Why did India end up tilting" to the Soviet pole during the Cold Wars, while Pakistan was pro- US pole? And to what degree was India pro Soviet?

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    I know what you're trying to say. I recommend a change to show that they sympathized more with socialist/communist economic governing (jmho). My guess is because the UK so badly mistreated them that they politically sympathized with the West's enemy, and that simply carried over to econ. – user2296 May 18 '13 at 16:54
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is either on a matter that is amply documented already in on-line encyclopedias (Indo-Soviet, Pak-U.S. relations post WW II) or it wrongly assumes that India joined Soviet-led worldwide communism (in fact, India was a leader of the non-aligned nations movement). – Eugene Seidel Aug 17 '13 at 12:00
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    Even though there is extensive documentation about this "tilt," the questions of "why" and "to what degree" are non-trivial ones. – Tom Au Aug 18 '13 at 1:10
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    @TomAu given that the core of the claim, that India was part of the Soviet block, has been discredited, there's no more point in the why of that "fact" :) – jwenting Aug 18 '13 at 3:12

India never joined the Soviet pole or the Soviet bloc though India and the Soviet Union (USSR) enjoyed a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship.

After independence both India and Pakistan were backward and needed support from stronger nations. Pakistan joined the Western bloc by signing SEATO and CENTO. India developed closed ties with Soviet but remained Non-Aligned in the Cold War.

The reasons for strong Indo-Soviet ties despite NAM:

  1. Western bloc (US bloc) was dominated by colonialist and imperialist nations. In 1947 India was just freed from colonialist and imperialist British. India's one of the most important objective in the international sphere was to fight against colonialism and imperialism, protect its own and other newly independent nations' sovereignty. These principles also features in NAM.

  2. India faced deliberate estrangement from the West during the Kashmir Issue at the UN. West supported Pakistan on this.

  3. Most of the Indian leaders had socialist leanings. Some mainstream leaders, like M. N. Roy, were good friends of the Stalin. Pundit Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, also shared good relations with Stalin and Khrushchev. Nehru was very impressed with the Soviet advances in the fields of science and technology.

  4. At the time of independence, India was backward economically, militarily, in food productions and many other fields. She needed support for her development and started taking support from Soviets.

  5. In February 1954, the U.S. administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the decision to provide arms to Pakistan, followed a month later by Pakistan joining the SEATO and subsequently the CENTO. These agreements assured Pakistan the supply of sophisticated military hardware and economic aid. This alarmed India, which had uncomfortable relations with Pakistan.

  6. China invaded India in 1962. The presence USS Enterprise in the Bay of Bengal during 1971 Bangladesh war was fresh in the mind of Indians. In 1972, Nixon visited China. The repercussions of the Nixon visit were vast, and included a significant shift in the Cold War balance, pitting the PRC with the U.S. against the Soviet Union.

  7. India and the USSR therefore pursued similar policies based on common security threat born out of the US interests in Pakistan and later in China.

India and USSR signed The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation on 9 August 1971.

This treaty was for peaceful co-existence and mutual co-operation between India and USSR unlike NATO pact, Warsaw pact, SEATO and CENTO which were primarily of military in nature.

The only 'military' related clauses in The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation treaty are:

(ARTICLE VIII) In accordance with the traditional friendship established between the two countries, each of the High Contracting Parties solemnly declares that it shall not enter into or participate in any military alliance directed against the other Party.Each High Contracting Party undertakes to abstain from any aggression against the other Party and to prevent the use of its territory for the commission of any act which might inflict military damage on the other High Contracting Party.

(ARTICLE X) Each High Contracting Party solemnly declares that it shall not enter into any obligation, secret or public, with one or more States, which is incompatible with this Treaty. Each High Contracting Party further declares that no obligation be entered into, between itself and any other State or States, which might cause military damage to the other Party.

Both of these clauses ultimately relates to peace and non-aggression against each other.


In some of the incidents, India had also shared good relations not only with the USSR but also with United States during the Cold War.

In initial years of independence, due to poor harvest, India asked for free food from US. US made the donations and from 1947–1959 the U.S. provided $1.7 billion in gifts, including $931 million in food.

During the Chinese invasion of 1962, even in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, United States was willing to help India. There were plans to send the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier to the Bay of Bengal to support India.

UPDATE 17th August '13 :

Very recently declassified CIA files shows that Pundit Nehru gave permission to the US to use Indian airbase Charbatia in Orrisa state to spy on China after 1962 conflict. US was also going to use this base for spying on USSR. From today's (17th August '13)The Indian Express

The CIA report, released by the National Security Archive, states that the US had two missions in mind when it stationed aircraft in India — to get a clear picture of Chinese deployment along the disputed border and to use it as a staging area to spy on the Russian anti-ballistic missile (ABM) testing site at Saryshagan (now in Kazakhstan).

So, India did not actually join the Soviet Bloc or US Bloc. As also there was no formal agreement like NATO, CENTO, SEATO or Warsaw signed by India unlike what the Pakistan did. India was just pursing its national interests, without compromising its Non-Alignment principles, with more inclinations towards Soviets than the US.

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    Excellent answer! But I have to disagree on your point that USS Enterprise was present & was ready to help India. This Wikipedia article says the exact opposite. "December 11: Liberation of Hilli, Mymenshingh, Kushtia and Noakhali. USS Enterprise is deployed by the USA in the Bay of Bengal to intimidate Indian Navy." – Abhilash May 18 '13 at 15:19
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    Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, the USS Enterprise was deployed by the USA in the Bay of Bengal to intimidate Indian Navy. I have deleted that. – fortytwo May 18 '13 at 16:27
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    India had even more reason to "align" (informally) with the Soviet Union after Nixon went to China in 1972. – Tom Au May 18 '13 at 22:32
  • i think it was a failure of the Indian politicians and foreign policy. They mixed up state help and NGOs with socialism & marxism. – tgkprog Jun 6 '13 at 12:44

India didn't "officially" join the Soviet bloc in the sense of being a signatory to the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe.

India DID unofficially "align" with the Soviet Union in Asia.

This was to create a counterweight to the Chinese-Pakistani "understanding" that originated in 1962 over the Kashmir (China invaded India on Pakistan's behalf). The need for some sort of "understanding" with the Soviet Union grew further as a result of the U.S. rapprochements with Pakistan, and with China, in 1972.

India was "socialist" and therefore somewhat ideologically compatible with the Soviet Union. But mainly it was a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." They actually had few interests in common to be truly "allied."

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    I think that pretty much says it all. Pakistan leaned towards China and the US, so India, being their arch enemies, naturally would be drawn to the USSR (and France), with both countries keeping their historic ties with the UK. – jwenting May 28 '13 at 9:45