India's security dilemma: engaging big powers while retaining strategic autonomy

Alexey D. Muraviev, Dalbir Ahlawat*, Lindsay Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


India currently faces a security dilemma specifically because of the rise of China, Russia’s strategic convergence with China, and the US’s indeterminate Indo-Pacific policy stance. To overcome this dilemma, India’s shift from non-alignment to strategic autonomy poses several questions about its future strategic orientation, notably: Will India enter into a formal alliance with the USA, will India continue to engage China, will India retain close historical relations with Russia or will it more robustly pursue its ‘Act East’ policy? This article attempts a critical analysis of the different strategic options available to India and argues that while entering into a quasi-alliance with the USA, it will retain its strategic autonomy. India could simultaneously retain relations with Russia, China and the ASEAN. However, to the extent possible, its tendency will be to support a multipolar-Asia paradigm rather than a zero-sum alliance system to play a leading role in international fora.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1138
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Politics
Issue number6
Early online date4 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Border conflict
  • Military–technological cooperation
  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
  • Strategic autonomy


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