PSIR - Strategy, resources & discussion - ForumIAS

PSIR - Strategy, resources & discussion


Why is India considered as an Elephant in IR lexicon.

Is this answered in Does the Elephant dance, if somebody has read it.

I think the term was first used to describe the Indian economy by Gurcharan Das inIndia Unbound. It was published in 2000 so seems like he was the first, although I might be wrong. It seems to have entered IR from there. This is what he says. Pasting a longer excerpt so the context is clear:

“India embraced democracy first and capitalism afterwards, and this has made all the difference. India became a full-fledged democracy in 1950, with universal suffrage and extensive human rights, but it was not until recently that it opened up to the free play of market forces. This curious historical inversion means that India’s future will not be a creation of unbridled capitalism but will evolve through a daily dialogue between the conservative forces of caste, religion, and the village, the leftist and Nehruvian socialist forces which dominated the intellectual life of the country for so long, and the new forces of global capitalism. These “million negotiations of democracy,” the plurality of interests, the contentious nature of the people, and the lack of discipline and teamwork imply that the pace of economic reforms will be slow and incremental. It means that India will not grow as rapidly as the Asian tigers, nor wipe out poverty and ignorance as quickly.

The Economist has been trying, with some frustration, to paint stripes on India since 1991. It doesn’t realize that India will never be a tiger. It is anelephantthat has begun to lumber and move ahead. It will never have speed, but it will always have stamina. A Buddhist text says, “The elephant is the wisest of all animals/the only one who remembers his former lives/and he remains motionless for long periods of time/meditating thereon.” The inversion between capitalism and democracy suggests that India might have a more stable, peaceful, and negotiated transition into the future than, say, China. It will also avoid some of the harmful side effects of an unprepared capitalist society, such as Russia. Although slower, India is more likely to preserve its way of life and its civilization of diversity, tolerance, and spirituality against the onslaught of the global culture. If it does, then it is perhaps awise elephant.”

I followed an interesting trail starting from Malone on your suggestion to discover this :D 

Another hypothesis is that country's are reakted generally to what they refer to as their 'heritage animal' & this connection is creatively utilised as a writing metaphor to make connections. For eg even though writings on China have linked it to a dragon repeatedly (an imaginary animal that too), China didn't display any dragon like image for a large part of its existence. It's in recent times that this metaphor has been increasingly used to link with its stupendous growth. There are whole lot of articles online on how this is used as a soft power narrative. I also have a theory that using elephant for India (know for its longer & sure footed existence )also means to show that even though the dragon can be fast & aggresive, it can't last the elephant.

Found another interesting correlation by Shashi Tharoor here -

Indian diplomacy, a veteran told Shashi Tharoor many years ago, is like the love-making of an elephant: it is conducted at a very high level, accompanied by much bellowing, and the results are not known for two years (gestation period of elephants)-- Extract from Pax Indica

Can anyone suggest a source for constitutional & statutory bodies ? -- not the static part of it but their performance analysis part (i.e successful areas of intervention, criticisms by analysts,etc)


Can anyone suggest a source for constitutional & statutory bodies ? -- not the static part of it but their performance analysis part (i.e successful areas of intervention, criticisms by analysts,etc)

There isn't one specific source but you can build the material for it by googling articles about each body separately. Since most people's answers on this topic are bound to be very similar, the more eye-catching our unique points are the better. If there are editorials about them you can pick up lines from them directly as quotes.

Yeah that's what I have been doing...thought maybe someone would have found a source somewhere so lets's ask .....but thanks anyway.

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Yeah...SR notes aren't very useful or this I think...I have found some good answers with respect to that on test series of both GS & trying to compile from that itself + google baba ofc.

@D503 I feel it isn't just limited to the field of diplomacy & to further expand the idea, I have observed it be a developing world phenomenon where you command respect based on the usage of those jargon. Simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve & the last effort of a genius (-George Sand).

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