Since Independence, India’s foreign policy has evolved from being pro-Soviet and antithetical to Western interests to now being an important Western strategic partner and providing a counterweight to China. Over the last six and a half decades, India has dramatically increased its global influence, primarily through diplomacy and trade, establishing it as a major player in global politics.

     The first phase (1947-62): Optimistic Non-Alignment
  • This period is distinguished by the establishment of a bipolar world, with camps led by the US and the USSR.
  • In this phase, India’s goals were to protect its sovereignty, rebuild its economy, and maintain its integrity.
  • One of the first countries to be decolonized was India.
  • As a result, it was only natural for India to take the lead in the quest for a more equitable world order in Asia and Africa.
  • In order to achieve this, India was instrumental in the formation of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) 1961, which marked the pinnacle of Third-World solidarity.
  • The 1962 conflict with China, however, not only brought this period to a close but also did so in a way that severely harmed India’s reputation.

     The second phase (1962-71): Decade of Realism and Recovery
  • Following the 1962 war, India made pragmatic security and political decisions.
  • In the interest of national security, it went beyond non-alignment, signing a now-forgotten defense agreement with the United States in 1964.
  • External pressures on Kashmir (Tashkent agreement 1965) came from the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Both India and Pakistan agreed to withdraw all armed forces to pre-war positions, restore diplomatic relations, and discuss economic, refugee, and other issues as part of the Tashkent agreement.
  • The agreement, however, did not include a no-war pact or any acknowledgment of Pakistan’s aggression in Kashmir (as Pakistan was an ally of the US).
  • As a result, India has begun to lean toward the Soviet Union.

     The third phase (1971-91): Greater Indian Regional Assertion
  • When India liberated Bangladesh in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, it demonstrated a remarkable use of hard power.
  • However, it was a particularly difficult period because the US-China-Pakistan axis that had formed at the time posed a serious threat to India’s regional power prospects.
  • After conducting a peaceful nuclear explosion test in 1974, India was sanctioned by the US and its allies (Pokhran I).
  • In addition, the fall of the Soviet Union, India’s close ally, and the economic crisis of 1991 forced India to reconsider its basic principles of domestic and foreign policy.
  • The Gulf War (1991-1992), the disintegration of the Soviet Union (1991), long-term economic stagnation, and domestic turbulence all collided in 1991, resulting in a balance of payment crisis in India.

     The fourth phase (1991-98): Safeguarding Strategic Autonomy
  • The emergence of a unipolar world (led by the United States) prompted India to rethink its foreign policy.
  • This quest for strategic autonomy was centered on securing the country’s nuclear weapons capability (Pokhran II 1998).
  • During this time, India increased its engagement with the United States, Israel, and ASEAN countries.

     The fifth phase (1998-2013): India, a Balancing Power
  • During this time, India began to develop the characteristics of a balancing power (against the rise of China).
  • The nuclear deal between India and the United States reflects this (123 Agreement).
  • At the same time, India could unite with China on climate change and trade, as well as strengthen ties with Russia, all while assisting in the formation of the BRICS.

     Sixth phase (2013-until now): Energetic Engagement
  • India’s policy of non-alignment has transformed into multi-alignment in this period of transitional geopolitics.
  • Furthermore, India is now more aware of its own capabilities as well as the expectations placed on it by the rest of the world.
  • One factor is that India is one of the world’s major economies.
  • India’s talent will likely become more important in the creation and maintenance of global technology over time.
  • India’s willingness to influence key global negotiations (such as the climate change conference in Paris) is also significant.
  • Through its approach to the Indian Ocean Region (SAGAR initiative) and the extended neighborhood, India has been able to assert itself beyond South Asia (Act East policy and Think West policy).

Geopolitics QUAD

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, represents a dynamic and evolving geopolitical partnership comprising four prominent Indo-Pacific nations: the United States, Japan, India, and Australia. In recent years, the Quad has emerged as a crucial forum for India, serving as a linchpin in its foreign policy and regional strategy. India’s participation in the Quad is driven by a complex tapestry of strategic considerations, economic interests, and geopolitical realities. It plays a pivotal role in shaping India’s stance on regional security, maritime stability, economic integration, and its approach to managing China’s assertive presence in the Indo-Pacific.

    Here’s an overview of the geopolitics of the Quad :


  1. Counterbalancing China: India sees the Quad as a diplomatic and strategic grouping that helps counterbalance China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

          India’s approach to the Quad is influenced by its concerns about China’s assertiveness in territorial disputes, such as the border tensions in the Himalayas.

  1. Strategic Autonomy: While India is an active Quad member, it also emphasizes its commitment to strategic autonomy, which means maintaining its independence in foreign policy decisions and not aligning too closely with any single power bloc.

          India’s participation in the Quad is in line with this policy, as it seeks to balance its relationships with various major powers.

