NCERT Textbook Chapter 4 - India External Relations, Politics in India Since Independence UPSC Notes | EduRev

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UPSC : NCERT Textbook Chapter 4 - India External Relations, Politics in India Since Independence UPSC Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


In this chapter…
Thus far we have focussed in this book on the developments within 
the country and on domestic challenges. We now turn to the external 
challenges. Here too our leaders faced the challenge with an innovative 
response by way of the policy of non-alignment. But they also found 
themselves in conflict with neighbours. This led to three wars in 1962, 
1965 and 1971. These wars, and the external relations in general, were 
shaped by and had its impact on the politics in the country.
In this chapter we study the story of this relationship between the 
external and the internal politics by focussing on
• the international context that shaped India’s external relations;
? the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign    
policy;
? the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan; and
? the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
Nehru with Nkrumah 
from Ghana, Nasser 
from Egypt, Sukarno 
from Indonesia and Tito 
from Yugoslavia at the 
Afro-Asian conference in 
Bandung in 1955. These 
five comprised the core 
leadership of the Non 
Aligned Movement.
Credit: NMML
Page 2


In this chapter…
Thus far we have focussed in this book on the developments within 
the country and on domestic challenges. We now turn to the external 
challenges. Here too our leaders faced the challenge with an innovative 
response by way of the policy of non-alignment. But they also found 
themselves in conflict with neighbours. This led to three wars in 1962, 
1965 and 1971. These wars, and the external relations in general, were 
shaped by and had its impact on the politics in the country.
In this chapter we study the story of this relationship between the 
external and the internal politics by focussing on
• the international context that shaped India’s external relations;
? the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign    
policy;
? the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan; and
? the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
Nehru with Nkrumah 
from Ghana, Nasser 
from Egypt, Sukarno 
from Indonesia and Tito 
from Yugoslavia at the 
Afro-Asian conference in 
Bandung in 1955. These 
five comprised the core 
leadership of the Non 
Aligned Movement.
Credit: NMML
International context
India was born in a very trying and challenging international context. 
The world had witnessed a devastating war and was grappling 
with issues of reconstruction; yet another attempt to establish 
an international body was underway; many new countries were 
emerging as a result of the collapse of colonialism; and most new 
nations were trying to come to terms with the twin challenges of 
welfare and democracy. Free India’s foreign policy reflected all these 
concerns in the period immediately after Independence. Apart from 
these factors at the global level, India had its own share of concerns. 
The British government left behind the legacy of many international 
disputes; Partition created its own pressures, and the task of poverty 
alleviation was already waiting for fulfilment. This was the overall 
context in which India started participating in the world affairs as an 
independent nation-state.
As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided 
to conduct its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty 
of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance 
of peace. This aim finds an echo in the Directive Principles of State 
Policy.
Just as both internal and external factors guide the behaviour of an 
individual or a family, both domestic and international environment 
influence the foreign policy of a nation. The developing countries 
lack the required resources to effectively advocate their concerns in 
the international system. So they pursue more modest goals than 
the advanced states. They focus more on peace and development in 
their own neighbourhood. Moreover, their economic and security 
dependence on the more powerful states occasionally influences 
their foreign policy. In the period immediately after the Second World
War, many developing nations chose to support the foreign policy 
preferences of the powerful countries who were giving them aid or 
credits.  This resulted in the division of countries of the world into two 
clear camps. One was under the influence of the United States and 
its western allies and the other was under the influence of the then 
Soviet Union.  You have read about this in the book on Contemporary
World Politics. You have read there about the experiment called the 
Non-Aligned Movement. As you also read there, the end of the Cold 
War changed the context of international relations entirely. But when 
India achieved its freedom and started framing its foreign policy, the 
4
chapter
india’s external 
relations
                  What does 
independence consi? of? 
