Any activity is likely to be productive when goals and objectives steer it; so is the case with India’s foreign policy. Without knowing these objectives it may not be easy to appreciate and evaluate the course of the policy.
India’s leaders have specified right from the time of Independence those objectives. Besides, many analysts and scholars have highlighted and evaluated these goals in their writings and analyses.
Chiefly, India’s foreign policy aims to safeguard and further national interest in terms of protecting the country’s political independence and promoting its external security. As a country that freed itself from colonial rule, India naturally wants to follow such foreign policy that would not compromise on its existence as a free country or give scope to other countries to dictate as to how it should conduct itself. With the help of a successful foreign policy, India would like to prevent or resist threats of military attacks from foreign quarters.
India’s need for national security is placed in the wider and wiser backdrop of the need to jointly work for security of the whole world. In other words, it does not want other countries to be insecure while working for its own security. India has always desired friendly relations with all countries, especially the major countries as well as countries in its neighbourhood.
In short, India’s foreign policy seeks to promote world peace, work for avoidance of dangerous wars like the two World Wars during the first half of the 20th Century. India wants to promote harmony and cooperation between the countries that have ideological, political and other differences.
As a country that suffered colonial rule and became free after long peaceful struggle, India’s foreign policy is committed to strive for bringing an end to colonialism everywhere. Accordingly it has supported freedom struggles of the peoples of Africa and Asia. As an extension of this goal, India has been interested to direct its foreign policy towards realisation of equal rights of all peoples and nations without discrimination. Therefore, India opposed the abhorrent policy of apartheid in South Africa; it sought to protect the right to equality under law to all people of Indian origin wherever they are.
India’s foreign policy has another important goal, viz. to promote the economic development of
underprivileged nations and their peoples. For this purpose, its foreign policy seeks to develop
beneficial relationship with the industrially advanced countries with a view to securing necessary assistance.
India’s policy aims to cater to not just its own development needs but also those of the newly independent poor countries in the Third World. A more equitable economic and social world order that would help in eventually eliminating disease and deprivations has been a vital goal of India’s foreign policy.
It is equally notable that a few laudable principles guide India to pursue the above foreign policy goals. Let us take note of them here. India has tried to stand by the principle of avoiding use of force in settling differences with other countries. Indeed it preferred the peaceful methods like dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy for narrowing differences and easing tensions among countries.
India has always actively supported the development of international law to regulate various problematic aspects of world affairs. India has firmly believed in strengthening the United Nations and other global and regional organisations as useful tools for international harmony and
India believes in working for reduction and final elimination of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction. India’s foreign policy principles as enshrined in Panchsheel (1954) emphasise the imperatives of non-aggression, non-interference, and peaceful co-existence among countries.
In short, through foreign policy India wants to be seen as peace-loving, mature, law- abiding and
trust worthy country while trying to benefit from friendly contacts with other countries in the
society of nations.