Economic Determinants of India's Foreign Policy: The Nehru Years (1947-64)

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Item Code: NAK930
Author: P.C Jain
Publisher: Vitasta Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789380828824
Pages: 299
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 450 gm
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Book Description
Back of The Book

Several books have been written on foreign policy of India, particularly of the Nehru period. Some authors have also discussed in detail the determining factors and fundamental principles of this policy. However, few have emphasized predominance of the economic factor as a determinant, which plays the most important part in determining foreign policy not only of India but of other countries as well. The essence of this book is to stress the paramount importance of this factor which determined the material as well as intellectual life of the country at that time and found expression in internal and the external policies of the country. While emphasising the significance of the economic factor, the importance of other factors has not been ignored. The author has chosen to limit himself to the Nehru period because it was then that our foreign policy was shaped, formulated and implemented India, inspite of her other weaknesses, commanded respect and eminence in world affairs and was one of the prominent leaders of emerging Afro-Asian countries. The Policy that Nehru propounded and enforced was followed by his immediate successors Lal Bahadur Sastri and Indira Gandhi. From 1991 onwards, the change in the economic fundamentals started taking shape, resulting in basic changes in the foreign policy also.


About The Book

The absence of debate, which is antithesis of democracy, prevailed surprisingly throughout the years of Jawaharlal Nehru’s reign. This rare stretch of national consensus receive it first serve jolt in the form of Emergency in 1975, and liberalization cum globalization post-1991. This book will take the readers back to the era of amazing like-mindedness in the polity, which is unthinkable in today’s turbulent times.


About The Author

Born in Jhansi, the author postgraduated in political science from Agra University. In 1951, he joined the Department of Political Science in Bundelkhand College, Jhansi, and spent over three decades in the Institution. There he developed a special interest in international politics and political thought. He pursued this interest even after retirement in 1987 as a Reader and Head of Department of Political Science.

He has travelled extensively to Soviet Union, Germen Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, China and many western countries.

He is deeply interested in social and political activities and has been associated with many educational and professional institutions. He is the author of several books—Constitution of the Soviet Union, Chetna, Antarashtriya Rajniti ka Vigyan and others.



From my student days, study of Political Theories and Political Thought was nearer to my heart and mind. While teaching Political Science to undergraduate and post-graduate students, I became more interested and concentrated on the study of Political Thought and International Politics. In course of this study I got inclined to Marxism and started considering it as the philosophy of my life. I also started understanding and interpreting International Politics and Relations from the Marxist point of view. Marxism gave me an insight and understanding which became all-pervasive. The study of International Politics and Relations, not only for the purpose of self-understanding but also for the purpose of making others understand, turned into the mission of my life. In this pursuit, studying, examining and analyzing the Foreign Policy of India became a subject of special interest.

Nehru had a deep sense of history and a keen interest in World Politics. He was chief spokes person of Indian National Congress on foreign affairs and at the advent of independence became the Prime Minister and the portfolio of External Affairs remained with him till he breathed his last. There have been several factors or determinants of this policy that he formulated, expressed, chiselled, moulded and shaped. Some ideals and principles forming the basis of this policy were also proclaimed and trumpeted, but in fact they also embodied the realities of the situation and national interests. There is no denying the fact that each factor or determinant has its own role to play but it is also true and undeniable that the economic factor or determinant is comparatively more important. Though, in order to have proper and scientific understanding, analytical study of all these factors is important, in this book I have concentrated more on the principal factor or determinant i.e. economic, and have tried into bring to focus its various facets and ramifications.

Many scholars and critics may not agree with me in treating economic factor or determinant as the basic and most important one, but there would be hardly anyone from among serious thinkers who can deny its equal importance with other factors and determinants. However, the idealists may totally differ from me.

I have divided the Nehru period into three phases. Though the first phase is quite distinct from the second and third phases, foundations were laid down and basic formulations were made in the first phase, in spite of shortcomings in implementation. Non-alignment during this period was essentially political. In economic and other spheres, India was dependent on the West. The second and Third phases are not so distinct, but it can hardly be denied, that it was during the second phase that the policy of non-alignment, anti-imperialism and peaceful co-existence came to full fruition. India became really non-aligned in political, economical, cultural and military spheres. India attained prestige and popularity and successfully led the Afro-Asian Groups in close collaboration with Indonesia's Sukarno, Sri Lanka's Bhandaranaike, Egypt's Nasser, Yugoslavia's Tito and Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah This trend of the second phase had some continuity in the third phase, but the third phase was marked by decline, drifting away or slowing down particularly in the last years of Nehru's life. Here again we got inclined towards the West. Relations with the Soviet Union were not as warm as they were in the second phase. The earlier sheen had somewhat faded. Several factors were responsible for that-particularly the economic crisis and conflict with China that overtook the country.

The foreign policy of India was based on several factors such as historical heritage, geographical situation, economic system and ideological propensities. It was Nehru who gave language and meaning to them. Thus it was not a policy of one party and one individual. It was a national policy more or less acceptable to all sections of the people. In this study I have focussed on economic factors and I consider this as basic and of paramount importance. This is the reason that this policy continued for several years after Nehru passed away.

First and foremost I am indebted to the late Dr S N Dube, Head of the Dept. of Political Science of Agra College, who helped me to have and develop the concept of economic determinants. Dr H N Sinha, former Principal of Agra College, Agra, encouraged me to go ahead. The former Ambassador of Poland in India appreciated the subject and desired me to go to Warsaw University for further study and research on the subject. Regrettably I could not avail this opportunity on account of family circumstances. Later I came in contact with several scholars and political leaders with whom I got the opportunity to discuss and seek guidance including late Shri K M Pannikar, K D Malviya, Krishna Menon, Chandrajeet Yadav and others. I am extremely grateful for their guidance and encouragement.

