Menu Close

Determinants of Foreign Policy

Important terms

Sovereignty: Independence or autonomy of state actors often from external influence to prevent any undue damages.

Territorial polity: Who enjoys undisputed control over pre-defined borders.
[ One can loose sovereignty without loosing territorial polity. e.g. China in 19th century starting from opium war. 1839-1842. e.g. British rule during early decades. ]

Foreign policy is a policy pursued by state actors towards other state and non-state actors (IMF, WB, UN, NGOs) to secure their political, economic, social and military objectives.
Political objective – sovereignty
Economic objective – FTAs
Social objective – Indian diaspora
Military – defense weapon acquisition.

Determinants of FP

1] Geography
Culture and History
3] Political system
4] Leadership
5] Military Strength
6] Economic development and requirements
7] International environment.

Mackinder and Mahan are two prominent scholars.

Mahan emphasizes importance of being a sea based power. e.g. UK,
Mackinder emphasizes importance of being a land based  power. e.g. Russia, Eastern Europe

Mahan (Sea Power)
1] He gives example of Britain’s naval supremacy, Suez canal, location of Singapore etc.
2] He also talks about having naval base @ Diego Garcia in Indian ocean near Lakshadweep. USA purchased it in 1970s from Britain.
3] France, USA(Only US base in Africa), China all have naval base in Djibouti.
4] India has naval base @ Duqm, Oman.
5] India getting port in Indonesia (search on google).
6] Assumption island in Seychelles.

Mackinder (Heartland Rimland theory)
// Read The Hindu – ‘Admiral Raja Menon’ & ‘Zurawer Daulat Singh’. Mountain cops and Naval fleet. Both of them had debate…
East Europe is center of world. Heartland. One who controls heartland will control Rimland (Rest of Europe) and he will control whole world. Attack on eastern Europe is possible only via land route thus it is important to be land based power.

There are debates.

Being a landlocked country can lead to compromise on sovereignty e.g. Poland, Belgium.
1] Eastern Himalayas – Daulta Beg Oldi, Bhutan, Doklam (Chumbi Valley).
2] Far Eastern Himalayas – 1962 war (Thag La and Bhum La passes), NEFA region.

Economy & Military Strength

// Realist theory – Military strength is key determinant of state power.
To have strong military, you need strong economy. Industrial, developed economy.
Globalization is building economic interconnectedness. -> Complex interdependence. -> Liberalist also argue.
Greater economic interdependence between major world economic players makes open conflict/war between them less likely.
/Nehru – aim of FP is to promote economic development. :. India adopted NAM and we sought help of both west and soviet block in developmental needs. e.g. Steel Plants @ Durgapur (UK), Rourkela, Bhilai Steel Plant (Russia)
India has FTA in good with ASEAN. Only such regional group.
India is arguing for WTO reforms. Hedge against protectionist policies.
Global South – TRiPS, India’s generic drug industry.
Arms race is detrimental to economy. Relative strength matters not absolute strength.
Military is required not militarism.  But military is also very much required.
e.g. In 1950-1962 there was no rapid increase in military expenditure. After following defeat with China, there was increase in military expenditure.
Also 4 wars India fought with Pakistan forced India to increase military expenditure.
India pursued Nuclear option, primarily keeping Chinese threat in mind. Especially after China acquired nuclear capability by 1967.
Pakistan’s acquisition is mainly because of  1) Indian acquisition.  2) To deter India from launching a conventional war against Pakistan.

International Environment

Cold War
– India adopted NAM. Why? It didn’t wanted to compromise its sovereignty – didn’t wanted to come under either USA or Soviet, to derive economic aid from both blocks, By pursuing NAM – it could provide India with a bigger leadership role, especially for the global south or newly independent countries (NICs).

Sino Soviet Split – 1960s.
Lenin -> Stalin (1922-53) -> Nikita Khrushchev (Criticized stalin, peaceful co-existence)
Mao – China in 1949. He was against Khrushchev’s ideas. ‘we’ll lead communist movement’. It led to divide between Sino and Soviet.
USA shifted closer to Pakistan. Pak shifted close to China. In 1972 India shifted closer to Soviet Union.

Collapse of Soviet Union – 1991.
End of bipolar era.
India rapidly had to adjust to this shift. Vajapeyi era, Mahmohan era (India US Civil Nuclear deal  – US will establish nuclear trade relations with India and India will get exemption from NPT), Modi era – there is more rapprochement towards USA. USA is only major power left.
Its beneficial to India in both economic and security interest.
And to tackle Chinese assertiveness in Asia, Xi era.
To secure economic interest for India. IT companies, Pharma companies.
/Nuclear winter – Large use of nuclear weapons in any part of world will lead to nuclear clouds… it will lead to reverse of global warming….

Culture and History
/Joseph Nye – he talks about ‘soft power’.
/Hard power uses coersion to achieve aims. e.g. Iran – economic sanctions.
/It can use incentives also. e.g. Aid diplomacy (ITEC provides technical assistance to African countries.), India given money to Bhutan, Nepal.
Soft power relies on co-opting. And it involves a willing adherence to ideas and objectives by the target state.
Shared values, tourism, shared ideas on political institutions, yoga, bollywood, Increadible India!.
Increasing influence of your country in another country without coercive measures.

Problem with soft power
It is not easy to measure/quantify. You can’t really access it.
Number of institutions which are build to use soft power are non-state actors. / Govt. have little/no control over it.
It takes considerable time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Time consuming process.
It doesn’t only involve ‘good values’ being shared.
Use of soft power is going to increase in future with countries become more and more stronger militarily and economically.
/Que. On Increasing importance of non-state actors in determining foreign policy.
/e.g. Diaspora – can promote tourism, culture, soft-power.
/Concerns for diaspora can also weigh heavily on Indian foreign policy. e.g. Safety of Indian workers in West Asia.
/e.g. Business groups. Investments, due to globalization.

History of India’s colonization, decolonization and partition. India was concerned to maintain sovereignty and we went for NAM.
Impact of partition – India’s policy on Pakistan, Kashmir.
But its not always necessary that present will continue on lines of past. e.g. France & Germany were historical rivals in WW I and WW II. But EU formation was led primarily by France and Germany.
And compulsions of history can be overcome over a period of time. If other factors are in favour of countries – then historical antagonism may not stand in between.

Domestic Political Structure & Politics
/Democratic peace theory – it explains behaviour of democratic states. It says that incidences of war between two democracies is much lesser than democracy and a non-democracy.
/It has been proven statistically.
Reason behind it
Decision making process in democracy. It has to offer justification for its acts to people in general, legislature. And offering such justification also becomes difficult when another country is also democracy and promote peace.  This delays the process of decision making – this allows other actors time.
//War creates economic tensions.. vote bank.
Domestic politics
Boundary settlement between India and China. China has gave offer since 1961 that India gives up its claims on Aksai China and it will give up attempts to procure NEFA region. But it is never settled since it will affect domestic politics.
Federal structure of Indian democracy – Its emerging as a strong determinant of FP
Teesta River and TMC in Bengal.
Kerala with its diaspora in Gulf.
DMK and AIDMK – Tamils in Sri Lanka.
/MEA talks about – Para Diplomacy. – Center must be looking to involves states in drafting FP.
Punjab on both sides can be involved. Bengalis on other side. Can be used in FP.
However states should not be given complete/final say in FP. Regional interests should not overshadow national interest.
/Que. Center state relations and their impact on foreign policy.

Posted in PSIR 2A

Related Posts

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Beautiful note. For psir optional


please add The institutions of policy making; Continuity and change 🙂