Indian Foreign Policy: Objectives & Evolution | UPSC Notes

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Indian Foreign Policy: Objectives & Evolution | UPSC Notes

A country’s foreign policy is the way it works to promote its ideals, interests, goals, and other values. This policy is always changing, both at home and abroad, to keep up with changing circumstances.

India is one of the world’s oldest societies, and its foreign policy has always been independent, regardless of whether it was ruled by the Mauryan Empire, the Gupta Empire, or the Mughal Empire.

During the colonial era, India’s foreign policy was set by the British, who used India for their own gain. But now that India is independent, its foreign policy is once again in India’s best interests.

A country’s foreign policy is affected by many things, like its history, society, geography, economy, and the situation at home and around the world. These important factors and forces can help explain why some parts of a country’s foreign policy stay the same while other parts change.

India’s foreign policy, and the foreign policy of any other government, is affected by two things: domestic and international issues. Domestically, India’s history, society, geography, and economy have all had a big impact on its foreign policy goals and principles.

The international factor, which is shown by the competition between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War, the creation of the United Nations, the arms race, especially the race for nuclear arms, anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism, etc.

Many experts say that the best way to sum up the goals of Indian foreign policy is with the 3 S’s: space for strategic autonomy, stability both inside India and in its neighbourhood, and strength (economic, military, and soft power) to protect and advance Indian interests.

Today, India has ties to certain countries in the military, science, religious culture, etc., and it has used these ties to make better decisions about its foreign policy.

Table of Contents

Objectives and Principles of India’s Foreign Policy

India’s foreign policy has many different goals that meet both national and worldwide needs. India has tried to improve its security and economy while also working for peace, freedom, progress, and justice for all people and countries.

The main objectives of India’s foreign strategy are:

• Aims to protect and advance national interests, like protecting the country’s political freedom and making sure it is safe from the outside.

• tries to promote world peace, stop or stop military threats, back initiatives for disarmament, peace in the neighbourhood, and work to stop wars.

• To help countries with different ideologies, politics, and other things get along and work together.

• To make sure that all people and countries have the same rights without any bias in its foreign policy.

• Using partnerships with other countries to help India grow at home.

• Increasing India’s voice and role as a leader in global government issues.

The following ideas have helped India reach the above goals:

• Panchsheel • Non-alignment • Anti-colonialism, Anti-imperialism and Anti-racism

• The idea that you shouldn’t use force to solve problems with other countries.

• Making the United Nations and other global and regional organisations stronger, and developing international law as a tool for peace and cooperation around the world.

In short, India wants to be seen as a peaceful, mature, law-abiding, and trustworthy country through its foreign policy. It also wants to get the most out of good relationships with other countries in the society of nations.

Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy

India’s foreign policy has changed a lot since the time of the Indian National Movement, which was before the country got its freedom. The meeting of the All-India Congress Committee in New Delhi in 1921 was “a turning point in India’s relations with other countries.” The Congress passed a resolution on foreign policy for the first time. The resolution said that the current government of India does not represent Indian thought in any way. During India’s fight for independence, the All India Congress Committee met in Madras in 1927 and passed another important resolution. This one said that India should be able to deal with the rest of the world on its own, without interference from the British government. In fact, the Madras Session of the Congress laid the groundwork for India’s foreign strategy.

From 1921 to 1947, Congress passed resolutions that show “a keen awareness of the dangers of the growth of fascism, a sympathetic approach to the aspirations of the Soviet Union, a consistent criticism of the continuation or expansion of Western imperial power anywhere in the world, and a sensitive exposure of all forms of racial, social, and economic discrimination.”

India didn’t start making its own foreign policy until it became independent in 1947. It did this to meet its own needs and respond to what was going on in the world at the time. Since it became independent, India’s foreign policy has been based on the idea that all countries, no matter what kind of government they have, should be friendly and work together. India’s foreign policy was mostly about making friends with the countries around it, especially those that were close by.

The post-Independence foreign policy was based on the idea of non-alignment. This is because India got its independence at a time when the Cold War clouds were already looming large on the globe. As a result, India not only went through but also experienced the power politics of the ‘Super Powers’. This made it normal for India to make its foreign policy based on non-involvement and non-alignment. This became India’s main foreign policy goal.


India under Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru, who was in charge of the Indian National Congress, had a big impact on how India’s foreign policy changed over time. Nehru is rightly seen as India’s foreign policy’s main creator. Jawaharlal Nehru made a broadcast from New Delhi on September 7, 1946, in which he outlined some foreign policy goals. This was the first time the general policy goals were made public. Among these goals were the end of colonialism and racism, freedom from power blocs, and close links with China and other Asian countries nearby.

Nehru outlined India’s foreign policy by saying that India would never get involved in power politics. He also said, “We cannot and will not be neutral wherever freedom is threatened, justice is threatened, or aggression is taking place.” Nehru thought that India should keep having faith in the UN. He made it clear that India had never been interested in the power politics of the world’s biggest countries.

Non-alignment is a good idea. It meant that India kept its freedom when it came to making decisions about things that were important to her. There was no agreement from the start to help one or the other country in a problem.

During Nehru’s time in power, India had to deal with a lot of problems, from reducing poverty at home to the Cold War on the world stage. India needs a time of peace and stability to help its economy grow and its government become more stable. So, it was thought that India would not be able to reach its main goal if it joined with any of the big powers. This would turn India into a battleground for the Cold War. India can’t afford to spend its energy and limited resources on an arms race when it needs to work on bringing its people together and building up its economy. So, this is what India did when Nehru was in charge:

Nehru and Panchsheel

The word “Panchsheel” means “five taboos,” which were rules for how Indian monks should act, according to the old Buddhist texts. Under Nehru, this idea was going to be the main theme that would guide the relationships between countries around the world.


The same idea was suggested to guide the relationship between India and China. This idea was put into a trade pact between the two countries, which streamlined their trade operations on Tibet. Based on this, India and China agreed to follow the following five principles in their relationship: (i) mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; (ii) mutual non-aggression; (iii) mutual non-interference; (iv) equality and mutual benefit; and (v) peaceful co-existence.

The Panchsheel agreement set out rules that would later guide the connection not only between the two countries, but also between those two countries and all the other countries. People thought that this would help bring peace and security to the world. It was thought that it would give the newly independent countries a say and make war less likely.

During the 1955 Bandung Conference, which was made up of 29 African and Asian countries, Panchsheel’s ideas were added to the Declaration’s Ten Principles of International Peace and Cooperation. In 1957, the United Nations General Assembly also agreed on all of these points. The Non-Alignment Movement also agreed that these were its most important ideas.

Basically, these ideals mean that you shouldn’t use force, that you should be tolerant, and that you should live together peacefully. It lets all the countries work together for peace and wealth while still keeping their own identities.

Non-Alignment Movement

Non-alignment meant not joining any of the armed alliances that the United States and the Soviet Union made after the Second World War. This was done to keep each country’s foreign policy as independent as possible. Non-alignment was not the same as indifference, not getting involved, or being alone. It was a flexible idea that meant not joining a military bloc and instead taking a stand on international problems on your own, based on the facts of each case.

Nehru saw non-alignment as a way to make sure that India would be able to make its own decisions about foreign policy. He said that joining any of the world blocs would only mean one thing: “Giving up your opinion on a certain issue and adopting the other party’s opinion on that issue in order to please it and win its favour.”

India was a key part of making the non-aligned movement (NAM) happen. Five leaders came up with the idea for the Non-Alignment Movement: Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. In 1961, Belgrade was the site of the first meeting of the NAM. The non-aligned movement was a group of newly independent states that didn’t want to follow the rules of their former colonial masters. Instead, they chose to act on international issues based on what they thought was best.

NAM was important for India for at least two reasons. First, it gave India the freedom to make international decisions based on what was best for India. Second, it helped India keep the balance between the two superpowers, so neither could put pressure on India or take it for granted.

Non-Alignment Movement was based on the idea that an autonomous state, no matter how big or small, can make its own foreign policy based on what it thinks it needs and how it sees the world. The movement was also a recognition of the need to make international institutions more democratic. This is still a very important issue, as emerging countries are still asking for more power in international groups like the UN, WTO, and World Bank.

