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M.L. Sondhi


This paper attempts to explore the role of policy studies in general and S&T policy in particular, towards evolving a new approach for India’s international relations in general, and negotiations, conflict resolution, peace and disarmament in particular.


Indian policy makers have recognized the dual role of S&T in developmental policy and planning long ago, and have defined the scope of science policy in the following terms: science for policy and policy for science.  Thus, a scientific approach to developmental policy and planning is considered as important as having a policy for science.  From this perspective, policy analysts in general and S&T policy analysts in particular have a crucial role to play in all aspects of national development, including international relations.  This is especially true in the era of liberalization and globalization, where the so-called “global regimes” of international relations increasingly determine domestic economic policies (rather than vice versa), which in turn have a strong bearing on science, technology and developmental policies.  Conversely, domestic compulsions to preserve the nationalist elements of developmental policies restrict the maneuverability of the Indian approach to international relations.  These pose not only political challenges, but also tremendous intellectual challenges for scientists and social scientists alike.


Nationalist approaches to international negotiations are becoming increasingly difficult and information dependent for developing countries like India.  This is much more true for multilateral negotiations than bi-lateral negotiations.  With multilateral treaties such as GATT-WTO, climate change convention, convention on biological diversity, CTBT, NPT etc., becoming the order of the day, innovative approaches to articulate nationalistic positions in these negotiations demand an inter-sectoral coordination, not only between the relevant ministries, but also between scientists, social scientists, policy analysts and experts in international relations.  This offers tremendous scope for interdisciplinary research to identify the possible policy options and negotiating instruments as well as for lobbying and networking with pro-India or pro-Third World intellectuals and NGOs in the partnering countries.  In the long run, it is possible to envisage a situation where India’s best options in various international negotiations will be determined by a research-based intellectual consensus rather than political exigencies.  This is especially relevant in the current era of minority governments and coalition governments.

Conflict Resolution:

The above approach to international relations in general and negotiations in particular offers a tremendous scope for generating the relevant knowledge base as well as identifying the right platforms and approaches for conflict resolution.  Again, networking with intellectuals and NGOs for consensus building among the negotiating countries is an effective tool for conflict resolution, which can only come through establishing a common, research-based agenda.

Peace and Disarmament

With the increasing use of S&T for destructive purposes especially since the second world war, scientists and intellectuals across the world have been strongly advocating peace and disarmament.  Indian policy experts need to network with them and build effective platforms of interaction to articulate the Third World perspective in general and India’s position in particular on peace and disarmament.  This not only opens up possibilities for redefining the agenda for negotiations, but also provide policy inputs for national governments.
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