Foreign Policy of India

Foreign policy refers to the set of principles, strategies, and actions that a nation’s government employs to interact with other countries and international actors on the global stage. It is the external-facing aspect of a nation’s governance and involves managing relationships, promoting national interests, and pursuing objectives beyond its borders. 

Key components of a nation’s foreign policy may include:

  1. Diplomacy: The use of negotiation and communication to engage with other countries and resolve conflicts, establish partnerships, and advance common goals.
  2. Trade and Economic Relations: Managing international trade, investments, and economic ties with other nations to promote prosperity and economic growth.
  3. Alliances and Treaties: Forming and maintaining partnerships and alliances with other nations through formal agreements and treaties to enhance security, defense, and shared interests.
  4. International Aid and Development: Providing assistance to other countries through foreign aid, humanitarian efforts, and development programs to foster stability and development.
  5. Security and Defense: Establishing policies related to national security, defense cooperation, and arms control to safeguard the nation’s interests and protect its citizens.
  6. Human Rights and Democracy Promotion: Advocating for human rights, democratic values, and the rule of law globally, and sometimes intervening in cases of human rights abuses.
  7. Multilateral Engagement: Participating in international organizations and forums, such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, or regional groups, to address global challenges and collaborate with other nations.
  8. Conflict Resolution: Engaging in efforts to mediate and resolve conflicts between other nations or within regions.
  9. Environmental and Climate Policy: Addressing global environmental challenges, such as climate change and conservation, and participating in international environmental agreements.
  10. Cultural and Public Diplomacy: Promoting a nation’s culture, values, and ideas abroad to improve its image and foster mutual understanding.

The foreign policy of INDIA, Its objectives, principles, and evolution

India’s foreign policy is shaped by its historical experiences, geopolitical realities, and commitment to its core principles. Over the years, India’s foreign policy has evolved significantly to adapt to changing global dynamics and national interests. 

Introduction to India’s Foreign Policy

India gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947, and since then, it has pursued an independent and NON-ALIGNED foreign policy. India’s foreign policy aims to promote its national interests while fostering peaceful and friendly relations with other countries. India’s foreign policy is influenced by its commitment to democratic values, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its aspiration to play a significant role in global affairs. Also, Article 51 of the constitution directs the state for the “Promotion of international peace and security.

Objectives of India’s Foreign Policy:

  1. National Security: Ensuring the security and defense of the nation is one of the primary objectives of India’s foreign policy. India faces various security challenges, including cross-border terrorism, border disputes, and regional instability. The foreign policy seeks to secure borders, counter-terrorism, and engage in defense cooperation with friendly nations. Example: India’s counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States. India and the U.S. strengthened their collaboration in intelligence sharing, joint training exercises, and counter-terrorism operations to address mutual security concerns.
  2. Economic Growth and Development: India seeks to promote economic growth and development through international trade, investments, and technological collaborations. It aims to attract foreign direct investment, access new markets, and foster economic partnerships with other nations. Example: India’s “Make in India” initiative, launched in 2014, is a prime example of its foreign policy objective to promote economic growth.
  3. Maintaining Peace and Stability: India endeavors to maintain regional and global peace and stability. It supports conflict resolution and peacekeeping efforts, especially in its neighborhood, and advocates for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Example: India’s role in United Nations peacekeeping missions showcases its commitment to maintaining global peace and stability.
  4. Energy Security: India’s growing energy needs make energy security a critical objective. The country aims to ensure a stable and reliable supply of energy resources through international partnerships and cooperation. Example: India’s cooperation with Iran to develop the Chabahar port is aimed at enhancing energy security.
  5. Global Recognition and Influence: India seeks to enhance its global standing and influence. It aspires to be recognized as a responsible global player and contribute positively to addressing global challenges. Example: India’s active engagement in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group is a manifestation of its desire for global recognition and influence.
  6. Promoting Democracy and Human Rights: India upholds democratic values and human rights. It advocates for these principles globally and supports other democracies while condemning human rights abuses. Example: India’s support for democratic movements and processes in countries like Myanmar and Nepal demonstrates its commitment to promoting democracy and human rights.
  7. Climate Change and Environmental Cooperation: India recognizes the importance of environmental conservation and climate change mitigation. It actively participates in international efforts to combat climate change while emphasizing the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Example: India’s participation in the International Solar Alliance (ISA) exemplifies its commitment to combat climate change.
  8. Cultural Diplomacy: India’s rich cultural heritage and soft power are important aspects of its foreign policy. It promotes its culture, arts, and traditions to build bridges with other nations and enhance people-to-people ties. Example: India’s efforts to showcase its cultural diversity and heritage through events like the International Day of Yoga and hosting cultural festivals abroad contribute to its cultural diplomacy. 

