Immediately after Independence, India was too much engrossed with numerous domestic problems to be particularly concerned about the outside world. Soon, however, her size, large population, resource base, geographical location and cultural background enabled her to gain prominence among the developing countries. Mahatma Gandhi’s model of non-violent political struggle had served as a general model for many Afro-Asian countries to gain Independence.
Her policy to keep equal distance from two super powers was also liked by these developing countries of the Third World. As the number of countries joining the non-aligned group swelled, India’s popularity also increased amongst the developing countries. Its endeavor for economic development, reconstruction and self sufficiency became bacon light for many Afro-Asian Countries.
The two super powers did not like the growing strength of the non-aligned movement calling for international peace and human dignity across the world. India’s prestige got a big jolt in 1962 owing to her humiliating defeat by the Chinese invasion. But it recovered the shock during the regime of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The growing Pakistan-China nexus and US inclination towards Islamabad forced India to soften its attitude towards Soviet Union (Russia) which proved to be more reliable friend for India during the time of crisis and dire necessity. This tilt was also due to geographical proximity and regional geopolitics. With the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has become the supreme power of the world. Consequently, non- aligned movement has almost lost its relevance. In addition to the United States as the super power regional powers are emerging to dominate the regional geopolitics.
Thus India has emerged as the regional power in South Asia. But its geographical location also gives her decisive advantage to keep watch over the geopolitical activities of the Middle East, South-East Asia, East Asia, Central Asia and East Africa. Here India has to face a challenge from China which is trying hard to fill up the vacuum created by the Soviet Union and emerge as the most powerful political-military entity next to the United States.
China is also trying to beat India in the race for leadership of the underdeveloped Afro-Asian world. Unmindful of the Chinese design the United States is propping up Pakistan against India by promoting an anti-India Islamabad-Beijing axis. There was secret support of the United States in the nuclearization of Pakistan.
More recently growing fundamentalism and terrorism in the Islamic world have opened the eyes of the United States and China. There is apparent shift in US policy towards India after Pokhran II blast and the United States is gradually realising the importance of India in the Afro-Asian world. On the one hand it is trying to block the cherished Russian plan to develop a combined Moscow-Beijing-New Delhi strategic triangle to challenge US hegemony in the Afro-Asian world; on the other hand it looks for India as only potential country to stand in face to face with China.
Currently India is striving hard to occupy an honourable position amongst the community of nations. It is trying to occupy a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and thus play an important role in global geopolitics and maintaining world peace. India is a major contributor to the UN peace keeping force.
It is also trying to break the Western hegemony in economic and political fields so as to help in the development of a world order free from exploitation and tyranny. It is organising the divided community of developing countries to fight against neo-colonialism, economic dominance, and political interference in the affairs of the weaker countries. It is also trying for a nuclear free world, curb terrorism and promote world peace.