It consi?s fundamentally 
and basically of foreign 
relations. That is the test 
of independence. All else is 
local autonomy. Once foreign 
relations go out of your 
hands into the charge of 
somebody else, to that extent 
and in that measure you are 
not independent. 
Jawaharlal Nehru 
during a debate in the 
Constituent Assembly in 
March 1949. 
“
“
Page 3


In this chapter…
Thus far we have focussed in this book on the developments within 
the country and on domestic challenges. We now turn to the external 
challenges. Here too our leaders faced the challenge with an innovative 
response by way of the policy of non-alignment. But they also found 
themselves in conflict with neighbours. This led to three wars in 1962, 
1965 and 1971. These wars, and the external relations in general, were 
shaped by and had its impact on the politics in the country.
In this chapter we study the story of this relationship between the 
external and the internal politics by focussing on
• the international context that shaped India’s external relations;
? the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign    
policy;
? the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan; and
? the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
Nehru with Nkrumah 
from Ghana, Nasser 
from Egypt, Sukarno 
from Indonesia and Tito 
from Yugoslavia at the 
Afro-Asian conference in 
Bandung in 1955. These 
five comprised the core 
leadership of the Non 
Aligned Movement.
Credit: NMML
International context
India was born in a very trying and challenging international context. 
The world had witnessed a devastating war and was grappling 
with issues of reconstruction; yet another attempt to establish 
an international body was underway; many new countries were 
emerging as a result of the collapse of colonialism; and most new 
nations were trying to come to terms with the twin challenges of 
welfare and democracy. Free India’s foreign policy reflected all these 
concerns in the period immediately after Independence. Apart from 
these factors at the global level, India had its own share of concerns. 
The British government left behind the legacy of many international 
disputes; Partition created its own pressures, and the task of poverty 
alleviation was already waiting for fulfilment. This was the overall 
context in which India started participating in the world affairs as an 
independent nation-state.
As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided 
to conduct its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty 
of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance 
of peace. This aim finds an echo in the Directive Principles of State 
Policy.
Just as both internal and external factors guide the behaviour of an 
individual or a family, both domestic and international environment 
influence the foreign policy of a nation. The developing countries 
lack the required resources to effectively advocate their concerns in 
the international system. So they pursue more modest goals than 
the advanced states. They focus more on peace and development in 
their own neighbourhood. Moreover, their economic and security 
dependence on the more powerful states occasionally influences 
their foreign policy. In the period immediately after the Second World
War, many developing nations chose to support the foreign policy 
preferences of the powerful countries who were giving them aid or 
credits.  This resulted in the division of countries of the world into two 
clear camps. One was under the influence of the United States and 
its western allies and the other was under the influence of the then 
Soviet Union.  You have read about this in the book on Contemporary
World Politics. You have read there about the experiment called the 
Non-Aligned Movement. As you also read there, the end of the Cold 
War changed the context of international relations entirely. But when 
India achieved its freedom and started framing its foreign policy, the 
4
chapter
india’s external 
relations
                  What does 
independence consi? of? 
It consi?s fundamentally 
and basically of foreign 
relations. That is the test 
of independence. All else is 
local autonomy. Once foreign 
relations go out of your 
hands into the charge of 
somebody else, to that extent 
and in that measure you are 
not independent. 
Jawaharlal Nehru 
during a debate in the 
Constituent Assembly in 
March 1949. 
“
“
66 Politics in India since Independence
Cold War was just beginning and the world was getting divided into 
these two camps. Did India belong to any of these two camps in global 
politics of the fifties and the sixties? Was it successful in conducting 
its foreign policy peacefully and avoiding international conflicts? 
Policy of non-alignment
The Indian national movement was not an isolated process. It was a 
part of the worldwide struggle against colonialism and imperialism. 
It influenced the liberation movements of many Asian and African 
countries. Prior to India’s Independence, there were contacts between 
the nationalist leaders of India and those of other colonies, united 
as they were in their common struggle against colonialism and 
imperialism. The creation of the Indian National Army (INA) by Netaji 
Subhash Chandra Bose during the Second World War was the clearest 
manifestation of the linkages established between India and overseas 
Indians during the freedom struggle.
