India And Its Neighborhood Relations In Overview

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

India is considered as a peace-loving country. Maintaining healthy and peaceful relations with the neighbouring countries has always been the priority of India. India being the 2nd most populous country and the largest Democracy, it has established political relations with many other nations. Being a regional power, India is also playing a vital role in global affairs and aspire to be a global power in coming times.

Having a prominent voice in the global business, India is also considered as an industrialised nation. India is also a founding member of various organizations including the United Nations, The Asian Development Bank, G-20 along with the Non-Aligned Movement. There are many other organisations including East Asia Summit, International Monetary fund, IBSA Dialogue forum, etc. , of which India plays a prominent role. All this furthers India’s national interest and gives a voice in global affairs.

It can be said that while framing the foreign policy, India prioritises in maintaining amiable relations with its neighbouring countries. Thus, factors including commonality in terms of culture and history play a vital role in connecting with the neighbouring countries.

The foreign relations of India are being taken care of by the Ministry of External Affairs. During 1950s Indian relations with both East and West were prestigious but during the cold war, India failed to prevent politics and thus became closer to South Asian countries. India also shares its borders with all the South Asian nations.

Many scholars are of the opinion that bitterness lies in the regional perspective as India wants to dominate all the South Asian countries. But India maintains cordial relations with the South Asian countries since ancient times. Countries nearby India includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma and Maldives.


India maintains healthy relations with Afghanistan as both the countries are cooperating in terms of cultural, technical and economic grounds. UN-sponsored Geneva Agreement on Afghanistan in 1988 was appreciated by India. India wanted Afghanistan to decide independently and provided assistance of about ten crore rupees for the rehabilitation and relief of Afghan refugees. India also provides assistance in education, public health and small scale industries in Afghanistan.


India shares strategic relations with Bangladesh. There are many instances in the past which proves that India provided its back to Bangladesh during the time of hardships. One of its examples can be traced during the war of 1971, when about one million Bangladeshi residents came to India as refugees, lived in the North Eastern States and West Bengal. Military assistance along with the training was also provided to ‘Mukti Bahinis’. Indian interference in East Pakistan resulted in the defeat of Pakistan and thus, liberated Bangladesh. India played a positive role which was appreciated by the leader of Awami League, Mujibur Rehman, who later formed the provisional government in Bangladesh.

‘India Bangladesh Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation of 1972’ was also signed. A dispute regarding the sharing of Ganga water erupted after the death of Mujibur Rehman. But Bangladesh adopted a negative attitude towards India during the era of Zia-ur-Rehman as it attempted to internationalise the water sharing dispute of river Ganga after the construction of Farraka Barrage on Ganga by India. During the 1980s, issues regarding illegal migration, settlement of borders have erupted. But in 1997, Sheikh Hasina concluded a Water sharing treaty with India till 2026.

Bangladesh is trying to claim some pieces of Indian territory including Padua. The Indian New Moore Island no longer exists, which Bangladesh claims to be a part of Satkhira district. India criticizes them for providing shelter to extremists groups like ULFA.


Nepal shares a border with the five states of India and being a friendly neighbour, there is a tradition of free movement of people across the borders. The relationship existing between the governments of the two countries is fragile whereas, between the people of both countries, it is economic and cultural. A Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two was signed in 1950, according to which, national and reciprocal treatment for each other’s citizens were adopted. Relations between the two got strained during 1989 during the imposition of 13 long months economic barrier of Nepal. Relations were normalized during PM Modi visit to Nepal in 2014, where he focussed on the 4 Cs- Cooperation, Connectivity, Culture and Constitution to enhance bilateral relations. But, the Prime Minister of Nepal has adopted a policy to remain equidistant from both India and China. Nepal also acted as a buffer zone between India and China.


India does share historical, ethnic and cultural links with Pakistan but, since Partition in 1947, the relations between the two are troublesome. Some of the factors behind the distrust include the issue of Kashmir, the USA providing arms to Pakistan, terrorists getting assistance from Pakistan, etc. This all started with infiltration of Kashmir by Pashtun tribesmen, then, Indo-Pak war of 1965. India backing Bangladesh during the 1971 war accelerated the tensions further. India carried out Nuclear test, Pokhran-II in 1998, which was followed by Pakistan’s Chegi-I tests. Both countries went on war again in 1999. India also tried to maintain friendly relations by organizing the Agra Summit in 2001, but it was not a success. Parliament attack India during 2001 was also backed by Pakistan. Although, Peace process started in 2003 and somehow, improved relations. Srinagar-Muzaffarabad service started in 2005 followed by the 2008 Mumbai attacks. A recent development is opening of Katarpur Corridor for Indian pilgrims by Pakistan.


India’s relations with Bhutan remains a model worthy of emulation. Bhutan has never shown a trust deficit in terms of its relations with India as both have shared a close relationship with each other, which has been enhanced by the economic cooperation between the two. India-Bhutan Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation has been signed in 1949, according to which, Bhutan and India are natural partners with inseparable future. The treaty was revised in 2007. Bhutan also supported India during the war of 1962. Package deal which was offered by China since 1990, had been rejected by Bhutan. Moreover, since the Nehruvian era, India has provided developmental assistance to Bhutan.


India and Sri-Lanka shares an amiable relationship as there are huge numbers of Tamils of Indian origin are living in Sri Lanka. We can’t deny that due to this, many cultural problems have erupted in Sri Lanka which was solved by PM Lal Bahadur Shastri. Killings of Tamil people had worsened the relations but Indo-Sri Lankan accord in 1987 somehow, improved the relations. Again, LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi which again, strained the relations. Detentions of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy is also an issue which needs to be addressed in the current scenario.  In spite of that both the countries share commercial, economic and investment relations.


PM Narendra Modi has mentioned that Myanmar is India’s gateway to ASEAN. India and Myanmar have established political relationships since 1948 when the latter got independence from Great Britain. Myanmar possesses huge natural resources including forests, oil and gas and is a source of pulses for India. Due to the collapse of democracy and establishment of Military rule, India gave little preference to Myanmar but has always supported pro-democracy fraction, without caring about the personal gains, which resulted in the loosening grip of Myanmar under the China’s influence which had also become a safe haven for the North-East insurgent groups. An Operation Golden Bird in 1995 was conducted jointly by the Government of India and Myanmar in dealing with the insurgent groups of North-East. But the issue of Rohingyas is also creating an unstable environment.


The Maldives is located in the south of Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean. India shares multi-dimensional and cordial relationship with the Maldives due to commercial, religious, ethnic and linguistic links existing since ancient times. A trade agreement between the two was signed in 1981, according to which, the export of important commodities is provided. As the Maldives is critical for India’s security, thus, there lie many joint military activities between the two. An operation Cactus is being carried by India in the Maldives to protect the government of Abdul Gayyam from SL-Tamil Militant group in 1988. But recently, Maldives is becoming closer to Pakistan and China while distancing from India.

India-China Relations

The relations between the two have been more of a roller-coaster ride with many ups and downs. Initially, both were sharing-friendly relation but China invaded India during 1962 strained the relations. Border issues were there but PM Rajeev Gandhi visit to China in December 1988, marked a new beginning. Chinese PM Li Peng visit to India during 1991 proved a good understanding. In 2003, India recognized Tibet as an internal part of China, in reverse, China also accepted Sikkim as the internal part of India.


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