  1. Economic Interests: India recognizes the economic benefits of Quad membership. Enhanced economic cooperation, trade, and infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region are seen as opportunities for India’s economic growth.

          The Quad’s focus on connectivity and infrastructure aligns with India’s “Act East” policy, which aims to strengthen economic ties with East and Southeast Asian 

  1. Regional Security and Defense: The Quad allows India to engage in security and defense cooperation with like-minded countries. Joint military exercises and information sharing contribute to India’s defense preparedness and regional stability.

         India seeks to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and the Quad complements its efforts in this regard.

  1. Diplomatic Initiatives: India has used the Quad as a platform for diplomatic initiatives and discussions on regional issues. It values the opportunity for dialogue and cooperation on shared concerns.

         Multilateral diplomacy within the Quad allows India to address a range of challenges, including maritime security, counterterrorism, and disaster relief.

  1. Challenges and Opportunities: India’s participation in the Quad involves managing complex relationships. While it cooperates with the Quad countries on various issues, it also maintains important bilateral ties with China and other nations.

          India’s balancing act in the Quad involves pursuing its national interests while avoiding actions that could lead to escalation or confrontation in the region.

  1. Expanding Horizons: India has expressed interest in expanding the Quad’s activities to include non-traditional security challenges, such as cybersecurity and climate change.

          The Quad also provides opportunities for India to engage with other regional players, like ASEAN, and promote regional integration.

Necklace of Diamonds Strategy?

Over the past few years, China is expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean through its ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’ and ‘String of Pearls Strategy’. Recent satellite images have suggested that China has been modernising its Djibouti military base. Through its debt trap policy, China lures the strategically located nations around India to borrow infrastructural loans. Once the nations are indebted, China pressurizes them to support its geostrategic interests.

Through its String of Pearls strategy, China is expanding its footprints to contain Indian hold in the Indian ocean. It is creating a ring around India through strategically placed nations such as at Chittagong (Bangladesh), at Karachi, Gwadar port (Pakistan) and at Colombo, Hambantota (both in Sri Lanka) and other facilities.


Necklace of Diamonds Strategy

In a counter-action, India has started working on the ‘Necklace of Diamonds’ strategy. This strategy aims at garlanding China or in simple words, the counter encirclement strategy. India is expanding its naval bases and is also improving relations with strategically placed countries to counter China’s strategies.

The term “necklace of diamonds” in the context of India typically refers to a strategic concept related to India’s maritime security and influence in the Indian Ocean region. This concept emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining a network of naval and security partnerships with countries situated around the Indian Ocean. The term is often used metaphorically to describe India’s strategic interests and partnerships in the region, which are seen as valuable as a necklace of precious diamonds.


India’s Strategic Bases

1- Changi Naval Base, Singapore: In 2018, Prime Minister Modi signed an agreement with Singapore. The agreement has provided direct access to this base to the Indian Navy. While sailing through the South China Sea, the Indian Navy can refuel and rearm its ship through this base.

2- Sabang Port, Indonesia: In 2018, India got the military access to Sabang Port which is located right at the entrance of Malacca Strait. This strait is one of the world’s famous choke point. A large chunk of trade and crude oil passes on to China through this region.

3- Duqm Port, Oman: In 2018, India got another military access after Sabang Port in Indonesia. The Duqm Port is located on the south-eastern seaboard of Oman. The port facilitates India’s crude imports from the Persian Gulf. In addition to this, Indian facility is located right between the two important Chinese pearls– Djibouti in Africa and Gwadar in Pakistan.

4- Assumption Island, Seychelles: In 2015, India and Seychelles agreed upon the development of the naval base in this region. This gives the military access to India. This base is of strategic importance to India as China desperately wants to increase its presence in the African continent through the maritime silk route.

5- Chabahar Port, Iran: In 2016, Prime Minister Modi signed an agreement to built this port. The port provides access to Afghanistan and an important trade route to Central Asia.


India’s Strategic Cooperation

Apart from getting direct access to the strategically placed naval bases, India is also developing new naval bases, developing the old bases and is enhancing relations with other nations to garland China.

1- Mongolia: Prime Minister Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit this country. Both the countries have agreed and will collaborate to develop a bilateral air corridor using India’s credit line.

2- Japan: India and Japan have jointly declared to built the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC).

3- Vietnam: India is maintaining good relations with Vietnam and has so far sold Brahmos Missile and 4 patrol boats to the country.

4- Central Asia: Prime Minister Modi visited all the 5 countries of Central Asia in one go and becomes the first Indian Prime Minister to do this. Within 4 years, trade with Central Asian countries has doubled after his visit.

It can be concluded that India has maintained healthy relations with all the nations in China’s periphery. This will give strategic access to India and the pattern can be seen as the necklace of diamonds garlanding China in a counter encirclement.