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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

India’s first Prime Minister towered over India’s international relations for nearly two critical decades. More than half a century after his death, however, scholars continue to debate the meaning and significance of Nehru’s most important initiatives in foreign policy. Some argue that he was a bold idealist crusader, one who frequently ignored important Indian interests. Others have described him as a subtle practitioner of realpolitik statecraft. This chapter argues that Nehru must be remembered as both an idealist and a realist. To make its case, the chapter delves into three of Nehru’s most important ‘idealistic’ preoccupations in foreign policy: his drive to build up the United Nations, his campaign for non-alignment, and his crusade for nuclear disarmament. In each case, the analysis reveals that Nehru was both sincerely committed to what he saw as a moral cause, but also convinced that advancing it would suit narrower Indian interests as well.

Keywords: Jawaharlal Nehru, idealism, realism, non-alignment, disarmament, United Nations

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