From the earliest of days, India’s way of dealing with the world has not changed. We have had, as our first and most important priority, the need to keep India one country.
Indians never attacked foreign countries for riches. Most of India’s wars were limited to internal squabbles — kingdoms attacking each other for larger shares of the sub-continent. The idea behind this was simple. Even though the land that is Bharata was rarely ever a single political entity, the idea of Bharata was always present in the back of everyone’s mind — the sense of the sacred homeland that our epics talked about and that our poets sang of. The land that all Indians have always thought of themselves as belonging to was bracketed by seas on two sides and by the Himalayas on the third.
It is perhaps because of this “sense” of India that even after India became a political entity under the Mauryas (and later again under other rulers), that India’s grand foreign policy strategy has been one of non-involvement with the rapidly-changing outside world. I have maintained for a long time now that that is a sensible way to go even today. A large part of the USA’s current troubles can be assigned to the fact that they poke their nose where it doesn’t belong, they try to change things to their liking, and they do all this by whatever means possible. India should most definitely NOT go down that path. India’s influence, throughout history, has spread through the good ideas that it produced and propagated. These ideas (religion, science, art) were never shoved down people’s throats. They were taken up by people from other lands because they were good ideas.
But for the Indian way to remain the same, it is also important that India remain what it has always been — an open and pluralist society that encourages variety and uniqueness. This is why that separatism is the worst kind of cancer India can suffer. We have already had a brutal cleaving in the form of the 1947 partition that gave rise to Pakistan. One might think that was lesson enough, but no, one would be wrong for thinking so.