India got its independence in 1947. The world was in a chaotic state at that time and recovering from the after effects of World War II. Being newly independent, India needed an effective foreign policy to efficiently deal with the outside world. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, laid its foundation.
What is foreign policy?
Before going into Indian foreign policy, it is important to understand the concept of foreign policy.
- Foreign policy is a set of rules that a country follows to manage its international relations while keeping its own national interests in mind.
- Foreign policy has both positive and negative aspects. Creating alliances and fostering cooperation in different sectors, etc., are positive aspects. The negative aspects include the aggressive nature of China and Russia.
- Along with this, keeping no relations with a country also falls under foreign policy. For example, India keeps no relations with North Korea, at least not on a government level.
Objectives of Indian foreign policy
The basis and objectives of any policy are two sides of the same coin. To set an objective, we must have a base. It is described below…
- The geography of a country is very important. India is a vast land containing diverse geographical features. It has mountains, plateaus, plains, and deserts and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean on three sides.
- India has always followed the “neighborhood first” policy and tried to establish friendly relations with its neighbors, but sometimes aggressive neighbors cause problems. Maintaining peace with other countries decreases expenditure in the defense sector, and that money could be used for development inside the country.
- India’ shares very long borders with Pakistan and China. These borders need to be properly secured because we have border disputes with both Pakistan and China, which cause disturbance. Bangladesh also shares a border, which becomes a cause for illegal immigration. so it should also be secured.
- Then we have the seas. Indian Ocean is becoming a gateway for world trade, just like Atlantic Ocean was in the earlier days. India should increase its presence there. India will have to secure choke points and try to get other strategic locations to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean.
2. Ideology and culture
- India has always followed the policy of “Vasudev Kutumbkam,” which means that the entire world is our family. India works to maintain peace in the world. India keeps full faith in the United Nations and takes part in the peacekeeping activities of the UN Security Council. whenever a need arises.
- India is a democratic country governed by its constitution, and so India promotes democracy. It also opposes colonization very strictly and has raised the voice for colonies. India is also against dictatorship and opposes it.
India speaks up for human rights and freedom. India knows its importance and value since it has sought it for two centuries. India has always been against racial, caste, creed, and other types of discrimination.
- At the time of India’s independence, the Indian economy was very weak. The British destroyed Indian industries in two centuries. In this poor state, India needed good partners for mutual benefit.
- India did that excellently by balancing both blocks of the bipolar world. Even today, sometimes India keeps its economic interests above everything else; for example, India kept buying oil from Russia during the Ukraine and Russia wars, even after mounting pressure from the west.
India is a big economy in the modern world. It needs markets for trade and also imports. So India maintains good relations with countries that are beneficial to India.
The history of a country also affects its foreign policy. India was partitioned during its independence and its relations with Pakistan Never became excellent And the biggest reason for this is the Kashmir issue. Secondly, India had a great role in the division of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Hence, Pakistan never forgot it, and Bangladesh became a good friend of India.
- As far as Nepal and Sri Lanka are concerned, India has always tried to keep them away from China due to their strategic locations and India’s long relations with them from the ancient times, which helps.
If we move outside South Asia, India has long historic ties with Iran, the Arab world, China, and even many countries in Europe. Trade between these countries has been going on for a long time. Even today, even after showing aggression toward India, China is India’s largest trading partner. So a lot depends upon historic relations while making foreign policy.
6. Nationalism and internationalism
- India has always been a very positive player in geopolitics. India’s foreign policy works for maintaining peace, and during the Cold War, India became one of the founding members of the Nonalignment Movement (NAM). MAM saved India from directly getting attached to any one block. NAM also played a role in calming the tension between the two superpowers. Indian foreign policy has advocated arms control and disarmament.
Today, the soft power of India has increased greatly. Being the fourth-most powerful country in the world in terms of military power and the second-largest market, just after China, everyone wants India on its side. The US and its allies are desperately trying to create distance between India and Russia, but they haven’t succeeded much. Although India is a bit pro-US after the Cold War, its objective is to keep relations with both superpowers because it’s in India’s national interest.
Features of Indian Foreign Policy
The main features of Indian foreign policy are described below:
1.Faith in world peace: India promotes world peace and always speaks against wars. Many times, India has taken part in peacekeeping activities of the UN. Indian foreign policy always lays emphasis on solving matters diplomatically first and keeping wars as a last resort.
2. Non-alignment: During the Cold War, Pandit Nehru introduced the idea of non-alignment. Countries that joined this movement decided not to get attached to either the US or the USSR. All the MM has lost much of its significance, but India is still managing to walk on the same track.
3. Panchsheel: This idea, given by Pandit Nehru, is at the core of India’s foreign policy. India establishes relations with other countries based on these five points…
- Respecting each other’s sovereignty
- Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
- Working for mutual benefit
- Peaceful coexistence
- Opposing colonization, imperialism, and racial discrimination: India was ruled by the British for 200 years and faced these issues. So naturally, India opposes these things on an international level.
- Disarmament: The arms race that began the Cold War was becoming very dangerous for the world. So the idea of disarmament came into existence. Indian foreign policy has supported it since. Many treaties were signed, which helped build trust between the two superpowers and brought down the heat. Cold War.
- Faith in the United Nations: India keeps full faith in the United Nations. It is one of its founding members. India follows the rules made by the United Nations, and it is an important member of the UN Security Council.
- Afro-Asian unity: India believes that Asia and Africa should come together to stand up against the capitalist western world. Asia and Africa have lots of developing and underdeveloped countries that could be easily exploited by the West. So they need to unite for economic interests.
- National interest: in the end, national interest overrides everything else sometimes. A country can only do something good for the world if it survives, so we have to become a bit realistic at times for survival. Pokhran, a nuclear test conducted by India in 1998, is one such example.
India’s foreign policy is very balanced. It advocates peace, nonalignment, disarmament, cooperation, etc. It teaches how a country can get along with the world without joining any salad. It’s so good that even Imran Khan, who is the former prime minister of Pakistan (India’s enemy country), has praised it.
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