Indian Foreign Policy – its Principles and Objectives Notes

India’s Foreign Policy

India’s Foreign Policy regulates India’s relations with other states of the world in promoting its national interests. A number of factors such as geography, history and tradition, political organization, social structure, international milieu, economic position, military strength, public opinion, and leadership in different organizations determine India’s relations with other countries.

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Principles of Indian Foreign Policy

1. Promotion of world peace and security: The Foreign Policy of India aims to promote world peace and security. Article 51 of the Indian Constitution (Directive Principles of State Policy) directs the Indian states to promote international peace and security, maintain just and honourable relations among nations, encourage respect for international law and treaty obligations, and promote the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and arbitration. Besides, peace is necessary to promote the economic development of the nation. In the words of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, “Peace to us is not just a fervent hope; it is an emergent necessity.”

2. Anti-Colonialism: Indian Foreign Policy opposes colonialism and imperialism. India views that colonialism and imperialism lead to the exploitation of the weaker nations by the imperialist powers and affect the promotion of international peace and friendly relations. India advocated the liquidation of colonialism in all forms and supported the liberation movement in Afro-Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana, Namibia, and so on. Therefore, India supported and expressed her solidarity with the people of Afro-Asian nations in their struggle against colonial and imperialist forces like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal, and so on. India also opposed the present neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism.

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3. Anti-Racialism: Indian Foreign Policy is also against all forms of racialism. According to the Indian state, racialism which means discrimination between people on the basis of race, like colonialism and imperialism leads to exploitation of the blacks by the whites, social inequity, and hinders the promotion of world peace. India strongly criticized the policy of apartheid (racial discrimination) being followed by the white minority racist regime of South Africa. It even broke diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1954 as a protest against the policy of apartheid. Likewise, India has played an important role in liberating Zimbabwe (earlier Rhodesia) and Namibia from white domination.

4. Disarmament: The foreign policy of India is opposed to the arms race and advocates disarmament, both conventional and nuclear. India aimed to promote international peace and security by reducing or ending tensions that arise between two powerful blocs and to accelerate the economic development of the country by preventing the unproductive expenditure on the manufacture of arms. India has been using the UNO platform to check the arms race and to achieve disarmament. India took the initiative of holding a 6-Nations summit at New Delhi in 1985 and made concrete proposals for nuclear disarmament.

By not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBP) of 1996, India has kept its nuclear options open. India opposes NPT and CTBT due to their discriminatory and hegemonistic or dominant nature. They perpetuate an international system in which only five nations (USA, Russia, China, UK, and France – permanent members of the Security Council) can legitimately possess nuclear weapons.

5. Non-Alignment: After India became an Independent Nation in 1947, the world was divided into two powerful blocs on an ideological basis, namely the USA (the capitalist block) and the USSR (now Russia) as a communist bloc. In such a situation of a ‘cold war’, India decided not to join any of the two powerful blocs and refused to join and adopted a policy of non-alignment.

In this context, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru observed: “We propose to keep away from the power politics, aligned against one another which have led in the past to world war and which may again lead to a conflict or war between the two on an even vaster scale. He further said I feel that India can play a big part, and perhaps an influential part, in helping to avoid war. Therefore, it became all the more necessary that India should not be partnered up with any group of power which for various reasons are full of fear of war and prepare for war.

When we say that India follows a policy of non-alignment, it means that (i) India has no military alliances with countries either of the bloc or indeed with any nation, (ii) India has an independent approach to foreign policy, and (iii) India attempts to maintain friendly relations with all the other countries.

6. Panchsheel: Panchsheel implies the five principles of conduct in international relations. It was embodied in the Preamble of the India-China Treaty on Tibet, signed in 1954 by Jawaharlal Nehru and Chou-En-Lai, the Chinese Premier. The five principles are:

  1. Mutual respect for each other country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty;
  2. Non-aggression;
  3. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs;
  4. Equality and mutual benefit;
  5. Peaceful co-existence.

India perceived the Panchsheel or five principles as productive of peaceful cooperation of sovereign nations instead of the balance of terror and the degrading cold war tensions, being brought by the rival great power pacts and alliances. India gives an explanation based on the concept of universalism against the concept of the balance of power.

Panchsheel became very popular and many countries of the world like Burma, Yugoslavia, Indonesia and others adopted it. Panchsheel and non-alignment are the greatest contributions of Indian Foreign Policy to the theory and practice of international relations.

7. Afro-Asian Bias: Even though the Indian Foreign Policy stands for maintaining friendly relations with all the countries of the world, it has always exhibited a special bias towards the Afro-Asian nations. Indian Foreign Policy aims to promote unity among Afro-Asian nations and tries to secure for them a right to be heard and an influence in the international bodies. India has been seeking international aid and assistance for the economic development of these Afro-Asian countries. In 1947, India held the first Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi. In 1949, India brought together the Asian Countries on the burning issue of Indonesian freedom.

