Several books have been written on the foreign policy of India, particularly of the Nehru period. Some authors have also discussed in detail the determining factors and fundamental principles of this policy. However, few have emphasised predominance of the economic factor as a determinant, which plays the most important part in determining foreign policy not only of India but of other countries as well.

The essence of this book is to stress the paramount importance of this factor which determined the material as well as the intellectual life of the country at that time and found expression in internal and the external policies of the country. While emphasising the significance of the economic factor, the importance of other factors has not been ignored.

The author has chosen to limit himself to the Nehru period because it was then that our foreign policy was shaped, formulated and implemented. India, inspite of her other weaknesses, commanded respect and eminence in world affairs and was one of the prominent leaders of emerging Afro-Asian countries. The policy that Nehru propounded and enforced was followed by his immediate successors Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. From 1991 onwards, the change in the economic fundamentals started taking shape, resulting in basic changes in the foreign policy also.

How should India protect and promote its interests in today’s world, which is in flux and full of uncertainties? Global power equations are changing. The relative weight of the US has diminished and it is less self-assured and more inward looking. Europe is grappling with Brexit, the rise of right-wing nationalism, and a flood of immigrants.

China is the new pretender that relentlessly pursues its ‘China Dream’ of Asian, and eventually global, domination. Russia has regained much of its self-confidence and seeks to reclaim the Soviet Union’s erstwhile global stature.

We see a more activist and less inhibited Japan is playing a greater role in Asia matching its economic and technological strength. The entire region from Pakistan to Morocco is in upheaval, with rampaging terrorism, fundamentalism, sharp regional rivalries, as well as many so-called ‘failed’ and ‘failing’ states.

In this shifting kaleidoscope, a more self-confident and ambitious India under Narendra Modi is seeking to develop a new paradigm for India’s foreign policy where India would not be a mere ‘balancer’ or ‘swing state’ but a ‘leading state’ that seeks a place at the global high table.

This will not be easy, since power is never given, always taken. It will have to be ready to take risks and at times pursue conflicting goals. Many other countries will work to keep India down. That is why India must leverage its strengths have diversified foreign policy options, and remain alert and flexible.

Like all previous Indian leaders, Prime Minister Modi too seeks to preserve India’s independence of action and autonomy of decision-making in foreign policy. Earlier, the creed was “non-alignment.” As a policy option for India, as distinct from the Non-Aligned Movement, this meant resisting pressures to join rival camps during the Cold War and examining foreign policy options on merit.

Various factors, including our sense of pride and self-worth based on a rich heritage of civilization and culture, our past achievements, and our multi-faceted successes as an independent nation, impel Indians to cherish strategic autonomy. India is too big, self-respecting, and steeped in the anti-colonial tradition to become anyone’s camp follower. India may not have been an aggressive, expansionist power. But it has not been a passive power. India fought against colonialism and apartheid. It resisted pressures to join blocs. It did not accept the iniquitous nuclear regime of the NPT. Today, India has a more positive agenda. It seeks greater influence in global governing structures. Already, it has a much greater voice in the WTO, and is a member of the G-20 and East Asia Summit. Over time, it hopes to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and become a Permanent Member of the UN.

It has been rightly said that nations have no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. Broadly this holds true for India too. India’s relationships and priorities have changed over time. For example, during the Cold War, India’s interests were best served through a close relationship with the Soviet Union, which gave India much needed political and diplomatic support on key issues in the UN, as well as valuable economic and defence assistance. Today, the relationship is not as effusive as it used to be. By contrast, India’s relations with the US were quite strained throughout the 20th century. Today, however, India and the US have, as PM Modi put it, “overcome the hesitations of history,” and there is a much greater congruence of interests. Similarly, India-Japan relations that remained low-key and insubstantial for many decades are now very vibrant and dynamic. On the other hand, “Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai” has given way to a relationship of much greater suspicion and mistrust. Other examples are the Commonwealth, NAM and the G-77, all of which were important for India in the early decades after Independence but no longer today, whereas the Persian Gulf region and ASEAN, which earlier occupied a minor place in India’s foreign policy, are now extremely high priority regions.


Born in Jhansi, the author postgraduated in political science from Agra University. In 1951, he joined the Department of Political Science in Bundelkhand College, Jhansi, and spent over three decades in that institution. There he developed a special interest in international politics and political thought. He pursued this interest even after retirement in 1987 as a Reader and Head of Department of Political Science.

He has travelled extensively to Soviet Union, German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, China and many western countries. He is deeply interested in social and political activities and has been associated with many educational and professional institutions. He is the author of several books – Constitution of the Soviet Union, Chetna, Antarashtriya Rajniti Ka Vigyan and others.


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