M.L. Sondhi

Shakti, January 1968

There is no doubt that India is seen as a major influence on the world scene by the masses of Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.  The causes of friction between India and some other countries which have created some of the most tragic situations in India’s modern career as a free nation are more related to the seemingly inextricable mixture of outmoded ideologies and strategies still dominating the field of international relations than to any impasse of Hinduism or of the Indian grand design.  The world is in need of new ideas about mankind’s future and India’s commitment towards international-community making is of crucial importance in this respect, for any impression of weakness on our part will gravely affect the outcome in the contest of conflicting aims between those powers who seek to promote international organisation and those whose political aspirations are directed towards hegemonistic conflict.

India can ill afford the kind of rigid and dogmatic world outlook which has come to be associated with the policy of non-alignment.  Although it is often paraded as having contributed to the development of a constructive role for Indian diplomacy, in fact the non-alignment cult has resulted in depriving India of flexibility in the choice of means in a rapidly changing world situation. ation.

Some of the ill-effects of Non-alignment have been:

The rationale of non-alignment was to oppose the division of the world into two hostile power blocs, but operationally it has implied a sanction of the existing state of affairs by exaggerating the dangers in every structural adjustment which is not to the liking of Moscow or Washington.

It encouraged an attitude of conservatism on the part of Indian decision makers, who were not so much concerned with planning an Indian perspective on foreign affairs as in making India an honest broker between East and West.

It is essentially a static way of looking at the world, and it prevented India from anticipating future hostile attitudes.  Indian official thinking took for granted that China would adhere to Pancha Sheela for ever.  They were inhibited from undertaking a study of China as a potential enemy and continued to harp on the theme of China’s admission to the United Nations. 

Non-alignment has prevented India from checking Pakistan’s aggressiveness and from exposing the incompatibility of the real interests of Pakistan and those of the USA and the Soviet Union.

Non-alignment failed to rally the support of the other non-aligned countries when China attacked India.

The two super powers, USA and USSR, interpret our non-aligned stance as a formal arrangement for Appeasement.  India is subjected to “local hostilities” by hostile powers, and the advice of the Super powers is against escalation through retaliatory response.  We have been consistent in our friendship with the USA and the USSR, but we have failed to secure a commitment to our territorial integrity from either of them.  Diplomatically both of them have brought pressure on us to “appease” those who have claims against us.

Non-alignment has discouraged us from developing independent resources of military potential with the help of middle and small countries which can supply munitions of war.  We have also failed to get moral sanction for our policies from middle and small powers since our military-political pattern has entangled us inextricably with the Anglo-Saxon powers and the Soviet Union.

Non-alignment has made India status quo minded in respect of international organisation. The Indian official attitude regards the Charter of the United Nations as something eternal, and has not shown any incentive towards reforming the United Nations in accordance with the reality of the situation in the post-war world. 

It is often claimed by apologists of non-alignment that India’s profit from the policy was enhanced by the substantial consensus that emerged in the attitudes of the Soviet Union and the USA, and both accorded India a special status in world and regional politics.  This is clearly a superficial way of looking at crucial problems of diplomacy.  It ignores the severe limitations of the number of options in political strategy which are imposed by the USA and Russia on the pursuit of national inertest by a non-aligned country.  The convergence between the USA and USSR and the resulting agreements between them are often reflected in demands on countries like India which are accompanied by pressure tactics.

Non-alignment is rooted in a bi-polar view of the world.  As against this a multi-polar world requires a national policy of non-Appeasement, or independence or even intransigence to meet the challenges of the radically different power configuration in the world.  A dynamic National Foreign Policy involves an effective effort for gaining great power status through initiative.

It is fashionable to talk of the decline of ideology in the world.  Indeed the disintegration of the monolithic unity of the world communist movement is a development of crucial significance.  Soviet authority is no longer what it was during Stalin’s time and Chinese ideological influence has enabled national communist party leaders to pursue polemics which have undermined Communist unity.  In the Western world the unity created by the United States with the politico-military integration of the North Atlantic Treaty is today badly shaken.  What is the role of Ideology in Indian foreign Policy?  The Bandung Conference was interpreted as a proclamation of the Ideology of Anti-Imperialism by the Asian and African States and Indian apologists claimed that it has initiated a new era in Indian Foreign Policy.  Today the discussion in official circles remains inconclusive because there is a reluctance to weigh the evidence of the failure of such a negative policy.  India’s ideological role cannot be described in a negative fashion.  India’s ideological role is a positive one, that of providing ideas which were applied in the domestic sphere during the course of the National resurgence.

