Why did India join the Commonwealth of Nations?
Reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) does not have any records showing the circumstances in which after gaining independence, India chose to join the Commonwealth.
India joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1949. Records for the cicumstances leading to India opting for the commonwealth were likely to be available with the UNP Division and / or Europe West Division which dealt with Commonwealth Affairs. However, despite best efforts, the MEA could not locate the files/ records dating back to India joining the Commonwealth. Efforts by the MEA to locate the relevant records and documents at the the High Commission of India in London did not yield any results. The MEA did not find any leads where such files might be located.
The MEA located a copy of "the London Declaration" on the website of the Commonwealth Secretariat, a copy of which was provided to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, which provides the rationale for India continuing to be a member of the Commonwealth even after becoming a republic.
The public authorities of the country have received criticism for the poor record keeping and this RTI application is an example of the same. Decisions regarding joining a group, such as this one, have a wide ramification for the foreign policy of the nation. It is regretted to note that the MEA has no records about the same.