Nehru’s non-alignment policy was kept even though India was at odds with China and Pakistan and some key ties in South Asia had changed in big ways. India stuck to its policy of non-alignment and its support for world peace during the rise and fall of the U.S.-Pakistan alliance, the closeening of ties between India and the U.S.S.R., and the growth of ties with China.

Kashmir Issue

Kashmir, as the most important single cause in India’s relationships with other countries, brought the cold war to the Indian subcontinent, which led to a lot of money being spent on military weapons. Since India got its freedom in 1947, and especially after 1962, Kashmir has been a major part of India’s defence.

When the Kashmir problem was brought to the U.N., it showed how Nehru felt about it. Back then, the U.N. was still young and still trying out new things. It was also highly skewed towards the Western powers. Nehru told the Constituent Assembly in March 1948 that sending the problem to the U.N. Security Council was an act of faith because he believed in the gradual creation of a world order and a world government. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that said the Kashmir conflict should be solved by India and Pakistan talking to each other about it. The resolution also mentioned a plebiscite. But India ruled out having a referendum, as suggested by the UN Security Council, or letting anyone else help solve the Kashmir problem, as Pakistan wanted. Since there was no progress in resolving the thorny problem and anger over the Security Council’s resolution, Pakistan decided to take over Kashmir by fighting an undeclared war against India. It also decided to use violence to reach its goals.

War and the Indo-China Relations

Nehru thought that India and China had a lot in common because both had been hurt by colonial powers and were trying to get rid of poverty and underdevelopment. So, people thought that both countries would work together to put Asia where it belongs. India, for its part, spoke up for China to have a seat on the UN Security Council. India did not agree with the US when it said that China had started the Korean War.

Tibetan Crisis

After the Chinese change of 1949, China wanted to include Tibet and said it was an important part of China. In 1950, China struck the area’s eastern part and took over the Chamdo region. India protested this aggression and offered to mediate when Tibet asked for help, but China said it was an internal matter and turned India down. Under the Panchsheel agreement of 1954, India gave up the military, civil, and other rights over Tibet that it had gotten from the British under the Anglo-Tibetan Treaty of 1904. India agreed that China had a right to Tibet. At that time, China also promised India that Tibet would have a lot more freedom, but this promise was hard to keep.

1962 Attack by China

Nehru knew that the Chinese rise of 1949 was a big change. Also, he knew that China could be a threat because he said in a speech to the Lok Sabha in November 1959, “We know enough history to know that a strong China is usually an expanding China.” The Indo-China war of 1962 was a fight over a line that led to war. Two things led to the dispute. First, Tibet used to be a buffer state, but when China took it over, it made the border problem more complicated.Second, the McMahon line was used by the British to decide where the border between India and China was. China didn’t agree with this line.

After the Panchsheel agreement, India thought that the McMahon line would solve the border dispute, but it didn’t work. The Indian government didn’t find out about a 1200 km Chinese military highway that went through Aksai Chin until September 1957. China also started marking the area on its maps as its own land. India spoke out against this attack. China later complained about India’s move to give Dalai Lama refuge. In 1962, China attacked both Aksai Chin and NEFA quickly and in large numbers because of these border issues. India also made a mistake when it tried to figure out what China was trying to do. Even though both the US and the USSR tried to stop China from leaving, China kept Aksai Chin and left NEFA under Indian rule.

Nehru’s first vote of no confidence was because he didn’t understand what the Chinese were up to. After the war, India’s foreign and security strategy changed in a clear way. Inside of two years, China did a nuclear test, and India had to spend more on security. So, India’s nuclear test happened because both Pakistan and China were a threat. Also, the war turned the Indo-China conflict into a part of the Cold War as a whole. India signed a treaty of friendship with the USSR, and China got along better with the USA. So, the war caused a lot of damage to the relationship between India and China, and it took a long time for things to get back to normal.


Foreign Policy under Lal Bahadur Shastri

After Jawaharlal Nehru died, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Prime Minister of India. Shastri mostly kept Nehru’s “non-alignment” policy going, but he also got closer to the Soviet Union.

Sirima-Shastri Pact (1964)

In 1964, Shastri signed an agreement with Sri Lanka to solve the problem of Indian Tamils living in what was then called Ceylon. This deal was seen as a great success because it got rid of a problem that India and Ceylon had been having for a long time. The deal said that 525,000 Indian Tamils would be sent back home, while 300,000 would be given Sri Lankan citizenship. This deal had to be made by October 31, 1981. But in 1982, India said that the 1964 agreement was no longer valid and would not accept any more requests for citizenship.

China’s Nuclear Explosion 1964

During Shastri’s time, China tried its atomic bomb. People said that the whole point of the bomb was to protect the Chinese people from a nuclear danger from the US. Even though China said it wouldn’t use the bomb first, it still made India and other South Asian countries feel unsafe. But during the time of Shastri, the people who wanted India to get a nuclear bomb pushed the country to do so. So, starting around this time, Nehru’s influence started to go down in terms of the strategy on nuclear weapons.

India-Pakistan War (1965)

People think that the 1965 war was an important event in the history of India’s foreign relations because it happened after Nehru’s time in power and was a hard job for Lai Bahadur Shastri to lead. In fact, the 1965 War, which was supposed to improve relations between India and Pakistan, did not solve the Kashmir situation. The war between India and Pakistan in 1965 was a secret war. The Kashmir issue was a source of tension because Pakistan wanted to reopen the problem and India said that Kashmir is a settled fact that it is a part of India. Here are the reasons why there was a war:

• In 1965, the situation in Kashmir became dangerous because people who followed Sheikh Abdullah and others caused a lot of trouble in the valley. So, Pakistan’s leaders thought it was time to step in. Pakistan also had better offensive weapons from the US. Pakistan also wanted to attack before India could fix its forces after the Sino-Indian War of 1962 ended in a disaster.Pakistan’s confidence was also boosted by its closer links with China, which were meant to put India on its own.

Declaration of Tashkent

Under the help of the Soviet Union, India and Pakistan made a deal called the Tashkent Declaration. Both sides decided to leave all occupied areas and go back to where they were before the war. They also decided to send the war prisoners back home and not use force. This way, they were able to settle their differences without violence. The Tashkent Declaration, however, did not solve the main problem in Kashmir.

Two things were clear after the Indo-Pak war. The first was that no country, other than Malaysia and Singapore, was willing to back India openly. Even though the Soviet Union said again and again that Kashmir was an important part of India, it took a moderate stance when it came to putting pressure on Pakistan.


Foreign Policy under Indira Gandhi

After Shastri’s shocking death, Indira Gandhi took over as leader. She mostly stuck to a policy of non-alignment, but it was more practical than idealistic. As Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi had been to most of the countries, which Shastri had not.

Indira Gandhi’s main goal with her foreign policy was to get India back to where it used to be in the world. Because she was involved in world events, people began to see her as one of the world’s most important leaders.

Crisis in Bangladesh

In 1970, Pakistan had free elections, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami party from Bengal got more than 98 percent of the seats in East Pakistan. This means that most of the people in Pakistan’s national assembly agreed with them. The Army said that the Awami party couldn’t be in charge of the government. In reaction, the Awami party started a movement of civil disobedience, and the army started a huge crackdown in East Pakistan, which caused lakhs of people to flee to India.

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Indira Gandhi’s government in India was patient and careful as it tried to make the rest of the world aware of the real situation in East Pakistan and the load refugees put on India. India gave moral and material backing to Bangladesh’s fight for freedom.

Pakistan said that India was trying to break it up with a plan. The United States and China both helped Pakistan. To stop this danger, India and the Soviet Union signed a 20-year treaty of peace, friendship, and cooperation. The treaty said that if either country faced a military threat, they would talk to each other right away and take the right steps.

In ten days, the Indian army circled Dhaka on three sides, and the 90,000 Pakistani soldiers had to give up. India stopped fighting on its own after Bangladesh became a free country. Later, Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto signed the Shimla Agreement on July 2, 1972. This made it official that peace had come back.

Shimla Declaration (1972):

When the fighting stopped, India was ready to talk with Pakistan about pulling its troops out of the Western and Kashmir fronts. Also, India would have to keep a strong military presence on the western front if it had an unfriendly neighbour, so it was important to make peace with Pakistan.

The Outcomes of the Shimla Agreement

• India decided to give back all of the Pakistani land it had taken over during the war, except for a few key spots.

