Objectives of Indian Foreign Policy

Objectives of Indian Foreign Policy - The foreign policy of India has some basic aims and objectives. While keeping in view the fundamental objectives of India’s foreign policy India has adopted and pursued certain principles to realize these objectives. Some of these principles are given in Article 51 under the Directive Principles of Policy in the Constitution Of India.

These principles are promotion of international peace and security; friendly relations with other countries; respect for international law and international organizations like the UN; and finally the peaceful settlement of international disputes. The principles of India’s foreign policy and its objectives are closely interlinked with each other. These principles have stood the test of time and are ingrained in the international law and India’s foreign policy practice.

These aims and objectives of Indian Foreign Policy can be divided into three broad heads:
  • The Central objective,
  • The Intermediary objectives and
  • The Distant objectives.

Central objectives: The most important central objectives of the foreign policy of a state are always the maintenance of national interest, national independence, and sovereignty.

Intermediary objectives: The important intermediary objectives are the up keeping of the economic interest of the state and also to increase its power and prestige in the international field.

Distant objectives: The important distant objectives are to shape an international system befitting the state's dream and ideology.

The foreign policy of India also aims at maintaining international peace and security, oppose imperialism, stand against the apartheid policy, to propagate the peaceful and political settlement of international disputes, foster peaceful coexistence, to remain non-aligned and non-committed, and maintain unity and solidarity of the third world.

National security, interest, and independence: Maintenance of national interest is thus the basic objective of India's foreign policy. The main purpose of the foreign policy is always to give priority to the question of ensuring security from external aggression and if the question of internal security is associated with it, then that too will come under the purview of the foreign policy.

In fact, the idea of national interest has a close link with the international system. If the international system becomes complicated then that may have a bad impact on the security and developmental activities of different states.

Economic development: India is a fast developing economy. Over 1.2 billion people live here. Economic development is a prerequisite for the overall development of the people of India. India is focusing on industrialization and trying to bring foreign capital in various sectors. These industries are expected to create employment for a large number of people.

The question of national development is also associated with the issue of national interest. The principal aim of Indian Foreign policy is to ensure all-pervasive national economic development and to expand the area of external trade as well as of accelerating the pace of development. One of the main objectives of Indian foreign policy is to create such a congenial and favorable and international system and environment which can help her national security and developmental activities ran unhindered.

International peace and security: Another objective of Indian foreign policy is to maintain international peace and security. India is always eager to maintain international peace and hence always propagate for disarmament. India has requested time and again the other states to stop arm competition and organize military groupings and alliances.

India also stood in the past and always stands against imperialism and this is one of the main aims of India's foreign policy. To highlight her motto India always supported the freedom movement of various states like the people's war in Namibia and the liberation movement of Palestine.

Likewise, India is against the policy of apartheid and she always hated it. India always stood firmly against the policy of apartheid followed by the South African government run by the white people. For this reason, India even organized a fund for helping the Front Like States against South Africa. Ultimately the policy itself lost its base and force.

Settle international disputes through peaceful means: Another basic objective of India's foreign policy is to settle all international disputes through peaceful means and politically. India always try to solve international matters in a peaceful manner. Hence India has expressed her complete faith and allegiance to the policy and ideology declared by the UNO. In all international conflicts that carried the possibility of the breach of peace and disturbances in the International System, India always endeavored for the pacific settlement of them.

Peaceful co-existence: Naturally another special objective of Indian foreign policy is her faith on the policy of peaceful co-existence. The first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru once said that the only alternative to peaceful co-existence is co-destruction. That is why India declared the principle of Panchashila which spoke of:
  • Mutual respect of the state for one another's geographical solidarity and sovereignty,
  • Mutual agreement for not to interfere with each other's internal affairs,
  • Maintenance of equality,
  • Providing mutual advantages to each other and
  • Maintenance of peaceful co-existence.

In the modern complex world, most states have begun to keep faith in the policy of peaceful co-existence.