The foreign policy of a nation reflects the interplay of domestic 
and external factors. Therefore, the noble ideals that inspired India’s 
struggle for freedom influenced the making of its foreign policy. But 
India’s attainment of independence coincided with the beginning of 
the Cold War era. As you read in the first chapter of the book on 
Contemporary World Politics, this period was marked by the political, 
economic, and military confrontation at the global level between the 
two blocs led by the superpowers, the US and the USSR. The same 
period also witnessed developments like the establishment of the 
UN, the creation of nuclear weapons, the emergence of Communist 
The Constitutional principles
Article 51 of the Indian Constitution lays down some Directive Principles of State Policy on 
‘Promotion of international peace and security’.
“The State shall endeavour to – 
(a) Promote international peace and security
(b) Maintain just and honourable relations between nations
(c) Foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised 
people with one another; and
(d) Encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.”
How well did the Indian state live up to these principles in the first two decades after 
Independence? You may come back to this question after reading the chapter. 
It’s
the fourth chapter 
and it’s Nehru once 
again! Was he a 
superman or what? Or 
have the historians 
glorified his role?
Page 4


In this chapter…
Thus far we have focussed in this book on the developments within 
the country and on domestic challenges. We now turn to the external 
challenges. Here too our leaders faced the challenge with an innovative 
response by way of the policy of non-alignment. But they also found 
themselves in conflict with neighbours. This led to three wars in 1962, 
1965 and 1971. These wars, and the external relations in general, were 
shaped by and had its impact on the politics in the country.
In this chapter we study the story of this relationship between the 
external and the internal politics by focussing on
• the international context that shaped India’s external relations;
? the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign    
policy;
? the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan; and
? the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
Nehru with Nkrumah 
from Ghana, Nasser 
from Egypt, Sukarno 
from Indonesia and Tito 
from Yugoslavia at the 
Afro-Asian conference in 
Bandung in 1955. These 
five comprised the core 
leadership of the Non 
Aligned Movement.
Credit: NMML
International context
India was born in a very trying and challenging international context. 
The world had witnessed a devastating war and was grappling 
with issues of reconstruction; yet another attempt to establish 
an international body was underway; many new countries were 
emerging as a result of the collapse of colonialism; and most new 
nations were trying to come to terms with the twin challenges of 
welfare and democracy. Free India’s foreign policy reflected all these 
concerns in the period immediately after Independence. Apart from 
these factors at the global level, India had its own share of concerns. 
The British government left behind the legacy of many international 
disputes; Partition created its own pressures, and the task of poverty 
alleviation was already waiting for fulfilment. This was the overall 
context in which India started participating in the world affairs as an 
independent nation-state.
As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided 
to conduct its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty 
of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance 
of peace. This aim finds an echo in the Directive Principles of State 
Policy.
Just as both internal and external factors guide the behaviour of an 
individual or a family, both domestic and international environment 
influence the foreign policy of a nation. The developing countries 
lack the required resources to effectively advocate their concerns in 
the international system. So they pursue more modest goals than 
the advanced states. They focus more on peace and development in 
their own neighbourhood. Moreover, their economic and security 
dependence on the more powerful states occasionally influences 
their foreign policy. In the period immediately after the Second World
War, many developing nations chose to support the foreign policy 
preferences of the powerful countries who were giving them aid or 
credits.  This resulted in the division of countries of the world into two 
clear camps. One was under the influence of the United States and 
its western allies and the other was under the influence of the then 
Soviet Union.  You have read about this in the book on Contemporary
World Politics. You have read there about the experiment called the 
Non-Aligned Movement. As you also read there, the end of the Cold 
War changed the context of international relations entirely. But when 
India achieved its freedom and started framing its foreign policy, the 
4
chapter
india’s external 
relations
                  What does 
independence consi? of? 
