International Affair and Indian Foreign Policy.

What is Foriegn Policy

  • FP refers to the sum total of the principles, interests and objectives which a country formulates in conducting its relations with other countries
  • Serves to further the country’s interests beyond its frontiers
  • It is dynamic
  • Historical, geographical, political economic, cultural, ideological and other factors influence the formulation of nation’s FP

Aims of FP

  • Preservation of India’s territorial integrity and freedom of policy
  • The promotion of international peace
  • Economic development of India

Historical Development

  • Foreign relations of Guptas, Ashoka etc
  • INC established its own Foreign Affairs Department

1954: Panchsheel

  • Enunciated in the preamble to the “Agreement on trade and intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India”
  • Five priciniples
    • Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
    • Mutual non-aggression
    • Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
    • Equality and mutual benefit
    • Peaceful co-existence
  • The five principles were subsequently incorporated in modified form in a statement of ten principles at the Bandung Conference


  • NAM was established to “foster peace, equality, development and justice among member-countries. So it is a good time now to have a strong movement that would struggle for the defence of international law and the Bandung principles and try to adopt measures that would allow NAM to play the role for which it was formed.
  • It should devote time to debate on the impact of neo-liberal globalisation on the rest of the world. What is the impact of Western aggression and coercion on the sovereignty, independence and self-determination of independent countries

Shimla Agreement, 1972

  • ZA Butto and Indira Gandhi
  • Laid down the principles that should govern their future relations
  • Bound the two countries “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations”
  • The accord converted the 1949 UN cease-fire line into the Line of Control between India and Pak

Look East Policy

Gujral Doctrine

  • Set of five principles to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India’s immediate neighbours
    • With neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity but gives and accommodates what it can in good faith and trust
    • No South Asian country should allow its territory to be used against the interest of another country of the region
    • No country should interfere in the internal affairs of another
    • All SA countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
    • They should settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations
  • Criticism of GD
    • Based on a belief in the inherent goodwill of openly hostile neighbours
    • Ineffective to a large extent as there is little reciprocity

Nuclear Policy of India

  • Pokhran 1 and 2
  • For disarmament
  • Against discriminatory treaties
  • India’s nuclear doctrines <details elsewhere>

Principles of FP

  • Foundations of Indian FP laid during the freedom movement
  • Principles of India’s FP
    • Belief in friendly relations with all countries
    • Resolutions of conflicts by peaceful means
    • Sovereign equality of all states
    • Independence of thought and action as manifested in the principles of non-alignment
    • Equity in conduct of international relations
  • These principles manifested in the three Ps which form the core of our FP
    • Panchsheel
    • Pragmatism
    • Pursuit of national interest
  • Founding member of NAM
    • After the end of Cold War, our FP has been focused on strengthening the Movement by redefining its priorities in keeping with the changing times
  • Against colonialism and racism
    • India’s independence itself played the role of catalyst in liberation of other countries
    • India was the first country to raise the question of racial discrimination in SA in 1946
    • Bandung Conference gave specific call for a “common policy against imperialism and colonialism in all its manifestations”
    • AFRICA (Action for Resistance to Invasion, Colonialism and Apartheid) Fund set up at India’s initiative at the 8th NAM summit
    • These policies brought India closer to the African countries
  • Advocacy of general and complete disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament
    • India was a member of the Six-Nation Five-Continent joint initiative in 1980s to highlight concern about the unprecedented nuclear arms race
    • Opposed discriminatory treaties as the NPT and CTBT
  • UN
    • Founding member
    • Made significant contributions to its various activities
    • Participant in peace-keeping operations in Korea, Egypt, Congo and earlier in Somalia, Angola, Rwanda
    • Played an active role in the deliberations of the UN on the creation of a more equitable international economic order
    • Active member of G-77 and G-15
    • G-4

Challenges before India’s FP now

  • Neighborhood Policy
  • Nuclear Policy
  • Climate change
  • Maritime security
  • Terrorism
  • Economic stability
  • Equity in bodies like UN, IMF and WTO

These are elaborated either below or elsewhere.

Maritime dimension of India’s FP

  • Significance of oceans
    • Peninsular India has a long coastline
    • Oceans in S.India have moulded and set the course of the history of the people who inhabit it
    • The ocean also brought traders and colonizers.
  • Nehru had said: “We cannot afford to be weak at sea. History has shown that whoever controls the Indian Ocean has, in the first instance, India’s sea-borne trade at her mercy and, in the second, India’s very independence itself”.
  • India is naturally a maritime nation
    • Coastline of over 7500 kms
    • Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar chains
    • Our EEZ is more than 2.5 mn sq. Kms
  • Our bonds with the Indian Ocean are not merely geographical but of deeper civilizations significance
  • Economic significance
    • In absence of good regional land connectivity, the bulk of our trade is seaborne
    • 77% of our trade by value and over 90% by volume is carried by sea.
  • Maritime dimension essential for our energy security
    • India’s oil consumption is expected to rise to 245 mn tonnes annually by 2020
  • Maritime security
    • Sea-borne terrorist attacks of 26/11
  • Due to above reasons our foreign policy has to focus on these critical aspects of our national development and security

