ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Gods and Demons

Having read the article by Satadru Sen on India’s current foreign policy (‘Goodbye to Non-Alignment and All That’, December 1, 2001) the reader cannot avoid feeling that the author worships failed gods and pours scorn on one demon. The result is he wraps himself in inconsistent arguments when referring to his failed gods and unremitting abhorrence for his demon, even for the failings of his gods.

First about one of his failed gods, i e, India’s non-alignment policy of Nehru, which according to Sen, “gave India an ideologically consistent and morally defensible lens through which to look at the world in the era of rapid decolonisation”. Having taken this stand on high moral grounds, he admits that the non-alignment policy met its waterloo in the 1962 conflict with China. Lest you feel that you got it wrong, Sen clarifies that it was not a defeat of the policy so much as its mismanagement by Nehru. Pray, how? Sen without batting an eyelid says that Nehru did not build India’s defensive capability (read military for defensive) and that he did not show willingness to be conciliatory towards China. If non-alignment was such a lofty goal, why build military strength? Again how could China have agreed to conciliation with India when Nehru stubbornly refused to concede the Chinese claim that McMahon Line was a British imposition on then weak China? What else is it other than the utter failure of non-alignment? The simple fact is that non-alignment was the policy of the weak and a temporary stratagem of a newly emerging country. Nehru, when things came to a head, pursued a geopolitical goal which Sen dismisses with disdain as realpolitik. A foreign policy with a moral vision is a fib and there has been no instance of such a policy being pursued by any nation state throughout human history. The world we live in is not Tagore’s ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

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