Class 12 Political Science Chapter 1 The Cold War Era Notes

This chapter is very important from examination point of view. In this article we have discussed concepts like “cold war-its causes and effects, non aligned movement, NIEO, India’s role in Cold war, various arms control treaties”. These concepts are very important for 12th class board exams conducted by NCERT, CBSE and for other competitive exams as well.

Chapter 1 The Cold War Era Class 12 Political Science Notes

These ” The cold war era notes” have been prepared by the experts who have a teaching experience of more than 12 years at higher secondary level. These will help you to cover your entire syllabus with ease and without any kind of frustration. We are sure that you will find these revision notes very useful.

What is Cold War?

The tense and hostile relations that developed between the capitalist countries headed by USA and communist countries headed by Soviet Union (USSR) after world war Il came to be known as Cold War.

According to Flemming, “Cold War is a war that is fought not in the battlefield, but in the minds of men, one tries to control the minds of others”.

According to K.P.S Menon, “Cold War as the world experienced (1945-90) was a war between the two ideologies (Capitalism and Communalism), two systems (Democracy & Dictatorship), two blocks (NATO & Warsaw Pact), two states (USA & USSR), and two personalities (John Foster Dullies & Stalin).

What were the main causes responsible for Cold War?

Following are the main causes of Cold War:

  1. Mutual Fear & Distrust: Some Scholars hold that the mistrust and the consequent fears were the basis of cold War. The mutual fear and suspicion produced hostile interaction between two superpowers (USA & USSR) and both the parties were not willing to take any initiative to reduce tension.
  2. Ideological Conflict: The conflict between the ideologies of capitalism and communalism or Freeland and Marxland was also responsible for the cold war.
  3. Power Rivalry: After the 2nd world war, with the decline of Europe, power was largely shared between the Soviet Union & USA. As one wanted to dominate the other, so the conflicts were inevitable.
  4. The Soviet suspicion of America was based on latter’s intervention in Russia in 1918-19, refusal to inform Soviet Union about Manhattan Project to develop atom bomb and failure to open Second Front.
  5. Likewise, USA nourished hostility towards USSR because of Soviet belligerence, refund to withdraw forces from Iran, using Veto in UN Security Council frequently and above all their anti-American propaganda.

Write a short note on “Cuban Missile Crisis” OR Cold War towards Hot War?

It was in October 1962 that a really big crisis-the Cuban Missile crisis came to be developed between the 2 superpowers and brought them to the threshold of a war. The soviet decision to establish a missile base in Cuba was strongly opposed by the Americans. In order to prevent the entry of Soviet Missile carrying ships into Cuba, USA ordered the blockade or Strict “Quarantine”. On 24, October 1962, US blockade of Cuban ports became effective. The war between USA & USSR became a distinct possibility. The UN Secretary General, Mr. U. Thant tried to end the crisis between the two superpowers but failed. The USSR demanded withdrawal of US rockets from Turkey as a precondition for stopping installation of Soviet Missiles in Cuba.

This demand was rejected by USA ultimately, after some anxious days, Soviet union agreed to divert her missile carrying ships and to dismantle the Cuban missile sites in exchange for American guarantee for not invading Cuba.

Write a brief note on the emergence of power blocs during cold war?

The cold war produced a vertical division in the world i.e., it divided the world into two hostile blocs I.e., the capitalist bloc or American bloc and the socialist bloc or Soviet bloc. The consolidation of these two blocs through a solid network of alliances and counter alliance created Bi-polarity in the international system. In the Bi-polarity each bloc tries to increase their area of influence and isolation and limiting the other. The 2 super powers were successful in constituting the military alliances. The capitalist bloc constituted NATO(1949), SEATO(1954), CENTO(1955-58). The socialist bloc constituted warsaw pact(1955) to counter the NATO. So the two super powers divided the whole world into two blocs.

What were the main Arenas of cold war?

Arenas of cold war means areas where cisis and war occurred or threatened to occur between the alliance systems but did not cross certain limits. During the cold war super powers poised a direct confrontation in several place like Korea(1950-53), Berlin(1959-62), Congo(1962), Cuba(1962), Vietnam(1954-75), Afghanistan(1978) etc.

What is Non-Alignment? What are its main Features/Characteristics?

In simple words, Non-Alignment means a fundamental principle of foreign policy under which a nation, while keeping herself free from cold war and military alliances, actively participates in International relations. It is a principle of foreign policy which stands for keeping out the alliances in general and military pacts in particular. The term is commonly used to describe the foreign policies of those nations which are not in alliance with either the capitalist or the communist bloc. The credit for using the term “Non-alignment” goes to George Liska who used it to describe the policies of the states which decided not to join either of the 2 blocs in the world politics.


