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Distance may or may not have made Harsh Pant’s heart grow fonder, but it has certainly given him clarity in understanding the complex challenges and nuances of Indian foreign policy.

A Reader in International Relations in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London, Harsh – who is also an associate at the Centre for Science and Security Studies at the college – is bringing intelligence, insight and good old common sense to the discourse about India’s defence and foreign policy considerations.

Above all, unhindered by political grandstanding and bureaucratic doublespeak, he is able to zoom in sharply on the issues that really matter: in a piece for the Wall Street Journal in August, for instance, he took India’s recent political dilly-dallying over repeated Pakistan and China infiltrations head on, as well as India’s mixed signals and diffidence in establishing its position vis-à-vis Afghanistan. “India needs to recognise that there is no shortcut to a major-power status. Unless it articulates its own strategy, its weaknesses will continue to provoke its adversaries, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he wrote.

It’s familiar territory to Pant, who researches contemporary Indian foreign and security policy issues extensively – most recently, his research has zeroed in extensively on India’s China policy. In his 2012 book The Rise of China: Implications for India, a collection of essays edited by him, he highlights the urgent need to counterbalance China and the growing realisation that the US alone may not be able to do it – he advocates an alliance with the US and other significant regional players like Japan to contain the ‘changing military balance in Asia and beyond’ that seems to be China’s goal.

In addition to international policy, he works extensively on issues related to Indian defence policy, in particular on arms acquisitions and the Indian Navy. Recent books include The US-India Nuclear Pact: Policy, Process and Great Power Politics; and The Rise of the Indian Navy: Internal Vulnerabilities, External Challenges). Harsh also writes regularly for several media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the Japan Times, the Straits Times, the National, and the Indian Express.

He has been a Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore; a Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania; a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Peace and Security Studies, McGill University; and an Emerging Leaders Fellow at the Australia-India Institute, University of Melbourne.

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