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Chapter 2 Factors Shaping India's Foreign Policy INTRODUCTION We have explained in Chapter 1 that geography, history, traditions, culture, economic development, military strength and international environment are important determinants of the foreign policy. These factors have played important role in the formulation of India's foreign policy also. India has the heritage of an ancient civilization and culture. The foreign policy that India formulated after independence reflected our cu
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  Chapter Factors Shaping India s Foreign Policy INTRODU TION We have explained in Chapter 1 that geography, history, traditions, culture, economic development, military strength and international environment are important determinants of the foreign policy. These factors have played important role in the formulation of India s foreign policy also. India has the heritage of an ancient civilization and culture. The foreign policy that India formulated after independence reflected our culture and political tradition. Our foreign policy makers had before them the teachings of Kautilya, the realist, who had recognized war as an important instrument of power and foreign policy. They were also impressed by the Buddhist traditions of Ashoka, the Great, who advocated peace, freedom and equality. Nehru opted for Ashoka s tradition and incorporated even in the Directive Principles of State Policy, the ideals of international peace, and pacific settlement of international disputes. India s foreign policy is determined largely in accordance with the ideals of our freedom struggle, Gandhian philosophy and the fundamental principle of Indian tradition of  Vasudhaixa utumbkam  (the world as one family). The personality of Nehru has had a direct impact. The domestic milieu reflecting communal, caste, regional and linguistic differences continues to dominate the policy making in the foreign office in South Block. Our neighbouring country is constantly working to destabilize India. We have a large common frontier with China with whom the long standing border dispute still exists. Cold War politics was also an important determinant of India s policy. India achieved independence on August 15, 1947. That immediately necessitated foreign policy making by this country. India became a member of international community comprising sovereign countries. India s independence initiated the process of decolonization, and India decided to support all anti-  14  Foreign Policy of India colonial, anti-imperialist struggles. Yet, India's foreign policy is largely based on her history and culture. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Nehru had said in March 1950: It should not be supposed that we are starting on a clean slate. It is a policy which flowed from our recent history, and from our national movement and its development and from various ideals we have proclaimed. Even before the attainment of independence, India was given some voice in world affairs. This was done (a) by the British Government on behalf of India and (b) by the Indian National Congress by way of resolutions adopted from time to time. The India Office in London spoke for India on international developments. Although a dependency of Britain, India was invited to become a Member of the League of Nations. The views of India were, of course, not reflective of Indian public opinion. The Secretary of State for India (a member of British cabinet) decided the position to be taken by India. Later, India was represented at the San Francisco Conference in 1945, and having signed the UN Charter became srcinal member of the United Nations. Indian National Congress in 1892 criticized the Government for increasing military expenditure for imperialist objectives. The Congress took an anti-British position on the Khilafat issue soon after the First World War. During 1920-27 Congress evolved its foreign policy approach thus: Indians would support freedom struggles of other dependent peoples; India would cooperate with all peace loving countries: India would oppose racial discrimination and apartheid; India would oppose colonialism and imperialism all over the world; and she would oppose imperialist wars, and would work for world peace. An independent foreign affairs department was set up by the Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. He led it throughout. Nehru represented the Congress at the Brussels Conference (1927) against imperialism. He later visited the Soviet Union also. The Congress leadership opposed Japan for its aggression against Manchuria province of China. The Congress openly opposed Fascism and Nazism. In 1936, a resolution adopted by the Congress expressed solidarity with Abyssinia which had been attacked and later conquered by Italy. Similarly, Germany was criticized by the Congress in 1938 when she dismembered Czechoslovakia. The Munich Agreement (1938) that sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia was condemned by the Congress. Thus, the Congress as a representative of Indian nationalism had expressed the feelings of Indian people on various international problems even before independence. After independence