Most people tend to mark the beginning of Indian international relations thought to Nehru, and his self-proclaimed attempt to build a true non-aligned movement and more enlightened international system. But Indian thought didn’t emerge sui generis after Indian independence, as Rahul Sagar notes in his edited anthology, To Raise a Fallen People: The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Indian Views on International Politics.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, was the earliest advocate of the Non-Alignment Movement, a doctrine that enabled the newly decolonized nations to keep away from the larger world politics of the Cold War. Additionally, Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, took the stance of non-violence that, in the sphere of international politics, restrained India from interacting with the world in a way that requires aggression. On the one hand, both non-alignment and non-violence have encouraged a view of India as a nation that has not engaged with the world in terms of clearly taking a stand in the face of international conflicts. On the other, India also has also been known to cultivate strategic alliances with nations that show considerably less reticence contrary to the spirit of non-alignment. India also maintains nuclear weapons, thus seemingly violating the fundamentals of non-alignment and non-violence.