India has been equally concerned with international peace and security. It is essential for its progress. Like any other nation, India also has its foreign policy rooted in the national interest. India has been pursuing a foreign policy in which peace and security at the international level and especially in its neighbourhood and in the region as a whole has been a key concern.
Right from independence the basic objectives of Indian foreign policy have been:
- maintenance of freedom in policy formulation
- promotion of international peace and security
- good relationships with other nations and especially with neighbours
- support to the United Nations
- disarmament; opposition to colonialism, imperialism and racism
- cooperation among developing nations
To attain these objectives the foreign policy that India has been pursuing consistently is known as the policy of non-alignment, though there have been changes in it to keep it relevant in the context of changes on the international scene.
Policy of Non-alignment
Non-alignment has been regarded as the most important feature of India’s foreign policy. India led the process of evolution of the concept of non-alignment during the period, when the world was divided between two camps: western nations led by the United States of America constituting the one camp and the communist nations led by the Soviet Union constituting the other. It was a known as period of cold war between the two camps.
Cold War was intense rivalry between USA and Soviet Union without fighting a direct war to attract allies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It started soon after the Second World War and continued for forty five years. These two big countries became two opposite poles known as East and West and the world politics revolved around these two poles. In fact, the world became bipolar.
Non-alignment aimed at maintaining national independence in foreign affairs by not joining any of the two military alliances formed by the USA and Soviet Union. Non-alignment was neither neutrality nor non-involvement nor isolationism. It was a dynamic concept which meant not committing to any military bloc but taking an independent stand on international issues according to the merits of each case.
The policy of non-alignment won many supporters in the developing countries as it provided an opportunity to them for protecting their sovereignty as also retaining their freedom of action during the tension ridden cold war period. India as the prime architect of non-alignment and as one of the leading members of the non-aligned movement has taken an active part in its growth. The Non-Aligned Movement is providing all member states, regardless of size and importance, an opportunity to participate in global decision making and world politics.
Among the non-aligned nations, Nehru had evolved special relationship with President Tito of Yugoslavia and Nasser of Egypt. These three are regarded as the founding fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The non-aligned movement was a group of the newly independent states who refused to accept the dictates of the former colonial masters and decided to act according to their own judgment on issues of international concern. Non-aligned Movement (NAM) has also been anti-imperialist in approach.
NAM in Current Scenario
Since Non-aligned Movement NAM was a product of the cold war scenario and the bipolar world, many scholars questioned the relevance of NAM after the end of cold war and disintegration of the Soviet Union. However, even in the present scenario NAM has a significant role to play. First, with the disintegration of Soviet Union, the world faces a threat from unipolar world. The NAM can act as a check against US dominance.
Secondly, the developed (North) and developing (South) world are divided over several economic issues. The NAM remains a very relevant forum for developing countries to engage with the developed nations in a productive dialogue. Moreover, the NAM can prove to be powerful instrument for South-South cooperation. Such a thing is essential if the developing countries are to increase their bargaining power vis-a-vis the developed world.
Finally, the developing countries united under the banner of NAM have to fight for the reform of UN and change it according to the requirements of the 21st century.
Support to United Nations
India has always viewed United Nations (UN) as a vehicle for peace and security and for peaceful change in world politics. Being one of the 51 Original or founding Members of the United Nations, India has been extending all out support in its efforts for international peace and security and disarmament. India expects that the UN must involve countries to moderate their differences through talks or negotiations.
Moreover, India has advocated active role for UN in development effort of the developing countries. It has pleaded for a common united front of these countries in the UN. It believes that the nonaligned world by virtue of its massive number could play a constructive and meaningful role in the UN by stopping the superpowers from using this world body for their own interests.