in matters of foreign policy the book is indeed a good starting point as it urges all Indians to realize that they have a vital stake in the state of the world and helps to become globally conscious citizens.
The book is based on the premise that India can use a combination of her size, trade prowess, soft power and growing influence in the world to ensure an age of domestic transformation. As Tharoor puts it “Pax Indica” is a foreign policy that allows India to play a role in developing a contemporary “peace system” that will help “promote and maintain a period of co-operative co-existence”. He firmly believes that India is well qualified to help incorporate rules and define norms that will guide tomorrow’s world. When he deliberates upon the hard challenge of soft power, he makes it clear that India’s soft power is created partly by the government and partly despite the government, partly by deliberate action and partly by accident.
Taking the readers through brother enemy and a tough neighbourhood, Tharoor has given ample space in the book as to how India can work with major powers like China and the United States for constructing international structures to cope with 21st-century problems of global governance. In the 400 odd pages book, Tharoor has covered almost every possible aspect of the foreign policy challenges before the country in the 21st century. Having begun with ‘revisiting the tryst with destiny’ Tharoor, an ardent admirer of independent India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, ends with Nehru’s vision about India’s sense of responsibility to the world of which it is such a crucial part-and whose destiny it has earned the right to help shape.