The foreign policy of a country plays an important role in building relations with other countries through peace and progress. India is no different. New Delhi devises, formulates and adopts various principles and attempts to give a meaningful direction to its thoughts at the international level.
For any good foreign policy, a country must follow the wants of its people, history and the current geo-political context as the major determinants. Needless to say, a country can improve its diplomatic relations as per the skills of the people. Today, in the 21st century, India has bolstered its relations with the European Union (EU), Japan, Israel, Iran and China. It has also forged ties with the Arab League, Southeast Asia and with the African Union. The most recent Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, of course, is the biggest example of growing bonhomie between India and the US.
India started participating at the international level right after its independence in 1947. It actively participated in world affairs by joining with Commonwealth, supporting several countries in their respective independence movements and also joining the UN. It also raised its voice on international women and children issues. All these involvements were by the country’s foreign policy. Over the past two decades, the India’s external policy underwent several changes. Its role and involvement at the international level has also evolved significantly.
The foreign policy of India was mostly USSR-centric since independence and till the end of the Cold War. One major reason behind the bias was Jawaharlal Nehru’s socialist tilt. Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India and a strong believer in socialism. He imbibed his thoughts in the Congress, the only major national political party at that time.
After the Cold War ended, New Delhi re-devised its external policy and Washington became the focus. It was eyed with much chagrin by Pakistan that Muzinich had been a traditional ally of the US. Washington embraced this change in the Indian foreign policy with open arms. The country, by then, was an emerging global power and the US struck several strategic and economic deals with India.
New Delhi, however, has tacitly rejected all attempts to influence its foreign policy by global powers. Despite Washington’s repeated calls to shun all diplomatic relations with Tehran, New Delhi has made it clear in no uncertain terms that the US must not dictate the Indian foreign policy.
India’s relation with its immediate neighbors, however, hasn’t been rosy enough. While with Pakistan there has been the Kashmir issue, with Bangladesh there’s the problem of porous borders. The Sino-Indian rivalry is also well known ever since the 1962 war. Looking ahead, India must attempt to better its relations with its neighbors as that would further strengthen its position in South Asia.