  1. Opposition to cold war.
  2. Opposition to Military/Political Alliances
  3. Non-Involvement in power politics.
  4. Independent Foreign Policy.
  5. Peaceful co-existence and Non-interference.
  6. Policy of Action and not Isolationalism.
  7. Non-Alignment is a policy of peaceful international intercourse and cooperation for development.

Write a short note on the origin of NAM? | Was NAM challenge to Bi-polarity?

The cold war tended to divide the world into two blocs viz- capitalist bloc and communist bloc. It was in this context that Non-Alignment offered in the newly decolonized countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America a third option not to join either bloc.
The roots of NAM went back to the friendship between 3 leaders viz- India’s J. L. Nehru, Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito and Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser. These 3 leaders held a meeting in 1956. Indonesia’s Sukarno and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah supported these leaders. These 5 leaders are known as the 5 founders of NAM. The first summit of NAM was held at Belgrade in 1961.

How did non-Alignment serve India’s interest during cold war?

  1. Due to policy of NAM India enjoyed freedom in every sphere especially in foreign affairs.
  2. India has been able to maintain her Individuality.
  3. The policy of Non-Alignment has helped India to play and active part in world politics.
  4. India got the economic assistance from the big countries of the world.

Discuss the relevance of NAM? | Do you agree with the view that the end of cold war has made NAM irrelevant/redundant?

The main aim of Non-Aligned countries was to keep away from cold war alliance, but the disintegration of USSR. The contemporary International system has rapidly changed from security, cooperation and development. These changes particulars the end of cold war has given rise to the issue of relevance of NAM.

The critics of NAM began arguing that since the end of the division is on its way to disappearance, the NAM has been rendered redundant. They argue that NAM would have either to wind up or to get transferred into a ‘new movement.

On contrary to these arguments NAM still continues to be fully relevant. Non alignment was designed as a principle of independent foreign policy in era of cold war and bi-polarism. Its main objective -independence in interpersonal relations, still continues to be valid.

The NAM asserted its continued relevance and its determination to uphold the objective to oppose and struggle against injustice, inequality and under-development. NAM is committed to work for the removal of economic inequalities between the developed and the developing countries. Thus, NAM continues to be relevant.


NIEO means New International Economic Order. NIEO constitutes a framework for eliminating the existing era of international economic system, which all its features, is mostly catering to the needs and interests of the developed countries to the detriment of the under developed Third world.

It stands for making the international system fairer, just and equitable by adopting code of conduct for the developed countries and by accepting the due rights of the under developed countries.

It is regarded as the only way to end the existing neo-colonial control over the developing countries by the developed countries.


Following are the major themes of NIEO:

  1. RESTRUCTURING OF WORLD ECONOMIC RELATIONS:- The major theme of NIEO is the urgent need for restructuring the world economic relations on a just and reasonable basis. NIEO is basically demand for more efficient and equitable management of interdependence of the world economy.
  2. INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES:-The advocates of NIEO emphasize the restructuring of the existing rules and regulations governing the international economic relations governing the international econo relations and the formation of new institutions and system of cooperation among nations.
  3. SELF RELIANCE:- A major theme of NIEO is self reliance. The developing countries aspire to move from underdevelopment to development. They want to be self reliant capable of satisfying the needs of their population.


India’s approach towards cold war was two fold;

(a) On one hand, it stayed away from the two military alliances.

(b)On the other hand, it raised its voice against the decolonized nations for becoming part of hostile cold war alliances.

During cold war era India’s foreign policy was based on the principle of non-alignment that means remaining away from super power rivalry but at the same time India actively participated in cold war in order to reduce the tension between the super powers. Indian mediators were quite often used to mediate between col rivals. Korean crisis is an example in this regard.


It is true that the cold war produced an arms race as well as arms control. Mutual suspicions between the two super powers led them to put themselves to the tests and constantly prepare for war. However, both, super powers understood that war might occur in spite of restraint.

In the occurrence of war, the world would be destroyed. Hence both the super powers decided to collaborate in limiting or eliminating certain kinds of nuclear and non nuclear weapons. Hence in this regard Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963) was signed. In 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed. In 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks-1 (SALT-1) was signed and in 1979 SALT-II was signed.

So these were “the cold war era notes”. We are very sure that you will find these very useful for your exam preparation.

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