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on June 24, 2005
Stephen P Cohen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and is their resident expert on South Asian strategic studies. Not only has he lived in Dehli for a number of years, he speaks Hindi and he has some unique insights as to how foreign policy is shaped inside the government based on his contacts with some of the key individuals. I have heard Cohen speak (English) on several occaisions and was impressed with the breadth and depth of his knowledge of South Asia.

In this book, Cohen details some of the world views of India's leadership during the 1990s. In 1996, the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power and along with it came a new outlook on India's role in the world. The old school were the Nehruvians of the Congress Party (left-centrist), whose outlook was mainly anticolonial, socialist central planning and advocacy of third-world solidarity against Cold War blocs. The new "center-right realist" school, represented by Jaswant Singh and KC Pant realized the world had changed after the fall of the Soviet Union. The new world order was shaped by economics, and from economic strength comes military power. The new government knew that it had to open its economy to international competition in order to achieve the growth rates needed to lift their population out of poverty. No small task since about half of the world's poor are in India. They found China's example encouraging.

The BJP opened up their foreign policy establishment to input by outsiders such as journalists, academics, and even military personnel. The old Congress Party was always very secretive about their decision making process for fear of a military coup. It was also amazing that the BJP was tolerant of alternative views since some of its coalition partners were so intolerant - think of Shiv Sena, led by the notorious Bal Thackeray. Today the BJP is no longer in power, the Congress Party is back in power, but it is no longer the same Congress Party - it too now is a believer in benefits of open markets.

The liberalization of the economy naturally brought India and the US closer together. America's support of Pakistan has always been a sore point in the relationship, but India now reluctantly accepts the fact that a stable Pakistan is in everyone's best interest, given the nuclear saber rattling that took place in 1998.

The US is by far India's largest trading partner, and the impact that the two countries (the world's two largest democracies) have had on each other is profound. Many of the high-tech startups in Silicon Valley have been created by Indian engineers and funded by Indian money. The Indian-American community of 2 million is the single most affluent ethnic group in the US. Many go back to India with their American experiences and recreate the successes. There are now more IT scientists and engineers in Bangalore than in Silicon Valley.

Geostrategically, India will remain bogged down as a regional power as long as the problem of Kashmir festers, and by extension the problem of Pakistan. According to Cohen, India must put this problem behind it before it can become a great power. It is important for America to be evenhanded in its relations with both countries: for Pakistan is a frontline state in containing Islamic fundamentalism and India is a counterbalance China's growing military power. It is also important that India sets the example of democratic success to counter China's authoritarianism.

