Political Science Class 12 Notes Chapter 13 India’s External Relations

International Context or Relations

  • In post independence period, India faced many challenges to make a strong foreign policy.
  • India shaped its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance of peace.
  • In post Second World War period, world politics led to the division of countries of the world into two clear camps-one under the United States and other under the Soviet Union.

The Policy of Non-Alignment

  • The Cold War era marked the political, economic and military confrontation at the global level between the two blocs led by the superpowers, the US and the USSR.
  • Along with this in other prevailing world politics Indian leadership was in the direction to pursue its national interests with these international context.

Nehru’s Role

  • Nehru exercised foreign policy from 1946 to 1964. The three major objectives of Nehru’s foreign policy were to preserve the hard-earned sovereignty, protect territorial integrity and promote rapid economic development.
  • Despite the fact that many leaders from India, wanted India to follow a pro-US foreign policy; Nehru wished to achieve his objectives of foreign policy through the strategy of non-alignment.

Distance From Two Camps

  • India wanted to keep away from the military alliances led by US and Soviet Union against each other. The US was not happy about India’s independent initiatives the policy of non-alignment.
  • During 1950s India took an independent stand on various international issues and could get aid and assistance from members of both power blocs.
  • India’s independent stand and her growing relations with USSR hurt the sentiments of USA. Therefore, there was a considerable unease in Indo-US relations during 1950s.

Afro-Asian Unity

  • Nehru era marked the establishment of contacts between India and other newly independent states in Asia and Africa.
  • Under the leadership of Nehru, India convened the Asian Relations Conference in March 1947.
  • India supported the process of decolonisation and opposed racism, especially apartheid in South Africa.
  • The Afro-Asian Conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung in 1955 which is known as Bandung Conference and marked the establishment of the NAM.
  • The first summit of the NAM was held in Belgrade in September 1961.

Peace and Conflict with China

  • Independent India began its relationship with China on a friendly note as India was one of the first countries to recognise the communist government.
  • Some of Nehru’s colleagues like Vallabhbhai Patel, were worried about possible Chinese aggression in future but Nehru thought it was exceedingly unlikely that India will face an attack from China.
    Paonchsheel (The five principles of peaceful co-existence) Agreement signed between Indian Prime Minister Nehru and the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on 29th April, 1954 was a step in the direction of stronger relationship between two.


  • Tibet, a plateau of the Central Asian region, is one of the major issues that historically caused tension between India and China.
  • After the Panchsheel Agreement of 1954 India conceded China’s claim over Tibet.
  • In 1959, the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was given asylum (refuge) by India which worsened the relations between both countries.

The Chinese Invasion, 1962

  • China annexed Tibet in 1950 and removed historical buffer between two countries. The issue of Dalai Lama added fuel to the fire.
  • China claimed two areas within the Indian territory: Askai-Chin area in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and state of Arunachal
    Pradesh in North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA).
  • China launched a swift and massive invasion in October 1962 on both the disputed areas.
  • The China war dented India’s image at home and abroad.
  • The Sino-Indian conflict and the growing rift between China and the Soviet Union created irreconcilable differences within the Communist Party of India (CPI). The Pro-USSR faction remained within the CPI and moved towards closer ties with the Congress.

Wars and Peace with Pakistan

  • The conflict started with Pakistan just after independence over the dispute on Kashmir.
  • The India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty was signed by Nehru and General Ayub Khan in 1960 which has worked well despite all ups and downs in the Indo-Pak relations.
  • In April 1965, Pakistan launched armed attacks in the Rann of Kutch area of Gujarat which was followed by a bigger offensive in Jammu and Kashmir in August-September.
  • The hostilities came to an end with the UN intervention. Indian Prime Minister Lai Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Agreement, brokered by the Soviet Union, in January 1966.

Bangladesh War, 1971

  • In a dramatic internal politics during 1970 the East and West Pakistani rulers were not willing to accept the democratic verdict.
  • Throughout 1971, India had to bear the burden of about 80 lakh refugees who moved to East Pakistan and took shelter in the neighbouring areas in India.
  • After months of diplomatic tension and military build-up, a full-scale war between India and Pakistan broke out in December 1971.
  • On 3rd July, 1972 the Shimla Agreement was singned between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

India’s Nuclear Policy

  • The first nuclear explosion undertaken by India in May 1974.
  • In India nuclear programme was initiated in the late 1940s under the guidance of Homi J. Bhabha.
  • Nehru was against nuclear weapons and India wanted to generate atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
  • The five permanent members of the UN security council-tried to impose the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 on the rest of the world.
  • India always considered the NPT as discriminatory and had refused to sign it.
  • India conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998, demonstrating its capacity to use nuclear energy for military purposes.


1. Immediately after independence, India faced the twin challenges of Welfare and democracy. Moreover, India started participating in the world affairs as an independent nation state with the overall context like the legacy of many international disputes left by the British, pressures created by partition and poverty alleviation.

2. India was born in the backdrop of world war, hence it decided to conduct foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty of other nations to achieve security through maintenance of peace. For this, India laid down directive Principles of State Policy in the Article 51 of Indian Constitution.

3. The foreign policy of a nation is the interplay of domestic and external factors. Pt. J.L. Nehru was the ‘Chief Architect of India’s Foreign Policy’ with the objectives of preserving sovereignty of India, protection of territorial integrity and promotion of rapid economic development. Hence India adopted NAM to stay away from any military blocs.

4. Nehru’s Era established the contacts between India and States in Asia and Africa by convening conferences on Asian Relations (March 1947), Indonesia’s Freedom Struggle (1949), decolonisation process, and engaged herself in Bandung Conference in 1955 .with the newly independent Asian and African Nations.

5. Panchsheel, the five principles of peaceful co-existance (29 April 1954) between India and China was a stronger step towards friendship and relations. India advocated China’s new government as a communist even in the UN after Chinese revolution in 1949 to ahead a friendly step.

6. India and China began to conflict on annexation of Tibet by China and suppressed Tibetan culture also. China claimed Aksai Chin area and NEFA within the Indian territory, which differences could not be resolved despite correspondence and discussions and led India to indulge in conflict.

7. India and Pakistan conflicted on initiative of Pakistan’s serious armed conflict over Kashmir issue in 1965. The UN intervened and made the both to sign Tashkent Agreement in 1966 to relieve the situation. But 1965 war added to India’s already difficult economic situation.

8. India’s foreign policy reflects her desire to be an important regional power which reflected during Bangladesh War 1971 when there were clashes between East and West Pakistan and India supported freedom struggle in Bangladesh and declared unilateral ceasefire with the surrender of Pakistan. India and Pakistan signed Shimla Agreement on 3rd July 1972 to formalise the return of Peace.

9. India’s Nuclear Policy advocates no first use and reiterates India’s commitment to global verifiable on non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament leading to nuclear weapons free world. Pt. J.L. Nehru was against nuclear weapons, so he placed nuclear disarmament and considered NPT as discriminatory and India has always been committed to use these weapons for peaceful purposes.


  1. Non-alignment: A policy not to join any military alliances created due to cold war.
  2. Foreign Policy: It is an interplay of domestic and external factors of a nation.
  3. Panchsheel: Five principles of peaceful co-existence to be signed in 1954 between India and China.
  4. Bandung Conference: An Afro-Asian conference in Bandung in 1955 to establish NAM and India’s engagement with Asian and African nations.
  5. NEFA: North-Eastern Frontier Agency known much of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1960s.

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