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The political leadership of a nation affects its foreign policy. Explain it with the help of examples from Indian Foreign Policy.

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i. The first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, played a crucial role in setting the national agenda. He was his own foreign minister. He exercised profound influence in the formulation and implementation of India’s foreign policy from 1946 to 1964. The three major objectives of Nehru’s foreign policy was to preserve the hard earned sovereignty, protect territorial integrity and promote rapid economic development Nehru wished to achieve these objectives through the strategy of non – alignment. 

ii. Lal Bahadur Shastri equally emphasized the need to follow genuine non alignment. He gave a slogan of Jai Jawan – Jai Kisan during 1965 war with Pakistan & the problem of severe food shortage in India. 

iii. With the changing national interest, India Gandhi brought a revolutionary change in Indian foreign policy. She signed a treaty of peace & friendship in 1971 with Soviet Union. It was signed in the backdrop of crisis in East Pakistan and the threat that India faced from the then emerging nexus between US China – Pakistan. Since then, the tilt towards Soviet Union in Indian foreign policy was quite evident. In spite of this, India technically remained non-aligned throughout the cold war period. 

iv. The Janta party government that came to power in 1977 announced that it would follow genuine non alignment. Since then, all governments (congress and non-congress) have taken initiatives for restoring better relations with China and entering into close lies with US. 

v. In the period after 1990, Russia, though it continues to be an important friend of India, has lost its global preeminence. Therefore, India’s foreign policy has shifted to a more pro-US strategy. At the same time, Indo-Pakistan relations have witnessed many more developments during this period. While Kashmir continues to be the main issue between the countries, there have been many efforts to restore normal relations. 

vi. Presently, under the leadership of Sh. Narendra Modi, India has initiated various steps to improve and strengthen India’s national ties with other countries. India is trying to balance its relations with both Russia and US. India has become more assertive with China. India has now followed “Act East Policy” in case of Southeast Asian nation than “Look East Policy” pursued by UPA government. 

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