Indian foreign policy - A short glimpse


India has long history of foreign policy in making. The determinants of foreign policy dates back to 300 BC. Most of us would be interested in knowing what might have really went into minds of our foreign policy executives. This articles provides a glimpse into the exciting world of foreign policy history.

Every country foreign policy is determined by its own domestic consideration and aspirations. Indian foreign policy too evolved in the same manner. Indian foreign Policy is historic and prudent realism. India's first foreign minister who also happened to be Economic minister was Kautilya. He was Chief Minister cum adviser to Chandra Gupta Maurya. He had foreign and domestic and economic policy departments under his Head He laid the foundation for Indian foreign policy. His foreign policy was Prudent Realism. He laid the foundation for the first All India Empire in India. He was instrumental in placing Chandra Gupta Maurya on throne. He made Sindhu region as India's frontier and signed India's first bilateral treaty with Selcus Nikator, Emperor. A very prudent treaty indeed. The battle was won by mauryas but he made sure the politics of revisionism to not take place and signed a treaty which was acceptable to Selecus Nikator. This ensured a peaceful 100 more years until fall of Ashoka.

The above treaty has been the source of our foreign policy till recently. The border decided by Kautilya was prudent. He made sure Sindhu, a prosperous region under Indian control but carefully made preparation not to cross Hindu Kush. This policy was similarly follwed by two other All India Empires in India namely "Mughals" and "Britsh India".

Independence – The real test

This thousand year policy dealt a hard blow when India was partitioned. Indian natural borders became broken and the new Border remained Weak. India's first Prime Minister took Idealistic realism at his hand to meet the new challenge. He took a series of measures to shape Indian foreign policy with mixed success.

Non- Alignment

Indian first policy to be decided was to join which side "The communistic block or Capitalistic block". The decision was bit tough. Indian capitalist were too naive to compete with global goods while Russia initially was reluctant to support Indian cause. Nehru though a communist in every sense couldn't impose communism for the simple reason that the political reason was not ripe. It may lead to dictatorship in a highly divided country and Nehru clearly saw he couldn't handle it. Nehru's India took to non alignment with Panch Sheel
Looking from today many young people see that as an unrealistic and too much idealistic. They wish India could have easily joined one or the block to get access to capital, support. But India was very young and could have become a puppet.

The Panch Sheel which are:
  • Mutual cooperation
  • Non interference in internal affairs.
  • Self reliance.
  • Mutual non aggression.
  • Mutual respect for Sovereignty.

    These are not mere Ideals, but a clear prudent realism. These enabled India to get enough time to deal with domestic issues. India took issue based sides. India opposed US war on Korea and at the same time Russian aggression. India didn't shy away to oppose British aggression against Egypt. This policy increased India's stature in world affairs and India slowly emerged in economy.

    Gujaral doctrine.

    India for long happily loved Russian help but at the same time maintaining Non alignment. India wielded enormous influence in world affairs. Indira Gandhi's foreign policy was marred by Pakistan war. But Indian foreign policy needed a shift to new realities after fall of Soviet Union. India took to eastern countries. But they demanded favors for being neglected so long.
    India at the time was under Gujaral, a career diplomat. He framed the famous Gujaral doctrine- "India's only answer to Chinese and US Big brother attitude. Slowly India started giving unilateral concessions to bring neighbors into fold. But Gujaral doctrine couldn't be extended to Pakistan due to Political reasons and Gujaral didn't survive long to fructify it. India must start developmental activities in nearby countries and expect less in return.


    Post Congress years.

    India slowly got non congress parties coming power to centre. Foreign policy become more about only realism and short term goals. Be it Pakistan or Palestine. Indian approach became fueled by emotions. India became more tactical in its approach. Indian foreign policy with developed nation became all about FDI, revisionism with Pakistan and tit for tat with China. Indian leaders needed will power to see the shift and guide along in challenging in years ahead.


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