Indian Foreign Policy on the eve of Lusaka: A Plea for Non-appeasement

M.L. Sondhi

Pattern of Change:  Indian Foreign Policy is in danger of losing its momentum if the pattern of change in the world system is not comprehended.  I would like to utter a note of warning that the present rigid policy-assumptions constitute too narrow a base for fulfilling India’s commitments and responsibilities.  Indian nonalignment is based upon a rigid bipolar view of the world and does not permit India to play a constructive ideological role.  Although today there are new centres of power, India continues to play the role of the “honest broker” between the USA and the Soviet Union.  Indian nonalignment is regarded today as a closed system which inhibits adequate responses to new challenges.

National Goals:  India can broaden the base of its foreign policy only if it states its national goals clearly and gives up the present practice of stating national goals in contradictory terms in response to outside pressures.  The origins of our Foreign Policy are linked to the conceptions of Decolonisation, Non-interference and Co-existence which were formulated with reference to the prelude of the national movement. The changing pattern of world politics requires that we should in the context of Africa make a significant contribution to the defence capability of the young African nations.  It will be a futile experience if at Lusaka, Indian representative adopt a “holier than thou” attitude.  The question of British sale of arms to South Africa is a burning question.  Modern weapons are necessary for small countries if they have to defend their hard won independence.  India has the technological competence to supply arms to African freedom fighters and to small African states.  This would be a fitting answer to the colonialist mentality shown by Britain and would at the same time be a realistic policy keeping in view the needs of Indians in Africa in whose welfare we are keenly interested.  India’s attitude should be uncompromising on the issue of African freedom and we should not hesitate to train African cadets in the Indian Army.  India’s positive ideological role can only be fulfilled if we correctly understand the intimate connection between defence and foreign policy and realise the expectation of the middle and small powers that we should stand up for their rights against the pressure of big powers.

India should take a clear stand against outside interference:  India should warn the super powers against undermining a peaceful solution of the conflict in Southeast Asia by their outside interference.  It is absurd for India to try to sanction the Soviet claim that Soviet Union is an Asian power.  This attitude will be suicidal because it is an invitation to outside interference in the Asian region. As far as Southeast Asia is concerned India herself has to take the initiative to develop a new attitude keeping in view the new imperatives for an Asian policy.  India has a definite role to play at Lusaka to create public opinion in favour of international peace and security but it will be futile if India talks in vague and pious terms.  The termination of war in South East Asia requires that India should be prepared to contribute to concrete steps to ring about de-escalation and a standstill on violence in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  It was a major blunder for India to have taken a negative stand in relations to the Jakarta Conference whose excellent communiqué suggests a road to peace.  India should show the wisdom and determination to resist outside Governments and peoples of South East Asia.

Non-appeasement and National Security Policy:  India will find itself in a cockpit of conflict if she does not steer clear of outmoded clichés which masquerade as policy.  It will only lead to a loss of Indian influence if India strains her political, economic and cultural ties with the countries of the South eastern region for the sake of appeasing the interests of other states.  We should take a lesson from Yugoslavia.  Although Yugoslavia professes nonalignment, yet when it comes to questions of Yugoslav security policy Tito places primary reliance on solving security problems of the Mediterranean region.  India has been ignoring this aspect and the result has been disappointing.  

There is no alternative to Nuclearization for India:  India should speak at Lusaka and elsewhere as a near-nuclear power and give up all talk of non-proliferation which is merely a policy of subservience to the Super powers.  India should seek greater understanding with near-nuclear powers like Brazil, Israel, and Japan.  India should not hesitate to express at Lusaka the growing determination of the Indian people to achieve nuclear status and India should secure appreciation and understanding for a forthcoming nuclear test by India.  India should formally reject the Non-proliferation Treaty and announce its nuclear intent.  India’s nuclear energy programme should be accelerated and our intention to cooperate with Asian and African countries should be underlined.  India should in particular emphasise the nuclear potential of the country in relation to the defence of the Indian Ocean with nuclear powered weapons.  India should firmly reject the policy of nuclear status-quo sponsored by the USA and Soviet Union.

Non-appeasement as an Operational Policy for India:  Instead of repeating the magic incantation of non-alignment, India should stress its resolve not to appease the Super powers any further and also to oppose the hostile intent of China and Pakistan.  We should integrate our defence and foreign policy.  If at Lusaka we continue to abdicate our responsibility in order to play the “honest broker” we shall suffer a serious setback.  That is the danger of our present “vacuum diplomacy.”  It is high time that Indian national interest was reasserted.  These are new directions for India on the eve of Lusaka.  The goal of Indian Foreign Policy should be Non-Appeasement.
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