Is India punching below its weight? NSA Doval thinks so, what about you?

Is India punching below its weight? It’s the mother of all questions for contemporary practitioners of statecraft and diplomacy, and the country’s strategic thinking elite.

One can go on debating this proposition endlessly, and the country’s diplomatic-strategic establishment can delude itself into comforting clichés about the emergence of India as a major power in the shifting global geopolitical landscape. But National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is a staunch realist, and he has rearticulated what has been spoken often in the strategic circles – yes, India has been underperforming when it comes to leveraging its growing economy, its status as the world’s most populous democracy, and its indubitable soft power strengths.

“India has a mentality to punch below its weight. We should not punch below our weight or above our weight, but improve our weight and punch proportionately,” Mr Doval said in his address entitled ‘State Security, Statecraft, and Conflict of values’ at the 21st Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture in Mumbai.

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