• Pakistan also said it would follow the Line of Control (LoC) and not change it on its own.

• Both countries also agreed to solve their problems on their own, without the help of a third party.

• India decided to send war prisoners back to Pakistan if Pakistan and Bangladesh reached a deal.

The Bangladesh issue made Indira Gandhi more well-known both in her own country and around the world. There were a lot of good things that came out of the war for India:

• India got back its lost pride and sense of self-respect after the 1962 war.

• After the war, about 10 million people who had fled their homes were sent back. So, a serious problem with refugees that was putting a strain on India’s resources was solved.

• India became a major power in South Asia as well.

• India’s reputation on the world stage went to a new high, and the country’s morale went up. This was because of how India handled the whole situation and because of the Shimla deal to start the peace process with Pakistan.

Relations with China and Pakistan are getting back on track

India’s ties with China got worse after the Indo-China war in 1962. But by 1976, India had become a major power in South Asia and the situation had changed. India has shown what it can do in the 1971 war, the 1974 nuclear blast, and the 1975 merger of Sikkim. Also, after the 1971 pact, India wanted to depend less on the USSR. China also wanted to lessen the impact of the Soviet Union in South Asia.

As a result of the things mentioned above, India took a brave step and revealed on its own that it was restoring diplomatic ties with China to fix their long-standing problems. China liked the move, and in return, they reopened formal ties. This also meant that trade and culture exchange between the two countries could start up again.

Since the India-Pakistan war in 1965, ties between India and Pakistan have also been tense. But the Shimla agreement of 1972 finally made things normal between the two countries and got formal ties going again. The other South Asian countries were also very happy about the peace process getting back on track.

Relationship with Soviet Union

India’s first woman leader, Indira Gandhi, took office in 1966. By 1970, she was playing an important part on the international stage and had gotten stronger in her own country. During that time, China and Pakistan were threats to India, while the USA publicly backed Pakistan. Because of this, India and the Soviet Union got closer to each other.

The Soviet Union was also inspired by Indira Gandhi’s decisions to get rid of privy purses, take over the banks, and create a more socialist society. By the 1970s, the Soviet Union was the second biggest buyer of Indian goods. At the same time, it helped India set up Heavy Industries and gave it high-tech military weapons. It also backed the Indian side in the Kashmir problem at the UN.

Indo-Soviet Treaty (1971)

India and the Soviet Union signed a 20-year peace, friendship, and cooperation treaty in 1971. This formalised the fast-growing friendship and cooperation between the two countries over the years and took their relationship to a new and higher level. When India did a nuclear test in Pokhran in 1974, almost all of the other nuclear powers criticised it. France and the Soviet Union, on the other hand, stayed quiet, which was seen as a sign of support for India.

The two countries kept getting along because they understood each other. This is why the Soviet Union welcomed the Shimla Agreement and backed India’s plan to solve problems directly. The Soviet Union liked what Mrs. Gandhi had to say about making the Indian Ocean a zone of peace. The relationship between India and the Soviet Union was also very important in the fields of science, technology, and trade.

Relationship with the US

During the first part of Indira Gandhi’s time as prime minister, relations with the US got worse because the US tried to get closer to China, sided with Pakistan during the Bangladesh crisis, sold arms to Pakistan, and set up a naval base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Indira Gandhi spoke out against using Cold War methods in the Indian Ocean, which did not go over well with the leaders of the United States. India’s use of a nuclear bomb in 1974 was also criticised by the USA.

Differences Over Diego Garcia:

To make its navy stronger, the US chose to build a strong naval base on Diego Garcia, a strategic island in the Indian Ocean. It built the military base in the Indian Ocean to protect its interests in Asia and to stop the growing power of Russia in Asia and the area around the Indian Ocean. Taking these events into account, India was very against the competition between the Super Powers in the Indian Ocean. India also thought that making Diego Garcia a strong military base in the Indian Ocean would increase tensions not only between the superpowers but also in the South Asian area.

During Indira Gandhi’s second term as prime minister, the US helped India get loans from the IMF and fuel for the Tarapur Nuclear Plant. There was also more partnership in trade, science, and technology between the two countries.


Rajiv Gandhi Years

Rajiv Gandhi followed the foreign policy that Nehru and Indira Gandhi had set up, but he also had some differences with them. In this way, he made his own foreign policy to some extent.

His strategy was meant to make people get along with each other. For this reason, he pushed for a better economic order in the world and for nuclear weapons to be taken away. He also saw that racial harmony is a must for countries to live together peacefully. Rajiv Gandhi kept India’s place in the world community in mind and pushed for a more active foreign policy.

He said that in a world that changes quickly, our country needs to be able to adapt to its needs and not get stuck in the past. At the same time, basic beliefs and basic ideas about what is right and wrong must be rock solid. In January 1985, he made a promise to work towards these goals:

• World Peace • Friendship with all nations based on mutual gain and fairness

• Non-Alignment

• A new economic order for the world built on justice, cooperation, peace, and growth.

• Respect for the independence of other states and the principles of sovereign equality of nations, non-interference and non-intervention in their internal matters.

Peaceful co-existence. Adherence to the twin ideals of continuity and change, stability and dynamism, in the changing framework of world politics.

India turned towards the West instead of the Soviet Union to get technology know-how while he was in charge, which was different from what his predecessors did. This made things much better between China and the West.

Disarmament Efforts

Rajiv Gandhi spoke out for nuclear peace in many places, especially between 1985 and 1986. He made India’s position clear when he said, “India has been fighting for nuclear disarmament for a long time, long before it was cool to do so.” We need to work towards getting rid of all nuclear weapons within a set time frame. All countries that have nuclear weapons must be part of the process. We need to make sure that the power of nuclear weapons doesn’t grow in new ways. We must make sure that no new weapons of mass destruction or medical weapons are made. We need the doctrine of peaceful cohabitation to take the place of the doctrine of deterrence.

Non-Alignment Movement Commitment

Rajiv Gandhi confirmed India’s commitment to the NAM in 1985 when he said that the NAM was a natural progression of the Indian freedom movement, which led the way for the rest of the colonised world 50 years earlier. He focused on making the NAM more united so that it could face new challenges in a changing world, especially when it came to important economic matters. He wanted the NAM to work on making a new economic order and fighting racism and colonialism. These were the main problems he brought up.

Rajiv Gandhi said that problems of development and protecting the environment were inextricably linked. For this reason, he worked hard to set up a unique, multibillion-dollar Planet Protection Fund (under the supervision of the UN) to save energy and fight air pollution.

The Indian Ocean and Rajiv Gandhi

Indian Ocean has been at the centre of world affairs for a long time, and when Britain gave the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the USA, things changed. This was the start of the Cold War’s dominance in the area. Given how important the Indian Ocean is, it was clear that India would depend a lot on whoever controlled the area around the Indian Ocean.

Rajiv Gandhi pushed hard to make the Indian Ocean a place of peace, security, and cooperation, and to keep it out of the politics of the Cold War. Rajiv Gandhi said that the Indian Ocean had become a playground for nuclear-armed world fleets. He then pushed for the Indian Ocean to become a zone of peace.

Efforts to make SAARC stronger

India saw the promise of SAARC as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to settle her political disagreements with her neighbours through economic and cultural cooperation with the rest of the region. Rajiv Gandhi said that the goal of the SAARC should be to reach self-reliance as a group and to boost the forces of multilateralism and cooperation around the world. Rajiv Gandhi put a lot of emphasis on strengthening the SAARC and used it a lot for technical talks between experts from the seven countries.

Sri Lanka’s Peace Mission

Rajiv Gandhi’s policy on Sri Lanka was good and right, even though it could be said that the diplomats and army leaders may have misjudged what the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were really like and how well they could fight. Rajiv Gandhi and J.R. Jayewardene signed the famous Indo-Sri Lanka Accord in Colombo on July 29, 1987. This agreement said that India would send its peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka to help the country fight the LTTE. Sri Lanka signed the agreement after it failed to find a military answer to the ethnic problem. Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) had to deal with a lot of problems, not just from the LTTE but also from Sinhalese politicians and Indian opposition leaders, but they did a great job despite these problems. Later, on March 24, 1990, IPKF was taken out of the country by V. P. Singh, who was Prime Minister at the time.


