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Research at St Andrews

Piyanat Soikham


Research overview

A thesis entitled ‘Indian Soft Power towards Southeast Asia’ emphasizes India’s post-independence foreign policy towards Southeast Asia. The core aspect is to understand the development, changes and continuities of Indian Soft Power. Building upon a constructivist framework, this research scrutinizes India’s key norms and its influences on policy’s formulation and implementation towards the region. This includes understanding the various dynamics of Indian soft power in different contexts, bilaterally and multilaterally. Utilising qualitative methods, this research compares Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and ASEAN. Data were obtained through conversational interviews with key informants in India and Southeast Asia and the analysis of related documents. Findings indicates that interactions among social elites, diplomats, think tanks and transnational communities have over time constructed a set of mutual norms between wielding and receiving countries. The norms ranges from autonomous decision-making, multilateralism, peace and non-aggressive approach, civilization and cultural relations to development issues. These social values shape Indian ways of soft power; as soft elements, peacefully deliberate implementation, and on mutual benefits. The soft power naturally allows India to gradually develop itself as an alternatively emergent power to incrementally build a preferred world order. This capacity is the most plausible mechanism for India to foster relationship with Southeast Asia.

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