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Chapter 4 India’s External Relations Class 12 Political Science II CBSE NCERT Notes
In this chapter we will study the story of this relationship between the external and the internal politics by focussing on the international context that shaped India’s external relations and the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign policy.
Also, we will learn about the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan and the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided to conduct its foreign relation with an aim to respect the sovereignty of all other nations and achieve security through the maintenance of peace.
Just as both internal and external factors guide the behavior of an individual or a family, both domestic and international environment influence the foreign policy of a nation.
In the period immediately after the II World war many developing nations choose to support the foreign policy preferences of the powerful countries who were giving them aid or credits.
This resulted in the division of the countries of the world into two clear camps – US, USSR.
The Policy of Non-Alignment
Foreign policy of a nation reflects the interplay of domestic and external factors, therefore the noble ideals that inspired India’s struggle for freedom influenced the making of its foreign policy.
The first PM Jawaharlal Nehru played a crucial role in setting the national agenda. The three major objectives of foreign policy were:
- To preserve the hard-earned sovereignty.
- To protect territorial integrity.
- Promote rapid economic development.
Nehru wishes to achieve this objective through the strategy of non- alignment by reducing Cold War tensions and by contributing human resources to the UN peacekeeping operations.
India wanted to keep away from the military alliances led by the US and Soviet Union against each other.
India advocated nonalignment as the ideal foreign policy approach which was a difficult balancing act and sometimes the balance did not appear perfect.
Nehru envisaged a major role for India in world affairs and especially in Asian affairs. His area was marked by the establishment of contacts between India and other newly independent states in Asia and Africa.
Under his leadership India convened the Asian relations conference in March 1947, five months ahead of attaining independence.
India was a staunch supporter of the decolonization process and firmly opposed racism especially apartheid in South Africa.
The Afro-Asian conference was held in the Indonesian city of Bandung in 1955 commonly known as the Bandung Conference.
This conference later led to the establishment of the NAM. The first summit of the NAM was held in Belgrade in September 1961.
Peace and conflict with China
India’s relationship with China after Independence started on a friendly note.
After the Chinese revolution in 1949, India was one of the first countries to recognize the Communist government.
Nehru felt strongly for this neighbour that was coming out of the shadow of Western domination and helped the new government and international forum.
A joint enunciation of Panchsheel, the five principles of peaceful coexistence by the Indian PM Nehru and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on 29 April 1954 was a step in the direction of stronger relationship between two countries.
The five principles of Panchsheel were:
- Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
- Non-aggression against each other
- Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
- Equality and mutual benefits
- Peaceful coexistence
The plateau of the Central Asian region called Tibet is one of the major issues that historically caused tension between India and China.
From time to time in history, China had claimed administrative control over Tibet.
In 1950, China took control over Tibet which led to widespread protests.
The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama accompanied the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during the official Chinese visit to India in 1956. Informed Nehru about the worsening situation in Tibet.
In 1958, there was armed uprising in Tibet against China’s occupation. This was suppressed by the Chinese forces. Sensing that the situation had become worse in 1959, the Dalai Lama crossed over into the Indian border and sought asylum which was granted.
The Chinese government strongly protested against this. Over the last half century, a large number of Tibetans have also sought refuge in India and many other countries of the world.
China has created the Tibet autonomous region, which is an integral part of China. Tibetan suppose the Chinese claim that Tibet is a part of Chinese territory and also the policy of bringing into the bit more and more Chinese settlers.
The Chinese Invasion, 1962
Two developments strained our relationship with China:
China annexed Tibet in 1950 and thus removed a historical buffer between the two countries which strained the relations and China alleged that the government of India was allowing anti-China activities to take place from within India.
The border between British India and China had never been marked clearly. For reasons of security, Britain maintained a forward claim in the Himalayas, but administrative borders were further south. The main British claim was the McMohan Line, which had been drawn up during the Shimla conference of 1914. Owing point to various disagreements with the British, the Republic of China refused to ratify and recognize any agreement reached at the conference.
