(Between 1966-1969)

Power Realities Facing India

M.L. Sondhi


A major diplomatic effort is needed by India to neutralize the military potential of states hostile to us.  We have to improve our fighting efficiency, but apart from that we have to take steps to encourage forces in all countries which will take our standpoint seriously and not be tempted to arrive at accommodations with third parties at the expense of India’s vital national interests.  This requires not only a display of friendliness on our part but also at times an unequivocal communication that our patience and goodwill are not inexhaustible, if important military and political considerations are persistently misrepresented to our disadvantage.

It is something of a shock to have to listen to the utterly sterile manner in which the results of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference have been discussed.  Surprisingly, the logic in the minds of the two representatives at the London Conference and their critics is similar, both being obsessively concerned with technical considerations regarding the drafting of the communiqué issued by the Conference.

Outdated policies

A most important political consideration is involved in the following question:  Did India attempt at any stage to talk in the Conference about the serious difficulties which have been created for our country’s defence by the outdated military-technical policies followed by countries which are friendly to us and claim to share democratic values with us?  Our delegation’s real problem was not whether or not to discuss China.  The most serious responsibility of our delegates was to carefully explicate the many considerations on which India has to base its military strategy.  The proper discharge of this responsibility would have helped other countries at the Conference to evaluate some basic factors which are increasingly the very stuff of our international politics, faced as we are with an unprecedented military threat.

While we can underline our readiness to take initiatives favourable to the development of a non-adventurist foreign policy, there would be no undue risk in making statements which provide international conferences with factual data.  After all, it is all to the good if our representatives succeed in creating the image of a country determined to protect its vital national interests.  It is this factor of national security which must provide the key index of the performance of our delegation.

Experts working in the field of international relations at important centres of study in important countries of both the so-called East and West are convinced that India has now a very strong case in terms of military-political strategy, which, if properly explained, can create the required shifts in political relationship in our favour.  I can vouchsafe this from my personal experience during a study tour to important universities in countries as different as the United States, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Unfortunately Indian diplomatic representatives have taken very few steps to project an Indian strategy in terms of the promotion of our own interests, and have been bogged down in efforts to preserve an optimum degree of alignment of non-alignment depending upon our assessment of the other countries’ peace-loving or warlike propensities.

A good example

The following is a good example where we discover a statement of a correct analysis by an outsider of our political strategy, but one is pained to observe that nowhere do Indian clarifications on the recent London Conference convey an understanding of the fundamental issue of national interest in our foreign policy.  Prof. H.J. Morgentha an outstanding authority in the field of international relations.  In a recent article in Commentary in its May issue, stated the position with such clarity that one wishes the Ministry of External Affairs had included the following excerpt in the brief supplied to our representatives at the Commonwealth Conference:

The alliance with Pakistan has from the outset been a useless and counterproductive instrument of American foreign policy; it could truly be called a diplomatic act against nature.  For the military forces of Pakistan, built up with our (US) massive support, have as their primary target not the Soviet Union or China, but India.  Yet we have an obvious vital interest in the political and economic success of India, an interest far transcending any other we have in Asia.  Our military support of Pakistan has forced India to divert a proportionate fraction of its scarce resources to military purposes and we, anxious to prevent India’s collapse, have been compelled to replace at least a part of those diverted resources with foreign aid.

Armament race

“It was possible to dismiss this armament race with ourselves as a costly absurdity until China invaded India, and in the aftermath of that invasion, Pakistan reached a political and also, it is generally believed, a military understanding with China.  Everything points to the likelihood that China will invade India again on a larger scale as soon as she has solved her logistical problems.  It is also obvious that when this happens and India is fighting for her life Pakistan will bring the weapons supplied by us into the camp of her enemies while we will support India by improvising a crash programme after the invasion has started.”

Professor Morgenthau goes on to ask the question: “Why is it that, aware of what the facts are and what action they require, we cling with desperate tenacity to policies which, if they ever served our purposes, have now lost their usefulness?”

This is precisely the question our representatives should have asked forcefully at the London Conference.  It is high time that those concerned with the implementation of foreign policy understand the power realities facing India.

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