the Congress in its 1948 session resolved that India's foreign policy would be aimed at friendship with all the countries, and it would keep away from military alliances in the context of the Cold War. Thus, the foreign policy makers of India had clearly spelt out ideas and programmes that guided them in their task. Nehru and  the  Objectives of India s Foreign Policy:  Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister from 1947 till his death in 1964. Factors Shaping India s Foreign Policy  15 The foundations of India's foreign policy were firmly laid by him. Like any other foreign policy maker, Nehru underlined India's national interest as the basic guiding principle. But, even before he did that, Nehru, as head of the Interim Government, had declared as early as September 7, 1946 principal objectives of India's foreign policy. In a broadcast to the nation he had said: We shall take full part in international conferences as a free nation with our own policy and not merely as a satellite of another nation. We hope to develop close and direct contacts with other nations and to cooperate with them in the furtherance of world peace and freedom... We are particularly interested in the emancipation of colonial and dependent countries and peoples, and in the recognition in theory and practice of equal opportunities for all races.' In addition to the objectives indicated in the above-mentioned speech, namely, an independent policy, promotion of international peace, emancipation of colonial and dependent peoples, and promotion of racial equality, Nehru had also emphasized in other speeches rapid economic development of India, and the protection of legitimate interests of people of Indian srcin living aboard. Nehru's personality was a major factor that shaped our foreign policy. National Interest:  India's national interest was indeed the most important governing principle of Nehru's foreign policy. He said in the Constituent Assembly on December 4, 1947. We may talk about peace and freedom and earnestly mean what we say. But in the ultimate analysis, a government functions for the good of the country it governs and no government dare do anything which in the short or long run is manifested to the disadvantage of the country. But, Nehru was not a realist of Kautilya-Morganthau school (See below). He was deeply impressed by his leader, Mahatma Gandhi who was an idealist and insisted on application of moral principles in the conduct of all politics. Nehru, therefore, did not find any incompatibility between India's national interest and the legitimate interests of other nations. He believed that a nation's  self interest may itself demand cooperation with other nations. He, therefore, told the Constituent Assembly: We propose to look after India's interests in the context of world cooperation and world peace, insofar as world peace can be preserved. Dealing with national interest as an end , J. Bandopadhyaya refers to realism and idealism and concludes that, on the whole it would be correct to say that there is a stronger accent on idealism in the modem Indian thinking on international relations... than in any other country in the world. 2  It will be appropriate at this stage to mention the difference between realism and idealism. The realist thinkers believe that national interest may be equated with power, that politics is struggle for power, and that war is a legitimate means of protecting national interest. The idealists, on the other hand, would identify national  16  Foreign Policy of India interest with universal moral aspirations like eternal peace and human brotherhood. Kautilya, the master of statecraft in India, in the 4th century B.C., considered politics as a game of power, and justified increase in the Prince's power through conquest by all means at his disposal. Among the modern Indian statesmen, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is often regarded as a Realist  par excellence. 3  Idealism is symbolized with Emperor Ashoka in the past, and Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore in contemporary India. As mentioned in Chapter 1, US President Wilson was a great idealist who advocated world peace as a goal and international organizations as the means to achieve it. When Nehru formulated free India's foreign policy, he indeed insisted on national interest but more in an idealist mood rather than as a realist. This was reflected in his policy of non-alignment in general, and in his decision to ascertain the wishes of people of Jammu & Kashmir on the question of State's merger with India (after Pak-led tribal invasion). His agreement with Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Iai in 1954 to allow full integration of Tibet with China was also an act of idealist statesman. Patel's death in late 1950 deprived Nehru of a realist check as none other dared oppose him. But, it would be wrong to come to the conclusion that Nehru ever sacrificed the national interest. Indeed, all his actions were guided generally by India's  self interest. Nehru had opined that it was his first duty to take care of India's national interests. While analyzing the basic components of national interest in the context of India, Bandopadhyaya says: ... essential components of the national interest of any state are security, national development and world order. Security is the first guarantee of a state's international personality; national development is its categorical imperative; and an ordered pattern of international relations is a minimum pre-condition for its independent existence and free development, just as an ordered civil society is a minimum precondition for the independent existence and free development of an individual. 