Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2010

A Regional Power Promoting Democracy? India's Involvement in Nepal (2005-2008)

Sandra Destradi

June 2010

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


According to the theory of “democratic peace,” India, as the largest democracy in the world and as South Asia’s predominant regional power, should be expected to promote democracy in neighboring countries. However, New Delhi lacks any official democracypromotion policy, and its past record on democracy in the region is mixed at best. Against this background, the paper analyzes the substantial role India came to play in the peace and democratization process in Nepal in the years 2005–2008, asking whether this constitutes a departure from New Delhi’s traditional policy of noninterference in its neighbors’ internal affairs and a move towards a more assertive approach to democracy promotion. The analysis shows that India’s involvement in Nepal was the product of short‐term stability concerns rather than being an indicator of a long‐term change in strategy with the intention of becoming an active player in international democracy promotion.