India’s maritime FP

  • India has a vision of the Indian Ocean unshackled from historical divisions and bound together in collective pursuit of peace and prosperity
  • As a mature and responsible nations, one of our foreign policy interests is to evolve a regional architecture based on the twin principles of shared security and shared prosperity
  • We have friendly bilateral relations with almost all the states in the Indian Ocean region
  • Maritime security is an important dimension of our relations with ASEAN countries, in particular Singapore and Vietnam
  • We have strong historical and civilizational ties with many of our maritime neighbours
  • Maritime security is emerging as an important element of our dialogue architecture with various countries
    • Periodic bilateral exercises
    • Information exchanges through maritime domain awareness
    • Sharing of best practices in areas such as search and rescue
    • Maritime safety, pollution control,
    • Maritime law enforcement – counter narcotics and counter piracy
    • Training, exercises and humanitarian assistance
    • Disaster relief
    • Exchange of views on promoting a regional security architecture that enhances maritime security
  • In addition to bilateral interactions, we are actively engaged with almost all regional bodies
    • SAARC
    • EAS
    • ARF
    • ASEAN
    • GCC
    • SADC to the African Union
  • Scourge of piracy off the Somali coast
    • Poses a serious problem for safety of maritime traffic as well as the well-being of crew members
    • Approximately $110 bn of our trade passes through the Gulf of Aden
    • At India’s specific instance the UNSC through resolution 1976 expressed serious concern over the piracy and hostage-taking off Somali coast
    • India is engaged with other countries on capacity building and consultations in the area of anti-piracy to devise measures for keeping open access points to avoid choking international trade
    • Indian Navy commenced anti-piracy patrols in Gulf of Aden from 2008
    • Since then, 25 Indian Navy ships have been deployed
    • In addition to escorting Indian flagged vessels, ships of other countries have also been provided protection
    • India is the founding member of the ‘Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’ (CGPCS) established in Jan 2009

Significant multilateral initiatives for maritime security

  • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)
    • Launched in Feb 2008
    • Provides a platform for all IOR littoral navies
  • ARF (ASEAN) has recognized that maritime security is an indispensible and fundamental condition for the welfare and economic security of the region
  • The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) is the first regional Government to Government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery at sea in Asia
  • The ASEAN+8 Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM Plus) Plus is a significant milestone in the evolving security architecture in the Asia Pacific region. The ADMM Plus has identified five areas of cooperation – maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), military medicine, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping operations.

Maritime Neighborhood policy

  • Issues like coastal security consolidation and fisheries cooperation are also very much within the domain of our foreign policy concerns

Parting note

  • our ability to shape our maritime security environment will require the development of a credible naval presence with adequate assets commensurate with our defence and security interests as well as those required to discharge the role and responsibility expected of India by the international community.
  • A flexible but proactive maritime doctrine is essential to safeguard and project our national interests overseas.

Key Priorities for India’s foreign policy

  • Values and ideals in India’s FP
    • Multilateralism
    • Peaceful coexistence
    • Justice
    • Freedom, equality and fraternity
  • A fundamental goal of India’s foreign policy is to promote our economic growth targets and ambitions in a conducive and a peaceful, stable, external environment
  • India placed in an extremely complex neighbourhood
  • Peaceful neighbours are required for the success of our efforts to accelerate domestic economic development
  • China
    • Policy of engagement
    • Despite boundary issue, rest of the issues are not affected by this factor alone
    • Collaborated usefully on a variety of multilateral issues.
  • Pakistan
    • Constant efforts to go back to the negotiating table to solve difficult issues
    • Relationship distorted and adversely impacted by the factor of CBT
  • Afghanistan
    • Aim of bringing peace and stability in that country
  • Bangladesh
    • Relations improved over last one year
  • Nepal
    • Peace process in progress
  • Sri Lanka
    • The end of the civil war has brought historic new opportunities for reconciliation between the Tamil and Sinhalese people and for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and economic development of the Northern and Eastern Provinces
    • Mahatma Gandhi called India, Sri Lanka’s ‘nearest neighbour’
  • Our neighbourhood policy in nutshell
    • Emphasises the advantages of building networks of inter-connectivity, trade, and investment so that prosperity can be shared
    • And so that the region can benefit from India’s rapid economic growth
  • Look East Policy
    • Resulted in India’s quick integration with SE & East Asia at the strategic, political, economic, cultural and people-to-people levels
  • UN
    • India has supported the process of reform and restructuring the UN
    • Non-permanent member from Jan 1 2011
    • As a NP member has focused on the need for resolution of conflict through reasoned negotiation and diplomatic means rather than the use of force
    • India is one of the oldest, largest and consistent contributors to the UN peacekeeping operations
  • Maritime policy
    • India has committed its full support to international anti-piracy efforts
    • Founder member of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS)
    • Indian Navy also coordinates and shares operational information with other Navies under the Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) mechanism
  • Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
    • India committed to the goal of global, universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, as outlined in the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan.
    • India will be able to contribute to enhancing international efforts through full membership, which we seek to achieve, of multilateral export regimes like the NSG, the MTCR, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement
  • Climate Change
    • Principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities
  • In conclusion
    • India’s foreign policy is an amalgam of national interests, our conviction that inclusive structures of dialogue and cooperation to address the new dimensions of security threats are necessary
    • That institutions of global governance like the UN should reflect current realities
    • Dynamism and energy of the Indian economic growth story must be shared with our region
    • To sustain our growth trajectory we need an environment that is free from transnational threats like terrorism





India often looks perched between its previous role as a champion of the non aligned movement and a future role as a big, or indeed great power. It is an awkward balancing act. Comment


A country of India’s size, with the security challenges that we face, the convulsions of economic growth and development, the need to be open to the outside world in order to attract technology, knowledge, ideas, capital – this is a different India. This is an India that has grown, that has matured, that has evolved and that is really very alert to the surrounding environment, whether it is the immediate periphery or whether it is the larger global environment in which we are placed.

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