It consi?s fundamentally 
and basically of foreign 
relations. That is the test 
of independence. All else is 
local autonomy. Once foreign 
relations go out of your 
hands into the charge of 
somebody else, to that extent 
and in that measure you are 
not independent. 
Jawaharlal Nehru 
during a debate in the 
Constituent Assembly in 
March 1949. 
“
“
66 Politics in India since Independence
Cold War was just beginning and the world was getting divided into 
these two camps. Did India belong to any of these two camps in global 
politics of the fifties and the sixties? Was it successful in conducting 
its foreign policy peacefully and avoiding international conflicts? 
Policy of non-alignment
The Indian national movement was not an isolated process. It was a 
part of the worldwide struggle against colonialism and imperialism. 
It influenced the liberation movements of many Asian and African 
countries. Prior to India’s Independence, there were contacts between 
the nationalist leaders of India and those of other colonies, united 
as they were in their common struggle against colonialism and 
imperialism. The creation of the Indian National Army (INA) by Netaji 
Subhash Chandra Bose during the Second World War was the clearest 
manifestation of the linkages established between India and overseas 
Indians during the freedom struggle.
The foreign policy of a nation reflects the interplay of domestic 
and external factors. Therefore, the noble ideals that inspired India’s 
struggle for freedom influenced the making of its foreign policy. But 
India’s attainment of independence coincided with the beginning of 
the Cold War era. As you read in the first chapter of the book on 
Contemporary World Politics, this period was marked by the political, 
economic, and military confrontation at the global level between the 
two blocs led by the superpowers, the US and the USSR. The same 
period also witnessed developments like the establishment of the 
UN, the creation of nuclear weapons, the emergence of Communist 
The Constitutional principles
Article 51 of the Indian Constitution lays down some Directive Principles of State Policy on 
‘Promotion of international peace and security’.
“The State shall endeavour to – 
(a) Promote international peace and security
(b) Maintain just and honourable relations between nations
(c) Foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised 
people with one another; and
(d) Encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.”
How well did the Indian state live up to these principles in the first two decades after 
Independence? You may come back to this question after reading the chapter. 
It’s
the fourth chapter 
and it’s Nehru once 
again! Was he a 
superman or what? Or 
have the historians 
glorified his role?
India’s external relations                                                                                     67
China, and the beginning of decolonisation. So India’s leadership had 
to pursue its national interests within the prevailing international 
context.
Nehru’s role
The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru played a crucial role in 
setting the national agenda. He was his own foreign minister. Thus 
both as the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, he exercised 
profound influence in the formulation and implementation of India’s 
foreign policy from 1946 to 1964. The three major objectives of 
Nehru’s foreign policy were to preserve the hard-earned sovereignty, 
protect territorial integrity, and promote rapid economic development. 
Nehru wished to achieve these objectives through the strategy of non-
alignment. There were of course parties and groups in the country 
that believed that India should be more friendly with the bloc led 
by US because that bloc claimed to be pro-democracy. Among those 
who thought on these lines were leaders like Dr Ambedkar. Some 
political parties, which were opposed to communism, also wanted 
India to follow a pro-US foreign policy. These included the Bharatiya 
Jan Sangh and later the Swatantra Party.  But Nehru possessed 
considerable leeway in formulating the foreign policy. 
Distance from two camps
The foreign policy of independent India vigorously pursued the dream 
of a peaceful world by advocating the policy of non-alignment, by 
reducing the Cold War tensions and by contributing human resources 
to the UN peacekeeping operations. You might ask why India did not 
join either of the two camps during the Cold War era. India wanted 
to keep away from the military alliances led by US and Soviet Union 
against each other. As you have read in the book on Contemporary 
World Politics, during the Cold War, the US-led North Atlantic 
Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact came 
into existence. India advocated non-alignment as the ideal foreign 
policy approach. This was a difficult balancing act and sometimes 
the balance did not appear perfect. In 1956 when Britain attacked 
Egypt over the Suez canal issue, India led the world protest against 
this neo-colonial invasion. But in the same year when the USSR 
invaded Hungary, India did not join its public condemnation. Despite 
such situation, by and large India did take an independent stand on 
various international issues and could get aid and assistance from 
members of both the blocs.
