"FOREIGN POLICY OF INDIA"
An Address by DR. M. A. RAUF High Commissioner for India in Canada.
Thursday, January 12th, 1956
CHAIRMAN: The President, Dr. C. C. Goldring.
DR. C. C. GOLDRING: A young man named John Masters, born in Calcutta of English parents, observed his family tradition by serving for fourteen years in the British Army, terminating that service about 1948. During the last few years he has written articles about India and the following is an extract from one of his recent stories
"I had never had the attitude of the average civilian tourist, so I did not think of India as quaint, picturesque, exploited, inscrutable, or otherworldly. I thought India was ugly, beautiful, smelly, predictable, and as material as the West. It was inhabited not by yogis and saints, but by people - knaves, giants, dwarfs, and plain people - of various shades of brown."
Probably most of us know little about India but we have realized from the days of World War II that the welfare and progress of Canada are related to the welfare and progress of countries in Asia, such as India, China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and countries in the Near East. Accordingly, we Canadians should know more than we do about the point of view of people in Asiatic countries, how they live, how they are getting along, and what they think.
Today it is our privilege to have as our guest His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Abdul Rauf, High Com missioner for India in Canada, who will speak on the topic "Foreign Policy of India." Dr. Rauf was educated in India and at Oxford University, England, and was called to the Bar in London in 1924. After spending five years in Europe, he returned to India and practised his profession there from 1926 to 1946, when he entered the diplomatic service of his country. He has served as ambassador in Burma and in Japan and has been High Commissioner for India in Canada since October, 1954.
We extend to Dr. Rauf a hearty welcome to the Empire Club of Canada and we shall listen with interest to his discussion of the Foreign Policy of India.
DR. M. A. RAUF: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 in her Christmas message quoting her grandfather, King George V, said:
"Let each of you be ready and proud to give to his country the service of his work, his mind and his heart. That is surely the first step to set in motion the chain reaction of the powers of light, to illuminate the new age ahead of us.
And the second step is this: To understand with sympathy the point of view of others within our own countries and in the Commonwealth as well as those outside it. In this way we can bring our unlimited spiritual resources to bear upon the world."
This is an extremely valuable lesson which cannot be too often repeated. A great many of the troubles of the world are caused by either lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of motives. There exists a great deal of interest about the economic activities in India. Gentlemen interested in commercial pursuits naturally follow the economic situation in various parts of the world. Thus India's food situation, her effort to create new industries, her Five-Year Plans and other like subjects are, I think, better appreciated than her foreign policy.
In accepting your invitation to speak before you I have decided to tell you something of the foreign policy of India and something of the reasons for that policy.
The foreign policy of every nation must depend on the sentiments of the people of that country which are the result of long-standing traditions and history. Whether it is successful or not depends upon its internal strength and the sincerity with which it is carried out. For example, in the western countries it is not possible to understand international action unless it is realized that Christianity is the religion and industrial revolution is the background of the West. Similarly the history of Russia and the teachings of Marx would explain many of the puzzles which arise in modern international relations.
The foreign policy of India is ultimately based on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and in spirit goes back to the ancient traditions of India. Both these teachings and the feeling of the Indian people are against violence generally. For Mahatma Gandhi, Ahimsa (non-violence) was a religion. Ahimsa connotes a way of life by which no injury may be caused to another. This was the ideal he wanted to place not only before his own people, who naturally accepted it, but also before the world. The principle has also the corollary that exploitation, directly or indirectly, of weaker and more helpless people either by imposing individual slavery or conquest and occupation of countries already occupied by another people or misuse of greater physical power to extort advantages either in the form of labour or raw materials, etc., is not right. All civilized human beings today are convinced that such conduct is against humanistic or liberal principles. Thus what are now called `human rights' hold an important place in our foreign policy.
It remained to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India and its Foreign Minister, to give material shape to the teachings of his master. Immediately on his taking up office about October, 1946, he laid down the broad lines of his foreign policy which he has followed consistently in spite of difficulties. He said that India would have good relations, indeed friendly relations with all countries as her past history had not created any enemities and her recent history had been peaceful. To every nation, therefore, he extended his hand of friendship, even to those who for some reason or the other were not inclined to be friends.
Any discussion of Indian policy must be divided into three parts according to the region. India being in South-East Asia, her relations with the countries of the area have been closest, particularly with Burma, a predominantly Buddhist country, and Indonesia, eminently a Muslim country. With these two countries from the beginning of India's independence, her relations have been very friendly and mutually cooperative. Recently other countries have come into this circle viz. Afghanistan, Nepal and Egypt. With each of these countries India has entered into a treaty of peace and friendship based not on any military idea of offence or defence but on a desire to cooperate economically and culturally, and generally to avoid conflicts. There are no secret clauses in the treaties. One aspect of these treaties is that India has carefully avoided creating or joining any bloc or pact. Nehru has set his face against any monolithic grouping. With each of these countries there is merely a bilateral understanding.
People have talked about India's ambition to create a third bloc or a neutral bloc. She has been charged with the ambition of becoming a leader in South Asia. It can be said with assurance that no steps have been taken and no policy has been declared towards such a result. In fact it has been stated over and over again that as a large country in South-East Asia and a fairly large country in the world, she intends to take the fullest part in the deliberations of nations with the intention of promoting peace without participating in any grouping of nations. It has been the ambition of Jawaharlal Nehru to create not a third bloc but an area of peace. All nations that subscribe to this point of view have been invited to make non-alignment an item of foreign policy. This has frequently been misunderstood. To put it in very simple language, which may even suffer from over simplification, the position as we see it, is that great nations are divided into two blocs led by the United States on the one side and Russia on the other. It is not merely a question of black and white or rather red and white but a position in which both sides from time to time are carried away to lines of action which may militate against their ideal of peace which we are convinced they both believe in, and the weaker and smaller nations may sometimes be carried into a conflict even against their will or better judgment.