Narasimha Rao Period

P.V. Narsimha Rao became India’s 10th Prime Minister after general elections in 1991. The end of the Cold War caused a lot of changes in the way the world works. In international relations, the time of bipolar world politics and group politics ended in 1991. After the Soviet Union broke up, the US kept its status as the only world power. This quick change in international relations was felt by all countries, including India. As a result, Indian leaders had to rethink and change their foreign policy. Narasimha Rao set out to reorganise India. He did this through: • Economic Reforms: loosening government control over the economy, opening the economy to the rest of the world, and pushing the private economy to grow. The US and other industrialised countries liked this strategy to change things.

• International Relations: When P.V. Narasimha Rao was in charge of Indian foreign policy, he paid a lot of attention to building ties with the US. Many experts thought that India’s foreign policy after 1991 was built on building strong relationships with the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, Japan, Israel, Brazil, South Africa, and then economically stable nations in Southeast Asia.

After 1991, India’s relationship with the US slowly got better. P.V. Narasimha Rao also tried to get along better with Pakistan, China, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, which were “just” his friends. India’s ties with NATO countries got stronger, and in 1992, it was able to make a formal strategic relationship with Israel.

P.V. Narasimha Rao’s biggest accomplishment in terms of India’s foreign policy was starting peace talks with China to end a long-running border dispute between the two countries.

Changes to the foreign policy and liberalisation

The country’s foreign policy and economy both changed a lot because of the New Economic Policy of 1991. Even though India had a lot of Balance of Payment problems in the 1980s, conditions in the 1990s pushed India to open its economy to the rest of the world. This made it possible for much-needed reforms to happen. The government made big changes, like opening up the Indian economy to the rest of the world and changing the economy at home. So, the government made the New Economic Policy public. The goal of the strategy was to work towards fairness and social justice and to keep high growth rates for a long time.

End of Bipolar world and India’s Foreign Policy

India and the USSR were very close in terms of business, culture, and technology. India was helped by the Soviet Union on many problems, from Kashmir to the Bangladesh crisis. In 1972, India and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship. Since then, India has made a number of defence deals with the Soviet Union, which was India’s biggest supplier of arms.

Even though the end of the Cold War ended the threat to India from the rivalry between the US and the USSR, it also brought India many new problems. For India, the fall of the Soviet Union has caused uncertainty in a number of areas, such as the supply of weapons systems, the supply of spare parts, diplomatic support on Kashmir and other political and strategic problems inside and outside the United Nations, and as a counterweight to the US in South Asia.

After the Soviet Union broke up, the United States became the only world power. This put an end to the Cold War and the world being split into two parts. In response to these changes, India’s foreign policy also started to change so that it could keep up.

The first big change was to deal with the problems that came with globalisation, which became its main goal. So, India’s foreign policy was based on changing the country from a socialist to a modern capitalist society. With the New Economic Policy of 1991, a change in the country’s economic policy gave it many choices on the foreign policy front to meet changing needs.

India’s foreign policy began to put more emphasis on military and economic power as its economy grew. By 2010, India had become the biggest importer of arms in the world, which shows that this was happening. This was also because India’s western and northern countries caused a lot of trouble. The pragmatic approach was also seen in the rising closeness between India and the United States, which led to the India-USA nuclear deal, also called the 123 Agreement. India’s political goals are more varied now that they include economic goals, and India’s growing economic power has given its voice more weight in world affairs, especially in places like the WTO and the G-20 that are trying to help the world economy recover.

India’s foreign strategy was also affected by its fast-changing domestic politics. Regional parties started to get more attention, and an age of coalition governments caused chaos that led to foreign policies that were hard to predict. For example, India abruptly pulled out of its mission to keep the peace in Sri Lanka. During the Gulf War in 1991, India’s foreign policy changed many times. At first, it was against letting American planes refuel in India on their way to Iraq. Then, it was for it. Finally, it was against it again.

India’s changing foreign policy wasn’t all about “bigpower” relations; it also worked with its neighbours. India started putting in a lot of work to find political peace with Pakistan and China, two of its big rivals. During the 1990s, India and Pakistan went from a limited conventional war to a full-scale armed conflict. Since 2004, there have been a number of moves taken to get the relationship back to normal, such as serious talks about the Kashmir dispute. India began looking for serious talks with China to end the long-running boundary conflict.

Look East Policy

India’s former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao started the Look East Policy (LEP) in the early 1990s. The goal of this policy was to make India less isolated in international affairs and to get India more involved with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) so that India could get the most out of regional cooperation. Southeast Asian countries have been very receptive to India’s efforts to build strong ties with them, and India and ASEAN now have strong economic, military, and political ties. This means making free trade agreements for goods, services, and investments. Concerns about maritime security, communication, etc., are also shared.

Why the Look East policy was made

• Competing with China economically: China’s trade policies in the 1980s led to its meteoric rise and competition between the two countries on many fronts, including the political, economic, and military spheres and, most importantly, for economic power in the South East Asia region. So, India had to switch to a more aggressive economic strategy.

• A growing middle class: India has a lot of educated and talented people who are ready to be put to work. So, India started looking for new places to send its goods and its restless workers.

• Keeping West and Central Asia at bay: Because of political instability and the danger of terrorism, investment and trade with these areas were always at risk. So, India started looking for places that were safer and more stable.


I.K. Gujaral Period

In the world of Indian foreign policy, I.K. Gujaral has a special place. Gujaral’s main goal was to make things better between India and its countries. So, he came up with a set of policies that became known as the “Gujaral Doctrine” to improve relations with countries and keep peace in the South Asian area. People think that the Gujral Doctrine changed a lot about how India dealt with its immediate neighbours, especially the smaller ones, in terms of bilateral ties.

I.K. Gujral came up with the Gujral Doctrine, which is a set of five rules for how India should deal with its near neighbours. The idea behind these five principles is that India’s stature and power are tied to how well it gets along with its neighbours. So, it shows how important it is to have good relationships with your friends.

• India shouldn’t ask its friends and other countries to do the same for it. Instead, it should give all it can, in good faith and trust.

• To build trust between countries in the area, no country should let its land be used against other countries in any way.

• Countries in the region should accept each other’s sovereignty and stay out of each other’s business.

• Respecting the integrity and authority of each territory.

• Solving problems between the two countries without a third party getting in the way.


AB Vajpayee Era (A.B.)

In 1998, Vajpayee led a joint government. As India’s Prime Minister, he made a big difference in the country’s foreign strategy. His efforts in foreign affairs can be summed up as:

The Nuclear Test in 1998

India has been against international laws that try to stop the spread of nuclear weapons because they only apply to non-nuclear powers and give the five nuclear powers a monopoly. So, India was against extending the NPT for an indefinite amount of time and also didn’t sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1995.

In May 1998, India did a number of nuclear tests to show that it could use nuclear energy for military reasons. Soon after, Pakistan did the same thing, making the area more likely to start a nuclear war. The nuclear tests in the subcontinent were seen as very bad by the rest of the world, and both India and Pakistan were given penalties that were later lifted. India’s nuclear policy of credible minimum nuclear deterrence says “no first use” and restates India’s commitment to global, verifiable, and nondiscriminatory nuclear disarmament that will lead to a world without nuclear weapons.

How the World Reacted to the Nuclear Test

• The international community was very upset about India’s nuclear test.

• The nuclear tests made things worse between India and China and India and Pakistan.

Countries, including the USA and Japan, put economic penalties on India because of the tests and because India went against the NPT and the CTBT. These tests put a strain on India’s relationship with other world powers, which was otherwise getting better.

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India’s Response

India made it clear that it was testing nuclear weapons to protect its own interests and not to hurt any other country. India has always said that the NPT and CTBT are unfair because they treat different countries differently.


1. Bus Diplomacy: The tension between India and Pakistan had reached a new level after the nuclear tests of 1998. It was a good idea to start a bus service from New Delhi to Lahore so that India and Pakistan could get along better. The goal was to get more people from the two countries to meet each other and spend more time together. The bus diplomacy was an important event in the history of the two countries’ rocky relationship. As part of bus diplomacy, Vajpayee himself went all the way to Lahore on February 21, 1999, and signed the Lahore Declaration.

2. The Lahore Declaration: India and Pakistan signed the Lahore declaration in 1999, promising to work on the principle of cooperation and coexistence and to reduce troops along the Line of Control.

