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India’s External Relations
*As an independent nation India was born in a challenging international situation marked by the: devastating world war, end of colonialism, the emergence of new countries on the world map and the birth of a new international organization the UNO. Therefore independent India’s foreign policy reflected all these concerns.
*A country’s foreign policy is guided by its pursuit of national interests. The major objectives of India’s foreign policy as laid by Nehru were:
- To preserve the hard-earned sovereignty of the country.
- To protect its territorial integrity.
- To promote rapid economic development and the well being of the country.
**Afro-Asian unity: Indian national movement was not an isolated movement rather it was a part of the worldwide struggle against colonialism and imperialism.
*Even before her independence, India strongly advocated for the independence of Asian and African countries.
*In March 1947 India convened Asian relations conference under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru.
*The Afro-Asian conference held at the Bandung, 1955(Indonesia) marked the zenith of India’s involvement in the world affairs. It was at this conference that India along with Indonesia, Egypt, Yugoslavia and Ghana laid the idea of Non-Alignment.
**Peace and conflict with China: India and China had a friendly relationship until the middle of the 1950s.India was one of the first countries to recognize the communist government of China.
*Both the countries signed the Panchsheel Agreement, the five principles of peaceful co-existence on 29 April 1954. The relationship was further strengthened by the visits of the prime ministers of both the countries to each other ‘territory.
*But two developments after that strained the relationship.* China’s annexation of Tibet in 1950 and later its repression of the people and the culture of Tibet caused irritation for India.
*Asylum given to Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, by India, made China uneasy.
* It also refused to accept the international boundary between India and China and claimed large parts of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as its territory which ultimately led to war in 1962 between the two countries.
**Impact of Chinese war on Indian politics:
*India was badly defeated in the war which dented her image at home and abroad.
*The war-induced a sense of national humiliation. As a result, the Defense Minister in Nehru’s cabinet V.K.Menon had to resign.
*Nehru’s own image suffered as he was severely criticized for his naïve assessment of the Chinese intentions. Even a No-Confidence Motion was moved against his government and Congress lost many key by-elections.
*Indo-China war also divided the Communist Party of India. The pro-China group formed a new party CPI (M) in 1964.
*Sino-Indian conflict also affected the Indian government’s policy towards the Northeast region. Nagaland was granted statehood and Tripura and Manipur was granted right to elect their legislative assemblies.
**War and peace with Pakistan:
*Conflict between India and Pakistan started soon after the partition in 1947 over the Kashmir issue but the two countries reached on an agreement over the sharing of Indus water through mediation by the World Bank in 1960.
*In 1965 Pakistan again attacked India in the Rann of Kutch area of Gujrat and later in Jammu and Kashmir. The war came to an end with UN intervention. Later Indian Prime Minister Lalbahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan signed the `Tashkent Agreement’ mediated by the Soviet Union.
**Bangladesh war1971: The general elections in Pakistan in 1970 created an unprecedented internal crisis as the rulers of Pakistan refused to accept the victory of Awami League of East –Pakistan and its demand for a federation.
*The Pakistani army not only arrested Sheikh Mujib but also unleashed a reign of terror on the people of East-Pakistan.
*About 80 lakh refugees from East Pakistan crossed a border and took shelter in India. India extended moral and material support to the freedom struggle of Bangladesh which led to a war between India and Pakistan in 1971.
*India defeated Pakistan and helped in the liberation of Bangladesh. However, the relations became normal after the signing of Shimla Agreement on 3 July 1972 between the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani counterpart Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
**During the Bangladesh war US and China had openly supported Pakistan. To counter the US-China-Pakistan axis India signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Soviet Union in 1971.
**India’s Nuclear Policy: Bangladesh war and the formation of US-China-Pakistan axis forced India to further strengthen its defence. As China had emerged as a nuclear power India decided to develop nuclear power.
*India made its first nuclear explosion at Pokhran in 1974 and later in 1998.
*India refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as it was discriminatory against the non-nuclear nations and allowed the nuclear nations to maintain the monopoly over the nuclear power.
*Though India asserted the peaceful use of Nuclear energy, but at the same time she declared to maintain credible minimum nuclear deterrence with `no first use’.