India was independent when the Cold War started, but when India became independent on August 15, 1947, it carefully determined its foreign policy keeping Indian interests in mind. Due to adopting the policy of non-alignment, he did not join the bloc of the Soviet Union or America. Still, he always tried maintaining good relations with the Soviet Union and America.

Indo-Soviet Union Relations

India’s relations with the Soviet Union have always been cordial. Nehru’s inclination was always towards the Soviet Union. Relations were not special during Stalin’s time, and after independence, Nehru adopted the policy of non-alignment. After that there was some distance in relations, but when PS Menon went to the Soviet Union as ambassador, their relations started improving.

Indo-Soviet relations grew closer in the Khrushchev period (1954-64). But when India did not support the Soviet Union’s intervention in Hungary in 1956, the closeness of the relationship diminished. The Soviet-China dispute strengthened Indo-Soviet relations because China had invaded India in 1962.

During the Bangladesh crisis, there was a treaty of friendship between the Soviet Union and India. The Soviet Union gave him diplomatic and military assistance. After this, the relationship grew closer from 1971 to 1975. In 1977, the relationship remained the same even during the time of Morarji Desai.

The Soviet Union provided military support and also provided technology. It was from the Soviet Union that India received MiG-16, MiG-32, helicopters, and An-12 and An-N32 cargo ships. In 1979, the Soviet Union had to intervene in Afghanistan; at that time, India provided full help. The Festival of India was also organized several times in the Soviet Union.

By 1990, the Soviet Union disintegrated, and the Indo-Soviet relations transformed into Indo-Russian relations. The visits of both Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev to India in 2010 played an important role in strengthening India-Russia bilateral relations.

Indo-US Relations

There was a strain in Indo-US relations from the beginning. America was the only country that put pressure on Britain to free India. But after independence, India decided to remain non-aligned by not joining any camp. This was an exasperation for America, which provided economic and military help to anti-India Pakistan. Relations improved with Nehru’s visit to America in 1957. Relations deteriorated again in 1965 when the US supported Pakistan in the Indo-Pak war.

During the Janata Party rule in 1977, the US did not comply with the treaty made to supply uranium for the Tarapur nuclear station. India also refused to sign the “Non-Proliferation Treaty” with President Jimmy Carter. The work of providing arms to Pakistan by the US did not allow the relations to become cordial during the time of Indira Gandhi, but in 1984, relations improved during the time of Rajiv Gandhi. The Indo-US relations improved during the time of Bill Clinton.

When there was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center during the era of George Bush, America understood India’s pain, ideological unity was established in both countries regarding terrorism, and relations improved. The visit of US President Obama to India in November 2010 strengthened the framework of the India-US long-term strategic relationship.

Impact of India’s foreign policy on India’s interests:

As the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, India played its role in the Cold War era at two levels. On the one hand, India kept itself out of the camp; on the other hand, it opposed joining the camps of independent countries. India tried to resolve the differences between the two factions and made efforts for world peace. It also provided support to newly independent nations. 

The policy of non-alignment served India’s interest in two ways.

  1. Due to non-alignment, India was able to take such international decisions and sides which harmonized its interest and not the superpowers and the countries of their camp.
  2. India has always been in such a position that if one superpower goes against it, it should try to come close to the other superpower. If India felt that one of the superpowers was ignoring it or applying undue pressure, it could turn to another superpower. Neither of the two factions could be frightened or deceived about India.