Salient Features

• It acknowledged the role of nuclear weapons in the security of the two countries.

• Commitment to the principles and goals of the UN Charter and the widely accepted principles of peaceful coexistence. • Reiteration of the commitment of both countries to follow the letter and spirit of the Simla Agreement.

• Commitment to the goals of disarming all nuclear weapons and keeping them from getting into the wrong hands.

• It acknowledged the importance of mutually agreed-upon confidence-building measures for improving security. • It acknowledged that peace and security are in the best interest of both countries and that all unresolved issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, must be solved for this to happen.

But things didn’t go as planned and went downhill when Pakistani spies were found in key spots along the Line of Control, especially in the Kargil area of Kashmir in the middle of May 1999.

Kargil Conflict

After Pakistan sent armed troops into Kargil, India started “Operation Vijay 1” to get the troops out. India kept the US and other important people in the loop about what was going on and what was going on with the attack. The US took a clear stance on Pakistan’s armed invasion of Kargil and asked the invading forces to leave. The US also said that it liked how India handled the operation with restraint and responsibility. The US Congress and the US media both agreed with India’s point of view. In the same way, India used forceful diplomacy after terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament in December 2001, even though the results were not always good. It’s important to note that neither of these two situations led to a full-scale war between the two countries that have always been at odds with each other.

India-US Relations and Vajpayee

Even though the US and India had different ideas about India’s nuclear goals and its refusal to sign the CTBT, former US President Bill Clinton went to India for five days in March 2000 to try to build strong ties between the two countries for the future. It was the same when Prime Minister Vajpayee went to the US in September 2000. India and the US are doing more and more business together, and this is a big reason why their relationships are getting stronger.


Policy under Manmohan Singh

India’s foreign policy was set up by Nehru, and all of the country’s leaders agreed with it. However, it started to change as the country’s needs and situations changed. India’s foreign policy had changed a lot since the time of Nehru by the time Manmohan Singh took over. Diplomacy had become less harsh, more friendly, and more open.

Relationship with Russia

Russia knew how important India was and tried to keep a good relationship with it. This was shown by how well Manmohan Singh was treated when he visited Russia in 2007.

Both countries decided to set up a strategic partnership as a way to improve their relationship. The military was the main target, and many deals were made there, such as the development of supersonic cruise missiles. BrahMos, a state-of-the-art 5th Generation Combat Aircraft, laser-guided anti-tank missiles, and an extension of the 10 year deal on military cooperation beyond 2010 are some of the things India is giving Pakistan.

India’s nuclear policy was also recognised by Russia, which promised to build four more civilian nuclear units in Tamil Nadu’s Kundankulam. A lot of work was also done to make sure that business ties went beyond the traditional Rupee-Rouble Arrangement. So, the partnership between India and Russia reached a new level under PM Manmohan Singh.

Relationship with the U.S.

During Manmohan Singh’s time in office, India and the US got closer to each other. This was a huge step forward in the friendship between the two countries.

There were many things that made the relationship between the two countries stronger:

After the fall of the Soviet Union, India broke off its special relationship with the USSR. India also needed to balance the growing power of China. Many in the US government thought India was ready for closer ties with the US. The deregulated and liberalised Indian economy also helped the US expand its business abroad. India needed to work together more on this.

India and the US signed the historic India-USA Civil Nuclear Deal against this setting. The United States and India have three goals in mind when they start this project:

• (i) to get rid of the major disagreements that have been getting in the way of our strategic relationship for more than 30 years; • (ii) to help India’s economic growth and energy security in a way that is good for the environment; and • (iii) to improve the global nonproliferation regime.

People think of the deal as a turning point in U.S.-Indian ties, and it changed the way the world works. The deal ended a ban on nuclear trade between the U.S. and India that had been in place for 30 years. It gave the U.S. help with India’s domestic nuclear energy programme and made it easier for the two countries to work together on energy and satellite technology.

Salient Features

• India decided to give inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), which is the UN’s nuclear watchdog group, access to its civilian nuclear programme. This puts fourteen of India’s twenty-two power reactors permanently under IAEA safeguards.

• India also promised in the deal to keep its nuclear arsenal safe and keep it from getting into the wrong hands.

• U.S. companies will be able to build nuclear reactors in India and supply India’s domestic energy programme with nuclear fuel. (Because the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the ban on India, other countries can now sell India nuclear fuel and technology).

• India would be able to buy U.S. nuclear technology, such as materials and tools that could be used to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium.

India agreed to sign an Additional Protocol that would let the IAEA inspect its civilian sites more closely. India also agreed to keep its ban on testing nuclear weapons.

The IAEA Board of Governors accepted India’s safeguards agreement in 2008, which made it possible for India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The United States played a big part in getting India an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group so that India’s growing peaceful nuclear sector could trade with other countries.

Relationship with Pakistan

During that time, India and Pakistan couldn’t come to an understanding on Kashmir or a larger peace deal. The attacks on Mumbai in 2008 and the proof that followed that the attackers were helped by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment were a new low point in the relationship.

Later, in September 2012, the two countries signed a deal to make visas easier to get. This was done to ease the tension between them. Citizens of both countries over the age of 65 can get a visa when they arrive, and business people from both countries can move between the two countries more easily.

Relationship with China

During this time, the bond between the United States and China changed in many important ways. In 2005, the Chinese Premier at the time, Wen Jiabao, went to India. This led to the signing of the “Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question,” in which both countries promised to work hard to find a fair, reasonable, and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question and to build an atmosphere of peace and friendship. China also made it public that Sikkim is a “inalienable part of India.” This means that Sikkim is no longer a problem between India and China.

In 2013, there was a three-week stand-off between India and China troops near the Line of Actual Control between Ladakh and Aksai Chin. This made things worse between the two countries. This strain was eased when India agreed to destroy the bunkers where people lived and China agreed to pull back its troops.

Manmohan Doctrine

The Manmohan Doctrine is a name given to the foreign policy ideas of Manmohan Singh. These ideas can be summed up as follows:

1. India’s growth goals play a big part in how we relate to the rest of the world.

2. Manmohan Singh pushed for India’s economy to be more connected to the rest of the world because he thought it would be good for India and help our people reach their full creative potential.

3. We want to have stable, long-term relationships with all big powers that are good for both sides. We are ready to work with the rest of the world to make the economy and security of the whole world better for everyone.

4. We know that the Indian subcontinent’s shared future needs more cooperation and connections between countries in the area. To reach this goal, we need to improve the skill and capacity of regional institutions and invest in connections.

5. Our foreign policy is not just based on what is best for us, but also on what is most important to our people.


Foreign Policy under Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Modi made a bold move when he asked his peers from all SAARC countries to come to Rashtrapati Bhawan for his oath-taking ceremony. This was the start of a foreign strategy called “Neighbourhood First.” Foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been marked by a lot of energy, a desire to break with the past, and a willingness to take risks.

His policies are meant to bring in foreign money and technology and to find foreign markets for Indian goods. They are also meant to bring stability, peace, and prosperity to the area as a whole. Under Modi, India’s foreign policy has changed a lot and become very active. In fact, India is seeing the “Modi Doctrine” take shape. India’s Foreign Policy under PM Modi has been strengthened by the 4 Ds: Democracy, Demography, Demand, and Diaspora.


• Making India more of a “leading power” on the world stage instead of just a “balancing power.”

• The main goal of diplomacy should be to speed up a country’s social and economic growth. • In today’s world, defence and economic strength are important, but India should also use its soft power. • The Indian diaspora is an asset that goes beyond sending money home. So, it’s important to keep close links with the Indian diaspora and help out Indians who are in trouble abroad.

India’s foreign policy has changed under PM Narendra Modi, and a larger move in ideas can be seen. The Modi Doctrine is based on a few main points:

India First

The Modi Doctrine is based on the idea that “India First.” India makes decisions and acts based on how powerful it is as a country. Also, India’s strategic goals are mostly based on reality, coexistence, cooperation, and partnerships. Modi’s foreign policy is also based on the idea that “the whole world is our family” (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).

Modi’s foreign policy is “guided by the constant drive to reform and transform India, for the security and prosperity of all Indians.” He is interested in India’s growth. In his opening speech at the second Raisina Dialogue on January 17, 2017, in Delhi, Modi said that India’s economic and political rise “represents a very important chance for the region and the world.” It is a force for peace, a factor for stability, and a source of regional and world prosperity.