While India was trying to convince the other developing countries 
about the policy of non-alignment, Pakistan joined the US-led military 
alliances. The US was not happy about India’s independent initiatives 
and the policy of non-alignment. Therefore, there was a considerable 
                 Our general 
policy is to avoid 
entanglement in power 
politics and not to join 
any group of powers as 
against any other group. 
The two leading groups 
today are the Russian 
bloc and the Anglo-
American bloc. We must 
be friendly to both and 
yet not join either. Both 
America and Russia 
are extraordinarily 
suspicious of each other 
as well as of other 
countries. This makes 
our path di?cult 
and we may well be 
suspected by each of 
leaning towards the 
other. This cannot be 
helped.
Jawaharlal Nehru
Letter to K .P. S. 
Menon, January 
1947.
“
“
Page 5


In this chapter…
Thus far we have focussed in this book on the developments within 
the country and on domestic challenges. We now turn to the external 
challenges. Here too our leaders faced the challenge with an innovative 
response by way of the policy of non-alignment. But they also found 
themselves in conflict with neighbours. This led to three wars in 1962, 
1965 and 1971. These wars, and the external relations in general, were 
shaped by and had its impact on the politics in the country.
In this chapter we study the story of this relationship between the 
external and the internal politics by focussing on
• the international context that shaped India’s external relations;
? the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign    
policy;
? the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan; and
? the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
Nehru with Nkrumah 
from Ghana, Nasser 
from Egypt, Sukarno 
from Indonesia and Tito 
from Yugoslavia at the 
Afro-Asian conference in 
Bandung in 1955. These 
five comprised the core 
leadership of the Non 
Aligned Movement.
Credit: NMML
International context
India was born in a very trying and challenging international context. 
The world had witnessed a devastating war and was grappling 
with issues of reconstruction; yet another attempt to establish 
an international body was underway; many new countries were 
emerging as a result of the collapse of colonialism; and most new 
nations were trying to come to terms with the twin challenges of 
welfare and democracy. Free India’s foreign policy reflected all these 
concerns in the period immediately after Independence. Apart from 
these factors at the global level, India had its own share of concerns. 
The British government left behind the legacy of many international 
disputes; Partition created its own pressures, and the task of poverty 
alleviation was already waiting for fulfilment. This was the overall 
context in which India started participating in the world affairs as an 
independent nation-state.
As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided 
to conduct its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty 
of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance 
of peace. This aim finds an echo in the Directive Principles of State 
Policy.
Just as both internal and external factors guide the behaviour of an 
individual or a family, both domestic and international environment 
influence the foreign policy of a nation. The developing countries 
lack the required resources to effectively advocate their concerns in 
the international system. So they pursue more modest goals than 
the advanced states. They focus more on peace and development in 
their own neighbourhood. Moreover, their economic and security 
dependence on the more powerful states occasionally influences 
their foreign policy. In the period immediately after the Second World
War, many developing nations chose to support the foreign policy 
preferences of the powerful countries who were giving them aid or 
credits.  This resulted in the division of countries of the world into two 
clear camps. One was under the influence of the United States and 
its western allies and the other was under the influence of the then 
Soviet Union.  You have read about this in the book on Contemporary
World Politics. You have read there about the experiment called the 
Non-Aligned Movement. As you also read there, the end of the Cold 
War changed the context of international relations entirely. But when 
India achieved its freedom and started framing its foreign policy, the 
4
chapter
india’s external 
relations
                  What does 
independence consi? of? 
