4.1 The foreign policy of any State and its government, in the final analysis, is nothing but the projection of its internal policy and it reflects, in the main, the interests of the class or classes that head the government and the State in question. The foreign policy of the Government of India naturally reflects the dual character of our bourgeoisie, of opposition to as well as compromise and collaboration with imperialism. An overview of the evolution of foreign policy over the last five decades exhibits this duality. In the initial phase upto the mid-fifties, the Indian government followed a timid policy of appeasing Britain and the other imperialist powers. However, from the mid-fifties, a new orientation began. In a world which was sharply divided between the imperialist and socialist blocs, the possibilities of steering clear from joining the imperialist alliance opened up. The foreign policy changed in favour of non-alignment, against military blocs and for peace and support for the national liberation struggles of the colonial peoples.
4.2 This policy resulted in friendly relations with the Soviet Union and the socialist countries. However, the border conflict with China in 1962 saw a phase of collaboration with the US and the western powers when India sought their military assistance. After this period, foreign policy once again assumed an anti-imperialist orientation. The support to the liberation struggle in Bangladesh in 1971 and the treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union marked a new stage. India played an active role in the international arena in the seventies in support of the national liberation movements and for world peace.
4.3 In the context of external policy, the contradictions between the Indian bourgeoisie and imperialism manifested on the Kashmir issue and the US strategic design to use Pakistan as a base for its operations. As a leading country among the newly independent nations, the Indian bourgeoisie pioneered the policy of non-alignment, which by and large served the country’s interests well. However, given the class character of the ruling classes, this policy was subject to vacillations. Contradictions between the domestic policies favouring foreign capital and an independent foreign policy were ever-present.
4.4 With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the adoption of economic policies of liberalisation domestically, foreign policy in the last decade of the 20th century entered a new phase. The process of reversing the long held position of non-alignment and anti-imperialist foreign policy was begun during the Narasimha Rao government. The turn away from self-reliance and recourse to foreign capital and liberalisation helped imperialism to further pressurise India which was manifested in several foreign policy positions. In the nineties, the Indian government signed a military cooperation pact with the USA for military training and joint exercises. With the BJP-led government coming to power in 1998, the pro-imperialist trend has got strengthened. The BJP regime has brought about a major shift by advocating a policy of becoming a junior partner of the United States. It has abandoned many of the long-held non-aligned positions in order to accommodate the global designs of the US. The danger to foreign policy is real as the United States has long term plans to draw India into a strategic alliance to subserve its global designs against China and Russia. A consistent foreign policy based on non-alignment and anti-imperialism which would serve the real interests of the Indian people, cannot be guaranteed with the big bourgeoisie leading the State and pursuing pro-imperialist economic policies.
4.5 The decision of the BJP-led government to go in for nuclear weaponisation after the tests in Pokhran in May, 1998 marked a dangerous new phase in India’s external and nuclear policies. It has created the situation for a nuclear arms race in the sub-continent with Pakistan responding to India’s nuclear tests. The jingoistic nuclear policy has undermined the long-standing policy of non-alignment and peace. It has made India more vulnerable to imperialist pressures headed by US imperialism.
4.6 A major struggle lies ahead for the Left and democratic forces to fight back the pro-imperialist direction in foreign policy and ensure that foreign policy regains its non-aligned basis and orientation to ward off imperialist pressures. Only such a policy will help India to retain its independent role in world affairs and protect economic independence.