Main dispute was about the western and the eastern end of the long border. China claimed to areas within the Indian territory Aksai-Chin area in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and the NEFA (North Eastern Frontier Agency).
China launched a swift and massive invasion in October 1962 on both the disputed regions. The first attack lasted one week and Chinese forces captured some key areas in Arunachal Pradesh.
The China war dented India’s image at home and abroad, India had to approach the Americans and the British for military assistance to tide over the crisis.
Nehru on stature suffered as he was severely criticized for his naïve assessment of the Chinese intention and the lack of military preparedness. For the first time a no-confidence motion against his government was moved and debated in the Lok Sabha.
The Sino-Indian conflict affected the opposition as well and led to growing a rift between China and the Soviet Union which was reflected in differences in Communist party of India.
The pro-USSR faction remained within CPI and moved towards closer ties with the Congress. The other faction was for some time close to China and was against any ties with the Congress.
The party split in 1964 and the leaders of the latter faction formed the Communist party of India (Marxist) CPI-M.
Wars and Peace with Pakistan
The conflict between India and Pakistan started just after Partition over the dispute on Kashmir. A proxy war broke out between the Indian and Pakistani armies in Kashmir during 1947, which was referred to the UN.
Pakistan emerged as a critical factor in India’s relations with the US and subsequently with China.
The Kashmir conflict did not prevent cooperation between the governments of India and Pakistan. Both the governments worked together to restore the women abducted during Partition to their original families.
A more serious armed conflict between the two countries began in 1965, during which Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister of India.
In August-September 1965, Pakistan launched a bigger offensive in Jammu and Kashmir, but Indian troops launched a counter-offensive on the Punjab border, reaching close to Lahore.
The hostilities came to an end with the UN intervention, and the Tashkent Agreement was signed in January 1966 by Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan.
The 1965 war added to India’s already difficult economic situation, although India could inflict considerable military loss on Pakistan.
Bangladesh war, 1971
Beginning in 1970, Pakistan faced its biggest internal crisis. The country’s first general election produced a split verdict – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s party emerged a winner in West Pakistan, while the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman swept through East Pakistan.
The Pakistani rulers were not willing to accept the democratic verdict nor were they ready to accept the Awami League’s demand for a federation.
The Pakistani army arrested Sheikh Mujib and unleashed a reign of terror on the people of East Pakistan. In response, the people started a struggle to liberate ‘Bangladesh’ from Pakistan.
India extended moral and material support to the freedom struggle in Bangladesh, which led to Pakistan accusing India of a conspiracy to break it up.
A full-scale war between India and Pakistan broke out in December 1971, with India making rapid progress in East Pakistan and surrounding Dhaka from three sides.
After the Pakistani army of about 90,000 surrendered, Bangladesh became a free country, and India declared a unilateral ceasefire.
Later, the signing of the Shimla Agreement between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 3 July 1972 formalised the return of peace.
India’s Nuclear Policy
India conducted its first nuclear test in May 1974, marking a significant development in its nuclear program, which was initiated in the late 1940s for generating atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
Nehru’s period was of voluntary nuclear abstinence. Nehru had always put his faith in science and technology for rapidly building a modern India.
India refused to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, which was imposed on the rest of the world by the five nuclear weapon powers, including the US, USSR, UK, France, and China.
India argued that its nuclear test was a peaceful explosion and committed to using nuclear power only for peaceful purposes.
The period when the nuclear test was conducted was a difficult period in domestic politics. Following the Arab-Israel War of 1973, the entire world was affected by the Oil Shock due to the massive hike in
the oil prices by the Arab nations. It led to economic turmoil in India resulting in high inflation.
Foreign policy played only a limited role in party politics during the decade of 1962-1971 when India faced three wars and later when different parties came to power from time to time.