Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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Alignment Vs Non Alignment

-Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya
[Organiser, Special Article, 18 July, 1960]

With Amity towards All Nations, and a non–aligned attitude towards the two power blocs of the world, India’s foreign policy aims at global peace side by side with the preservation of India’s independence. Barring the Communist Party, Which favours more intimate associations with the Soviet bloc, all other parties and sections generally endorse this policy. It is true, ‘nevertheless’ that there have been quite a few in the country who have, against the background of this very broad policy, been severely critical of the External affairs Ministry and of particular policies and attitudes of its towards countries and events. These critics have held that in our implementation of this avowed policy we have often lacked in realism and statesmanship, and consequently our policy has failed to safeguard the interests of the nation.

Blind Supporters And Blind Critics

Prime Minister Pandit Nehru is External Affairs Minister as well. He has as many and as passionate blind admirers, as he has unreasoning critics. Assessments of India’s Foreign policy, on this account, tend to be in the superlative, and devild of balanced appreciation or criticism. People, therefore, do not seem to have as correct an understanding of foreign issues as they ought to have. As a result of this, on the one hand, even stray incidents or events precipitate clamour that our foreign policy should be changed, while on the other, we have people who are inclined to view this policy as a sort of prestige issue and who insist on it with fanatic dogmatism. Both there attitudes are wrong, and indicative of our immaturity.

It must be borne in mind that foreign policy is always a matter of policy and not one of principle. Protection and promotion of national interests is the principle which determines its formulation. So when anyone insists on it with vehemence that implies a secondary place of consideration for national interests, he err seriously. At the same time, a nation’s attitude towards other nations of the world, and its assessments about their friendliness or hostility towards itself cannot be changed with levity. Just as in every day life a person who changes colours frequently is not deemed reliance worthy, so also a nation which allows momentary emotional impulse to decide its foreign policy will not be taken seriously. In the international arena, friends or enemies are not just accidentally picked up. There is always a substantial background to the development of such relationships and no two individuals, howsoever powerful they may be in their countries, can, be themselves, bring about a change in there relationships. These individuals themselves are generally subservient to circumstances and forces, which they can alter but slightly and that too after prolonged endeavours. Of course circumstances, such as was doing some times seem to abrogate earlier attitudes and inspire abrupt friendships as happened in case of the US and the USSR during the Second World War. But such a friendship does not last. Policies aimed at severing such short range dividends too must conform to, and foster, directly or indirectly, the broad foreign policy of a nation.

Wanted A National Foreign Policy

Nations which would like to ensure that foreign powers do not meddle in their internal affairs, must see to it that generally, their foreign policy does not become a matter for party controversy. If our relations with other countries are determined on a party basis, and our various parties take up variegated attitudes in that regard, foreign powers will surely begin taking interest in our internal politics. India is a free democratic country where foreign nationals anew legation enjoy unfettered liberty. According to the terms of some foreign loan and aid agreements with India, some embassies also have the right to disburse considerable moneys in the country. In these circumstances, if political platforms are to be used for advocating or canvassing associations or alignments with particular blocs, it is tantamount to an invitation to them to gamble with our international affairs.

Many free nations have preferred to cut themselves off completely from the rest of the world in order to strive for their own development. The United States themselves pursed an isolationist policy for decades. During the period in which Japan was engrossed in building up its own self, it did not permit foreigners even to enter Japan. Russia continues to function behind an Iron Curtain even today.

It we are not able to follow a similar policy we must at least ensure that foreign policy does not remain a subject of controversy in Indian party politics. Both the Government as well as the opposition parties have a duty in the regard. The temptation to secure party advantage out of issues of foreign policy has to be resisted. In this, we would do well to do some introspection and necessary correction of our own attitudes, rather than indulge in mutual accusations and allegations.

Pakistan’s National Hostility

While considering what should be our foreign policy, our attention is drawn on the one hand to our neighbouring states, and no the other, to the two big power blocs. Over looking our north–western and eastern frontiers we have a hostile Pakistan. Its very genesis is such that so long as it exists it will continue to be hostile towards India. India and Pakistan can become friends only when the Muslim here sheds his separatist out look, and attunes himself to national tradition and heritage. But that very day Pakistan would have lost its raison Petrel. Pakistanis themselves would long for Akhand Bharat. Thus India and Pakistan can become one. But not friendly.

China too has become a northern neighbour for us. China’s annexation of Tibet and Sinkiang and our acquiescence in this act of its, have resulted in China’s territorial limits being extended to reach ours. In the P.M.’s words, our northern frontier has become alive. China has not only challenged our traditional and firmly demarcated boundaries but has even used unilateral force to occupy large chunks of our territory.

