India in the Indo-Pacific: A Kautilyan Strategy for the Maritime Mandala


This brief seeks to apply ancient Indian strategic thought in the study of the country’s contemporary maritime relations. It argues that India should shift its maritime strategy from a largely continental posture to one that focuses on the country’s maritime mandala. Using concepts from the ancient Indian political treatise, Arthashastra, this brief contends that a “return of history” via the Indo-Pacific, and re-emerging multipolarity, require current strategic thought to focus less on contestation, and more on the benefits of cooperation and coordination. The Indian state may then be able to achieve yogakshema—or security and well-being for the people—by fostering cooperation and forging partnerships with like-minded nations, contributing towards a constructive regional vision, and enhancing its own domestic capability across naval and civilian maritime sectors.


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