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  • Writer's pictureLAWGIC STRATUM

India’s Foreign Policy Since 1947

Author: Sana Shaikh


Adolf Hitler once said, “When diplomacy ends, the War begins”. For this very purpose, every country has to make its own foreign policy. Foreign Policy helps the country to protect its integrity, sovereignty, and identity country at the global level.

Foreign Policy is determined by multiple factors. Such as the time of country’s origin, its’ Geography, History, Environment, Peoples’ belief and expectations, neighbors and geopolitical relations with friends, etc.

According to Farid Zakaria, “Foreign Policy is a matter of cost and benefits, not theology.”A Foreign policy is considered as a plan of action and is essential for the development of the nation. The Foreign Policy of a nation is further divided into domestic as well as foreign ground. In the era of Globalization, no nation can exist in an isolated one. Security, economic growth, environmental issues, etccreate the nation slates to collaborate and co-exist together. As a result of these bilateral, tri-lateral as well as multi-lateral relations build up between and among the nations.

Foreign Policy of India

In the Indian context, the basic principles of Indian Foreign Policy had been evolved during the British Regime. Jawaharlal Nehru,the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Independent India was the architect of India’s Post Independence Foreign Policy. He laid down the cardinal principles and basic approaches of India’s Foreign Policy.

In 1947, the world was facing two risingsnamely the USA, the capitalist bloc, and USSR, the socialist bloc. Both the blocs were trying their best to influence other countries. India had just got freed from clutches of slavery and was in no mood to fall into any conflict now and wanted economic development. Hence, Jawaharlal Nehru devised the NAM Policy. NAM stands for the Non-Alignment Movement. In 1947, Nehru said, “We propose as far as possible to keep away from the power politics of groups, aligned against one another.” India’s policy of non-alignment was positive,dynamic neutralism, in which the country acts independently, and its position on each international issue is on the merit of the case. NAM was an anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement. The basic thrust of the movement is in favor of peace, disarmament, development, independence, eradication of poverty, and illiteracy. It is by far the most foundational contribution by Nehru to India’s foreign policy.

Anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, and anti-racialism constituted the kernel of Nehru’s Foreign Policy. During the next phase of the development of India’s Foreign Policy from 1955 to 1962, it began to tilt towards the communist bloc. There were a few factors responsible for this change. Pakistan had joined the western bloc in 1954. It concluded a military alliance with the United States and later joined South East Asia Treaty Organization(SEATO) and Baghdad Pact. The pact aimed to protect Pakistan against communism as they say. India opposed the American Aid as it would further complicate the situation in Kashmir. This brought India even closer to USSR. USSR backed India inthe Kashmir dispute by taking a pro-Indian stand in UN Security Council declaring unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir as a major supplier of arms and military equipment to India, and also played a leading role for the public sector industrialization, especially in the heavy industry.

On the neighborhood front,India has centuries-old cultural and economic relations with China. The Indian National Congress extended its moral support to China against imperialism. India was the first country to recognize the new People’s Republic of China led by Mao Tse Tung, on 30 December 1949. India pressed for the representation of China in the UN Security Council. Despite these genuine gestures, the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet in 1950. This event shocked India.

Later, in June 1954, the Chinese Premier visited India and formalized the famous five principles, popularly known as the Panchsheel to harmonize and regulate the bilateral relations between the two countries. As we saw, the agreement was brutally violated now and then.

In 1996, Gujral Doctrine was devolved by I.K. Gujral, the 12th Prime Minister of India. The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles to guide and recognize the supreme importance of friendly, cordial relations with immediate neighbors.

After that, India saw strong nuclear growth under the Vajpayee Government. On 11 May 1998 at 3:45 p.m. India conducted three underground tests in succession at Pokhran. With these tests, Shakti 1-V, India had become a nuclear-weapons state.This completed process that Indira Gandhi began in October 1974. This was a quantum leap for India under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Foreign Policy.

Under Manmohan Singh’s leadership as Prime Minister, efforts were made to improve the India-Pakistan relations. But as history is evident, it was a fruitless indeed. Since 2014, we are witnessing a New India emerging via PM Narendra Modi’s Foreign Policy and initiatives. Today, we again see two blocs at the forefront namely the USA and China. However, India aims to become self-reliant and self-sufficient now.


To sum up, Indian Foreign Policy is a combination of the mind of the ruling leader and sub-conscious of the Indian citizens. This is meticulously articulated by the diplomats of India.It is truly said that “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age.When Shri Krishna reached Hastinapur as the ambassador of 5 Pandavas, he ensured the aversion of war with the right choice of words and followed the principle of denial of war. This teaches us that every Indian Diplomat must ensure he is equipped with words to avoid swords. Only then India’s Foreign Policy will reach its’ zenith. Am I right or Am I right folks?





4. Indian History for Civil Services by Chronicle Publication, page no 363.

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