Neighbourhood First Policy

The second important part of the Modi Doctrine is that it takes a strong “neighbourhood first” attitude. Modi wants to live in a neighbourhood that is “thriving, well-connected, and integrated,” and the Indian government under Modi has made it clear that building stronger ties with India’s neighbours is a top concern.

PM Modi got off to a great start by inviting the leaders of all the SAARC countries to his swearing-in event. This was a sign of his “Neighbours first” policy. After that, in his first 19 months, he went to every SAARC country except Maldives, including Pakistan. India’s interactions with its partners are mostly about making connections, working together better, and making more connections. The important thing is that the neighbours have also reached out to them.

Improving cultural ties and “soft power”

Another important part of the Modi Doctrine is that it promotes Indian ideals, culture, and traditions. This is also called a “civilizational link.” The fact that PM Modi went to cultural places in Japan, China, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, etc., where ancient ties between India and these countries can still be seen, is very interesting. Fie has also talked a lot about shared values, traditions, and history, which has made these old ties stronger.

When everyone in the world and the UN marked International Yoga Day on June 21, it was a rare example of India’s soft power diplomacy. The International Solar Alliance and Modi’s use of social media are good examples of his use of soft power.

Indian Diaspora

Under PM Modi’s leadership, the government has increased its interaction with the Indian diaspora in both quality and quantity. It is also trying to simplify rules, respond quickly to their complaints, and include them in its overall plan for development.

The Indian government’s proactive attitude to the diaspora community has given the Non Residential Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) a new lease on life. This has strengthened their ties to their home country and raised their status in the country where they live.

This is clear from the way Modi communicates with the Indian people abroad. He does this in a number of ways, such as through public meetings and social media. This kind of focused involvement could be very helpful in creating synergies for trade, investment, technology transfer, cultural exchange, and, most importantly, getting political support.

The migrant community has sometimes asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for help, and the government has been able to respond quickly because of quick and direct communication.

Modi’s vision of “Sab Ka Sath, Sab Ka Vikas” (take everyone along and work for everyone’s growth) is “a belief for the whole world, and it shows up in several layers, multiple themes, and different geographies.”

Getting close to the US

In September 2014, PM Modi went to the US, and in January 2015, the US President went to India to be the main guest at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi. Some of the ways that India and the US have gotten closer are:

• Civil Nuclear Agreement: When the US President went to India, the main thing they talked about was the lack of progress on the Civil Nuclear Agreement. The deal, which is also known as the 123 Agreement, was put on hold because India’s nuclear liability law for compensation in case of an accident and the US’ demand to track nuclear fuel and other materials it sends to India were not the same. India had said that this request to look at its nuclear facilities was too much. The problems were solved when the Indian government changed its liability laws and the US president used his executive powers to get rid of the “tracking” situation.

• Cooperation in defence: During Modi’s visit to China in 2014, both countries agreed to keep working together in the defence industry for another 10 years. This led to the formal renewal of the “New Framework for Defence Cooperation” in 2015.

In August 2016, India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), and in September 2018, it signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). LEMOA and COMCASA are two of the three foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to make it easier for their armies to work together and for the U.S. to sell high-tech equipment.

Look East to Act East

PM Modi has changed the name of the Look East Policy, which was started by the Narasimha Rao government and kept going by the Manmohan Singh government, to “Act East” to show more seriousness. India’s “Act East” strategy has three different parts that relate to the bigger strategic picture in Asia: institutional, commercial, and security.

Institutionally, India is now a part of Asia’s international networks through the FTA with ASEAN, BIMSTEC, and the East Asia Summit, among other things. In January 2018, Prime Minister Modi asked all 10 leaders of ASEAN to be special guests at the Republic Day parade. In terms of connection, India has also sped up work on the 3,200 km India-Myanmar-Thailand highway from Moreh, Manipur, which is a key way to bring ASEAN closer to India. With Modi in charge, India no longer seems shy about moving towards Tokyo and Washington, and it seems to care less about how China feels about it.

SAGAR Vision

Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) is India’s strategy or doctrine for maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi first talked about the plan on March 12, 2015.

Even though there hasn’t been a single official document about the SAGAR approach, there have been a number of projects and maritime events that can be seen as part of it.

Vision of SAGAR

In a keynote speech to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid out a vision for the SAGAR initiative. He said, “Our vision for the Indian Ocean Region is rooted in advancing cooperation in our region and to use our capabilities for the benefit of all in our common maritime home.”

Using this idea as a guide, the SAGAR initiative can be described as follows:

Security: Strengthening security along the coasts so that it is easier to protect both land and sea areas.

2. Capacity Building: Strengthening economic and security cooperation to make trade and marine security go more smoothly.

Collective Action: Getting people to work together to deal with natural disasters and maritime threats like piracy, terrorism, and new non-state players.

4. Sustainable growth: Working towards regional growth that is sustainable by working together more

5. marine Engagement: Working with countries outside of our borders to build more trust, encourage respect for marine rules and norms, and find peaceful ways to settle disagreements.

Need for SAGAR Vision

Leveraging Blue Economy

• The blue economy gives India a chance it has never had before to meet its national socio-economic goals (like creating jobs, getting energy security, building environmental resilience, etc.) and improve connections with its neighbours.

• Besides that, the blue economy offers many other chances:

Oceans feed and support a large part of the world’s population and move 80% of global trade. Seabed hydrocarbons provide 32% of the world’s supply of hydrocarbons, and exploration is growing. The sea also has a lot of promise for producing renewable blue energy from wind, wave, tidal, thermal, and biomass sources.

Taking on regional problems

• More needs to be done to help people in need after natural disasters and to stop pirates and terrorists who are not part of a government. • India wants an integrated approach and a cooperative future that will lead to sustainable development for everyone in the region.

Keeping an eye on Chinese influence

• China’s power in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has been growing thanks to the BRI initiative’s maritime silk route.

• Also, China’s investments in the countries next to India are both commercial and military in form. The string of pearls has caused India to worry about its security.In this situation, the SAGAR view is very important for dealing with these kinds of problems.

Significance of SAGAR Vision:

• SAGAR gives India a way to build strategic partnerships with other IOR littorals in Asia and Africa. • SAGAR shows that India is ready to take on a leadership role and responsibilities in the region on a long-term basis and in a transparent way through its capacity building and capability enhancement programmes. • SAGAR shows that India wants to be a leader in the region and is ready to do so.India’s other policies that affect the maritime domain, such as the Act East Policy, Project Sagarmala, Project Mausam, India as a “net security provider,” and a focus on the Blue Economy, show how important SAGAR is. This shows India’s maritime resurgence, since maritime issues are now at the centre of India’s foreign policy.

• If India does a good job of putting all of these ideas into action, it can help make the IOR a better place.

Bridging Diplomacy and Development

Modi’s foreign policy is mostly based on India’s needs for growth and development. He is always pushing for reform and change in India, both for the safety and prosperity of all its people. This idea comes from India’s worries about trade, energy security, and the “Make in India” project. In order to reach this goal, more attention has been paid to getting partners from all over the world. So, when the prime minister has travelled around the world, he has rarely missed a chance to sell India as a good place to spend. This led to more foreign investment in the country, as shown by the fact that FDI into India hit $62 billion in the 2017 financial year, even though FDI into the world as a whole had slowed down.

There are also some problems with India’s foreign policy under Modi. There are also some big changes in the way politics work in the West, and the ties between the big powers are changing, which India will have to deal with very seriously. The relationship between China and Russia is taking on new meanings that could hurt Indian interests in the long run, and ties between China and the United States could also become commercial under Donald Trump.

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India’s Foreign Policy Challenges

India’s foreign policy has changed since its independence, when it had to deal with things like the Cold War, growth, and reducing poverty. India’s economy and culture have changed a lot in the last 20 years, which has also led to more interaction with the rest of the world. At the same time, things are changing quickly around the world, which brings up many new difficulties.

In general, these problems are:

• Making sure the border is peaceful: If our area isn’t peaceful and doing well, we won’t be able to focus on the social and economic growth at home. So, we need to make it a goal to build stronger political, cultural, and economic ties with our neighbours, which will lead to partnerships that last. The challenge for us in our neighbourhood is to build interdependencies that not only connect economies but also give people in the subcontinent a stake in each other’s security and success.

