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PSIR 2A-6.1 National Interest – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] National Interest is an essentially contested concept. Comment. [2022/10m/150w/1e]

The idea of national interest is based on a world that is an inter-state system where states are the primary, unitary and rational actors.

The notion of national interest has no such universally grounded or accepted definition precisely because it is always defined subjectively. While Morgenthau claims that interest is defined as power, As per Waltz, the primary national interest for every state is its security. However, both power and security are themselves notoriously vague and open-ended notions not subject to universally accepted definitions or understandings, let alone precise elucidations.

The task of defining national interest becomes more cumbersome as domestic and international activities overlap. It is appropriate if national interest is seen as a synthesis of objective and subjective approaches. In most nation-states, the iron law of oligarchy is prevalent, implying that governmental decisions are made only by a few men and women. These decisions taken by a few elites are generalized as the opinion of the whole population, hence the idea of national interest gives legitimacy to the opinion and decisions of a few people.

To sum up we can say that the definition of national interest relies on the stand taken by a particular person about various pairs of extremes such as ideals versus self-interest, idealists versus realists, short-term and long-term concerns, and traditional and individual concerns. [220 words]

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