Can India Ever Become a Great Power?


Date and Time

January 12, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM January 11.


Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

It is now commonplace to think of India's rise as a great power as inevitable. The Indian economy has demonstrated impressive growth during the last twenty-five odd years; India remains one of the few large economies that continues to grow at high single-digit rates despite the global economic slowdown; Indian military capabilities are significant, impressive and expanding; and not surprisingly then, New Delhi seeks a place at the high tables of global governance. The United States has in recent decades placed a strategic bet on India, supporting its rise in the expectation that this will advance American interests in Asia and globally. But will India meet these expectations? In fact, can India become the great power that it seeks to be or is it always destined to remain a great power in waiting, forever promised but never arriving?

Tellis will address this question and its consequences for peace, prosperity and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region.   


Ashley J. Tellis is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues. While on assignment to the U.S. Department of State as senior adviser to the under secretary of state for political affairs, he was intimately involved in negotiating the civil nuclear agreement with India.

Previously, he was commissioned into the Foreign Service and served as senior adviser to the ambassador at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. He also served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia.

Prior to his government service, Tellis was senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and professor of policy analysis at the RAND Graduate School.

He is the author of India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture (RAND, 2001) and co-author of Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future (RAND, 2000). He is the research director of the Strategic Asia Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research and co-editor of the program’s thirteen most recent annual volumes, including this year’s Strategic Asia 2016–17: Understanding Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific. In addition to numerous Carnegie and RAND reports, his academic publications have appeared in many edited volumes and journals, and he is frequently called to testify before Congress.

Tellis is a member of several professional organizations related to defense and international studies including the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the United States Naval Institute, and the Navy League of the United States. He has earned a PhD and MA from the University of Chicago and an MA and BA from the University of Bombay. 

About the colloquia:

In 2014, Indian voters gave Narendra Modi and the BJP a mandate to accelerate India’s economic reforms and revitalize its foreign relations, in particular with the United States and with partners in East Asia. But the pace and depth of reforms and economic transformation have not met the high expectations, despite strong GDP performance. Economic growth remains uneven, job creation sluggish, and massive infrastructural and administrative problems continue to trouble many sectors of the economy. After twenty-five years of economic reforms, India’s potential as a new global industrial hub has still not been realized and its vast resources of labor and talent remain underdeveloped.

During the 2017 winter and spring quarters Shorenstein APARC and the Center for South Asia will host a series of lectures and discussions that explore what makes India democratic and dynamic, and the obstacles that prevent the country from realizing its enormous potential.

Also, in 2017, the next Global Entrepreneur Summit will be in India, sequel to the 2016 Stanford-hosted Summit. This colloquium will help prepare for that event by reaching out to scholars, students, interested stakeholders, business leaders and others in the Bay Area.

This colloquia is co-sponsored with the Stanford Center for South Asia