Non-alignment policy: Another striking objective of Indian foreign policy is her faith and maintenance of the policy of non-alignment. After the Second World War, the world was divided into two poles— one was the capitalist block headed by the United States of America and the other one was the Socialist block headed by the earlier USSR now dismantled. That was the period of the cold war and the world was tensed enough to witness another global war (the Third World War) - between these two antagonist blocks which were sure to turn it into a nuclear war. Most of the countries sided with either this block or that.

But India was unwilling to lose her identity so easily and hence maintained the policy of non-alignment - a policy which gave her both prestige and position. Later on, many countries of the world began to follow the Indian policy of non-alignment and thus developed the non-aligned movement better known in its short name— NAM. This has also fostered the unity and integrity of the third world and to make this unity solid by extending cooperation of all sorts among the third world countries is another objective of India's foreign policy.

Indian Policy makers understood the linkage between peace and development and the survival of mankind. In view of the destruction caused by two world wars, they realized that for the progress of a nation a durable world peace was needed. Without global peace, social and economic development is likely to be pushed to the background. Thus, the founder of India’s foreign policy, Nehru gave utmost importance to world peace in his policy planning. For him, India desired peaceful and friendly relations with all countries, particularly the big powers and the neighboring nations. While signing a peace agreement with China; he advocated adherence to five guiding principles known as Panchsheel. 

Panchsheel was signed on 28 April 1954 and since then it has become a guiding principle of India’s 4 bilateral relations with countries also. Panchsheel includes the following five principles of foreign policy: 

1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
2. Non-aggression against each other.
3. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
4. Equality and mutual benefit.
5. Peaceful co-existence.

These principles of Panchsheel were later incorporated in the Bandung Declaration, signed in the Afro-Asian Conference held in 1955 in Indonesia. They are the core principles of Non-alignment and still guide the conduct of India’s foreign policy.

The policy of Resisting Colonialism, Imperialism, Racism
India has been the victim of colonialism and racism and was as such opposed to these evils in any form. India considers colonialism and imperialism as a threat to international peace and security India was the first to bring the issue of Apartheid in the UN in 1946. India raised her voice for the independence of Indonesia and organized Asian Relations Conference for this purpose.

Due to India’s consistent efforts through NAM and other international forums, 14 African countries were liberated from the yoke of colonialism in 1964. India made sincere efforts to end the scourge of apartheid in South Africa. At India’s initiative, NAM set up the Africa Fund (Action for Resisting Imperialism, Colonialism and Apartheid) in 1986 to help the frontline states, which were victims of aggression of South Africa 7 for supporting the cause of fight against Apartheid. India made a generous contribution to this fund. The end of racialism in South Africa in 1990 was a great success for Indian policy. 

Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes
One of the core elements of India’s foreign policy is its unflinching faith in the political solution and peaceful settlement of international disputes. This principle has been included in the Constitution of India, under the Directive Principles of State Policy as well as in the Charter of the UN.

India has played a leading role in the resolution of the Korean conflict and supported the negotiated settlement of the Palestine issue, the Kashmir problem, border problems with neighboring countries, and other such disputes and problems. At present, India is in favor of the resolution of peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, the problem of a democratic upsurge in the Middle East, and so on. India is always against foreign military intervention in resolving international problems. This principle continues to be the cornerstone of India’s policy.

Support for UN, International Law, and a Just and Equal World Order
India has a deep respect for international law and/or the principles of sovereign equality of nations and non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations as espoused by the UN. India has supported the cause of disarmament pursued by the UN. In 1988, India proposed a very ambitious program of nuclear disarmament before the UN.

Though this proposal was not accepted by the other members of the UN, India stands committed to the cause of universal disarmament even today. India has played a key role in preserving world peace by helping in the decolonization process, and through active participation in UN peacekeeping activities. To make the composition of the Security Council more realistic and democratic, India has proposed and supported the reform of Security Council 8 and other UN agencies. India is one of the claimants to permanent membership of the Security Council.

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