4 The three components of national interest were fully comprehended by India's Foreign Office and sought to be protected and promoted by our foreign policy. It was guided by the country's internal as well as external security. India took effective measures for short term as well as long-term security, though it is doubtful if long-term measures^were really effective because in 1962 China inflicted a humiliating defeat-like situation in the north-east. Secondly, there is an intimate relationship between security and development. Foreign policy is influenced by economic development, and national developments are influenced by foreign policy. In India, Nehru and his successors promoted rapid economic development. That is why India adopted the policy of nonalignment, keeping away from power politics, but welcoming aid, without strings, from wherever it Factors Shaping India's Foreign Policy  17 was available. Thirdly, national security depends on international peace, which in turn will be possible if a new world order based on cooperation is established. Right from the day India signed the UN Charter, India has been striving hard for a conflict-free world order based on peace, cooperation and understanding among sovereign members of international community. DETERMINANTS OF INDIA S FOREIGN POLICY Geography:  India's size, climate, location and topography have played a vital role in shaping its foreign policy. Nehru had said in 1949 that India's position was strategic and that no power could ignore us. He said: Look at the map. If you have to consider any question affecting the Middle East, India inevitably comes into the picture. If you have to consider any question concerning South-East Asia, you cannot do so without India. So also with the Far-East. While the Middle-East may not be directly connected with South-East Asia, both are connected with. India. Even if you think in terms of regional organizations in India, you have to keep in touch with the other regions. s Thus, India is the gateway of both South-East Asia and the Middle-Last. India's security and vital interests are closely tied with the future of the region. Nehru had also stated that India becomes a kind of meeting ground for various trends and forces and a meeting ground between what may be roughly called the East and the West. Writing about compulsions of history and geography, Professor V.P. Dutt says: ... it can hardly be overlooked that India's size, potential and perceptions of  her elite postulated an intense interest in world affairs... 6  India is situated in South Asia. Its northern borders are generally protected by the mighty Himalayas. It has a vast sea coast on three sides. This factor cannot be ignored in foreign policy making. India's coastline is vital for its foreign policy. Indian Ocean was used as a route for penetration into India during 17th-19th centuries by  the French, British, Dutch and the Portuguese. Most of the foreign trade of India goes through the Indian Ocean. Any foreign domination of the Indian Ocean is injurious to the national interest of this country. The defence of the vast sea coast requires a powerful Indian navy. Besides, India has been supporting the demand of Indian Ocean as a zone of peace because that is essentially vital for India's security. India has common land frontiers, at places, with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar (Burma) Nepal and Bhutan. Afghanistan touches northern part of Jammu & Kashmir. The former Soviet Union was also very near to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Until the Chinese aggression in 1962, the Himalayas were known as the defenders  (prahari)  of India. That is not true any more. The air forces of all countries have changed the security perspective all over the world. India's vast coastline necessitates not only a powerful navy, but also  18  Foreign Policy of India friendly relations with other naval powers present in the Indian Ocean. These include Britain as well as the United States which have a powerful naval base at Diago Garcia. Although India has been victim of Chinese and Pakistani attacks, it is in our mutual interests that the disputes be peacefully resolved. India has always desired good neighbourly relations with all the above mentioned countries. Besides, other regional powers such as Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos must maintain friendly conflict-free relations with India. With this aim in view India's attempt has been to avoid disputes with all the neighbours; and resolve the dispute peacefully in case a dispute does occur. The presence of communist China in, the north, and till 1991 socialist USSR also in the neighbourhood, made it imperative for India to develop friendly