Is Indian diplomacy Assertive/Arrogant?

Welcome, In this article I want to do a rational analysis of Rahul Gandhi’s recent statement in London about Indian diplomacy being arrogant. I want to do a breakdown of Indian diplomacy in the past and present to derive a conclusion.

Indian Diplomacy(Past):

I don’t want to say that previously we were slaves. Here we are seeing it rationally. Indian diplomacy has a character from the beginning. We took some bold decisions and also sometimes succumbed to pressure in the past.

Cold War

India got her independence in 1947, 2 years after world war 2. The world became bipolar. Every country was put under pressure to choose sides. Some chose a side for favours and some under inevitable pressure. What about India?

India under Jawahar Lal Nehru stood apart. In the bipolar world, we created a third party called “Non-Aligned”. India has created and led this third front. Indian diplomacy by birth learned the balancing act. Is it perfect and smooth? No. But it was great.

During the cold war, we got arms and ammunition from the Soviet Union and Wheat from the US. That's right, to all the new generation Indians, We used to import wheat from the US before the green revolution happened. We didn’t have enough produce to feed everyone then.

Space Program

Our space program, which is my area of interest has benefitted immensely from the balancing act. We got Apache sounding rockets from US and payload for that from French, which we launched using Soviet computers and all of this got funded by the UN. Our rocket scientists got their training in the US and our first man in space got trained and launched by USSR.

Our first GeoStationary launch vehicle GSLV MK 1 was powered by a Russian engine. Our PSLV has its main liquid engine ‘Vikas’, which was derived from the French ‘Viking’ engine.

To achieve all this, a lot of diplomacies were done. You can see how the two poles rushed to help us and gain influence on us. We nailed the balancing act in this sector.

Diplomacy in Indo-Pak Wars

Indo Pak wars are important yardsticks in Indian history. Let us see how Indian diplomacy handled the international community. From the first war in 1948 to the Kargil war in 1999, India always had an upper hand in diplomacy. We had successfully convinced the international community that Pakistan is the aggressor.

An example of our diplomacy’s brightest play was in 1971 when US and UK sent their navies to attack us and we thwarted them away using simple diplomacy. We signed the treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation with the Soviet Union. Without even firing a shell at them we protected ourselves.

Our diplomacy during the Kargil war has bought a significant turn in the Indo-US relationship. After this war, America stopped seeing hostilities in India and this shift later reaped the Indo-US civil nuclear deal giving us an exception in NSG.

Nature of Diplomacy(Past)

In the past, we can say our diplomacy stood on the ground but I can say it is not assertive. Any dissing and propaganda against us are met with silence. We let the western media portray us as a poster child of third world poverty and defaming Dharmic religions etc. I call it taking a lecture from the west.

Indian Diplomacy(Present)

Indian diplomacy under Narendra Modi which Rahul Gandhi calls arrogant is different from the past. I completely disagree with him that it is arrogance. I call this assertive. India under Modi is still nailing the balancing act. The Ukraine conflict is an example. We have successfully convinced the western governments that Russia is a crucial friend of India and India is in no position to rot it.

We also raised the issue of US human rights on US soil and questioned Europe for their Russian oil purchase in front of US secretaries of State and Defence. We also reminded the EU chief about their hypocrisy in “Rules-based Order” when she visited India.

I call it being ‘Equals’ and being independent.


Indian diplomacy faced hardships the most in our neighbourhood. It is challenging and rough both in the past and the present. We handled the Srilankan Tamil issue poorly and we paid a price by losing a sitting Prime minister. We didn’t help ourselves by putting a trade block on Nepal.

Hostilities with Bangladesh regarding religious polarisation and CAA-NRC issue. “Go Back India” campaign in the Maldives. Myanmar's friendship with China and protests in Seychelles and Mauritius against us are work in progress issues.


You must understand the fact that diplomacy makes use of national interests. If you are on the list of national interests, countries will listen to you and give you waivers. India being assertive reminds the world of its importance.

In the past, we used to punch below our weight by running toward the west crying whenever Pakistani militants attacked us. Now Pakistan is getting an immediate reply whenever we got attacked. we are able to put forward our views and convince others to act on them.

Arrogance in diplomacy is not listening to anyone and doing whatever you want ignoring consequences. Being assertive means pressing the right buttons by taking calculative risks.


I feel Rahul Gandhi’s view is blind opposition. I completely disagree with him. Indian diplomacy is finding its place and punching in its category.

Thanks for the read and consider following if you found this informative. See you in my next article.

Picture Credits:

  1. Photo by Studio Art Smile:



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Satya Prasad Metta

Satya Prasad Metta

Beginner and learner, want to add value to myself.