Forged in Crisis

India and the United States since 1947

December 2013 9781849043045 288pp


Rudra Chaudhuri’s book examines a series of crises that led to far-reaching changes in India’s approach to the United States, defining the contours of what is arguably the imperative relationship between America and the global South. Forged in Crisis provides a fresh interpretation of India’s advance in foreign affairs under the stewardship of Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and finally, Manmohan Singh. It reveals the complex and distinctive manner in which India sought to pursue at once material interests and ideas, while meticulously challenging the shakier and largely untested reading of ‘non-alignment’ palpable in most works on Indian foreign policy and international relations.

From the Korean War in 1950 to the considered debate within India on sending troops to Iraq in 2003, and from the loss of territory to China and the subsequent talks on Kashmir with Pakistan in 1962-63 to the signing of a civil nuclear agreement with Washington in 2008, Chaudhuri maps Indian negotiating styles and behaviour and how these shaped and informed decisions vital to its strategic interest, in turn redefining its relationship with the United States.


‘A meticulously researched [and] compelling study … This lucid and persuasive book offers a nuanced guide to the tortuous course of relations between two great democracies – which are unlikely to become more predictable or straightforward any time soon.’ — The Financial Times

‘This new book on U.S.—India relations dispels both the myth of India as victim and the idea of volatility, suggesting instead a remarkable consistency in India’s determination since independence in 1947 to defend its own interests and its approach to the United States. In Forged in Crisis, Rudra Chaudhuri argues that India has always been willing to mix idealism with expediency—or, in his words, “ideas and interests”—to gain economic and military help from the United States without sacrificing its independence.’ — Myra MacDonald, War on the Rocks

‘[A] masterly survey of Indo-US relations that is authoritative yet accessible. Chaudhuri joins a small club of Indian writers such as Ramachandra Guha who are as adept at dipping into the memoirs of leading figures of the time as combing archives of newspapers to paint a Fauvist picture of a complex and more than occasionally combative relationship.’ — Business Standard

‘Based on meticulous archival and interview research, Forged in Crisis offers a wholly fresh and compelling account of US-India relations since 1947. Rudra Chaudhuri provides essential insight into the rise of India, and how Indian political leaders, policy elites and public views have shaped India foreign policy since the foundation of the state.’ —  Professor Theo Farrell, Head of War Studies, King’s College London

‘This is the best book on India-US relations in the last twenty years, by a wide margin. It is incomparable in its probing, sensitive analysis, elegant writing, exhaustiveness, and the minute, archival-based empirical rendering of key episodes and periods.’ — Kanti Bajpai, Professor and Vice Dean Research, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Forged in Crisis is a compelling reappraisal of India’s relationship with the United States. Rudra Chaudhuri superbly traces the evolution of India’s doctrine of non-alignment over six decades, and his conclusion is stark: ‘India will never be an ally of the US’. As his brilliant chapter on India’s deliberation over the Iraq War shows, the implications for world politics are considerable.’ — Shashank Joshi, Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute

‘A richly detailed history of Indo-US ties…a formidable re-analysis of India’s foreign policy, one that rehabilitates India’s much denigrated diplomatic record.’ –– Ram Mashru, LSE Review of Books

‘This eagerly awaited study more than delivers on its promise…this is a book which will provoke much more argument about the history of the relationship [between India and the USA] and its present condition for some time to come…it is essential reading for anyone interested in India’s foreign relations.’ –– Ian Hall, author of Dilemmas of Decline: British Intellectuals and World Politics, 1945-75

Forged in Crisis cannot be seen as yet another addition to the long list of books on India and the United States. Rather here is a scholarly attempt to reveal what really took place between the two democracies.’ — The Hindu

‘Chaudhuri’s research on written sources is prodigious, his list of interviews impressive, and his command of Indian foreign policy masterful…This is an important book about India’s foreign policy.’ — Teresita C. Schaffer, Survival

Forged in Crisis makes an important contribution in advancing our understanding of the sources that have shaped the trajectory of the US-India relationship. Combing both historical and contemporary episodes in US-India bilateral ties, it provides a thorough re-evaluation of non-alignment and its consequences. … Forged in Crisis is an excellent study of the changing contours of India’s policy towards the USA and will help to shape the debate on this critical foreign policy choice facing India in the coming years.’ — Asian Affairs


Rudra Chaudhuri is a lecturer in Strategic Studies and South Asian Security at the Department of War Studies and the India Institute, King’s College London.

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