Prof. Dr Herbert Wulf

Senior Expert Fellow

Research Project at the Centre

Herbert Wulf’s research project is entitled “India's Foreign Policy and it's Role in Global Governance”.

India’s increasing importance in the globalised world is largely due to its economic liberalisation policy and its phenomenal economic growth during the last two decades. But does a matching foreign and security policy accompany India’s economic rise? Numerous Indian politicians, think tanks and the media request the government to engage more actively in global forums, to strengthen its diplomatic and defence capabilities, to design a ‘grand strategy’, to formulate a ‘non-alignment 2.0’ foreign policy, to pursue a more active neighbourhood policy etc.

Paradoxical, inconsistent and contradictory judgments are intrinsic to India’s role in the 21st century. India is described as the largest functioning democracy in the world, yet it is one of the most corrupt societies. It modernises fast and a new middle class has emerged; yet traditional caste structures dominate parts of the society. It is a fast growing economy, but other parts are still underdeveloped and poverty-stricken, with a large percentage of people living in acute poverty and impoverishment. The country is considered as an emerging superpower, yet still entangled in unresolved and sometimes violent conflicts at home and with some of its immediate neighbours.

Given India’s status and long-term record as a stable, secular society and multi-cultural democracy, the Indian political elite considers a status as a Permanent Member of the Security Council of the United Nations and more generally at the high table of global affairs not only as legitimate but also long overdue. Indian foreign policy emphasises its right to be recognised as a major player (in the UN, the G20 and in the BRICS initiative). Its insistence on being a nuclear weapons power and its annual double-digit growth of investments in conventional weapons are instruments to underline India’s global ambitions and, at the same time, signalling to its neighbours its claim for regional leadership if not dominance.

The research is conducted to understand the basis of India’s global aspirations, which contrast so starkly with the enormous difficulties it faces at home and outside its borders.


Professor Herbert Wulf joined Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Senior Expert Fellow. He conducted his research in the framework of Research Unit 3 "Gloabl Governance Revisted" and Research Unit 4 “Paradoxes and Perspectives of Democratisation” from October 2012 to September 2013.