It consi?s fundamentally 
and basically of foreign 
relations. That is the test 
of independence. All else is 
local autonomy. Once foreign 
relations go out of your 
hands into the charge of 
somebody else, to that extent 
and in that measure you are 
not independent. 
Jawaharlal Nehru 
during a debate in the 
Constituent Assembly in 
March 1949. 
“
“
66 Politics in India since Independence
Cold War was just beginning and the world was getting divided into 
these two camps. Did India belong to any of these two camps in global 
politics of the fifties and the sixties? Was it successful in conducting 
its foreign policy peacefully and avoiding international conflicts? 
Policy of non-alignment
The Indian national movement was not an isolated process. It was a 
part of the worldwide struggle against colonialism and imperialism. 
It influenced the liberation movements of many Asian and African 
countries. Prior to India’s Independence, there were contacts between 
the nationalist leaders of India and those of other colonies, united 
as they were in their common struggle against colonialism and 
imperialism. The creation of the Indian National Army (INA) by Netaji 
Subhash Chandra Bose during the Second World War was the clearest 
manifestation of the linkages established between India and overseas 
Indians during the freedom struggle.
The foreign policy of a nation reflects the interplay of domestic 
and external factors. Therefore, the noble ideals that inspired India’s 
struggle for freedom influenced the making of its foreign policy. But 
India’s attainment of independence coincided with the beginning of 
the Cold War era. As you read in the first chapter of the book on 
Contemporary World Politics, this period was marked by the political, 
economic, and military confrontation at the global level between the 
two blocs led by the superpowers, the US and the USSR. The same 
period also witnessed developments like the establishment of the 
UN, the creation of nuclear weapons, the emergence of Communist 
The Constitutional principles
Article 51 of the Indian Constitution lays down some Directive Principles of State Policy on 
‘Promotion of international peace and security’.
“The State shall endeavour to – 
(a) Promote international peace and security
(b) Maintain just and honourable relations between nations
(c) Foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised 
people with one another; and
(d) Encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.”
How well did the Indian state live up to these principles in the first two decades after 
Independence? You may come back to this question after reading the chapter. 
It’s
the fourth chapter 
and it’s Nehru once 
again! Was he a 
superman or what? Or 
have the historians 
glorified his role?
India’s external relations                                                                                     67
China, and the beginning of decolonisation. So India’s leadership had 
to pursue its national interests within the prevailing international 
context.
Nehru’s role
The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru played a crucial role in 
setting the national agenda. He was his own foreign minister. Thus 
both as the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, he exercised 
profound influence in the formulation and implementation of India’s 
foreign policy from 1946 to 1964. The three major objectives of 
Nehru’s foreign policy were to preserve the hard-earned sovereignty, 
protect territorial integrity, and promote rapid economic development. 
Nehru wished to achieve these objectives through the strategy of non-
alignment. There were of course parties and groups in the country 
that believed that India should be more friendly with the bloc led 
by US because that bloc claimed to be pro-democracy. Among those 
who thought on these lines were leaders like Dr Ambedkar. Some 
political parties, which were opposed to communism, also wanted 
India to follow a pro-US foreign policy. These included the Bharatiya 
Jan Sangh and later the Swatantra Party.  But Nehru possessed 
considerable leeway in formulating the foreign policy. 
Distance from two camps
The foreign policy of independent India vigorously pursued the dream 
of a peaceful world by advocating the policy of non-alignment, by 
reducing the Cold War tensions and by contributing human resources 
to the UN peacekeeping operations. You might ask why India did not 
join either of the two camps during the Cold War era. India wanted 
to keep away from the military alliances led by US and Soviet Union 
against each other. As you have read in the book on Contemporary 
World Politics, during the Cold War, the US-led North Atlantic 
Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact came 
into existence. India advocated non-alignment as the ideal foreign 
policy approach. This was a difficult balancing act and sometimes 
the balance did not appear perfect. In 1956 when Britain attacked 
Egypt over the Suez canal issue, India led the world protest against 
this neo-colonial invasion. But in the same year when the USSR 
invaded Hungary, India did not join its public condemnation. Despite 
such situation, by and large India did take an independent stand on 
various international issues and could get aid and assistance from 
members of both the blocs.