Principles of India’s Foreign Policy:

  1. Non-Alignment: India adheres to the principle of non-alignment, which means it avoids taking sides in geopolitical conflicts and aligning with any major power blocs. This principle was particularly significant during the Cold War era when India maintained a distance from the United States and the Soviet Union.
  2. Panchsheel: India emphasizes the Panchsheel principles of peaceful coexistence, which were jointly formulated with China in the 1950s. These principles include mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, and cooperation for mutual benefit.
  3. Multilateralism: India places great importance on multilateralism and active participation in international organizations like the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and regional forums. It believes in collective action to address global challenges.
  4. Bilateral Relations: India places emphasis on building strong bilateral relationships with countries based on mutual respect and understanding. It seeks to establish strategic partnerships with like-minded nations to pursue shared objectives.
  5. South-South Cooperation: India actively engages in South-South cooperation, which involves partnerships and collaboration among developing countries. It provides technical assistance, capacity building, and developmental aid to fellow developing nations.
  6. Peaceful Resolution of Disputes: India advocates for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and disputes through dialogue and negotiations. It believes in respecting international law and the United Nations Charter.
  7. Securing Maritime Interests: Given its extensive coastline and maritime interests, India emphasizes the importance of maritime security and freedom of navigation. It engages in naval cooperation and participates in anti-piracy efforts.
  8. No First Use (NFU) of Nuclear Weapons: India follows an NFU policy regarding its nuclear weapons, stating that it will not use them first in any conflict.

Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy:


In the early years of independence, India’s foreign policy was heavily influenced by its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was a key architect of India’s non-aligned stance during the Cold War. He advocated for disarmament, opposed colonialism, and called for peaceful coexistence among nations.

During this period, India played a prominent role in global affairs, particularly in advocating for decolonization and supporting the Non-Aligned Movement. Nehru’s leadership shaped India’s principles of non-alignment and Panchsheel, and India sought to be a voice for newly independent nations on the international stage.


India faced regional security challenges during the 1970s and 1980s. The India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 shaped India’s relations with its neighbors. In response to Cold War dynamics, India conducted nuclear tests in 1974, which influenced its regional and global standing.

During this period, India’s foreign policy continued to emphasize non-alignment, but it also sought to strengthen ties with the Soviet Union to counterbalance the United States support to Pakistan.


The end of the Cold War brought significant changes to India’s foreign policy. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, India initiated economic liberalization and looked to diversify its global partnerships.

The 1990s witnessed an active approach to economic diplomacy, with a focus on attracting foreign investment and building economic ties with various countries. India also embarked on strategic partnerships with major powers like the United States, aiming to enhance its global influence and access to technology and trade.

The Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998 signaled India’s reaffirmation of its nuclear capability and its commitment to maintaining strategic autonomy. However, these tests also brought international sanctions, isolating India in some global forums.


In the 21st century, India’s foreign policy evolved to reflect its growing economic and strategic interests. It emphasized the “Look East” and later “Act East” policy, focusing on strengthening ties with Southeast Asian and East Asian countries to bolster economic cooperation and maritime security.

India also pursued the “Neighborhood First” policy, aiming to enhance its engagement with neighboring countries and resolve outstanding issues. However, the dynamics with Pakistan remained complicated due to unresolved conflicts.

India’s relations with the United States improved significantly during this period, culminating in the signing of the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008. The agreement marked a significant milestone in India’s efforts to gain access to civilian nuclear technology and recognize India as a responsible nuclear state.

Current Foreign Policy: 

Amidst transitional geopolitics, India’s foreign policy has shifted from non-alignment to multi-alignment, acknowledging its capabilities and global responsibilities. As a major economy, India’s talent is increasingly crucial in shaping and sustaining global technology advancements. 

India’s active participation in critical global negotiations, exemplified by its role in the Paris Climate Conference, highlights its growing influence. Moreover, through initiatives like the SAGAR initiative for the Indian Ocean Region and the Act East and Think West policies, India extends its assertiveness beyond South Asia, securing a more prominent role on the global stage.