Relationships with the Big Powers: With China’s rise, the world is becoming more and more different from what it used to be. The United States and Russia are also very powerful countries. The Indian economy became more linked to the rest of the world after the economic changes of 1991. India’s strategic interests are growing, and it’s important for them to have good relationships with other big powers. But it would be hard to find a good balance in their relationships with each other. Getting closer to the West will make Russia less like an old friend. India’s ties with Israel, the US, and Arab countries are affected by how close it is to Iran and how it feels about Palestine.

Issues of the future, like food security, water, energy, and the environment, cross borders, so India needs to work with other countries to solve them in a comprehensive way.

Many problems, like water, flood control, and energy, have immediate and long-term answers in our area.

Our economic growth needs a steady flow of energy, so we need to work with countries like Russia, the Middle East, and others that have more energy than they need. Climate change and the destruction of the environment around the world require everyone to work together based on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

Current Challenges to India’s Foreign Policy

• Russia Ukraine Issue: When countries like India can’t decide between politics and moral imperatives, it is clear that there is a complicated international political problem at hand.

 Russia is a trade partner and has a lot of power in the Eurasian region. If India goes against Russia directly, it will hurt its own interests in the area.

o Realist wisdom says that India can’t just take a moralist position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and ignore what politics says.

• Problems within the country: A country can’t be strong abroad if it’s weak at home.

When India’s hard power is there to back up its soft power, it makes sense.

o When he was President of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said many times that India can be a good player on the world stage if it is strong both inside and out.

• Refugee Crisis: Even though India is not a part of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, it has taken in more people than any other country.

 The problem is to find a good balance between protecting human rights and looking out for state interests. As the Rohingya situation keeps getting worse, India can still do a lot to help find long-term solutions.

How India is seen in the area and around the world in terms of human rights will depend a lot on what it does next.


Cultural Diplomacy

Cultural diplomacy is one of the most important ways to reach foreign policy goals because it helps build good relationships with other countries through both formal and personal contact. Cultural diplomacy is, in simple words, the use of a country’s culture to help it reach its foreign policy goals. It is based on the idea that understanding and respect are the seeds of good relationships.


Through cultural diplomacy, the ideals and image of a country are spread to other countries. At the same time, it helps people learn about the beliefs, cultures, and images of people in other countries. This is one of the best ways for a government to show other countries that they value and understand them.

Cultural diplomacy can lead to strong relationships between people from different countries because it can create places where people can talk to each other and build a “foundation of trust” with them.

Policymakers can use this trust to make decisions about politics, economics, and the military. This can also help keep people from fighting with each other because they don’t understand each other’s culture as well. Cultural diplomacy can help more than just the interests of the country doing the diplomacy. It can also help the interests of other countries.

Some examples of this larger scope of cultural diplomacy are scholarships for education, visits by scholars, intellectuals, academics, and artists from both inside and outside the country, performances by cultural groups, seminars, and conferences, etc.

India’s Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power

India has known since its independence that culture diplomacy is important. The Ministry of External Affairs has been promoting India’s culture. As a result, India has signed 126 bilateral cultural deals with many countries and is currently running 58 cultural exchange programmes with other countries.

In 1950, India set up a group called the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to help reach this goal. With its Cultural Centres, Festivals of India, Chairs of Indian Studies, and other programmes, the body has been at the forefront of spreading India’s culture. The ICCR is present in 35 countries through cultural centres that have been set up in different parts of those countries. Later, Rajiv Gandhi also boosted cultural diplomacy by supporting Indian festivals around the world.

Since the 1990s, India’s culture has been getting a lot of attention around the world. Indian food, yoga, Bollywood, and even modern Indian art are all popular. At the same time, the Indian diaspora’s economic success has helped spread Indian culture abroad.

With this in mind, the Indian government has been putting a lot of attention on the Indian diaspora through programmes like Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, which started in 2003. India has also worked to promote cultural diplomacy through exchange events, performances, and other cultural activities by signing cultural agreements with different countries. The “Know India Programme” is another important programme. It is a three-week orientation programme for migrant youth that teaches them about different parts of life in India and the progress the country has made in different fields.

Present Scenario

In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on the cultural side of things. “Cultural and civilisation links” are the parts of India’s foreign strategy under Modi that have to do with “soft power.”

On May 4, 2015, India held International Buddha Purnima Diwas to remember the birth, wisdom, and death of Lord Buddha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to Sri Lanka to be the main guest at International Vesak Day events. This is the most important day on the Buddhist calendar, so it was a big deal that Modi was there.

The UNGA agreed with India’s idea and made June 21st, every year, International Yoga Day. Yoga’s close ties to India’s old culture would help it become more well-known and respected in other countries. Ayurveda has also been given the same push, with the goal of putting it on the same level as traditional Chinese medicine. At the same time, India’s religious and philosophical traditions, such as Yoga, are finding more and more ways to support its culture.

Bollywood has also done a lot to spread India’s culture around the world, especially as the industry has become more popular around the world.

Sports Diplomacy

Sports diplomacy is the use of sports to change social, political, and international relationships across cultures and bring people closer together.

In general, India and Pakistan’s relationship in cricket has been like their relationship in politics. Both India and Pakistan are very passionate about Cricket events between their countries. When Pakistan went to India for the first time in 1952, India and Pakistan started playing cricket together. Even though these tours kept happening, the political connection got worse because of the wars in 1965 and 1971 and border fights. This hurt the Cricket ties.

As part of his “cricket for peace initiative,” former Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq went to India in February 1987 to watch a Test match between his country and India. This was the start of cricket diplomacy. This project helped get things back on track between the two countries.

But the political relationship got worse again during the Kashmir issue in 1989, which hurt the two countries’ cricket ties. The cricket ties got worse again when the Babri Masjid was torn down in 1992.

In 1997, India went to Pakistan to play cricket, but the relationship between the two countries got worse again the next year, when both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. With their relationship getting better, cricket was back to normal when Pakistan went on a tour of India in 1999.

Relations between the two countries got worse after the Kargil war and the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane by “Islamic radicals” from Pakistan in 1999. After this happened, India chose to stop playing cricket with Pakistan until Pakistan stopped helping the rebels in Kashmir. In 2004, the cricket relationship got back on track when an Indian team went to Pakistan. Vajpayee went to Pakistan for a regional meeting, which helped to break the ice between his country and Pakistan. The tour was a huge success because the cricket fans came back with amazing stories of how friendly Pakistanis were.

In 2005, Pakistan’s President Parvez Musharraf was called to Delhi by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to watch a one-day cricket match. This was an example of cricket being used as a diplomatic tool. People could talk about a wide range of topics, such as Kashmir and the battles over Siachen and Sir Creek. With the Mumbai attack in 2008, there was once again a break between politics and cricket. After a number of high-level meetings between the two countries in 2011, they agreed to start peace talks again to solve all of their problems, including the difficult matter of Kashmir. Since then, things have been rough between them.

Cricket policy isn’t just about how India and Pakistan get along. Before the 2015 World Cup, Prime Minister Modi called the heads of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to wish them happiness.

In general, cricket diplomacy has given both countries a chance to talk again about a wide range of problems and get a sense of how they feel about things. It has helped to ease tensions between the two countries and given them a shared interest in Cricket, which has brought them together. Fans of the visiting team and players in the host country have also made it easier to think about other things than war. This helps to build trust between the two countries and the people who live there.

Space Diplomacy

Space diplomacy is the use of space technology to change international, social, and political relationships. Since its start, ISRO (the Indian Space Research Organisation) has signed partnership agreements with the space agencies of 39 countries and 4 international groups. The collaboration can be talked about under the following topics:

• (a) Satellite Systems and Rockets: ISRO has been working with ONES (the French space agency), NASA, and the Russian space agency on a number of projects, such as developing satellites and setting up a liquid fuel production plant in India. ISRO and ONES worked together on a mission called “MeghaTropiques,” and they just recently agreed to keep the project going until 2020. ISRO is also working with NASA to make NISAR, a microwave remote sensing satellite for Earth Observation. NISAR stands for NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar.

