Nehru’s Foreign Policy: How it was shaped?

The period between 1947and 1964 {Nehru Era} was the most important and a formative era for India’s foreign policy. Nehru and Indian National Congress had developed a foreign policy, which was based on the elimination of political and economic imperialism and Fascism everywhere and on the co-operation of free nations within a socialistic international framework.

Nehru’s stint with foreign policy began in 1927 when he was 38 years old. His continued visits to Europe {which was a different Europe after WW-I} and learning from revolutionary experiments in USSR and contacts with socialist intellectuals enabled him to crystallize his views on foreign policy. In 1927, he had published an essay titled “A Foreign Policy for India” which sketched his thinking on several relevant issues. In this essay, he pointed out that a Foreign Policy is essential to end the isolation in which India has lived for generations. He said that whether we wish or not, India cannot remain cut off from the world now or hereafter.

His foreign policy had started taking shape in the backdrop of an intellectual movement called “anti-imperialism” sparked by First World War in 1920s. In due course, this movement got a fillip from the failure of League of Nations to extend genuine self determination to the colonies. The anti-imperialism portrayed India’s subjugation as a part of broader menace of European Exploitation. It led to India’s commitment to pursue decolonization wherever possible.

In 1929, delivering his first Presidential address, he emphasized on the idea that India’s struggle against British Imperialism was a part of the World Movement. He pointed out that: Peace can come only when causes of war are removed. So long there is dominance of one country over other, or the exploitation of one class over other, no stable equilibrium can sustain. Thus, out of imperialism and capitalism peace can never come.

In 1933, Nehru published a manifesto titled “Whither India?” at peak of Global Financial Crisis. In this manifesto, he said that the problem that had the world “by throat” was the crisis of capitalism brought about by the ill distribution of world’s wealth. The cut throat competition between the imperialist powers seeking frantically the areas of economic expansion has made Asia the main field of conflict. He asserted that India had to play an important role here. India needs to pursue a sustainable response to capitalism and push toward a “great human goal of social and economic equality and ending all exploitation of nation by nation within a framework of an international co-operative Socialist world federation.

Nehru was most troubled with the rise of Fascism also. In 1936 Presidential address, he had emphasized those in colonies need to be worried of both imperialism and fascism because the later was merely an intensification of the exploitative impulses of the former.

The Second World War further reinforced Nehru’s convictions. He saw the War as not the only problem of Europe but entire world. In 1939, his gave a “Statement on the War Crisis” whereby he boldly declared that India is the crux of the problem and with her vast resources exploited by the imperialism; she must now play an important part in any scheme of world reorganisation.

Finally, at the arrival of Freedom, Nehru said that a free democratic India will gladly associate herself with other free nations for mutual defence against aggression and for economic co-operation. India will work for the establishment of a real world order based on freedom and democracy, utilizing the World’s knowledge and resources for the progress and advancement of humanity.