The title of this essay is a transliteration of a rustic Hindi proverb that captures one of the truths of human existence in a way that only a proverb can. Taken literally, the proverb says that ‘the one who owns the stick owns the buffalo’. Of course, proverbs are not meant to be taken literally — this particular proverb needs to be understood in the context of rural life in India where disagreements are all too often settled by rough and ready means. Seen from this perspective, the truer meaning of this proverb is that in this world of ours, ‘the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept’.1 I have chosen this proverb as the title for this essay because it accurately describes what two intellectual heavyweights of the Hindu nationalist movement, Vinayak Savarkar and Madhav Golwalkar, take the nature of international politics to be. Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for this use of the proverb. I must admit to having borrowed it from Golwalkar, who tells the story of the eminent Indian barrister N. C. Chatterjee declaring the proverb the first principle of international law.2 Nonetheless,

 I am grateful to Kanti Bajpai, Sunil Khilnani, Devesh Kapur, Prasenjit Duara, Srinath Raghavan, C. Raja Mohan, Bharat Karnad, Rahul Mukherji, and Siddharth Mallavarapu for their helpful comments on prior drafts. I am solely responsible for the content of this essay.