At Bandung we suffered our real defeat at the hands of China because it was Chou En-lai who projected the psychological impression of his country setting the pace for Asia, while Nehru was content to move around in what seems in retrospect to have been an altogether confused manner.  Nehru missed the opportunity at Bandung to base India’s prestige on the sheet anchor of national achievement in various fields.

India has a legitimate ideological role in world politics and it follows from the natural links that exist between us and other traditional cultures, and the opportunities that are available to translate into action the historical and cultural point of view which abjures fanaticism and undertakes international community organisation on the basis of a coalition model of each country following its Swadharma.

The advent of Indian Freedom signalled a new era in Asia, the chief characteristic of which was the claim to national identity and integrity of people who had been suppressed or ignored.  It was the Indian Freedom Movement which had played a decisive role in challenging imperialism in all its forms, by projecting the positive basis for self-development, by positing that Su-rajya was no substitute for Swarajya.  It was, therefore, expected that India would play a historic role in protecting and developing the national identity of countries which aspired to maintain their distinctive culture and civilisation.

When the Government of India allowed Tibet to be swamped by the Chinese Communists, this single event distorted the relations between India and China.  The communist Chinese entered Tibet with a nominal force and immediately after they were involved in the Korean war, so if India had offered serious diplomatic resistance the Chinese would have had no alternative but to accept Tibet’s integrity and freedom.  Inspite of all the mistakes which have been made by official misconceptions, the internal unrest in China today provides an invaluable opportunity for freeing Tibet from Chinese overlordship by taking action on the following lines:

1.                   Indian recognition of the Government of the Dalai Lama as a Government in exile.

 2.                   Active sponsorship of the Tibetan issue at the United Nations by India as a key political issue.

3.                   Efforts to secure disengagement between India and China on the basis of Tibetan freedom.

4.                   International inspection of Tibet to eliminate possible siting of Nuclear weapons.

5.                   Supply of arms by India to Tibetan freedom fighters.

6.                   Efforts to support a Confederation of Neutral States in Central Asia comprising Mongolia, Sinkiang and Tibet, with their neutrality guaranteed by India, Soviet Union and China.

Apart from the necessity of having a Tibet policy, India must put an end to the tendency of accepting the status quo regarding the occupation of Indian territory by the Chinese.  India cannot afford to acquiesce in Chinese acquiring title to Indian territory by allowing the present situation to persist.  India’s posture of political and military strength must, therefore, be one of not only defence of our border posts but of deterring the Chinese through development of conventional, para-military and non-conventional forces.  Our intelligence network should cover China thoroughly and we should not stint in cooperating with the regime in Taiwan in this vital sphere.

The possibility of breaking diplomatic relations and denouncing the 1954 treaty must be considered, without precluding political initiative to test and probe Peking about its intentions in a manner akin to that by which the USA has continued a political dialogue in Warsaw with the Soviet Union.

China has been actively supported by Pakistan in its challenge to democracy and pluralism in Asia.  Pakistan’s medievalism threatens all its neighbours which seek political and economic modernisation, although it skilfully exploits its strategic inferiority to India to camouflage its intentions.  Militarily it is evident that Pakistan seeks access to the Gangetic valley to overcome its lack of economic viability.

Fortunately the international situation is favourable for the success of the Pakhtunistan freedom movement and if India takes the initiative, Pakistan’s medievalism can be shattered.  Afghanistan is today a modernising force in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent, and can serve as a powerful stimulus to the liberation struggle of the people of Pakistan against the military junta.  The Soviet Union and the United States are opposed to large scale hostilities in this politically strategic area and if the Pakhtunistan Jirghas under the able leadership of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan can develop creatively their struggle for political independence, with active support from India and Afghanistan, international pressure will compel Pakistan to accept peaceful change.

The current political situation in East Pakistan also opens up a number of interesting diplomatic possibilities for India.  The polarisation between West and East Pakistan is proceeding apace and most observers are convinced that sooner or later East Pakistan will secede from the regime in Rawalpindi.  India can look upon this process as the natural outcome of historical forces and commit itself to the progress of the people of East Bengal.  India should begin an international dialogue with other powers in the United Nations to develop an institutionalised guarantee for East Bengal along the lines of the international guarantee to Austria in a similar context in Europe.

