India’s New Neighbourhood Policy: Security, Connectivity and Democracy

Convener: Kate Sullivan de Estrada

Speaker: Dr Constantino Xavier (Brookings India)

This talk will focus on how India’s role as a regional power has changed since the 1950s, especially since the 2000s in response to China’s economic inroads into South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. Dr Xavier will evaluate how is developing alternative policies that balance connectivity, security and democracy in its neighbourhood, with examples from Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India’s new regional strategy now focuses on partnerships with Japan, the United States and other “Indo-Pacific” powers. Traditionally less vocal about the role of values in its foreign policy, India is now also more willing to engage in democracy assistance beyond its borders, mostly focused on capacity-building, to compensate for its infrastructure financing shortcomings.


Dr Constantino Xavier is a Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings India in New Delhi. He researches on India’s changing role as a regional power, and the challenges of security, connectivity and democracy across South Asia and the Indian Ocean. He also works on Europe’s relations with India and Asia. He is currently writing a book on India’s crisis response and involvement in neighbouring countries, with historical and contemporary case studies on Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Dr Xavier’s research also focuses on how India’s democratic values and institutions influence its external engagements and relations with other powers in the Indo-Pacific. Previously, he worked at the Brookings Institution, in Washington DC, as a media correspondent in South Asia, and as an adviser to the Embassy of Portugal in New Delhi during the presidency of the European Union. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and at the Observer Research Foundation, in New Delhi, and received research awards from the United States Fulbright program and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.