India played an important role in the multilateral movements of colonies and newly independent countries that developed into the Nonaligned Movement. The movement had its origins in the 1947 Asian Relations Meeting in New Delhi and the 1955 Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. India also participated in the 1961 Belgrade Conference that officially established the Nonaligned Movement, but Nehru's declining prestige limited his influence. In the 1960s and 1970s, New Delhi concentrated on internal problems and bilateral relations, yet retained membership in an increasingly factionalized and radicalized movement. During the contentious 1979 Havana summit, India worked with moderate nations to reject Cuban president Fidel Castro's proposition that "socialism" (that is, the Soviet Union) was the "natural ally" of nonalignment.
Under Indira Gandhi in the early 1980s, India attempted to reassert its prominent role in the Nonaligned Movement by focusing on the relationship between disarmament and economic development. By appealing to the economic grievances of developing countries, Indira Gandhi and her successors exercised a moderating influence on the Nonaligned Movement, diverting it from some of the Cold War issues that marred the controversial 1979 Havana meeting. Although hosting the 1983 summit boosted Indian prestige within the movement, its close relations with the Soviet Union and its pro-Soviet positions on Afghanistan and Cambodia limited its influence.
The end of the Cold War left the Nonaligned Movement without its original raison d'Ítre, and its membership became deeply divided over international disputes, strategy, and organization. During the 1992 Jakarta summit, India took a middle position between countries favoring confrontation with developed nations on international economic issues, such as Malaysia, and those that favored a more cooperative approach, such as Indonesia. Although New Delhi played a minor role compared with Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta on most issues facing the summit, India formulated the Nonaligned Movement position opposing developed countries' linkage of foreign aid to human rights criteria.
India also is a founding member of the Group of Fifteen (see Glossary), a group of developing nations established at the ninth Nonaligned Movement summit in Belgrade in 1989 to facilitate dialogue with the industrialized countries. India played host to the fourth Group of Fifteen summit in March 1994. At the summit, Prime Minister Rao and other leaders expressed concern over new trade barriers being raised by the industrialized countries despite the conclusion of a new world trade agreement.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
India is a member of SAARC, along with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. SAARC, which slowly emerged out of the initiative of Bangladesh in 1980, was formally inaugurated in 1985. SAARC, which has a permanent secretariat in Kathmandu, is funded by voluntary contributions and operates on the principle of unanimity in decision making. Discussion of contentious bilateral issues is excluded from the SAARC charter at Indian insistence. Instead, SAARC programs exist in the areas of agriculture, rural development, transportation and telecommunications, meteorology, health and population control, postal services, science and technology, culture and sports, women in development, drug trafficking and abuse, and terrorism. By the mid-1990s, SAARC had yet to become an effective regional organization, largely because of mutual distrust between India and its neighbors. India's lukewarm support for SAARC stems from the concern that its neighbors might coalesce against it to the detriment of Indian interests. The reluctance of India and other South Asian countries to turn SAARC into a forum for resolving major regional disputes hampers SAARC's ability to deal with many of South Asia's economic and political problems. Nonetheless, when SAARC's eighth summit was held in New Delhi in May 1995, the conferees declared their nations' commitment to eradicating poverty in South Asia by 2002.
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There is an extensive English-language literature on India's foreign relations. Indian government publications--the Ministry of External Affairs's Annual Report
and the monthly Foreign Affairs Record
, and the Parliament's Compendium of Policy Statements Made in the Parliament: External Affairs
--are important official sources of information. The annual edition of Yearbook on India's Foreign Policy
contains a useful survey of foreign policy trends as well as articles on bilateral relations. The Economic and Political Weekly
[Bombay] provides a nongovernmental point of view on a wide range of current issues. Asia Yearbook
, published by the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong, also includes a review of India's foreign relations for the previous year.
A large number of books and articles are published each year on specific subjects such as nonalignment, foreign aid, nuclear issues, and specific bilateral relations. The speeches and writings of Jawaharlal Nehru offer considerable insight into the rationale and direction of Indian foreign policy during the Cold War period. Norman D. Palmer's The United States and India
, Selig Harrison and Geoffrey Kemp's India and America after the Cold War
, Robert C. Horn's Soviet-Indian Relations
, and Peter J.S. Duncan's The Soviet Union and India
are good analytical studies of India's relations with the superpowers. Comprehensive surveys of Indian foreign relations before the end of the Cold War are found in Charles Heimseth and Surjit Mansingh's A Diplomatic History of Modern India
for the period 1911-65, Mansingh's India's Search for Power: Indira Gandhi's Foreign Policy, 1966-1982
, and Robert W. Bradnock's India's Foreign Policy since 1971
. Two books that deal with India's foreign policy decision making and the domestic political structure underlying it are Jayant Bandyopadhyaya's The Making of India's Foreign Policy
and Shashi Tharoor's Reasons of State
. Articles on the changes in India's foreign policy and foreign relations since the end of the Cold War have appeared in the scholarly and periodical literature, of which Asian Survey
and Far Eastern Economic Review
are good sources. Annual editions of the Association for Asian Studies' Bibliography of Asian Studies
provide comprehensive retrospective source citations. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of September 1995