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Foreign Policy of India


Foreign policy is termed as the sum of the principles, interests and objectives of a nation in relationship with the other nations. The foreign policy of a nation is influenced by many factors such as cultural background, political changes, historical experiences, geographical position, the interests of the people, the constitution and the policies of the government.


The principles of non-violence and co-operative are the basis of our foreign policy.

  1. Panchasheel (1954)
    Panchasheel Agreement was signed between Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and the Premier of China Chou-en-laie in 1954. The term ‘Panchasheel’ consists of two words––‘Panch’ meaning five and ‘Sheel’ meaning conduct or the rule of conduct. The principles of Panchasheel are as follows:
    1. Mutual respect to each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
    2. Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
    3. Non-aggression.
    4. Equality and mutual benefit.
    5. Peaceful co-existence.
  2. Non-alignment
    Two power blocs namely American bloc and Russian bloc emerged after the Second World War. Ideological differences cropped up between them leading to the rise of military blocs. The signing of military pacts such as NATO, Warsaw, SEATO, CENTO and ANZUS have intensified the situation leading to arm race and Cold War.
    The developing nations such as India, Egypt, Indonesia, Yugoslovia decided to keep off from power blocs and achieve progress through peace and cooperation. These countries formed their own group called non-aligned nations with the basic principle of non-alignment.
    The foundation of non-alignment was laid in Bandung Conference of 1955 and came into force in Belgrade Conference of 1961. Today NAM is one of the largest organisations next to UNO.
  3. Disarmament
    Banning the production, stocking and testing of nuclear weapons for military purpose is called disarmament.
    India has presented the action plan for nuclear weapon free and non-violent order in the General Assembly of UN in 1988.
    India has opposed and refused to sign to discriminatory natured policies such as Nuclear Non-Prolifiration Treaty (NNPT) and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CNTBT).

India is against colonialism, imperialism and racialism

India’s Relations with Other Countries:

India and Pakistan

India’s desire is to have a cordial, peaceful and friendly relation with Pakistan. Sharing of Indus water, Bangladesh and Kashmir problems, cross-border terrorism became major obstacles in the process of peace. Wars between India and Pakistan were fought over Kashmir issue in 1947, 1965 and 1998 (Kargil War). Shimla Agreements of 1972 and Bus Diplomacy of 1999 also failed.


India and China
India and China are the two largest nations of Asia in terms of land, population, economic development and military power. Signing of Panchasheel between the countries in 1954 reflected the intentions to live with peace and friendship.

Chinese occupation of Tibet and sheltering of Dalai Lama in India caused misunderstanding and tension between the countries.


Chinese attack on Arunachal Pradesh in 1962, their supply of arms to Pakistan and merger of Sikkim to Indian Union in 1975 led to the increase of tension and misunderstanding between both the countries.


India and Nepal
Nepal is a buffer state between India and China. It is the only Hindu state in the world. Treaty of friendship, trade and commerce were signed between India and Nepal in 1950.

Nepal’s close relationship with China and accession of Sikkim to India in 1975 strained the relationship between two countries.


India and Srilanka
India’s links with Sri Lanka are rooted deep in history and mythology from the days of Ramayana. Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country and cordial relationship between the two countries is continuing.


There are two prominent groups in Sri Lanka one is Sinhale and the other the Tamils. There is a conflict between them. The claim of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for a separate state has led to a civil war.

During 1988, a treaty was concluded between Jayawardhane and Rajiv Gandhi and a Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was dispatched.


However, later this had to be withdrawn. India had maintained a good relationship with the Tamil group called Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). But the terrorists belonging to this outfit caused violence in India and ultimately assassinated Rajiv Gandhi.


India and Bangladesh

In 1971, Bangladesh became an independent nation. India recognised the independence of Bangladesh and signed the treaty of peace and friendship for 25 years. From 1974 to 1990, Bangladesh remained an Islamic republic. In 1990, democracy was restored in Bangladesh and relationships became cordial.

There were certain problems between these countries. Dispute over sharing of Ganga water (Farakka barrage problem) was settled through negotiation in 1996. Also, Teen Bhiga Corridor issue was solved. Issue regarding Moore Island remains unsolved.

Regional Co-operation

Peace and progress are most essential in today’s world. Mutual trade and cultural relationship contribute to the economic progress of the nations. Geographical nearness has helped the countries to come closer and work together.


Apart from UNO, the world body, there are many regional organisations such as Common Wealth of Nations, SAARC, ASEAN, etc., to bring about social, educational and economic progress among the member nations. India as an active member of these organizations is trying to bring about development and progress in the fields of agriculture, trade, transport, industry, science and technology.


South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC): The idea of the SAARC was first proposed in 1979 by the former Bangladesh President Zia-ur-Rehman. The leaders of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Srilanka, Nepal, India, Bhutan and Maldives held a summit at Dhaka in 1985 and formed SAARC. The headquarter of SAARC is located at Katmandu in Nepal. The foreign ministers of the SAARC countries meet every six months and make policy decisions. This body is called the Council of Minister. It is the highest policy making body.

Objectives of SAARC

  1. To bring about the quick economic growth, social progress, cultural development and scientific advancement through co-operation.
  2. To promote understanding, friendship and collective self-reliance among member nations.
  3. To promote co-operation with International bodies and other regional organisations having similar aims at SAARC.
  4. To check cross border terrorism and smuggling.


Members to SAARC: 

The following countries are the members of SAARC.

  1. India
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Pakistan
  4. Nepal
  5. Bhutan
  6. Maldives
  7. Srilanka
  8. Afghanistan

SAARC Summits: The annual meeting of the heads of the SAARC states is known as SAARC Summit. The head of the host state presides the SAARC Summit.

  • Ist SAARC Summit was held in Dhaka in 1985
  • IInd SAARC Summit was held in Bangladesh in 1986
  • VIIIth SAARC Summit was held in Delhi in 1995
  • XIV SAARC Summit was held in Delhi in 2007
  • XVI SAARC Summit was held in Thimpu in Nepal 2010
  • XVII SAARC Summit was held in Addu Atoll in Maldives in 2011
  • XVIII SAARC Summit will be hosted by Nepal in 2013


The Commonwealth: The commonwealth, originally called the British Commonwealth of Nations, is an association of sovereign and independent states that formally made up the British empire. Fifty-four member countries, which include 30 per cent of the world’s people, constitute the commonwealth.


Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN): An Association of South-East Asia was established in 1959 by Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines, but it broke up within two years of its formation. The Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand formed the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the Bangkok Declaration of August 8, 1967. The Declaration sought to make the region a ‘Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality’. Brunei joined ASEAN in 1984. Vietnam became the seventh member of the ASEAN in 1995. In July 1997, Myanmar and Laos did enter the fold of the ASEAN. Today the ASEAN has 10 members including Cambodia.

Objectives of ASEAN

  1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development.
  2. To promote peace.
  3. To provide assistance to each other in educational, technical and administrative spheres.
  4. To collaborate more effectively for the greater utilization of their agriculture and industries.
  5. To maintain close co-operation with exiting international and regional organisation with similar aims.

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