The “I” in BRICS: Leadership Traits of Indian Prime Ministers and India's Role Adaptation to Rising Status in World Politics

Baris Kesgin, Leslie Wehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper inquires theoretically into how leaders act and react to the state role of rising power through the case study of India. It brings together role theory and leadership trait analysis, and contends that there is a puzzling interplay between rising status and leaders’ characteristics. We project that leaders’ traits and styles condition how they enact roles. India and its leaders offer a suitable case for investigating this issue. Since the economically unstable early 1990s, India has gone through a relatively successful era of global emergence. Thus, we examine the relationship between India’s roles and the leadership profiles of Prime Ministers Atal Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narenda Modi, specifically their belief in the ability to control events and the need for power. We find especially in Vajpayee and Singh that their traits can help explain India’s foreign policy roles and in Modi (first term only) a leader vulnerable to contextual winds. We argue that the interplay of leaders’ traits and roles, as expressions of both material and social dimensions, helps assess how they make sense of their country’s rising within both the regional and international systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370–398
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Volume25
Issue number2
Early online date20 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022

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