What is meant by foreign policy?
A nation’s foreign policy is a policy pursued by nation in its dealings with other nations, designed to achieve national objectives through diplomacy. Formulation of national goals and attempts to achieve it through diplomatic channels are the twin basics of foreign policy. In other words, foreign policy is the end, diplomacy is the means to achieve it.
What are the factors determining India’s foreign policy?
India’s foreign policy is determined by a number of factors. Some of the important factors which influence the foreign policy of India are classified into internal and external factors for convenience.
- Geographical Location
The Geography of India, including her fertility, climate, location in relation to her land masses, and waterways, etc. also influence her foreign policy. India’s strategic location has placed it within easy reach of many sensitive areas including Pakistan, China, South-east Asia, West and East Africa. A natural frontier in the form of Himalayas in the north and Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal on the three sides has considerably influenced its foreign policy.
- History and Culture
India’s rich and varied historical and cultural experience has been a conditioning determinant of her foreign policy. The historical links with the British was responsible for India remaining in the Common Wealth of Nations. India’s commitment to peace from time immemorial has significantly influenced the foreign policy. India’s cultural values such as peaceful co-existence, golden mean, mutual respect, means justifying ends, tolerance, neutrality, righteous indignation are reflected in India’s foreign policy.
India’s foreign policy largely depends on her economic strength. A weak nation can never have an effective foreign policy. The stagnant economic condition at the time of independence profoundly affected the foreign policy. One reason why Nehru deliberately kept India out of cold war was his desire to concentrate upon the pressing problems of economic development and to secure technical assistance from super powers by following the path of non-alignment India was able to get much needed assistance from the USSR, the US and the European countries.
- Political reality
Since Nehru government was safe and strong for a continuous period of 17 years, it was able to shape and pursue India’s foreign policy on proper directions. Initially, Nehru found it difficult to follow an independent policy compatible with the nation’s interest.
Foreign policy of a nation is the handy work of her leaders, statesman, and diplomats. Nehru’s early experience abroad, his world view, broad understanding, rational perception, personal conflicts with the leaders of other countries enabled and equipped him to formulate India’s foreign policy.
- Super Powers
When India attained independence, the US and the USSR were the super powers of the world, confronting each other through security arrangements and military pacts. India wisely chose to steer and close with two mutual antagonistic super power centers.
- International Economic System
No country can be absolutely self-sufficient in her economic needs and requirements. Foreign trade and foreign exchange are the barometers to test the country’s economy. Critical inputs of development flow through exports and imports. A developing country like India had to depend on international monetary institutions like World Bank, IMF and other developed nations to meet her developmental inputs.
3. International Issues
India had to adjust to the constraints and compulsions of changing equations among nations in international relations. International issues like cold-war, defense pacts, power blocks, military alliances, proliferation of conventional and non-conventional nuclear weapons, military aid to countries, etc. were taken into consideration when the country’s foreign policy was formulated.
Both the internal and external determinants are inter-related and inter – dependent. They act, react and interact to national and international requirements, demands and contingencies. All these determinants make or mar a nation’s foreign policy.
Keywords: Foreign policy of Nehru