Cohen has written an excellent book that will be instructive not only to policymakers but to other readers as well. One Indian reviewer has called the book refractive, as seen through the prism of American eyes; it is to our distinction that the eyes were so learned and perceptive.
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on September 6, 2013
This book written in 2000 by veteran South Asian specialist Stephen P. Cohen concentrates on introducing India as an emerging Asian power. Since this book appeared there have been several books that have discussed India alongside China and Japan as one of the great powers of Asia. This book briefly discusses Indian domestic politics but its focus is on India's foreign policy: its relations with Pakistan, China, the United States, and with other South Asian countries. Cohen begins with a discussion of the various sources of India's foreign policy philosophy: the sub-continental focus of the British Raj, the pacifism of Mahatma Gandhi, the non-aligned anti-colonialism of Nehru, and the realism of his daughter and successor, Indira Gahdhi. Cohen maintains that most Indian officials have a mixture of these disparate tendencies in their heads. In addition to the chapters on India's external relations he has two chapters on India as a military power: as a conventional military power and as a new nuclear power in balances of terror with both Pakistan and China. I recommend this as a good starting point for understanding modern India.
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on November 26, 2002
As India became an independent nation in 1947, it became the world's second largest country in population and the world's larges democracies. Cohen in India:Emerging Power looks at how India has been advancing since 1947. Cohen looks at the different influences on India such as non-alliance, the Nehru view, and the Gandhi view. Cohen also deals deals with India's interactions with other countries such as the Soviet Union and later Russia, United States, Africa, China and other South Asian countries. Cohen also looks at some of the more well known issues of India such as its military. It relied on Soviet Aid for a long time but was never able to get as much as it wanted. Cohen looks at American influences on the Indian military and its desire to become an arms exporter. Cohen also looks at India's nuclear program and its relations with Pakistan. He goes through the history of the conflict and how nuclear weapons. It also deals with INdia's relations to the United states and about how the two countries can work togheter.
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on January 25, 2002
The author clearly makes a valiant effort at understanding the country. While he impresses with the scope of literature survey on the issue, Cohen fails to produce a thesis of any remark, or even coherence, from that wide reading. A great book if (1) you want to use it as a source book or (2)want to know what stereotypes have plagued America's understanding of India, for the author regurgitates a lot of such stereotypes. The book makes notable departures from mediocrity, as when it discusses Nehruvian antecedents to Indias present policy, but is on the whole uninspired. If the book is any barometer of USA's views on India, the future of the US-India alliance is not very bright.
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on March 7, 2014
A somewhat dated but still immensely relevant overview of India's strategic and security issues, especially as viewed from an American standpoint. Professor Cohen is one of the best scholars of Indian strategy and politics, and this guide is both thorough and well-written. India has been through many incarnations (so to speak) and has security problems both foreign (especially Pakistan and China) and domestic. Yet now that America's war in Afghanistan is winding down and the Indians are freeing up their economy to allow greater growth, the role of India is likely to increase in importance both locally and worldwide. This book is a fine introduction to how and why those chances could take place.
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on October 1, 2001
How about a book on India written by a pro-Pakistan person who is a strong supporter of US hegemony in the world.
Will India become a Big Power in the near future?
Why India is all set to become a Big Power?
How India will probably become a Big Power?
If you are looking for answers to any one of the above questions then DO NOT read this book.
The book is organized into some 10 chapters. Most of them deal with the task of assessment of the performance of India as a nation state in the last 50 years.
The book makes a few "Not-so-Strong-Arguments". Such as "Nations are recognized by the enemies they keep." While Russia and China keep the US as the enemy-in-charge there are a few nations such as Libya, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea which keep USA as their Enemy-In-Chief. Nevertheless this doesn't elevate their prestige or reputation.
The book also says that Indian Diplomats are arrogant and are inclined to lecture western diplomats on a few issues (e.g. "Greatness of Indian civilization"). While one can agree that this tendency may exist, all the diplomats can hardly be branded as such. The author has tried to translate the strong opinion of a few diplomats into a strong general argument.
The author also seems to blow the drum of BJP government. This may have been in exchange for deeper access to the "Files".
The tone of the book is of a Boss who is doing your Performance Appraisal. There are too many premises.
The author also says that although India is a big power in making it cannot challenge the US. Do we need Stephan Cohen to certify that India cannot challenge US ? I believe all of us already know that.
The book has its pluses also. The book provides a lot of food for thought. The info that USS Enterprise was sent to the bay of Bengal in support of India in 1962 Sino-Indian war is a news.
If you are a regular reader of one Indian daily then this book may not be for you.
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on December 17, 2010
Stephen Cohen's book, even though it deserves an update, ten years after its initial publication, is still an excellent overview on India's security, covering all relevant foreign policy and military aspects and drawing on the author's immense knowledge of the relevant literature and his decades long exposure to the country. This focus - and the resulting neglect of economic, social and developmental aspects - make the title a bit more encompassing than warranted. I would therefore suggest to complement it with books on these other aspects to get a full picture of India's rise and the challenges on the way.
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on July 7, 2002
The reviews up so far don't sound as if they are responding to the academic and policy value of Cohen's book. India: Emerging Power is an elegantly written, wide-ranging study of India's regional and global role. While (perhaps) a little overoptimistic about India's likely future success, Cohen assesses Indian diplomacy past, current strengths and weaknesses, and the way in which the US ought to engage India. Overall, Cohen comes out in favour of a closer US engagement with India - for positive reasons. The only drawback is that a second edition, post 9/11 and the 2002 Indo-Pak crisis, is needed - for much has changed, and India is close to achieving the regional dominance it demands. I highly recommend this book.
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on November 16, 2002
Stephen Cohen presents a well-researched analysis in this book, with insightful comments on India's policy and diplomatic failures and successes, particularly during the crucial Nehruvian and Indira phases. He is, however, as another reviewer points out, a bit over-optimistic on the role India may play in the future, but I suppose that anyone who spends any meaningful time in India can't help but hope for a great future for these long-suffering but bright and capable people!
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on December 2, 2008
An example of the author's cavalier statements is the following: "... that the Tigers represent an ideological threat to India. Not only do they want to divide Sri Lanka into two states, they envision a homeland for the Tamil nation that would include the northern districts of Sri Lanka and the Tamil-speaking state of Tamil Nadu, in a Tamil version of the "two-nation" theory."

This is utter rubbish. I challenge the author to provide evidence for his claim.

The Tamil Tigers are not fighting for the separation of the Tamil Nadu state of India. They are fighting for the independence of their country in the island of Sri Lanka. Their country was joined with Sri Lanka in 1833 by the British for their administrative convenience.
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