August 10, 2007Foreign Affairs

My op-ed in Mint : Why India must export its Islam

It’s all about balancing

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

My op-ed in Mint covers some of the arguments and discussions on this blog on state-sponsored greybeards. Indeed, it is necessary to thank all those who commented on those posts: supporters and critics alike. All that helped to refine and tighten up the op-ed piece.


In a secular state such as India, there is little role for the state in matters of faith and religion. But the rise of a radical, intolerant version of Islam around the world is also not in its interests. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran have no self-imposed restrictions on promoting their own Islamic values. It is unlikely that India can counter these exertions of soft power by promoting the virtues of secularism to the Islamic world. But it could promote its own syncretic Islamic tradition to offer an alternative narrative to the world’s Muslims.

In any case, secularism as state policy is meaningful only in the domestic context. To insist Indian foreign policy must always be “secular” would be to miss a fundamental principle of international relations— states act to maximize their relative power using any means at their disposal. If India’s Islamic values allow it to “balance” Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, it should do so. [Mint]

Want to continue the discussion? Why not write a letter to the editor of Mint?

If you would like to share or comment on this, please discuss it on my GitHub Previous
Inspiring TIME
Watching Pakistan’s nukes…closely

© Copyright 2003-2024. Nitin Pai. All Rights Reserved.