Besides these two countries our other next–door neighbour are Nepal, Burma and Caylon. Not with standing the few minor points we have in issue with them, our relations with them are generally cordial and they do not in any way constitute a danger for us. Our foreign policy, therefore, will have to be chalked out essentially in the light of guaranteeing our security from Pakistan and China. Then again, had the foreign policies of these two countries been unshackled, determination of our own foreign policy would have been relatively simple. But both of them happen to be associated with the two power–blocs of the world. Pakistan is a member of the Western bloc while China, as a Communist country, is aligned with the Soviet bloc. Aggressiveness by these two countries therefore affects our people’s outlook towards these blocs. As long as the fact of China’s aggression was not known to the people, while Pakistan’s blatant and illegal occupation of one–third of Kashmir was before the eyes of all, not only the people but the Government as well seemed to fall victim to Communist propaganda, and it did appear at that time that despite our professions of an independent foreign policy, in practice we were leaning towards the Russian bloc. It seems that on several occasions we did act partially.

We Can Neither For China Nor Forget Pakistan

But as China’s aggression became evident, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. Concessions given to Pakistan and even abnegation of national interests for its sake seem to irritate us no longer. There is insistence on liberating the 140,000 squares miles of Ladakh in China’s wrongful possession, but there is an inclination to turn the blind eye to Pakistan’s equally illegal occupation of 40,000 square miles of Indian territory. It has become a “national duty” for us to exert for Tibet’s independence but the anguish of Hindus in East Pakistan does not pertains us. Such a state of mind in no index of a healthy and balanced national out look.

Persons like Sri Rajegopalachari too, who even after the formation of the Swatantra party, continued to favour a non–aligned policy, have started advocating that India should join the American camp. PSP also visualises the culmination of its opposition to communism in a line–up with the US.

These people may invoke arguments of political expediency to justify their advocacy of making friends with one enemy to face another. But they must not forget that such treaties are agreed to only under compelling circumstances and, thereby, while one enemy may be vanquished, the other is invariably buttressed. England has had to pay no small price for joining hands with Russia to beat Germany. It has handed over almost all the states of Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula to Soviet Russia, England agreed to this treaty only when it had no other way out. Even then the bargain proved costly. Let us not think that it is possible to have one of our enemies stand up against the other without having to pay a high price for it. The history of the last twelve years itself is evidence as to how much we have had to sacrifice merely to keep up out talk of sweet amity sometimes with the one, and sometimes with the other.

Thus, if we are desirous of proving equal to the dangers posed by these countries we will have to rely on our own strength. If we feel that we lack the strength to meet this two–fold peril, we shall have to augment it. We shall have to do whatever is necessary so that we may live with freedom. They, who do not wish to pay the price of their freedom and so want to live on borrowed succour, are sure to be gobbled up one day, by one or the other. Today, China belongs to the anti–Pak Camp. We may, possible, with some dexterous balancing of power between the two, use the situation to our own advantage, we should also keep in mind that China and Pakistan too can join hands tomorrow. We shall have to prepare for that eventuality too. It may be averred that only by joining the American bloc van we cope with such a line–up. But with the vast legions of fifth–columnists in our midst unless we are ourselves adequately strong, no foreign assistance can possibly enable us to avert such a crisis.

India & The Super Powers

Now, let us look at the two power blocs of the world. The manner in which they have been going about carving and slicing the world between themselves and throwing out challenges to each other makes war entirely unavoidable. Today all are talking about peace and disarmament, but their pronouncements emit a horning. As long as war can be stalled, so much the better. But it would be wrong to assume that there will be no war. In case of a war, then, would it be in our interest to join either of the two blocs? If we wish to keep away from war, we must remain non–aligned. This too can be contemplated, that we will not be allowed to keep out of the war. Why then should we not, of our own accord, choose, and prepare from right now? Someone may argue. But evidently such decision would depend on a more possibility, a future one, and an ever doubtful one.
If at all we do have to take a decision unfavourable to our interests why should we not take it at a time when our assessment of the situation is grounded not on hypothetical conjectures and suppositions but on actual realities? By remaining away from world power–politics it is more likely that we may be able to keep away from the war as well, but by joining any one bloc, we may even become the cause of was ourselves.

India’s geography too demands that we maintain a non–aligned stand. If India plumps for any particular bloc, other countries of south and south East Asia also will drift towards the same side. It is true that attempts are being made today to pressrise India by compelling some of these of accept alignment. But if any of these countries has joined a bloc today, it is because India has failed to fulfil the obligations arising out of its decision to follow a non–aligned foreign policy. Every policy that we adopt has certain obligations and certain limitations incidental to it. Unless we fulfil these obligations and keep to these limitations the policy cannot succeed. Today to titans are engaged in a struggle for supremacy over the entire glove. If India too relinquishes its determination to follow an independent line, no other country can dare do so.