The entire influence of Indian foreign policy has suffered in the Middle East on account of the unnecessary preponderance of the myth of our community of interests with Cairo as a holy place of Non-alignment and Arab Unity.  We have refused to look beyond Cairo to understand the variegated pattern of countries surrounding the Mediterranean.  The Arab Countries of the Maghreb, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and the State of Israel, are all part of the picture and to ignore the natural opportunities for competition for Indian support is simply poor statesmanship.  In withdrawing the UNEF forces from the GAZA strip, the Indian government indulged in war-mongering and the catastrophic results are now evident to the whole world.  The Bharatiya Jana Sangh believes that India should enhance its peace-keeping  influence in this area and religious fanaticism and hegemonistic ambitions should be discouraged by the international community. India has a natural interest in the lessons of economic development of Israel, an ancient society armed with modern technology, and establishment of close diplomatic relations between India and Israel will help in lowering international tensions in the Middle East.  India must seek to encourage trade and commerce and freedom of navigation in the entire region.  The interests of different ethnic and political entities must be carefully differentiated and bilateral links should be developed with the Greeks, Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Jews, Christians, Druzes and others.

New developments in Asia seem to have caught Indian foreign policymakers unawares.  Even with regard to China our eyes must not only rest on the Himalayan borders but we must also discover the implications of Chinese strategy for South East Asian countries.  The Bharatiya Jan Sangh stands for a New Asian policy which should reflect a genuinely national policy.

In the case of Vietnam, for example, India’s politico-diplomatic power is not adequately expressed through the International Control Commission.  India should take a more active interest in the Buddhist involvement in politics of South Vietnam.  At the same time we must independently probe Hanoi for a possible settlement, on the clear understanding that our support depends on North Vietnamese efforts to free themselves from China’s tutelage.  In view of the rising criticism of United States involvement in Vietnam and growing dissensions among the Communist countries, India should seek a Buddhist-oriented consensus with countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.

The changing perspective of economic relationships in the South Asian arena call for an active Indian initiative in promoting regional cooperation.  India must develop industrial and economic collaboration with the South East Asian countries.  India and Japan must strive for a basic understanding of mutual objectives of economic development of Asia and it is not merely in relation to commercial policy on a cash balance basis but rather in respect of industrial collaboration on a long term basis that the two can fulfil their respective roles in Asia.  The security interests of Japan deserve sympathetic interest from India and India should seek to understand the efforts made by Japan to put its relations with the Soviet Union and the United States on the firm basis of national dignity and integrity.  The resurgence of Buddhism in Japan as evidenced by the Soka Gakkai movement and other social developments merits careful study by India.

India’s relations with Nepal can increase many-fold in the spheres of culture, science and technology and the common heritage of the two countries must find expression in promoting a high sense of responsibility in political and social intercourse in terms of the Perennial Philosophy, the Sanatana Dharma, which can help both to evolve a cooperative approach towards solving urgent international problems.

There is a proliferation of arguments regarding India’s attitude towards Nuclear choices.  A correct appreciation of national interests requires that India should not be restrained in its advance in nuclear research.  The Non-proliferation Treaty is an attempt to sanctify the existence of Five Nuclear Powers by placing permanent technological barriers on Indian research.  This is clearly unacceptable to the people of India. The so-called guarantees are of theoretical value and in practice would place Indian defence in serious jeopardy.

The development of a nuclear deterrent by India, keeping in view the remarkable political stability our country has shown in its adherence to a constitutional system, will enhance global management of nuclear power and also help India to take a meaningful part in Disarmament discussions.  As a responsible world power India can ill afford to be subjected to nuclear blackmail and therefore in solving its security problems must take into account likely future developments such as the anti-ballistic missile system.  The current governmental attitude on non-proliferation is therefore at best a one-sided approach to the arms control and disarmament problem and at worst a callous disregard of our strategic and security problems.  The Bharatiya Jana Sangh is totally opposed to any arrangement by which India is asked to sign away its right to produce nuclear weapons. It supports an Indian role for fostering international collaboration in peaceful uses of nuclear energy but not at the cost of undermining national self-confidence.
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