I had access to dozens of books and critical works, I am indebted to several eminent authors whose extensive and critical studies helped me to analyze and elaborate the subject. Among them are Prof K P, Mishra, Prof B R Nanda who edited books on Foreign Policy of India covering a large number of eminent authors, Pt Jawhar Lal Nehru, F L Schuman, Norman J Padelford, George A Lincoln, Palmer and Perkin, Morgenthau, A F K Organski, Mc Lellan, Olson and Sandermann.

Bimal Prasad, Ajit Roy, K P Karunakaran, Karunakar Gupta, Uma Kapila, Mathew J Kust, K P S Menon, Harbert Feis, Adi H Doctor, G H Jansen. Charles L Robertson, A S Mishra, P Chandra, Sashi Bhushan, Dr Asha Hans, S S Khera, A B Shah, S P Varma, Dev Narayan Malik, Charan Shandilya, Michael Brecher, Y M Primakov, Iqbal Singh, R Palm Dutt, M S N Menon, P J Eldridge, Pranab Bardhan, Basant Chatterjee, Joan Elderman, Werner Levi, M S Rajan, J Bandopadhyaya, Harish Kapoor, Ashok Kapoor, Baldeo Raj Nayar, R K Garg, A S R Chari, Prof Hiren Mukherjee, Mohit sen, S G Sardesai, P C Joshi, J Edelman Spiro, Masood Hasan and host of others. I do not claim to have access to all the original material and sources but I have profusely and extensively taken recourse to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Debates, Foreign Policy of India-Nehru and Collection of Nehru's Speeches, published in three volumes published by Government of India and some documents such as Drafts of Five Year Plans, Conference of Heads of States and Governments of Non-Aligned Countries, Belgrade, 1961.

Last but not the least I am beholden to the co-operation and encouragement I got from my late wife, my grandson and grand daughter-in-law Pranab Jain and Divya Jain in completing this work. I am also grateful to my Steno-cum-Personal Secretary Mr Unni Krishna Kurup, who prepared hard and soft copies of the book.

I am also thankful to Mrs Renu Kaul Verma and other members of the staff of Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd for the co-operation and help they extended to me in getting this work published.



To survive, to prosper, and to be oneself: these basic needs are the life force of countries just as they are of individual human beings. While states derive their interests from these common and shared needs, they define these interests in concrete terms, on the basis of their specific attributes. The study of international politics therefore encompasses not only international, regional and national security issues, but also the study and analysis of international political economy and matters relating to culture, norms and identity.

It is important to understand that while the antonym of "war" is "peace", the true metaphorical opposite of "war" is "trade". Since the beginning of human history, organised political communities have not only fought against one another but also entered into exchange relations, or commerce. War is about life and death; trade is about bread and butter. Of course, trade need not always be fair and cooperative: exchange relations can themselves become a matter of conflict when they are perceived as being unfair. In particular, economically weak countries often tend to be suspicious of the deleterious effects of international trade.

The focus of this important book by Professor Jain is the interplay of India's economic and foreign policies during the Nehruvian period. The first chapter focuses briefly on India's external economic links during the ancient and medieval periods. The second and third chapters delineate the fundamental factors and principles that have driven India's foreign policy, particularly during the Nehru years. The next three chapters analyse India's economy and economic policy over the three phases into which the Nehru years can be divided. The seventh and final chapter focuses on India's links with other countries of Asia and Africa.

Understanding Indian policy during the years when Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister is extremely important. These were the foundational years of independent, republican, democratic India which continue to have enormous resonance for the country. Interestingly, a political consensus existed in India during the first years of Independence. This is unusual: political consensus is rarely achieved in a democratic polity because the clash of political ideas is an important element in political contestation. India's political consensus during the Nehru years was based on non-alignment and anti-colonialism in international relations, democracy and secularism in domestic politics, centralised planning and self-reliance in economic development, and egalitarian reform and affirmative action in the social sphere. This consensus was a truly magnificent achievement in nation-building and is a political heritage to be cherished. Although aspects of the national consensus were contested, and in general terms received a body blow during the Emergency (1975-77), broad-based national consensus nevertheless managed to survive till the early 1990s.

Since 1991, India's national consensus has been steadily crumbling in the political, economic and social spheres. Secular politics has been imperilled, principally by the political forces of Hindu assertion and chauvinism, but also by several decades of 'vote bank' electoral politics based on caste, religion and language identities. The twin forces of liberalisation and globalisation, in existence since the 1980s but unleashed in 1991, are radically transforming the Indian economy but also giving rise to serious opposition, particularly at local levels, due to extremely valid distributional concerns. The old consensus on the affirmative action policy of reservation has broken down, and it is now a matter of serious political and social contestation. Even in the sphere of foreign policy, non-alignment and anti-colonialism have for several years become irrelevant to India's place in the international system. After the Parliamentary debate over the Indo-US nuclear deal in July 2008 events, the final bastion of consensus, foreign policy, has collapsed as well.

India's national consensus now lies in shambles, and it will take at least a generation to rebuild one. By understanding our history, we can better grasp our possibilities for the future. This is the true value of this book by Professor Jain, an insightful and prolific analyst of India's external relations.




  Preface v
  Foreword ix
  Message xiii
I Historical Foundation  
  Ancient and Medieval Period 1
II Fundamental Factors 22
III Fundamental Principles 53
IV First Phase  
  Ecomomic Situation at the Advent of Independence 74
V Second Phase  
  Economic Policy and Pursuit After independence 120
VI Third Phase  
  Decline and Drift 176
VII India And Afro-Asia 230
  Post-Script 259
  Endnote 264

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