Rise of Indira Gandhi on echelons of power as India’s Prime Minister transformed strategic vision and politics of India. Indira Gandhi ruled India as Prime Minister for three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Under Indira Gandhi, India’s approach toward regional and international politics became based on more militaristic and belligerent interventionist practices for augmenting national power. Indian experiences of cold war politics, Indo-China war (1962), Indo-Pak war of 1965, Pakistan-US military assistance agreements, Pakistan-China strategic cooperation initiatives and changes in world view of country’s leadership, primarily in the orientation of Indira Gandhi played major role in transforming strategic outlook of India. She had ambitions to transform India into a regional power and decisive actor in international politics. India, under Indira Gandhi, opted for a clear set of foreign and security policy principals in order to mitigate threats and protect political interests in the region which became basis of Indira Gandhi doctrine. These principals were conceived in order to augment India’s military power in the region and assert its primacy in the international system. Indira Gandhi administration used iron hand to deal with the issues of security concerns for India at national and regional level by using coercive military power. Intensity in engagement with external powers became guideline for conduct of foreign policy diplomacy. Military modernization of Indian armed force became corner stone of this emergent strategy. Conventional military superiority was conceived as a suitable military strategy to neutralise threats from external and internal secessionist movements. Conventional military modernization of India mainly involved ambitions plans for army, air force and naval modernization. Doctrinal changes were introduced at the tri-services level to materialize these military modernization plans. These plans were orchestrated to develop effective military capability of India in order to protect and promote Indian national interest and mitigate security threats emanating from “two and half fronts.” Indian military modernization during this era included development of national indigenous military arsenal build up mechanisms and foreign weapons procurement policy reforms. India entered into strategic partnership agreement with Russia in 1971 by signing treaty of friendship as a measure to address its security needs. India procured Russian M-35 MBT (Main battle tanks) and restructured Indian army into three main large strike corps in order to develop swift military attack capability and shock factors as ingredients of its conventional military strategy. India ambitiously started air force modernization plan for developing comprehensive air fire power. Fighter aircrafts of Russian origin were procured including Mig-aircrafts while imports of aircrafts from France and Britain remained as a major source of developing airpower capability of India. Indian navy modernization also gained momentum during this period. The Indian Ocean region was another major area of strategic interest for India. India apprehended security threats from presence of external powers in this region and tried to tighten its grip on Indian Ocean region. Development of Naval power capabilities to deter threats, defence interests and assert military power of India in Indian Ocean region was conceived essential and fulfilled through inducting first aircraft carrier in Indian Navy in 1968. India ambitiously started air force modernization plan for developing comprehensive air fire power. Fighter aircrafts of Russian origin were procured including Mig-aircrafts while imports of aircrafts from France and Britain remained as a major source of developing airpower capability of India. Indian navy modernization also gained momentum during this period. The Indian Ocean region was another major area of strategic interest for India India’s security apprehensions further aggravated during 1970’s after presence of US Naval fleet in Indian Ocean. At that time, India expressed detest for US presence in Indian Ocean region because of its conviction of having dominance in this region. This Indian Ocean domination was considered vital for security and economic interests of polity. India continued naval modernization by inducting submarines and naval war ships to augment strategic capability of Indian Navy. This strategy still guides Indian ambitions of blue water navy but now India conceives US as its partner in Indian Ocean due to common Chinese threat. On strategic modernization front, India went nuclear in 1974 under Indira Gandhi in order to assert national power of the country by acquiring strategic parity against China in order to transform their behaviour toward territorial disputes of Tibet. Nuclear weapons were deemed as legitimate currency of international power. India opted for strategic choice of acquiring nuclear weapons as most relevant approach to acquire irresistible strategic force by detonating nuclear bomb in 1974 using cod code name of smiling Budha. India expressed clear opposition to Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, which limits Nuclear weapons possession to five permanent members of UNSC. India stated this test of nuclear weapon as response to nuclear test of China but it endangered security of South Asia and instigated nuclear arms race in the region. India is the sole contributor to the “original sin” of introducing nuclear weapons in South Asia. India’s regional policy under Indira Gandhi was based on more realistic and militaristic orientation toward its neighbourhood. Indira Gandhi opted for bellicose national security and foreign policy in handing of affairs with regional states. Further, India signed bilateral treaty with Bangladesh in 1972 in order to bring country into its regional policy clout. India asserted its military power and expansionist ambitions in the region by forcefully annexing State of Sikkim in 1975. From 1975 to 1977, Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in the country after Aalabad High court ordered Indira’s accession to power as PM illegitimate because of violation of election laws. This emergency earned bad name for her administration and she lost 1977 elections but dramatically returned to power in 1980. Indira’s government deemed it legitimate to use force in settling of internal issues especially separatist tendencies in Kashmir, Punjab and Northern states. During 1980s, Indian armed forces presence increased in Jammu and Kashmir while used draconian laws to curb Kashmir liberation movement which fuelled resentment in Kashmir and forced them to convert their peaceful movement into armed struggle. In 1984, Indian army carried out operation Blue star and entered into Golden Temple to vacate the vicinity from the occupied armed Sikh insurgents which created country wide resentment and anger in Sikh community because they consider it violation and humiliation of their sacred place. Later on, this very incident became reason of her death as she was gun downed by her own Sikh guards in the very same year. This tragic demise brought an end to era of masculine security and foreign policy in India. This resulted in “two and half front” phenomenon as main security threat matrix of India. Third, the worldview of political elite mainly Nehru and Indira Ghani as India’s prime ministers played decisive role in strategic choices of India to modernize its armed forces and develop effective military capability to mitigate these threats. All these three factors resulted into more expansionist and interventionist regional security and foreign policy of India under Indira Gandhi as compared to Nehru. Military modernization remained fundamental security strategy during Indira’s era which still guides security policy outlines of India. The major fallout of this strategy is arms race, militarization and increased defence spending in South Asian states to maintain balance of power in the region which is inherently destructive phenomenon. The author holds an M Phil in international Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, October 29th 2018.