relations with these countries, keep away from regional military alliances, yet avoid all conflicts with western countries (like UK and USA) with whom India had historical and strategically important relations, in addition to the common tradition of liberal democracy. The fact that Indian armed forces were trained on British pattern required closer ties with Britain, and the moral support the USA provided in our freedom struggle obliged us to that country. But, India's foreign policy makers have had the main worry on account of hostile attitude of Pakistan, which was carved out of British India as a result of the acceptance by Britain of the Muslim League's two-nation theory. History and Tradition:  India's historical development as victim of British colonialism and imperialism, and her non-violent freedom struggle under the leadership of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Azad were bound to have a share in the shaping of our foreign policy. Not only this, the legacy of an ancient civilization and culture also helped in foreign policy formulation. As V.P. Dutt says: A proud civilization with the weight of centuries of tradition and the rich legacy of what appeared to Indians an abiding civilization, like China, she was too deeply conscious of her priceless heritage to accept the role of a client state. 7  India is too big a country to become anybody's camp follower. Nehru had himself said that two major aspects of our foreign policy, viz., the 'positive aspect of peace' and the desire to promote 'a larger degree of cooperation among nations' were partly due to India's traditional values and past thinking. The first Prime Minister had said in 1958 that it was a privilege to be associated with world peace and added that in our domestic sphere also we should work on lines which are compatible with peace. This emphasis on peace at home and abroad could be called  positive aspect of peace .  Nehru had acknowledged the influence of India's traditions on foreign policy. He said in the Lok Sabha: Factors Shaping India s Foreign Policy  9 is completely  incorrect  to  call  our  policy Nehru  Policy'. It is  incorrect  bec use all  that  I  h ve  done is to give voice to  that  policy. I  h ve  not  srcinated  it. It is a policy 'inherent  in the circumstances of  India,  inherent  in the past  thinking  of India,  inherent  in the whole  mental outlook  of  India,  inherent  in the  conditioning  of the  Indian mind  during  our struggle for freedom, and  inherent  in the circumstances of  the  world  today. * The traditional values have come down to us from the scriptures like the Vedas  and  Dharmashastras,  and the writings of great men like Swami Vivekananda, Tagore, Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi. The three values that have helped shaping India's foreign policy arc:  tolerance, the equation of means and ends,  and  non-violence. Tolerance  is the essence of Indian tradition. It is not necessary that views of others be the same as one's own views. To respect the views of others is a great virtue. As V. Raghavan said, Tolerance is one of the most important, if not the most important, among the concepts which invest the Indian traditional culture w ith a distinction and distinctness. Based on the teachings of  Rigveda, Mahatma Gandhi had said, Hinduism tells everyone to worship God according to his own faith or dharma, and so it lives at peace with all the religions 9 Emperor Ashoka's inscriptions on his rock pillars also advocated tolerance: The King, beloved of the God, honours every form of religious faith ... In our domestic policy, India is committed to secularism which is rooted in the above-mentioned philosophy of tolerance. In foreign policy also, India has adopted the ideal of tolerance. It is clearly demonstrated in the famous declaration of Panchsheel  signed by Nehru and his Chinese counterpart in 1954. Mutual non-interference as well as peaceful co-existence 10  are the guiding principles of our foreign policy based on tolerance of the views of others. However, tolerance does not mean compromise with our national interest. That is why, after the rude shock of Chinese attack in 1962, India has gone ahead systematically to build an impressive defence system, and having tested five nuclear devices in 1998, India declared itself to be a nuclear-weapon state. Equation of right means and right ends  is another important Indian tradition. Mahatma Gandhi indeed insisted on the purity of means to achieve noble ends. He was deeply impressed by Manu's  Dharmashastra  which lays down: one should not do a good thing by following a bad path. Indian tradition thus is: To seek to further the welfare of the state by enriching it through fraud and falsehood, is like storing water in an unburnt pot and hoping to preserve it. 11  While the purity of means is the basic thrust of Indian philosophy, there is no dearth of realist approach either. As pointed out earlier, Kautilya, in his  Arthashastra,  had expressed the view that what produces unfavourable results is bad policy. For Kautilya, diplomacy was an art, not, concerned with ideals but with achieving practical result for the State. He wrote:
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