Contemporary Foreign Policy Challenges:

  1. China: India’s relations with China have been complex, marked by border disputes and competition for regional influence. Balancing economic cooperation with security concerns remains a challenge.
  2. Pakistan: The long-standing Kashmir conflict and cross-border terrorism continue to strain India-Pakistan relations, hindering regional stability and cooperation.
  3. Terrorism: India faces security threats from terrorist groups operating in the region, which impacts its foreign policy decisions and regional relationships.
  4. The Russia-Ukraine issue: indeed presents a complex and delicate situation for countries like India. As a trade partner with interests in the Eurasian region, India faces a dilemma when it comes to choosing between political considerations and moral imperatives.
  5. Economic Growth: While India seeks to attract foreign investment and strengthen economic ties, it faces competition from other emerging economies and must address domestic challenges to sustain growth.
  6. Climate Change and Environmental Concerns: India faces the dual challenge of addressing environmental issues while ensuring economic growth and energy security.
  7. Geopolitical Shifts: Evolving geopolitical dynamics, such as the rise of China and the changing U.S. approach to global engagement, require India to reassess its foreign policy strategy.
  8. Diaspora Engagement: India’s large diaspora community worldwide plays a significant role in its foreign policy by fostering people-to-people ties and promoting India’s interests abroad.

                                                                                       India’s foreign policy has evolved over the decades, from its non-aligned stance during the Cold War to a more assertive and pragmatic approach in the 21st century. The country’s foreign policy objectives and principles remain centered on promoting national security, economic growth, peaceful coexistence, and global cooperation. 

As India continues to rise as a major global player, it faces a dynamic and complex international environment, necessitating agile and adaptable foreign policy strategies to safeguard its interests and contribute to global peace and stability.


“After all, Atmanirbhar Bharat does coexist with Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is a family).”

S. Jaishankar


Space Diplomacy by India

Space diplomacy, also known as space diplomacy or gastro diplomacy, refers to the use of space activities and cooperation as a tool to enhance international relations, promote global cooperation, and foster peaceful interactions among nations. 

India has been actively engaged in space diplomacy, leveraging its space capabilities for diplomatic purposes and collaborating with other countries in the field of space exploration and technology. Some notable aspects of India’s space diplomacy include:

  1. International Cooperation: Example: India has engaged in successful international collaborations, such as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan. The MOM mission, launched in 2013, was India’s first interplanetary mission and garnered global attention. It received assistance from NASA in terms of communication support and technical expertise, showcasing international cooperation in space exploration.
  2. Regional Leadership: Example: India’s South Asia Satellite, renamed GSAT-9 or SAARC Satellite, was launched in 2017 to provide communication and disaster management support to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries. The satellite facilitated regional connectivity and disaster response capabilities, highlighting India’s leadership and goodwill in the region.
  3. Launch Services: Example: India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has gained a reputation for providing cost-effective and reliable launch services for foreign satellites. Notable examples include launching satellites for countries like the United States, Israel, and various European nations, making India a preferred partner for affordable access to space.
  4. International Forums: Example: India actively participates in international space forums such as the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and its Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). India’s involvement in these forums allows it to contribute to discussions on space policy, space debris mitigation, and capacity building, fostering international cooperation and governance.
  5. Space Diplomacy with Neighbors: Example: India’s space diplomacy efforts with neighboring countries include launching satellites and providing space-related services. For instance, India launched the South Asian satellite GSAT-9, which benefited countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka by providing them with communication and broadcasting capabilities.
  6. Space Research and Development: Example: India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission, launched in 2008, played a significant role in lunar exploration and research. The mission contributed valuable data and insights on the moon’s surface, including the discovery of water molecules on the lunar surface, which added to the global understanding of the moon’s composition.
  7. Global Partnerships: Example: India has established partnerships with various countries worldwide. An example of a significant collaboration is the joint satellite mission, NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar), between India and the United States. The mission aims to study global environmental change, natural disasters, and climate impacts using advanced radar technology.
  8. Outer Space Treaty Adherence: Example: India’s commitment to the principles of the Outer Space Treaty is demonstrated by its space policies and actions. India actively advocates for the prevention of an arms race in space and supports international efforts to keep outer space peaceful and free from weapons. India’s adherence to these principles contributes to the global space governance framework.

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