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India: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Country Study > Chapter 9 > Foreign Relations > Participation in International Organizations > South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation


India is a member of SAARC, along with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. SAARC, which slowly emerged out of the initiative of Bangladesh in 1980, was formally inaugurated in 1985. SAARC, which has a permanent secretariat in Kathmandu, is funded by voluntary contributions and operates on the principle of unanimity in decision making. Discussion of contentious bilateral issues is excluded from the SAARC charter at Indian insistence. Instead, SAARC programs exist in the areas of agriculture, rural development, transportation and telecommunications, meteorology, health and population control, postal services, science and technology, culture and sports, women in development, drug trafficking and abuse, and terrorism. By the mid-1990s, SAARC had yet to become an effective regional organization, largely because of mutual distrust between India and its neighbors. India's lukewarm support for SAARC stems from the concern that its neighbors might coalesce against it to the detriment of Indian interests. The reluctance of India and other South Asian countries to turn SAARC into a forum for resolving major regional disputes hampers SAARC's ability to deal with many of South Asia's economic and political problems. Nonetheless, when SAARC's eighth summit was held in New Delhi in May 1995, the conferees declared their nations' commitment to eradicating poverty in South Asia by 2002.There is an extensive English-language literature on India's foreign relations. Indian government publications -- the Ministry of External Affairs's Annual Report and the monthly Foreign Affairs Record, and the Parliament's Compendium of Policy Statements Made in the Parliament: External Affairs -- are important official sources of information. The annual edition of Yearbook on India's Foreign Policy contains a useful survey of foreign policy trends as well as articles on bilateral relations. The Economic and Political Weekly [Bombay] provides a nongovernmental point of view on a wide range of current issues. Asia Yearbook, published by the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong, also includes a review of India's foreign relations for the previous year.

A large number of books and articles are published each year on specific subjects such as nonalignment, foreign aid, nuclear issues, and specific bilateral relations. The speeches and writings of Jawaharlal Nehru offer considerable insight into the rationale and direction of Indian foreign policy during the Cold War period. Norman D. Palmer's The United States and India, Selig Harrison and Geoffrey Kemp's India and America after the Cold War, Robert C. Horn's Soviet-Indian Relations, and Peter J.S. Duncan's The Soviet Union and India are good analytical studies of India's relations with the superpowers. Comprehensive surveys of Indian foreign relations before the end of the Cold War are found in Charles Heimseth and Surjit Mansingh's A Diplomatic History of Modern India for the period 1911-65, Mansingh's India's Search for Power: Indira Gandhi's Foreign Policy, 1966-1982, and Robert W. Bradnock's India's Foreign Policy since 1971 . Two books that deal with India's foreign policy decision making and the domestic political structure underlying it are Jayant Bandyopadhyaya's The Making of India's Foreign Policy and Shashi Tharoor's Reasons of State . Articles on the changes in India's foreign policy and foreign relations since the end of the Cold War have appeared in the scholarly and periodical literature, of which Asian Survey and Far Eastern Economic Review are good sources. Annual editions of the Association for Asian Studies' Bibliography of Asian Studies provide comprehensive retrospective source citations. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of September 1995

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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