In 1974, India surprised the world with “Smiling Buddha”: a secret underground nuclear test at Pokhran, Rajasthan. India called it a “peaceful nuclear explosion”—but few outside of India saw it that way. The 1974 nuclear tests became a symbol of India’s ability to help itself, especially given how the country was left out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an agreement the country argued was colonial.
This study identifies the latent and emergent drivers behind the mounting acrimony in South Asia—notably, India’s ambitions as a “rising power” coupled with the resurgence of China and Pakistan’s strategic anxiety as the United States unmoors itself from Afghanistan and embraces India. India is similarly concerned as China advances its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across the region, developing a network of economic and strategic hubs and bringing India’s neighbors into China’s embrace through its strategy of peripheral diplomacy.
Earlier this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimated that India has 160 nuclear warheads that can be delivered by aircraft, land-based ballistic missiles, and sea-based ballistic missiles—a small nuclear triad. How and why India developed nuclear energy and weapons programs in the midst of the Cold War is the subject of Jayita Sarkar’s fascinating and revealing book Ploughshares and Swords.
Podcast with Manoj Joshi, author of “Understanding the India-China Border: The Enduring Threat of War in High Himalaya”
On 16 June 2020, Indian and Chinese forces clashed high in the Himalayan mountains in Aksai Chin. Beijing and New Delhi both claim control over this remote region in a territorial dispute dating back decades. Sources differ on how many soldiers died in the skirmish, fought with fists and clubs rather than guns, with the potential dead ranging into the dozens.
In mid-June 2020, Indian and Chinese forces clashed in the mountainous north-western portion of the Sino-Indian border in the Galwan River valley in Ladakh, resulting in scores of casualties, including twenty Indian and four Chinese deaths. Each side eventually deployed about 50,000 troops to this freezing battlefield located 14,000 feet above sea level. Both sides quickly deescalated, but the clash upended years of diplomatic efforts to resolve the long-simmering border dispute. Indian journalist Manoj Joshi’s new book Understanding the India-China Border provides details of the clash, historical insight into the causes of the fighting, and places the longtime Sino-Indian border dispute in the context of global geopolitics.
New Book Announcement: “The United States vs China: The Quest for Global Economic Leadership” by C Fred Bergsten
In this sweeping and authoritative analysis of the competition for global economic leadership between China and the United States, C Fred Bergsten draws on more than 50 years of active participation as a policymaker and close observation as a scholar.
Podcast with Harry Verhoeven and Anatol Lieven, editors of “Beyond Liberal Order: States, Societies and Markets in the Global Indian Ocean”
We often neglect the Indian Ocean when we talk about our macro-level models of geopolitics, global economics or grand strategy—often in favor of the Atlantic or the Pacific. Yet the Indian Ocean—along whose coasts live a third of humanity—may be a better vehicle to understand how our world is changing.