 USA Opposes Its Rivals, Not Communism

Some people today desire that India should choose sides on the basis of the professed ideologies of the two power blocs. America affirms faith in Democracy and a determination to combat communism. These people believe that on this account our place cannot be anywhere but in the US bloc. There are two flaws in this reasoning. Firstly, it is not true that the two avowals, which US swears by, have any real place in the world organisation being built by America. The US no doubt upholds democracy and democratic practices in its own country. But almost without exception, in all the countries of the world with which US has allied it, democracy has been strangulated. Its opposition to communism too, outside its own country, is as unreal. Tito’s Yugoslavia is surely a Communist country. But the US has nothing against it. The US Government determines its relationship with other nations not on the basis of any ideological considerations but sherry for the strategic requirements of a from against Russia.

The same is Russia’s case. USSR proclaims itself an opponent of imperialism and capitalism. But itself holds states of Eastern Europe in bondage. China has converted Tibet into a colony of its own and has subjected Tibetans to policies more tyrannical then South Africa’s apartheid. But Russia has had no objection, for Russia’s antagonism to imperialism is confined to imperialism of the Western nations only. Similarly, the fact that there is nothing Communist about Afghanistan has not debarred it from receiving USSR’s favours. It is true, however, that no non–Communist country today belongs to the Soviet bloc. But this is so not on account of Russia’s attachment to principles, but because non–communist countries which do not owe allegiance to the US bloc have generally taken to a policy of non–alignment.

Foreign Help Would Be Suicidal

Another plea advanced is that communism is an international menace and so needs to be fought out at the international level. But it must be realised that it is precisely the short comings of Western life values which have given birth and sustenance to communism. So, a votary of patterns, these American cannot counter counteract communism, only nationalism and spiritualism can prove an effective antidote to communism. In their battle against Communism. Western nations have been recklessly destroying both these forces with the result that those very nations whom they go to assist, in course of time, turn against them and embrace international communism.

India has to fight communism within its own country. All the resources needed for this fight are available with us. In fact the moment we talk about inviting help from abroad in order to checkmate communism that very moment we are voluntarily throwing away the Brahmastra against which communism cannot survive. The extra–territorial allegiance of communism is its most vulnerable spot. If we too begin to think in similar terms, how can we survive? No wonder, those regimes which sought help from the United States in order to fight communism gradually lost confidence with the people, and ultimately, in these countries military dictatorship quelled the popular vice and hoisted itself in power.

View it from whatever angle we may, it is essential, in our own interest, that we maintain our present policy of non–alignment. We decided upon this policy at a time when either China had gone Red nor Pakistan had entered into military alliance with America. Subsequent events have only strengthened the basis on which this policy had been grounded.

As we have already observed above, acceptance of this policy does impose certain obligations on us. First and foremost, even while upholding our principles of peace and non–violence, our consideration of all problems must be tempered by stern realism. We must show to the world that when we say that ours is an independent foreign policy, we mean what we say. If all that we do is to prattle loudly while the power blocs, or their satellites, indulge in non chalant interference in our domains, our independence would become meaningless and it would only give further encouragement to these foreign powers. Until and unless we deal firmly with both Pakistan and China, our independent foreign policy cannot realise its purpose. Let’s keep our of other people’s quarrels.

Yet another thing that we must do is to keep away from the wrangles of the world. It may be said that with the two power blocs in perpetual readiness for a military show down even a small incident may some day precipitate a conflagration. Non–aligned nations, it is argued, should, therefore, perform the necessary task of mediating, and removing misunderstandings. Perhaps it is these views that prompt Pandit Nehru too to intervene in so many matters. But when mediation proves detrimental to our own interests, we should rather be wary of it. There is a wise and popular saying which warns lest we burn our hands while performing Havana. That nation is best suited for mediation which no one is particularly interested. In aligning to itself. Unfortunately, India enjoys no such advantage. Then again, he who is to mediate must scrupulously refrain from airing hastily his opinions about matters. In the world today where a majority of arrangements, rather than conforming to any particular ideals or principles, are just compromises with existing reality, the propounded and preacher of high ideals is ill–fitted for the task of mediation. It is because of these reasons that our active endeavours for world peace buffer from serious limitations. Our efforts in this direction have hitherto failed to take into account either national interests or these limitations. The success we have been able to achieve is before all to judge. But the restraint shown by the Prime Minister more recently in respect of voicing his reactions to the failure of the Paris Summit Conference, and again the manner in which India has been kept away from the four–power proposal in the UNO are indications that the Prime Minister realises the need to amend Government’s policy in this regard. If indeed the Prime Minister sought the co–operation of other major parties in the formulation of our foreign policy, and held consultations with them, specially on issues that had a direct bearing on India’s interests, our foreign policy could easily become a real National policy. We would thus be able to avoid hyperbolism in our reckoning of foreign policy issues.
Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
Content copyright © Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation
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