India played an important role in the formation of Group of 77 (1995), Group of 15 (1990), Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (1995), BIST Economic Cooperation (1997), and SAARC (1985). India earned the name of ‘Big Brother’ from many of the neighbouring countries.

8. Links with Commonwealth: In 1949 itself, India declared the continuation of her full membership in the Commonwealth of the Nations and the acceptance of the British Crown as the head of the Commonwealth. But, this extra-constitutional declaration does not affect the sovereignty of India in any manner as the Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent nations. It also does not affect the republican character of India because India neither pays final allegiance to the British Crown nor does the British Crown have any functions to discharge in relation to India.

India continued to be a member of the Commonwealth because of pragmatic or realistic reasons. It thought that membership in the Commonwealth would be beneficial to her in the economic, political, cultural and other spheres. It has been playing an important role at the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meet). In 1983, India hosted the 24th Commonwealth Summit in New Delhi.

9. Support to the UNO: India became a member of the UNO in 1945. Since then, it has been supporting and playing a very important role in different activities and programmes of UNO. It has expressed its full faith in the objectives and principles of UNO. Some of the facets of India’s role in UNO are:

  1. It is through the UNO that India embarked on the policy of fighting against colonialism, imperialism and racialism and now neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism.
  2. In 1953, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit of India was elected as the President of the UN General Assembly.
  3. India actively participated in the UN Peacekeeping missions in Korea, Congo, EL Salvador, Cambodia, Angola, Somalia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia and others.
  4. India continued to participate actively in the open-ended working groups of the UNO. India was the Co-chairman of the working group of the UNO which actively worked to strengthen the UN and submitted its report in 1997.
  5. Several times, India has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Now, India is demanding a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

What are the objectives of Indian Foreign Policy?

Indian Foreign Policy objectives are directed towards the realization of the following points:

  1. To protect India’s core national interests and concerns in a rapidly changing international environment by fostering support and understanding in the international community.
  2. To preserve the autonomy of the decision-making process and to play a pioneering role in the establishment of a stable, prosperous and secure global order.
  3. To strengthen the international campaign against terrorism this is a global threat.
  4. To build an international environment which is supportive of India’s rapid economic growth including higher investment, trade, access to technology and strengthening India’s energy security.
  5. To work closely with P-5 countries and to build strategic ties with the major powers such as the USA, the EU, Japan, Russia, and China.
  6. To intensify and strengthen ties with neighbours through mutually beneficial cooperation and by acknowledgement of each other’s legitimate concerns.
  7. To work for the realization of SAARC as an economically integrated region at peace with itself and engaged with the world.
  8. To ensure that cross-border terrorism is brought to an end and the entire infrastructure of terrorism operating from Pakistan is dismantled.
  9. To further the gains from India’s Act East Policy (erstwhile Look East Policy) and inspire substantive progress in several areas of common interest to India and ASEAN.
  10. To strengthen our ties with the countries of the Gulf region that has become home to over 4 million Indians and is a major source of oil and gas.
  11. To leverage economic growth through support to the activities of regional organizations like the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Mekong-Ganga Cooperation and trans-regional groupings like the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).
  12. To continue to work closely with regional groupings like the EU and G-20 to further India’s interests in the international arena.
  13. To reform and restructure the UN Security Council and espouse multi-polarity in a world order that respects the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention.
  14. To promote a more equitable equation between the developed and the developing world in the political, economic and technological domains.
  15. To work towards the goal of global nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework.
  16. To closely interact with the Indian diaspora on a continuing basis in order to strengthen their bonds with India and to recognize their pivotal role in India’s international relations.

Frequent Asked Questions

What is Indian Foreign Policy?

Indian Foreign Policy regulates India’s relations with other states of the world in promoting its national interests and the promotion of friendly relations among nations. A number of factors such as geography, history and tradition, political organization, social structure, international milieu, economic position, military strength, public opinion, and leadership in different organizations determine India’s relations with other countries.

Which article of the Indian Constitution directs to adopt Indian Foreign Policy?

Article 51 of the Indian Constitution (Directive Principles of State Policy) directs the Indian states to promote international peace and security, maintain just and honourable relations among nations, encourage respect for international law and treaty obligations, and promote the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and arbitration. Besides, peace is necessary to promote the economic development of the nation.

Who is the architect of Indian Foreign Policy?

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India was the architect of Indian Foreign Policy.

Name any two leaders who contributed for Indian Foreign Policy?

The two leaders who contributed to Indian Foreign Policy were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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