Here is an extract on 'national interests':
Definition of National Interests
An even more serious issue: does India have a clear definition of its National Interests?
A few years back, we came across a textbook (Ghai, U.R., Foreign Policy of India, (Jalandhar, New Academic Publishing Co. 1996), explaining thus the concept of ‘national interests’ and the relation between national interests and foreign policy. I quote:
Foreign Policy as Director of National InterestIn these circumstances of ‘vagueness’, one can understand that India has not always taken a determined stand defending its own interests.
The other set of scholars, does not accept such a logic [that national interest is the basis for foreign policy] and is of the view that it is not always possible to base the foreign policy only on the national interest of a state. National interests of the state are general and vague. These lack clarity. For example security is regarded as the primary interest of a state and yet no member of the government can precisely define the nature of security that is actually required by the state. National interests cannot be precisely identified and concretized. They have to be related to values of the people as well as the interests of the other nations. Hence national interest alone cannot be accepted as the basis of foreign policy. In actual practice we find that very often the leaders of the state try to give priority to the selfish in domestic policies over the national interests of the state.
One notorious example is when India was offered a permanent seat in the Security Council, and Nehru declined it.
On June 29, 1955, the Soviet leader Bulganin had informed the Indian Prime Minster: "...We propose suggesting at a later stage India's inclusion as the sixth member of the Security Council.''
A month later, after a visit to the Soviet Union, Nehru made clear his stand: ''Informally, suggestions have been made by the US that China should be taken into the UN but not in the Security Council and that India should take her place in the Council. We cannot, of course, accept this as it means falling out with China and it would be very unfair for a great country like China not to be in the Council.''
He admitted that ''at this stage, even though as a great country she [India] ought to be there…the first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question might be considered separately.''
China, of course, did not return the favour.
It was a very peculiar way to look at ‘national interests’! Fifty five years later India is still desperately running after the seat which was then offered on a platter by both the superpowers of the time. Nehru’s principle that India should not be in the Security Council if Communist China was not, resulted in Beijing getting it, while Delhi is still in waiting room (with Beijing making sure that India remains there).
This may be an extreme case, but ‘national interest’ is however important and should be linked with ‘foreign policy’.