Indian foreign policy of Non-alignment between 1947 and 1964


India’s Non-alignment Doctrine as a foreign policy precept was formulated by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

India’s Non-alignment Doctrine was formulated by Nehru as the touchstone of new India’s foreign policy and Nehru steered India in the international community accordingly.

Nehru’s passionate obsession to non-alignment led him to establish the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) which he did in the company of leaders like President Tito of Yugoslavia, President Nasser of Egypt, President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Nkrumah of Ghana.


They all were leaders of newly independent countries that emerged in the wake of the end of the Second World War and the shake off of colonial rule of the European powers. But this did not deflect the first major criticism of international observers, and especially Western leaders that Nehru as a highly professed democrat had to rely on the dubious company of military dictators and civil autocrats as founding fathers of the NAM.

This criticism grew over the years as NAM expanded and most of the members that were added to ultimately reach a figure of over seventy had similar backgrounds, more or less. It also included countries that were openly allied with the Soviet bloc like Cuba.

Nehru, it seems was attempting to craft a Third World Bloc in the bipolar structure of the Cold War era with idealistic hopes that the newly independent under-developed countries as a bloc could emerge as a ginger group in international affairs and extract maximum concessions from the Big Powers.

Also, it was hoped that NAM and India in particular, would be able to stay clear of Cold War entanglement and conflicts. In the process, Nehru reveled in occupying the centre-stage of global politics with his high flown idealistic moral posturing. India gradually started losing international relevance in USA and the Western group of advanced industrialized countries as India’s moral hectoring grew and India began adopting double standards in the Cold War standards.


The end of the Cold War and the new international realities that emerged forced India to recognize that non-alignment without political, economic and military muscle was not a workable concept and that if India was to actualize its latent great power potential, it had to shed its ideological obsession with non-alignment and join the international power game in the spirit of the REALISM school of political thought.

India today is being widely accepted as an emerging key global player and figuring in the strategic calculus of USA, Russia, China and the EU as a force to reckon with it has achieved this only after discarding the archaic concept of Non- Alignment that it obsessively followed for four decades. Indians of the current generation who would be moving India to its rightful future would naturally question India’s losses as a result of the Non- Alignment Doctrine of India’s foreign policy?

India’s losses in spite of having NAM policy are as follows: It suffered as threat perceptions were de- emphasized and defense preparedness was ignored. It led to India’s military debacle against China in 1962. It also severely impeded the evolution of independent India’s appropriate strategic culture with the obsessive commitment to Pacifism and peace even at the cost of national security interests.

It stood confined to NAM countries as political penetration into global political groupings and strategic partnerships was a taboo as per non-alignment precepts and these partnerships were not open to India bound down by such precepts. India was self- prevented from integrating itself into a globalized economy and reaping the benefits of FDI, income generation and jobs generation. Socialistic pattern of economies was the hallmark of NAM countries. The result was poor rates of economic growth and stagnant economies which India could ill-afford for poverty- alleviation for its large population.

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