The Ethics of Excess and Indian Intervention in South Asia

Ralph Buultjensa1

RALPH BUULTJENS is Senior Professor at the New School of Social Research and teaches at New York University. He was awarded the prestigious Toynbee Prize for the Social Sciences (1984) and has written extensively on South Asia. His most recent book, Windows on India (New York: Express Books, 1987) was published in early 1988.


This article examines four interlinked historical aspects of intervention from a philosophic and ethical perspective. What are the dimensions of intervention and how is it managed? What conditions govern intervention? How can intervention be evaluated? What are the moral issues in intervention? India, the world's largest democracy, has promoted its power through intervention in neighboring countries under the cloak of morality. The United States, Great Britain, and Russia have nonetheless tacitly endorsed India's role as the policing force in the region. Does this recognition justify India's actions toward its weaker and smaller neighbors?