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Indian International Law: From a Colonized Apologist to a Subaltern Protagonist

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2010


Indian responses to international law have now seen three generations of scholarship. A decade into its independence, India began playing its role in what has retrospectively been referred to as Third World approaches to international law (TWAIL). The early 1990s witnessed the rise of TWAIL II. Armed with interdisciplinarity and inspired by the subaltern pathology of the state in the 1970s, TWAIL II scholars barged into areas with approaches never seen before. Bhupinder Chimni alone discovered six perspectives of international law from India. My article picks up from where Professor Anand has left off and adds a seventh ‘tribal’ tale to Chimni's six. It is also argued that the category ‘Third World’ needs redefinition, as pockets of poverty are increasingly betraying geography. Indian law schools have also been evaluated vis-à-vis promotion of TWAIL. The paper covers, as comprehensively as possible, approaches and issues, direct or collateral, regarding an international law from India.

Copyright © Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law 2010

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78 Ibid., at 87.

79 See Singh and Singh, supra note 19.

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87 Ibid., at 1.

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90 See supra note 20.

91 C. Miéville, Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (2005).

92 M. Koskenniemi, ‘What Should International Lawyers Learn from Marx?’, 17 (2004) LJIL 229.

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94 Chimni, supra note 20; see also B. S. Chimni, ‘Marxism and International Law: A Contemporary Analysis’, Economic and Political Weekly, 6 February 1999, 337.

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97 Ibid., at 370.

98 Ibid., at 370.

99 Chimni, supra note 20, at 22.

100 Ibid., at 22.

101 Chimni, supra note 53.

102 Government of India, The Constitution of India (1950), available at (last visited 20 September 2009).

103 See this information at UNHCR: The United Nations Refugee Agency, available at,463af2212,4974807f2,49749d133c,0.html (last visited 16 September 2009).

104 ECJ, Commission of the European Communities v Ireland, Case C-459/03, [2006] ECR 7.

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106 Chimni, supra note 18.

107 Chimni, supra note 95, at 14.

108 M. Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument (2005).

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111 Overview, American Society of International Law, available at (last visited 11 May 2009).

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113 P. B. Mehta, ‘Century of Forgetting’, Indian Express, 16 June 2009, 10.

114 See, for a very good account of the Indian position on various aspects of international law, from trade and human rights to the ICJ, B. Patel (ed.), India and International Law (2005).

115 While the National Law Institute University, Bhopal, after two failed attempts, is finally slated to publish the Indian Law Review after 12 years (call for papers available at (last visited 12 December 2009)), it is far from publishing an interdisciplinary international law journal. Nonetheless, the Bhopal law school has been relatively successful in producing mooters who have participated in major international law competitions because such efforts are fully student-driven with minimum faculty involvement. All the other Indian law schools have been able to publish at least one law journal. The National Law School of India Review is the oldest law school publication, run by students of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, for the last 21 years. The Indian Journal of Constitutional Law, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, and the Journal of Indian Law and Society of the W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata both have a very high-quality review process. Schools recently established in Patna, Lucknow, and Raipur have also begun to publish. Indian private law schools have also taken up the challenge of journal publication. The Jindal Global Law School started an international-quality law review, the Jindal Global Law Review, in 2009 and the KIIT Law School, Bhubaneswar, is about to publish a yearly multidisciplinary journal named Journal of Law and Human Sciences (information available at (last visited 26 November 2009)). Another peer-reviewed publication, the Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy (IYBILP), is forthcoming in March 2010 (see as an endeavour of academics and researchers based in India who felt that the Indian Journal of International Law (IJIL) was not serving the complete purpose for which it was originally envisaged. The IYBILP is the only recognized international law review in India to have come up after the IJIL and is certainly a step in the promotion of TWAIL III scholarship. An exhaustive list of journals based in India is available at (last visited 26 November 2009).

116 The Indian Society of International Law was established in 1959 for the teaching, research, and promotion of international law with the Indian Journal of International Law (IJIL) as its flagship journal. See However, given India's size we need many more journals that provide space for Indian international law. The IJIL's articles display an understandable hide-and-seek with quality of research and interdisciplinarity. Clearly, the Indian contributions to the IJIL are sometimes, in my view, well below the international interdisciplinary academic standards.

117 Further, from 2008 the Chinese Journal of International Law, available at (last visited 20 September 2009), is included in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), ensuring even wider visibility.

118 A. Nandy, Alternative Sciences: Creativity and Authenticity in Two Indian Scientists (2001), 14.

119 Ibid., at 14.

120 Chimni, supra note 18, at 4.

121 Chatterjee, supra note 7, at 57.

122 See, e.g., A. Nandy, The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self (2000), 86–7.

123 A. Nandy, ‘The Uncolonized Mind: The Post-colonial View of India and the West’, in Nandy, supra note 12, at 71’.