Development of Nationalist Foreign Policy

Development of Nationalist Foreign Policy

The important and inevitable consequence of the latter’s effects on nationalist intellectuals was that they began to explore their interests in it and became aware of the then dominant international ideas and activities. Gradually nationalist thinkers began to realize that colonialism or imperialism is a rule of international character and its effects are disastrous. Subsequently, the rise and development of the anti-imperialist nationalist ideology resulted in a nationalist foreign policy approach. We can see the process of development of this policy in the following sense.

From 1880 to World War I

Anti-imperialist and pro-Asia sentiments

After 1878, the British undertook several expansionist campaigns, which were strongly opposed by the nationalists. These campaigns included-

  • Second Afghan War (1878–80).
  • In 1882, England sent forces to crush the movement under the leadership of Colonel Arabi in Egypt.
  • The merger of Burma into the Company Empire in 1885.
  • Various efforts made in the northwest to stop the spread of Russia in the 1890s.
  • The nationalists supported the resistance by the tribal tribes against the British. The nationalists advocated a policy of peace in place of militant-imperialism. In 1897, the then Congress President C. Sankaran Nair said, “Our real policy is a policy of peace.”

Thus the emerging ideology during 1880–1914 was-

  • Intimacy with nations struggling against colonial rule. Such as Russia, Ireland, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia, Sudan,
  • Burma and Afghanistan.
  • Pro-Asia sentiments reflected
  • Condemned the acquisition of Burma in 1885.
  • Inspiration from Japan’s example of industrial development.
  • Condemned the partition of Japan in 1895 to suppress the I-Hee-Twan movement.
  • Condemnation of imperialist attempts to divide China.
  • The defeat of Tsarist Russia by Japan – it broke the myth of European invincibility.
  • Support of Burma’s independence by Congress.

First world war

The nationalists supported Britain in the war with the hope that it would apply the principles of democracy for which they were fighting, even after the war, in India. After the end of the war, the Congress insisted that it should also be represented in the proposed peace conference. In 1920, the Congress appealed to the Indians not to join forces to fight in the West. In 1925, the Congress strongly criticized the Indian army being sent to suppress China’s nationalist movement under the leadership of Sun-Yat-sen.

In the 1920s and 1930s – establishing equations with socialists

In 1926–1927, Jawaharlal Nehru was in Europe, where he established contacts with socialists and other leftist leaders. Earlier, Dada Bhai Naoroji attended the Hague Conference of the Samajwadi Congress. Naoroji, world famous socialist H.M. Hindman had close friends. Lala Lajpat Rai, during his visit to America from 1914 to 1918, established a close contact with the American socialists. Gandhiji also had close ties to Tolstoy and Roland Ronma.

In 1927, Jawaharlal Nehru attended a conference of aggrieved nationalists in Brussels and represented the Indian National Congress. The conference was organized by nationalists and revolutionaries facing the political exile of Asia, Africa and Latin American countries.

They were entrenched in the clutches of nationalist, political and economic imperialism. Jawaharlal-Albert Einstein, Mrs. San-Yat-sen, Roland Romans and George Lansbury were elected presidents at this conference. During his stay in Europe, Nehru became familiar with the international character of British imperialism. Also nominated for the anti-imperialist executive of Nehru League.

The Indian National Congress established the ‘Foreign Department’ to keep in touch with the anti-imperialist movements going on in other parts of the world. In 1927, Jawaharlal Nehru traveled to the Soviet Union and was extremely impressed by the achievements of this socialist nation. He saw Russia as a huge force against imperialism.

Post 1936 – Anti Fascist Attitude

The 1930s was the period of the rise of fascism in Europe and the struggle against it. Nationalists concluded that imperialism and fascism are two parts of capitalism. The nationalists gave their full support to the anti-fascist movement in various parts of the world, such as Ethiopia, Spain, China and Czechoslovakia. In its Tripuri session in 1939, the Indian National Congress declared itself separate from Britain’s pro-fascist policy.

In 1939, nationalists termed the Japanese invasion of China as condemnable. The Congress also sent a medical mission under the leadership of Dr. M. Atal to China to assist the Chinese armed forces.

Congress supported the Palestinians on the issue of Palestine. Although he also expressed sympathy for the Jews, he demanded that the Palestinians not be displaced from their places and that the issue be resolved by bilateral cooperation between Palestinians and Arabs and not to allow the West to intervene on the issue. The Congress also opposed the partition of Palestine.

Post independence

After independence, India kept its independent foreign policy away from the then Cold War and worldwide factionalism. Its foreign policy was based on the policy of non-alignment and soon India became the leader of the policy of non-alignment among the nations of the world.


Nationalist Foreign Policy

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