Before the 15th of August 1944, India had no foreign policy for she was under the domination of a foreign power, Indian politicians and public leaders in an unofficial way discussed the matter but the discussion was merely an intellectual exercise and had no impact on the policy of the country. With the achievement of independence, India has come in the grip of foreign affairs. She has to maintain diplomatic relations with other nations of the world and had to adopt a definite policy in the international sphere.
In conformity with her traditions, culture and philosophy, India has evolved, thanks to the genius of Nehru, a code of international conduct which received a lot of praise and acceptance by a majority of nations at the first instance. This code was given the technical name of 'Panch-Sheel'.
1. Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty,
3. Non-interference in each-other's internal affairs,
4. Equality and mutual benefit, and
5. Peaceful co-existence.
In a fast changing world, it is not possible to define exactly the foreign policy of a nation. Truly speaking foreign policy is a constant attempt to adjust and accommodate the changing conditions. Thus foreign policy is necessarily an ever changing and evolutionary process.
In spite of the fast changing trend of the world politics, every nation has to base her foreign policy on certain broad principles and general outlook in foreign affairs. In this respect India has expresses her foreign policy in a clear-cut way. There are three basic principles of India's foreign policy. Firstly, India will oppose imperialism and racial discrimination. Secondly, India will pursue the path of peace and goodwill. Thirdly, India will remain neutral by means of non-alignment.
India regards imperialism and racial discrimination a potential threat to world peace and harmony. In her opinion, imperialism or colonial rule is radically wrong, a denial of human rights. That is why, she took a leading role in resolving the Indonesian dispute, and always opposed the policy of racial discrimination ardently followed by the Malan Government in South Africa. India supported the cause of Egypt at the time of the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Many examples can be quoted to support this argument. Whenever the time has called upon India, she has vehemently but non-violently opposed imperialism and racial discrimination.
India's policy of maintaining peace and friendly relations with other nations is theoretical more than it is practical. Outwardly, every nation of the world is professing the policy of peace and friendship but inwardly, all the countries find it necessary to live up with one group or the other in order to maintain a sort of political balance. India believes in and professes neutrality and refuses to be a camp follower of either America or Russia; though she is willing to maintain friendly relations with both.
India's policy of neutrality or non-alignment has been a point of great criticism. Each group, America or Russia thinks that though she is apparently neutral, yet she is secretly in league with the other. The result is that she has failed to win political allies and so she cannot cast her full weight in international deliberations. In the Kashmir dispute against Pakistan, we had to rely upon the support of Russia, otherwise we had lost the case in United Nations. On the contrary, to tide over the food crises, we had to knock at the door to America with an empty bag. How far is our policy of neutrality successful in view of this dual game?
During the recent past, our foreign policy has been put to test. Our policy of non-alignment is the legacy of Pandit Nehru which we have inherited in his political successors. We have failed to maintain our neutrality in the conflict between U.A.R. and Israel. Losing the balance of mind, we supported the case of U.A.R. and condemned Israel for no help of ours. Though the policy of supporting one and opposing the other has pleased the Muslim population in India, yet it had bad consequences. We could have expressed our views in a balanced way. We have forgotten that Israel supported us in United Nations while U.A.R. kept quiet and Iran criticized us when Pakistan attacked us. By condemning Israel, we have strained our relations with. Britain and the U.S.A. In the present situation of the world our foreign policy has miserably failed.
Though Pandit Nehru believed in the policy of non-alignment, yet he was inclined towards the Russian block. When Russia crushed the movement in Hungary cruelly, Pt. Nehru maintained silence and did not condemn suppression and oppression as a true champion of human liberty, equality and fraternity. For this he was criticized in the world. The Western countries acted with wisdom and foresight when China made an unprovoked aggression on India by giving unconditional support to India. Our foreign policy, in the light of the present situation of the world needs complete re-orientation.
In order to realize the goal of a positive foreign policy, the Indian Government should;
(1) abstain from involvement in the disputes between the power block and at the same time assure that India would in no case assist an a gressor;
(2) strengthen the United Nations and all its agencies in all such efforts as might lead to a world of freedom, equality and peace;
(3) endeavour to work for the collective security of that region of the world which keeps out of alliance of the Atlantic and Soviet camps or any other aggressive. Conglomeration in particular the belt which stretches from Indonesia to Egypt.
(4) support freedom movement, in particular those of Africa and attempt to keep away from both the camps;
(5) seek to revise all treaties, agreements and charters as have set up an international caste system of rich and powerful nations on the one hand, and week and poor nations on the other and thus establish the principle of equality among nations;
(6) extend support towards popular movements against discrimination grounds of race, color or religion.