Jawaharlal Nehru's Foreign Policy


Jawaharlal Nehru is considered to be the architect of modern India. Apart from his careful handling of India's tumultuous domestic situation in the years immediately after the Independence, Nehru's major contribution lies in the field of foreign policies.
In fact, Nehru determined India's international profile to a great degree in the post-independence years, in his capacity as the foreign minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru's foreign policy has been made subject to much controversy and debate, like his economic policies. However, taken in the context of India's newly found status as a democratic republic, Nehru's foreign affairs policies seem to be extremely apt.

Socialism can be said to be one of the greatest international influences on Nehru, but Gandhi's ideals of Satyagraha also influenced him to a great degree. But he committed himself to neither point of view in framing his foreign policy. Nehru's foreign policies were characterized by two major ideological aspects. First, he wanted India to have an identity that would be independent of any form of overt commitment to either power bloc, the USA or the Soviet. Secondly, he had an unshaken faith in goodwill and honesty in matters of international affairs. The first policy led ultimately to the founding of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). His second faith was terribly shaken by the Chinese attack of 1962, openly disobeying all the clauses of the Panchsheel or five-point agreement of 1954 between New Delhi and Peking. This breach of faith was a major psychological shock for Nehru, and was partially the reason for his death.

The Founding Principles of Nehru's Foreign Policy: Nehru saw war and violent insurgency from very close quarters as a freedom fighter, and he believed in neither. In his foreign policies, Nehru tried to guide India in such a way, so as to steer clear from any form of violence and militarism. He rightly believed that a newly decolonized nation must invest all its economic and logistic resources towards development and not defense and armament. Just like his economic policies, which were non-committal towards any ideological position, Nehru wanted to bring in a healthy level of pragmatism in his dealings of India's foreign affairs as well. He understood that overt commitment to any of the two major power blocs to emerge in the aftermath of World War II, would not serve India's path. He therefore wanted to tread a third path, which was not necessarily the middle path.

It should be remembered that this dogged non-commitment of Nehru was not seen sympathetically by any of the super powers of either East or West at its initial stage. It was frequently termed as a kind of international opportunism and was accused of 'neutralism' - a stance reckoned to be not only dangerous but also equally immoral in the world of International politics. However, the increasing popularity of NAM among various Asian and African countries and Nehru's growing stature as a statesman situation changed their views. India too benefited from this position, as it managed to secure rebuilding grants from member countries of either bloc. After Nehru's successful mediation in the Korean War and the Congo problem, putting an end to a long and violent struggle, his status as a commendable and efficient statesman reached new heights. Jawaharlal Nehru's theory of ideological non-commitment in a world that was rendered dangerous by the Cold War was appreciated by one and all.

Nehru and the Non-Alignment Movement: The greatest success of Jawaharlal Nehru's non-committal international politics was the formation of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). Nehru found allies in Tito, Nasser, Soekarno, U Nu and Nkrumah at a later stage in his formation of this new alliance. An alliance of newly independent and long colonized nations was not taken seriously in the beginning, either by the Eastern or the Western bloc. However, the importance of the alliance was soon felt, and initially led to a great degree of international pressure from both parts of the globe. However, Nehru proceeded with his mission undaunted. It was great test for his courage and it was soon found out that the NAM was not merely a passive platform of neutral and inactive nations. It had clear objectives that included the gradual decolonization of the world, and a strong statement that the member countries were not party to the ever escalating tension of the Cold War. The favored process of decolonization as adopted by the NAM member countries was one of discussion and peaceful agreement. On many occasions, NAM met with success, often under the leadership of Nehru. Whoever supported its cause was an ally and a friend. Nehru preached a policy of issue based alliance and not one based on political and economic dogmas. He was proud of being an Asian, and wanted Asian nations to be the primary determinants of their political fate, not always guided by Western forces.

Nehru's unshaken belief in the force of international brotherhood was attested with his decision to continue with India's Commonwealth status. He was made subject to much criticism back home because of the support he extended towards the Commonwealth, particularly after the complication of the independence issue by the British government in the post World War II years, leading to the unwanted partition. However Nehru, always the believer in peaceful alliances and solution of international affairs based on discussions, went on with his ideals.

Nehru and the Kashmir Problem: Nehru's Foreign policies did not augur well when it came to deal with the neighbors. Kashmir was a perpetual problem, and he failed to reach any successful negotiation regarding Kashmir with the neighbor Pakistan. Nehru had an innate belief in honest fellow-feeling and political generosity. He tried to force a negotiation with the Pakistani government through the United Nations. But the Pakistani military rulers denied any peaceful agreement. The offer of a possible plebiscite was also taken off in 1950. After India's dogged denial of the two-nation theory, a result in favor of Kashmir in the Muslim dominated Kashmir would be a strategic disaster for India. The Kashmir problem remained unresolved, and not even Nehru's diplomatic expertise could give any positive direction to the problem. It still continues to be the one of the key international problems in South Asia.

Nehru and the China Crisis: Nehru's foreign policies concerning China have been made subject to much criticism. However, even in this case, it was Nehru's faith in transparency in the handling of International relations that is seen to be the root of all problems. Nehru was intent on a very warm and mutually beneficial relationship between India and China. The five-point agreement or the Panchsheel between New Delhi and Peking initiated in 1954 was a result of these negotiations. However, China started patrolling certain parts of the Indian border from 1955 onwards. Delhi started negotiations to solve the problem in a peaceful way. India, under the leadership of Nehru wanted to take one issue at a time and begin the discussions. The Chinese government, under Chou En-lai wanted to treat the border issue in its entirety at one go. It was gross violation of the five-point agreement. The Chinese denial for the arbitration from the International Court of Justice complicated the problem.

Amidst such tensions, the Chinese suddenly started a full-scale invasion in 1962. It was a rude shock, not only to Nehru, but to the entire international society. The Indian military was unprepared and also unequipped. Both USA and the Soviet extended token help. Soviet was quite busy with the Cuban crisis, however soon after the problem subsided, President Kruschev did extend some help. American help was minimum, compared to the massive military help that was extended to Pakistan in 1954. On top of that, the Sandys - Rusk team visited India to hold talks in order to make India concede certain areas of Kashmir to Pakistan, a claim that was squarely denied. Nehru stood firm with this faith in the five-point principle. The international community stood by him, as China withdrew under growing international pressure, fearing isolation and global antagonism. Nehru played his last masterstroke in international policy, as he turned the military defeat in a moral victory for India.

The Chinese invasion had far reaching effects on India's foreign policy. It forced Nehru to change his stance on international affairs. He realized that unmitigated goodwill was not necessary the way the business of foreign affairs was conducted. Nehru's dreams were more or less shattered. It was also a great eye-opener. It made India to see that it is important to strengthen one's military strength and not overtly depend on peaceful negotiations in matters of international affairs. The Chinese invasion was a shock to Nehru, almost shaking his idealistic foundation to the very base. Domestic problems also kept escalating, putting a great degree of mental and physical stress on Nehru.



Last Updated on : 10/08/2012

     


     

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