Passage from India: Nagendra Singh’s India and international law
This article engages the effort by the eminent Indian international lawyer, Nagendra Singh, to establish the role of Indian international law – going back to ancient Indian interstate law – in the development of modern international law, particularly in his book of 1969, India and International Law. The article begins by examining Singh’s narrative of this special role with his focus on the growth of Indian law in terms of particular Indian sources and legal doctrines. The article also puts Singh in the context of other scholars both early in the twentieth century and in the 1950s and 1960s. Because Singh asserts the precedence of Indian international law, the article addresses not only his view of the unity of India but also which “India” he identifies – especially with a narrative that continues through Mughal India, and even through British India – and how his vision relates to a Nehruvian vision of India. The article then discusses the tension between the importance of peace and armed defense in Singh’s writing. Finally, the article addresses Singh’s approach to the colonial world and the position of the “new states” in the postwar international legal order. It places Singh within Chimni’s epithet for Indian scholars – coping with dualism. Overall, Singh worked very much within the existing international framework as represented in two volumes of Oppenheim’s classic treatise.