We feel that the only way we can avoid the evil effects of such a situation is to avoid an alignment and to judge each question on its merits. If a number of nations accept this policy, they would not be dragged unnecessarily into disputes although they may be blamed either by one side or both for non-partisanship. Frequently both the sides woo these uncommitted powers. It becomes, therefore, the duty of these powers on the one hand to be as friendly as possible towards all nations, to take part in all international discussions and activities and yet maintain their independence of action on the principles which each of them has adopted individually.
India's policy towards western democracies is one of sincere friendship. She is grateful to them for the aid and sympathy they have extended to her. She has received financial and technical aid from them and a large number of her students now are being trained in various countries of the West. In most matters in the United Nations, India has voted with the western nations. But she refuses to join any military alliances, regional or otherwise, aimed at any other nation. She believes that these alliances or pacts do more harm than good. It is felt that they arise out of bitterness and fear and tend to create nervousness even to the verge of panic. India's record in the United Nations as well as her efforts to reduce tensions outside the United Nations are ample proof of her sincere wish for a peaceful settlement of world disputes.
The desire of the people of ex-colonial countries to avoid embroilment in any war, cold or hot, and in any ideological conflict can be understood. It is in these very countries that the doctrine of non-involvement has been developed. In this area there is the dual desire for peace and independence. Peace is sought by working in cooperation with all nations of the world and in particular with their neighbours. For them it is also desirable that there should be no great war or world war which will interfere with the developments which these nations, particularly of South Asia, are now carrying on. There is a great wave of social and industrial reform in these countries which requires time. It is in this particular sphere that valuable aid has been given by western countries.
Unfortunately, some of them have expected a return for these aids in the form of submissive alliances of the countries aided. This has resulted in a certain amount of dissatisfaction in these areas because of the other element of independence which I have mentioned.
These excolonial countries, firstly, sympathize with and would give moral support to other countries seeking independence. Such support was forthcoming when Indonesia was seeking liberation from the Dutch Colonial Empire in 1947-48 and when French Indo-China fought against the French. It is in this context that the question of Goo must be considered. It is not the desire or the ambition of India to extend her territory. It is the desire of the Goan people, who are Indians, by race and language, to get freedom from a European power. It is, secondly, this jealousy of their independence that makes India and the neighbouring nations suspect all foreign influence. They would most zealously guard their independence from whichever side it is threatened.
India has sought in her international relations to adhere to the Commonwealth of which she was a member before her independence. She does not agree with the policies of some of the countries of the Commonwealth on racial issues and on exclusion of Asiatics which some of them still follow. Nevertheless she is content to leave the solution of these questions to world conscience while in other matters she realizes that the Commonwealth functions as a homogenous group and is of very great value in preserving peace in the world. The mutual consultation and cooperation between the various countries of the Commonwealth is a great factor in promoting peace and understanding.
India welcomed the formation of the United Nations in 1945 as in accord with her own principles and desires. It is now admitted that the nations of Asia or, to put it in another way, smaller and weaker nations have as much right to express their views on international questions as the bigger nations. This is radically different from the days when four or five European nations used to decide the fate of the world. It is realized that the United Nations is not perfect nor has it succeeded in eradicating all the troubles of international society. Nevertheless we consider that it is the only hope of humanity. The very fact of nations desiring to be members of the United Nations and of taking full and effective part in its deliberations and activities goes to demonstrate the beneficial aspect of the United Nations. We should be prepared to overlook the failures as it is a human institution and must proceed by methods of trial and error.
Frequently it is said that India is sympathetic to communist countries or, at least, is turning her face towards communism. In no case, on a full view of the facts, can India's partisanship of the communist world be proved. We have endeavoured to have good relations with all nations and certainly are not hostile to any country. India is a democratic country with a parliamentary form of government. It has had to fight against communism internally.
We have certainly pressed for China's admission to the United Nations not because she is a communist country but because she is China.
More, recently India has developed the five principles which go under the collective name, in Sanskrit, of `Panch Shila' (five principles.) These principles are:
(1) Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty
(3) Non-interference in each other's internal affairs
(4) Equality and mutual benefit, and
(5) Peaceful co-existence.
It is considered that these principles do represent the maximum protection to every nation, great or small, with minimum of burdens and responsibilities. The first principle, when accepted, would remove the fear of an expansionist policy by neighbours. The second and third principles are only the converse of the first principle and relate to attacks either by physical force or by means of fifth columns or other subversive tactics. The fourth principle re-affirms the equality of nations and mutual benefit which will promote friendly relations and trade and cultural contacts. The fifth principle is the minimum which may be expected from civilized human beings living in groups in the modern conditions.
These five principles have been regarded with some suspicion as if they represented some sort of idea which will adversely affect the western way of life. This has been mainly because they have been accepted by the Democratic Peoples' Republic of China, by Yugoslavia, and more recently by Russia and Poland. One would have thought that the acceptance by the communist countries of these principles would be welcomed by the other countries which regard communism and communist nations as being dangerous to other societies in the neighbourhood. At least these principles have been publicly accepted and cannot be easily repudiated.
Therefore, India's policy in international affairs may be summarized as a policy of peace. She has advocated gradual disarmament and the abandonment of hydrogen bomb experiments. It is gratifying to us to see that His Holiness the Pope has reached a similar conclusion. She has cooperated with Canada to bring about a lessening of tension in the world. She has thrown her weight, light as it may be, on the side of peaceful settlement of international disputes in the hope that humanity will emerge into a condition where the coming generations will not be eternally afraid of war and destruction.