Neighbourhood First: Navigating Ties Under Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to stress greater cooperation and better ties with India’s neighbourhood almost two years into his tenure. While he made an impressive start in this direction from his very swearing-in ceremony in May 2014, his ‘neighbourhood first’ policy as yet has witnessed mixed results.

This publication brings to focus India’s policy towards its immediate and extended neighbourhood—SAARC members, Iran, China and Myanmar—under Modi thus far. Four catalysts seem to now, more than ever before, influence India’s outreach to its neighbours: the three-pronged impulses of geography, regional integration and geoeconomics; development imperatives; security concerns; and Modi’s prime-ministerialship. Each country-specific chapter describes bilateral ties, debates elements of continuity or change since the new government has come to power, and explores future prospects for ties under Modi given existing challenges and opportunities. Thematic chapters also intersperse this publication, which contextualise India’s neighbourhood policy and its bilateral ties in the region.


  • India, India’s Neighbourhood and Modi: Setting the Stage – Ritika Passi and Aryaman Bhatnagar
  • India’ Neighbourhood Policy through the Decades – Ashok Malik
  • Dealing with Pakistan: India’s Policy Options – Radha Kumar
  • India’s Afghanistan Policy: Going beyond the ‘Goodwill’ Factor? – Shanthie Mariet D’Souza
  • India’s Iran Policy in a Changed Dynamic – Kanchi Gupta
  • Why Engage in a Neighbourhood Policy? The Theory behind the Act – Varun Sahni
  • India’s China Policy under Narendra Modi: Continuity and Change – Alka Acharya
  • Modi’s ‘Act East’ Begins in Myanmar – K. Yhome
  • China’s Role in South Asia: An Indian Perspective – T.C.A. Rangachari
  • India-Nepal Relations: On the Threshold – Jayant Prasad
  • Paradigms in India-Bhutan Relations and Pathways for Cooperation – Medha Bisht
  • India-Bangladesh Relations in Modi’s Era – Joyeeta Bhattacharjee
  • The Domestic Elements: States as Stakeholders – Shashi Tharoor
  • India-Sri Lanka Relations under Modi – Rajeswari Pillai Rajagolapan
  • India-Maldives Relations: Solid Base, Shaky Structure – N. Manoharan
  • SAARC at Thirty: Integration by Parts – Sheel Kant Sharma



Aryaman Bhatnagar

Ritika Passi