Thursday, July 22, 2010


I wrote on June 18 on India and Foreign diplomatic archives with reference to France and the USA. In the second part of the blog, I will write on the erstwhile USSR, the UK and the China factor in India's foreign relations as perceived by the leading powers of the world in the formative years of India's international exposure.

The USSR was not much interested in India even after its independence in 1947 in spite of the fact that Pandit Nehru wanted to engage with the USSR. He sent important personalities like Vijay Lakshami Pandit, his own sister and Dr. S. Radhkrishnan as the Indian Ambassadors to Moscow to register India's interest and desire to be-friend the USSR to balance with the world powers. But it was not reciprocated fully, as the archives of that time indicate. The Kremlin leadership had 'mistrust of Indian leaders'. They had particular ' distaste ' for Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Purushotam Dass Tondon. The USSR leader Stalin even did not send a condolence message on the death of Mahtama Gandhi. The USSR attitude underwent a change after Stalin. By 1952, the USSR started supporting India. The soviet archives indicate that Jakov Malik 'supported India on the Kashmir problem so vehemently that Nehru was surprised and had to explain to the USA and Britain that he had not asked the USSR for its support'. Prime MinisterNehru was keen to visit the USSR and sounded Moscow to get him an invitation which was not spontaneous. However, Pandit Nehru's visit in 1955, as revealed in the archives, ' symbolised the beginning of a new phase in bilateral relation'. Later the USSR turned to be a friend in need and became an important partner of India, with the changing international geo-political and geo-economic scenario.

The British archives reveal some interesting information. The British policy was that ' India should be denied to the communists ', with regard to India's relations with China. The British were afraid of Nehru's ' naivety ' towards the communist threat. The Indian perception of China perplexed the British. The British diplomats were surprised to note that India was not prepared to contest the influence of China over Tibet, as emerges from the book ' India in the Mirror of Foreign Diplomatic Archives '. It is known that India, right from the beginning, tended to support China with regard to China's international engagement. The British diplomats were surprised by India's ' systematic efforts '; to act as an intermediary between China and the West on crucial matters like the unity of China, the Korean War and China's entry in the UN. According to the British assessment, India somehow developed ' fear of China '. The British policy makers thought' if India was officially and openly sympathetic towards China, it was not because it liked its neighbour but because it feared China mainly for geo-political reasons'. The archives reveal a telling comment on India's position in dealings with China as ' Nehru never envisaged seriously to negotiate ' with China. The information provides an interesting insight to Sino-India relations in the early years of India's independence under the stewardship of Jawaharlal Nehru.

In fact, China always remained a factor in the foreign policy of the big powers with regard to their policy and dealings with India. The USA, unlike the USSR, paid due attention to India even before her independence in 1947. The events pertaining to partition of India particularly the violence and bloodshed and tensions with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and also emergence of China under the communists generated fears of ' balkanisation and fragmentation ' of India in the US thinking. The US was supportive of India to ' control the influence of China ' in the first phase of relations before 1971. The US policy makers often argued that ' Nehru's policy towards China was unrealistic, somehow Utopian and was based on faulty assessment of real Chinese strength and intent '. The second phase in the US policy started with President Nixon's flirting with China and his and that of Secretary of State Kissinger's dislike for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and India's emerging relations with the USSR. India's Ambassador to the US in 1971 L.K. Jha, as the US archives reveal, made a feeble attempt to clear Indira Gandhi from criticism to sign the India-USSR Friendship Treaty by saying that the treaty ' had first been thought up long time ago by Dinesh Singh, the former Foreign Minister ' and even added ' he wouldn't be a bit surprised if Dinesh Singh actually received pay from the Communists '. L.K. Jha also named Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi P.N. Haksar ' were very much under the Soviet influence ' and that ' for both these reasons Madame Gandhi was under great pressure ' to sign the Treaty with the USSR. India-Soviet Union closeness was a sticking point for the 'union' of Nixon-Kissinger and Mao-Chao against India. The tone of the 'American- Chinese conversations was often plainly anti-Indian '. The US archives also indicate that China fully cooperated with the US to help both Pakistan and Iran in 1973 in suppressing the Baluchistan uprising. Max-Jean Zins conclude in his essay ' The Chinese Factor in the American Policy towards India ; Some clues from the US Archives ' with reference to Kissinger's talks with the Chinese, Kissinger and his Aide Winston Lord ' went to the extent of suggesting that Washington should give nuclear weapons to Pakistan to contain hegemonistic India '. Pakistan now has the nuclear weapons. The circle is complete. A couplet of Iqbal comes to mind:

कुछ बात है की हस्ती मिटती नहीं हमारी, सदिओं रहा है दुश्मन दौरे जमां हमारा !


  1. Thank you for this wonderful insight into India's foriegn relations, in very simple words.

  2. I think you should also write about 'caste based census 2010'.

  3. thanks. shelly. i try to keep pace but need to do more.

  4. thanks mohit. yes, the caste census is an important issue. it is on my mind but frankly, i could not formulate my definite opinion on the subject as yet. let us see.