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One of Malhotra’s key research interests is the competition of civilizations in a world of increasingly scarce resources, and what role India will play in this encounter.  Malhotra posits that three civilizations, each with its own distinct history, sense of purpose, identity and grand narrative are competing for leadership on the global stage: China, Pan-Islam, and the West.  He proposes three scenarios under which India is likely to participate.  In the first, India’s subnation identities become aligned with these external civilizations on religious and ideological grounds, and India’s cohesion as a nation state is eroded.  In the second scenario India’s culture spreads globally as pop culture but the Indian nation-state disappears.  In the third, India emerges as a nation-state with its culture intact and helps the world.

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