• (b) Satellite Communications: As part of his “Neighbourhood First” policy, PM Modi gave the South Asia Satellite (SAS) to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. This will make it easier for these six countries to talk to each other and help each other in times of disaster.

• (c) Satellite Data and Disaster Management: In the area of disaster management, ISRO and ASEAN have been working together through the search and rescue system COSPAS-SARSAT (COSPAS: Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress; SARSAT: Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking). ISRO shares information from Indian satellites, which helps Indian search and rescue efforts.

• (d) Satellite Navigation: Now that IRNSS (NAVIC) is up and running, India can offer its neighbours services like land and sea navigation, disaster management, car tracking, navigation help for hikers and travellers, and visual and voice navigation for drivers, among other things.

• (e) Capacity Building: ISRO has also worked to build the capabilities of other countries by sharing its facilities and expertise in the use of space science and technology. It does this by offering short-term and long-term courses through the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (MRS) and the UN-affiliated Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTE-AP) in Dehradun.

ISRO now works with other space agencies, like JAXA (Japan) and UAESA (UAE), and the relationship has grown. India’s reputation as a leader in space technology has been boosted by these moves. India has gained a lot of goodwill through working together on search and rescue and crisis management, which will help India’s soft power.

Economic Diplomacy

Economic diplomacy is the use of all economic tools, such as export, import, investment, lending, help, free trade agreements, etc., to further the national interest. It basically uses economic tools, like awards or punishments, to reach a certain foreign policy goal.

Before the Indian economy was opened up, the goal of economic diplomacy was to make sure that enough foreign currency flowed in to make up for the foreign exchange gap. During that time, economic and political policies were more separated because they were mostly done in different areas. To fill the gap, another goal was to work out deals to buy cheap oil. At the same time, India, through the NAM, and the Group of 77 at the UN both said that the world economy should be changed so that it works better for the developing world.

Reforms started in 1991 and recent work on the Indian economy have had an effect on India’s relationships with other countries. India’s foreign policy has changed a lot because of its new role as an economic donor and its focus on big projects like natural gas pipelines that cross its borders.

Trade, access to markets in the area and beyond, energy security, and the need for regional economic integration have given India’s relations with other countries new opportunities that have never been seen before.

India’s Act East Policy has been based on making business connections with East Asia. The goal of the FTA with ASEAN and connectivity projects like the BBIN and IMT trilateral highways is to make it easier for countries in the area to do business with each other. India already has a PTA with Afghanistan, which is to the west of it, and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) want to form a trading group and are interested in working out trade liberalisation with India. In the same way, Africa’s growing importance has brought Indian businessmen to the area. African countries have a lot of metal products and energy sources that India could use to meet its growing needs.

India has decided to work with international business groups in a practical way. In terms of India’s economic policy at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it is seen as one of the developing world’s most important voices of disagreement. India’s position at the WTO on state stockholding, minimum support price (MSP), and subsidies shows what is best for the country. At the same time, India has been against putting any problems on the table before the Doha round talks are over.

Economic diplomacy gives India a way to use global chances to help its own people, with the goal of reducing poverty and promoting growth. Its economic performance is also a very good way for a country to show the rest of the world that it is a real power.

Defence Diplomacy

Defence diplomacy is any military action that has a clear diplomatic goal. In other words, the main goal of these activities is to make other countries like India more. Defence diplomacy includes a wide range of activities, such as: • Ministry of Defence (MOD) training courses and education programmes, including opportunities for overseas students to take courses at military training establishments; • Loaning service personnel, short-term training teams, and civilian and military advisers to foreign governments for long periods of time; • Visits by ships, aircraft, and other military units; • Inward and outward diplomacy.

India has used military diplomacy in its relationships with other countries almost since it gained independence. This is because it inherited a large, skilled military force from the British Raj, is a big country, and sees itself as a leader in the post-colonial world. India is “a core state” whose role is “crucial” for long-term peace, a safe balance of power, economic growth, and security in Asia. India’s foreign policy and defence relations have been based on two main ideas: don’t try to take over other countries and don’t spread ideas like democracy.

The country’s first attempts at defence diplomacy were based on its colonial past, the non-aligned movement (NAM), and its backing for anti-imperialist and anticolonial movements in places like Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Namibia, and South Africa’s fight against apartheid. India’s vast experience with mountain warfare, counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations, and its strong military training system have been used to strengthen bilateral ties through training and joint drills.

India’s ability to stop piracy and other subversive activities in the region has definitely helped it keep its borders peaceful and show its power in a way that fits with the maritime needs and hopes of small littoral countries in the region.

India’s military partnerships with Russia, Israel, France, the United States, and other countries show how it keeps its strategic independence. The 21st century is bringing about new international dynamics, and any country that doesn’t use all of its tools and resources to make its security environment as safe as possible will be forced to live and grow in a less-than-ideal way. Nations that improve their military diplomacy and use it in a smart way can expect to live in a safe, if not totally safe, world.

India’s Security Problems Right Now

The end of the Cold War forced a major reorganisation of international ties and gave the world a chance to create a more secure environment. After the end of the Cold War, there are many pressures coming from the rest of the world. These pressures create a complex set of challenges and chances for India in the new world order. India would have to deal with the new challenges, if not predict them, and make the most of its strategic political options, mostly by using its own power potential and bargaining leverages.

The area around India is full of security risks from places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. India has gotten a lot out of working with the US in recent years, even though China and Pakistan continue to be possible security threats. This is something that goes beyond the fun of geostrategic speculation. India is worried about regional and global security, and its policies on modernising its forces, securing the seas, and using nuclear power show this. Still, worries about security at home continue to affect how Indians see security in the area. Some of the problems with security are:

Cross-Border Terrorism: Most external threats come from an unresolved boundary dispute with China and ongoing cross-border Jihadi terrorism in J&K, which is supported by ISI and Pakistan-based Islamist fundamentalist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which are linked to international jihadi groups like Taliban and Al Qaida.

2. International terrorism: Since the late 1970s, India has been the target of some of the worst and most frequent terror attacks, first in Punjab, then in Jammu and Kashmir, and more recently in many other parts of our country. The first act of mass terrorism was the 1993 bombings in Bombay. Systematically, India’s places of worship, signs of its fast economic growth, famous learning centres, popular shopping centres, and signs of its strong democracy have all been attacked. In most parts of the world, terrorist acts are done by people who are not part of the government. However, in India, terrorist acts are funded and backed by government agencies from a hostile neighbourhood.

3. ISIS: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is also known as Al-Tawhid or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a Sunni violent jihadist group that is mostly active in Iraq and Syria. People from different places of India were just arrested, which shows that the group is a threat. But because Indian Islam is a mix of different ideas, it is very hard for a group to become famous among Muslims. But strikes by lone wolves who are influenced by the IS’s worldview and methods could be dangerous to security. India needs high-level information and anti-terror operations to keep going so that the group doesn’t get a foothold on its land. Equally important is better coordination between the government and Muslim religious leaders to stop people from becoming radicalised, as well as specific schemes to help people stop being radicalised, like what western governments do.

4. Maritime security: The Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) are becoming the centre of almost every major power’s attention as their strategic and economic axes change. Indian Ocean is a vital link between India and the countries that are near and far away in the sea. India’s political and economic interests are tied to the Indian Ocean in a way that can’t be broken. India will have to deal with problems in the maritime area like non-state actors, like the people who attacked Mumbai in 2008, piracy, China’s presence in coastal countries, freedom of navigation, and more.

Cybersecurity: Cyberspace was meant to be a place for civilians. But it has become a new place where wars are fought. India will be more likely to be attacked by hackers in the future because more people are using digital technology and more people want to do business without cash. Cyber attacks (like Malware, Ransomware, etc.) on Critical Infrastructures (like a bank, hospital, or nuclear plant) can do a lot of damage to a country’s income and security.

6.Drug Trafficking: India’s border is open to drug trafficking because it is close to the places that make the most heroin and hashish, which are the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran). India has a big problem with drug trafficking, and as a result, drug use, especially among young people, has become a government worry.

7. Nuclear Threat: Since India has promised not to use nuclear weapons first, it has not used nuclear weapons instead of or in addition to other forms of force or pressure to get Pakistan to change its behaviour. Still, Pakistan’s fast improvement of its nuclear capabilities and China’s slow modernization of its nuclear capabilities have changed India’s national security environment in ways that make deterrence harder.