While India was trying to convince the other developing countries 
about the policy of non-alignment, Pakistan joined the US-led military 
alliances. The US was not happy about India’s independent initiatives 
and the policy of non-alignment. Therefore, there was a considerable 
                 Our general 
policy is to avoid 
entanglement in power 
politics and not to join 
any group of powers as 
against any other group. 
The two leading groups 
today are the Russian 
bloc and the Anglo-
American bloc. We must 
be friendly to both and 
yet not join either. Both 
America and Russia 
are extraordinarily 
suspicious of each other 
as well as of other 
countries. This makes 
our path di?cult 
and we may well be 
suspected by each of 
leaning towards the 
other. This cannot be 
helped.
Jawaharlal Nehru
Letter to K .P. S. 
Menon, January 
1947.
“
“
68 Politics in India since Independence
unease in Indo-US relations during the 1950s. The US also resented 
India’s growing partnership with the Soviet Union. 
You have studied in the last chapter, the strategy of planned 
economic development adopted by India. This policy emphasised 
import-substitution. The emphasis on developing a resource base also 
meant that export oriented growth was limited.  This development 
strategy limited India’s economic interaction with the outside world.
Afro-Asian unity
Yet, given its size, location and power potential, Nehru envisaged a 
major role for India in world affairs and especially in Asian affairs. 
His era was marked by the establishment of contacts between India 
and other newly independent states in Asia and Africa. Throughout 
the 1940s and 1950s, Nehru had been an ardent advocate of Asian 
unity. Under his leadership, India convened the Asian Relations 
Conference in March 1947, five months ahead of attaining its 
independence. India made earnest efforts for the early realisation of 
freedom of Indonesia from the Dutch colonial regime by convening 
an international conference in 1949 to support its freedom struggle. 
India was a staunch supporter of the decolonisation process and 
firmly opposed racism, especially apartheid in South Africa. The Afro-
Asian conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung in 1955, 
commonly known as the Bandung Conference, marked the zenith of 
India’s engagement with the newly independent Asian and African 
nations. The Bandung Conference later led to the establishment 
of the NAM. The First Summit of the NAM was held in Belgrade in 
September 1961. Nehru was a co-founder of the NAM (See Chapter 1 
of Contemporary World Politics).
Peace and con?ict with China
Unlike its relationship with Pakistan, free India began its relationship 
with China on a very friendly note. After the Chinese revolution in 
1949, India was one of the first countries to recognise the communist 
government. Nehru felt strongly for this neighbour that was coming out 
of the shadow of western domination and helped the new government 
in international fora. Some of his colleagues, like Vallabhbhai Patel,
were worried about a possible Chinese aggression in future. But Nehru 
thought it was ‘exceedingly unlikely’ that India will face an attack 
from China. For a very long time, the Chinese border was guarded by 
para-military forces, not the army. 
The joint enunciation of Panchsheel, the Five Principles of Peaceful
Coexistence, by the Indian Prime Minister Nehru and the Chinese 
Premier Zhou Enlai on 29 April 1954 was a step in the direction of 
stronger relationship between the two countries. Indian and Chinese 
leaders visited each other’s country and were greeted by large and 
friendly crowds. 
Did we have more 
recognition and power 
in the world when we 
were younger, poorer 
and more vulnerable 
than now? Isn’t that 
strange?
            a country without 
material, men or money 
– the three means of power 
– is now fast coming to be 
recognised as the biggest 
moral power in the civilised 
world …her word li?ened to 
with respect in the councils 
of the great.
C. Rajagopalachari
Letter to Edwina 
Mountbatten, 1950. 
“
“
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