There is a view that India has been behaving like a big brother towards her neighbours.
Of all these neighbouring countries, India had strained relations with Pakistan and China and she had cordial relations with the rest of the countries.
India signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1950, which provided Nepal unrestricted access for commercial transit through India.
India too settled with Burma a long unguarded border and the problem of settlers amicably and successfully.
India maintained with Sri Lanka, leaving aside the problem of settlers, amicable relations. India had to face the continuous hostility of Pakistan because of the unsolved Kashmir issue and with China, due to India’s attitude towards Dalai Lama and for giving him asylum in India. In the following pages let us study in detail the relations between India and Pakistan and China.
The causes for friction between India and Pakistan are deep-rooted suspicion and dislike between the two communities – Hindus and Muslims – due to historical happenings of the early and later medieval period. British for their own selfish end of justifying and perpetuating their rule in India by pursuing the policy of “divide and rule” broadened and widened the gulf between the two communities and showed apparent partisan love towards the Muslims.
The idea east is east and West is west propagated by the occidentalists created the seeds of “Two Nation Theory” which ultimately led to the demand of the partition of the Indian subcontinent. As the parties involved – the Hindus and the Muslims took extreme stand disagreeing to see reason, the emotionally charged minds persisted for bifurcation.
All genuine India lovers expected the division of India would solve the problem forever and usher an era of peace, once their wish is fulfilled. But, contrary to expectations, what happened was that the acrimony was shifted from the internal arena to the international arena giving scope for mediation of the third party.
The Kashmir issue added fuel to the existing fire and kindled widespread flames of communal strife. USA took advantage of this volatile situation and tried to integrate Pakistan into the fold of USA through CENTO, SEATO, The Baghdad Pact and a military pact with the US in 1954. In such a situation only, the USSR began to thwart all resolutions on Kashmir unacceptable to India. A new dimension was added by the Chinese attack on India in 1962 and Pakistan and China supported each other.
The Indo-Pak war of 1965 ended in a futile attempt by Pakistan. Till the death of Nehru, the rancour that characterized the Indo-Pak relations, made him very unhappy and bitter and he died in 1964 with a broken heart and utmost sadness for the back-biting of China, whom Nehru believed to be a good friend of India and for his failure to end the Pakistani hatred towards India.
From time immemorial, India and China had fruitful contacts. In the modern times, India and China became were the victims of colonialism and imperialism, and both the countries with organized struggle against these succeeded in attaining freedom and liberation in 1947 and 1948 respectively. India pleaded for a permanent seat for China in the Security Council, having faith in the new regime.
The occupation of Tibet by China in 1950 upset Nehru very much but in 1954 India and China signed a treaty in which India recognized the rights of China over Tibet. Both the countries became party to Panchsheel and in the Bandung Conference of 1959; Nehru took measures to project China and Chou Enlai.
In 1959, a revolt took place in Tibet and Dalai Lama with his followers fled to India. Dalai Lama was given asylum in India and he was strictly warned not to carry out political activities on the Indian soil. Despite our efforts to stop the Dalai Lama from such activities, the Chinese were unhappy and in October 1959, the Chinese opened fire on Indian patrol near Kongalca pass in Ladakh.
Since then relations were strained and on 8 September, 1962, the Chinese army attacked the Thagla ridge and dislodged Indian troops. A week later, the Chinese army launched a huge attack and overran Indian posts in the eastern sector of NEFA or the present day Arunachal Pradesh.
The Indian army without resistance accepted defeat and fled. On 20 October, in the western sector, the Chinese captured 13 posts in the Galwan valley and threatened the Chausal airstrip. There was a great furore in India and on 9 November, Nehru sought a wide range military help describing the situation in India ‘really desperate’ and also sought British assistance. China unilaterally withdrew within 24 hours “leaving behind a heart broken friend and a confused and disoriented people”.
It is no exaggeration to suggest that Nehru’s death in 1964 was hastened by this sudden blow on self-respect by one supposed to be a trust-worthy friend. Much was written about ‘whose fault was it’ and the aftermath of the Chinese attack. V.P. Dutt observes, “China had arrived at a new theoretical understanding of its own national interests. It had despaired of a peaceful solution to the outstanding problems with the United States and the fulfillment of its primary objectives, viz., the return of Taiwan acceptance of China as a great power, seat in the Security Council. It had now come to believe that the international balance of forces was shifting in favour of the socialist camp to view the Soviet advances in rocketry and ICBMs and that the time had come for the adoption of an uncompromising and militant line in order to compel the United States to make concessions”.
Bipan Chandra argues that “the Chinese attack on India had little to do with issues between India and China, but was a reaction to a feeling of isolation, abandonment and frustration. By attacking India, they may have wanted to topple Nehru or at least push India into the western camp so that the USSR could have no illusions about Indian non-alignment and would have to rethink its policy of peaceful coexistence, which, the Chinese figured was leading to their isolation”.
Bipan Chandra is of the view:
“The causes of the Indian military humiliation could not be reduced to Indian foreign policy’s failure”. K. Subrahmanyam suggests that it could “only be characterized as one of the unforeseeable random events of history”.
Thus, the foreign policy initiated and implemented by Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was based on the principle of non-alignment, which was not a blueprint for policy but was an approach, a method which the young nation consisting of hungry and illiterate millions was to journey on the dusty road to reach the goal of self-help and self-reliance which can make India a developed country. Though Nehru was a visionary and dreamer, his foreign policy based on non-alignment reflects his pragmatic approach to achieve the objective of a self-reliant independent sovereign republic.