Chapter 4 India’s External Relations Class 12 Political Science Notes

Chapter 4 India’s External Relations Class 12 Political Science Notes will help the students in learning complex topics and chapters in an easy way. Through these revision notes, you will understand the various factors through which one can improve their efficiency and getting the crux of the chapter. NCERT Solutions for Chapter 4 India’s External Relations will help students cope with the pressure of the large board examination syllabus.

Chapter 4 India’s External Relations Class 12 Political Science Notes

Chapter 4 India’s External Relations Class 12 Political Science Notes

International Context

• The British government left behind the legacy of many international disputes and partition created its own pressure.

• As a nation born in the backdrop of the world war, India decided to conduct its foreign relations with an aim to respect the sovereignty of all other nations and to achieve security through the maintenance of peace.

• Due to the Cold War, the world was getting divided into these two camps, US and USSR.

The Policy of Non-Alignment

• The cold war period was marked by the political, economic, and military confrontation at the global level between the two blocs led by the superpowers, the US and the USSR.

• The same period also witnessed developments like the establishment of the UN, the creation of nuclear weapons, the emergence of Communist China, and the beginning of decolonisation.

Nehru's Role

• The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru exercised profound influence in the formulation and implementation of India’s 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. He wished to achieve these objectives through the strategy of non-alignment.

Distance From Two Camps

• The foreign policy of independent India vigorously pursued the dream of a peaceful world by advocating the policy of non-alignment, by reducing Cold War tensions and by contributing human resources to the UN peacekeeping operations.

• In 1956 when Britain attacked Egypt over the Suez Canal issue, India led the world protest against this neo-colonial invasion.

• Pakistan joined the US-led military alliances and the US was not happy about India’s independent initiatives and the policy of non-alignment.

• The US also resented India’s growing partnership with the Soviet Union.

Afro-Asian Unity

• Nehru era was marked by the establishment of contacts between India and other newly independent states in Asia and Africa.

• Under his leadership, India convened the Asian Relations Conference in March 1947, five months ahead of attaining its independence.

• 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

• Unlike its relationship with Pakistan, free India began its relationship with China on a very friendly note. After the Chinese revolution in 1949, India was one of the first countries to recognise the communist government.

• Some of his colleagues, like Vallabhbhai Patel, were worried about a possible Chinese aggression in future. But Nehru thought it was ‘exceedingly unlikely’ that India will face an attack from China.

• The joint enunciation of Panchsheel, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, by the Indian Prime Minister Nehru and the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on 29 April 1954 was a step in the direction of stronger relationship between the two countries.


• The plateau of the central Asian region called Tibet is one of the major issues that historically caused tension between India and China. In 1950, China took over control of Tibet.

• With the Panchsheel Agreement of 1954 India conceded China’s claim over Tibet.

• In 1959, the Dalai Lama crossed over into the India border and  sought asylum which was granted.

The Chinese Invasion, 1962

• Two developments strained China and India relationship:
→ China annexed Tibet in 1950 and thus removed a historical buffer between the two countries. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, sought and obtained political asylum in India in 1959. China alleged that the government of India was allowing anti-China activities to take place from within India.
→ 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 the disputed regions of Aksai-Chin area in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and much of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in what was then called NEFA (North-Eastern Frontier Agency).

• The China war dented India’s image at home and abroad. India had to approach the Americans and the British for military assistance to tide over the crisis.

• The Soviet Union remained neutral during the conflict. It induced a sense of national humiliation and at the same time strengthened a spirit of nationalism.

• The Sino-Indian conflict affected the opposition as well. The pro-USSR faction remained within the CPI and moved towards closer ties with the Congress. The other faction closer to China and was against any ties with the Congress. The party split in 1964 and the leaders of the latter faction formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M).

• The war with China alerted the Indian leadership to the volatile situation in the Northeast region.

Wars and Peace with Pakistan

• A proxy war broke out between the Indian and Pakistani armies in Kashmir during 1947 itself. The issue was then referred to the UN.

• A long-term dispute about the sharing of river waters was resolved through mediation by the World Bank. The India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty was signed by Nehru and General Ayub Khan in 1960.

• In April 1965 Pakistan launched armed attacks in the Rann of Kutch area of Gujarat followed by a bigger offensive in Jammu and Kashmir in August-September. Shastri ordered Indian troops to launch a
counter-offensive on the Punjab border. In a fierce battle, the Indian army reached close to Lahore.

• The hostilities came to an end with the UN intervention. Later, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Agreement, brokered by the Soviet Union, in January 1966.

Bangladesh war, 1971

• In 1970, Pakistan's first general election produced a split verdict – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s party emerged a winner in West Pakistan, while the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman won in East Pakistan.

• The Pakistani rulers were not willing to accept the democratic verdict. Nor were they ready to accept the Awami League’s demand for a federation.

• In 1971, the Pakistani army arrested Sheikh Mujib and unleashed a reign of terror on the people of East Pakistan. In response to this, the people started a struggle to liberate ‘Bangladesh’ from Pakistan.

• Throughout 1971,India had to bear the burden of about 80 lakh refugees who fled East Pakistan and took shelter in the neighbouring areas in India.

• Pakistan accused India of a conspiracy to break it up. Support for Pakistan came from the US and China.

• In order to counter the US-Pakistan-China axis, India signed a 20-year Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Soviet Union in August 1971. This treaty assured India of Soviet support if the country faced any attack.

• A full-scale war between India and Pakistan broke out in December 1971.

• Within ten days the Indian army had surrounded Dhaka from three sides and the Pakistani army of about 90,000 had to surrender. With Bangladesh as a free country, India declared a unilateral ceasefire.

• Later, the signing of the Shimla Agreement between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 3 July 1972 formalised the return of peace.

India’s Nuclear Policy

• The first nuclear explosion undertaken by India in May 1974.

• A nuclear programme initiated in the late 1940s under the guidance of Homi J. Bhabha. Nehru was against nuclear weapons.

• When Communist China conducted nuclear tests in October 1964, the five nuclear weapon powers, the US, USSR, UK, France, and China (Taiwan then represented China) – also 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.

• India’s nuclear doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence professes “no first use”.
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