Determinants of Indian Foreign Policy

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Determinants of Indian Foreign Policy:

Determinants of Indian Foreign Policy Dr. Punit Gaur


Introduction Meaning: The foreign policy of a country is the sum total of the principles , interests and objectives which it seeks to promote through its relations with other countries. It is also " for influencing and changing the behaviour of other states " and for ' adjusting ' its own " activities to the international environment ". So, "the conduct and formulation of foreign policy is governed by the interplay of numerous determinants, institutions, processes and personalities". According to Business, foreign policy is plan of action adopted by one nation in regards to its diplomatic dealings with other countries. Foreign policy is established as a systemic way to deal with issues that may arise with other countries. In the modern era, no country can afford to live in isolation in this age of interdependence .

Indian Foreign Policy:

Indian Foreign Policy Indian Foreign Policy had its roots in the thought process of the leaders of our renaissance in the late 19 th century and of the national freedom movement during the first four decades of the 20th century. By late 18th century Indian leaders realized, in order to be placed in the harmony of nations India needs to redefine her geopolitical identity and cultural individuality. Initially cross-cultural and cross linguistic connections with colonial powers like the British, the French, the Portuguese and to some extent Danish and Dutch made the Indian elite aware of the world beyond its traditional political and diplomatic relations, which was limited to Turkey at one end and South East Asia at the other hand.


Historical Overview: The first phase of India’s developing an international consciousness and acquiring aspirations to become part of the modern world is related to Raja Rammohan Roy who was the earliest to impressively articulate the need for India to be a part of the modern world. Earlier leaders of the Brahmo Samaj Movement had advocated India’s modernization and establishing relations with other countries. The second phase in the evolution of India’s international consciousness dates back to the aftermath of Indian revolution of 1857. This was followed by the birth of Indian national Congress in 1885, which has shaped India’s attitude towards the rest of the world. In the post World War I international conferences and deliberations India being allowed a role of founding member of League of Nations have intensified India’s international consciousness and initiated Indian experience in foreign relations. The third phase can be seen in the period between 1920 and 1946 when fundamental terms of reference for independent India’s foreign policy were formulated. Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi’s influence was the predominant factor in this process. While Gandhiji defined the framework for Indian foreign policy, Nehru fashioned its orientations and details.

Determinants of Indian Foreign Policy:

Determinants of Indian Foreign Policy The ideology and political traditions of a country influences its foreign policy substantially. More so for a country like India whose political traditions evolved during the nationalist movement against British colonialism. Apart from anti-imperialist orientation, which is a natural outcome of anti-colonial struggle, the Gandhian values of non-violence and peace, Nehruvian values of dignity and respect in international relations provided strong foundations for guiding India’s foreign policy. The following section will discuss some of the issues related to determinants of India’s foreign policy: IDEALIST VIEW OF POLITICS AND POWER IDEALIST APPROACH TO INTERNATIONALISM PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE/ PANCHASHIL NON-ALIGNMENT POLICY ANTI-IMPERIALISM AND ANTI-RACIALISM ASIANISM REJECTION OF WESTERN DEMOCRACY AND COMMUNISM

Goals of Indian Foreign Policy:

Goals of Indian Foreign Policy The making of foreign policy is essentially an exercise in the choice of ends and means on the part of a nation-state in an international setting. It is necessary, first of all, to formulate a broad end or goal which will give a sense of purpose and direction to foreign policy. In this broader perspective, India’s foreign policy strived to attain some basic goals to secure territorial, political and human security of the country. Security: Securing the borders and lives of the people is the most important responsibility of any nation-state. Hence, security becomes the most primary goals of foreign policy of any country; so is India’s. From international relations perspective, security implies external threat to territorial integrity; on this count India has bitter experiences as it fought many bitter wars with Pakistan, and one major war with China.


Economic development: Ever since India became independent, the political leadership always focused on economic development of the country. There is broad consensus at present in India that the country’s single most important goal is to become the world’s third largest economy by 2025 and, concurrently, also emerge as one of the key global political and security actors in the evolving multipolar world. Searching for Identity: Apart from those above mentioned goals which are vital for any country’s national interest, India also always striving to attain its own identity, rather than swayed by one or the other kind of influences. The non-alignment policy of India is an example for quest for own identity. India never became member of any security pacts, never became part of military alliances and never associated blindly with one superpower during Cold War period. Respectful Position among Community of Nations: A country like India, which is known for its civilization history, rich traditions and political values, is always respected in international forums. Securing friendly Neighbourhood : Another important goal of India’s foreign policy from the beginning was having friendly relations with all the neighbouring countries.

Objectives of Indian Foreign Policy:

Objectives of Indian Foreign Policy The dominating ideology of India’s freedom struggle undoubtedly got reflected in its post-independence foreign policy. While formulating India’s foreign policy, the policy makers put the national interest at the core of it, along with the strategy to carve out an independent role for it in world politics. Accordingly, following objectives attained most important positions in India’s foreign policy: Protecting Indian Citizens Settle and secure international borders Combating Nuclear Threats Securing sea lanes Combating global threats through combined actions Maintaining cordial relations with major powers Securing favourable conditions in multilateral forums Energy security Deepening Relations With Countries That Supply Military Hardware Playing a critical role in India’s extended neighbourhood

Principles of Indian Foreign Policy:

Principles of Indian Foreign Policy PRINCIPLES IN EARLY PERIOD OF INDEPENDENCE PROMOTION OF INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING AND WORLD PEACE NON-ALIGNMENT PANCH-SHEEL PROMOTION OF REGIONAL COOPERATION PRINCIPLES IN THE POST-REFORM PERIOD First, recognition that India’s relations with the world – both major powers and Asian neighbours – are increasingly shaped by India’s developmental priorities. The single most important objective of Indian foreign policy has to be to create a global environment conducive to the well-being of a great country.


Second, that greater integration with the world economy will benefit India and enable people to realize their creative potential. Third, India seeks stable, long term and mutually beneficial relations with all major powers. India are prepared to work with the international community to create a global economic and security environment beneficial to all nations. Fourth, India recognizes that the Indian sub-continent’s shared destiny requires greater regional cooperation and connectivity. Towards this end, India focuses on strengthening regional institutional capability and capacity and invests in connectivity. Fifth, India’s foreign policy is not defined merely by its interests, but also by the values which are very dear to Indian people.


Conclusion The broader direction to the India’s foreign policy evolved much before India achieved its independence, during the period of anti-colonial nationalist movement. The ideology, goals, objectives and principles of India’s foreign policy strongly reflect the core values that emerged as guiding principles for the development of modern India. Hence, anti-imperialism anti-racialism, strong solidarity between Afro-Asian countries, non-alignment, peaceful coexistence, peaceful resolutions of international problems, strong adherence to United Nations Charter, friendly neighbourhood relations, etc. are part of these core values. However, since foreign policy of any country strongly determined by its national interest, throughout the post-independence period, the political leadership of India always tried balance these core values with the pragmatic interests. Hence, Indian foreign policy strongly guided both idealistic and realistic assumptions.

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