India and Her Neighbours
India struggled for many years and made many a sacrifice to win her independence from British colonial rule in 1947. But it created two different countries India and Pakistan. India pledged to have friendly relation with her neighbour, Pakistan.
India’s relation with that China was very cordial for about ten years. And this relationship with her neighbours, that included Indonesia, Ceylone (now Sri Lanka) and other countries, was possible because of five principles of peaceful co-existence on which India’s foreign policy was firmly based.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, advocated these five principles in his anxiety to create a healthy atmosphere necessary for the growth of democracy, amity, fraternity and co-operation between neighbours. He succeeded in attracting leaders like Chou en-lai of China, Soekarno of Indonesia and even Liakat Ali Khan of Pakistan to sign pacts of non-interference, non-aggression co-operation, avoiding the collision course.
But although India’s message of peace and amity was acclaimed all over the world, her relation with the neighbours could not always remain warm. The border clashes with Pakistan in the sixties ended in wars and wide-spread destruction both of lives and properties.
As the largest successful democracy India gained all the respectability and credibility in the world to claim the leadership of the peace movement, non-alignment and the third world countries.
There is a gulf between the relation between India and Pakistan which need to be bridged.
With another neighbour, China, India’s relation was very cordial in the fifties. But then the border dispute over the McMahon Line created a rift and in 1962 the dispute resulted in border clashes of extremely serious nature. Thus the two close friends parted company and accused each other of criminal conspiracies. Of course, in the seventies, there came a thaw and the ice began to melt. The signs are there that the two countries will soon have the old bond restored and open new avenues to explore new possibilities of friendship, peace and co-operation. If these two giants are re-united they would constitute a formidable force, ensuring peace and prosperity of this region and the world.
But the reconciliation between China and India would not solve the problems. The world situation today deteriorates to such an extent that no country is left alone, without a crisis.
So India’s relation with Sri Lanka too is very much strained because of the Tamil issue in that country. Nepal and Bangladesh too are having their own grouse against India.
So far India’s initiatives have been rewarded, for in all these years there have never been serious clashes, pushing the neighbours on to the brink of war. So, there is nothing to despair of a better future that will see the neighbours merging in the same community to safeguard their own interest.
The recent developments have shown the eagerness of all countries to sort out the difficulties affecting the bilateral relationship between neighbours and to work in co-operation with each other for the common goal of a prosperous, happy and peaceful human society.
Many of the clogs in India’s relation with China have been removed. The bilateral talks have helped to assuage the hurt feelings of both the countries, paving way for understanding and amity.
If the neighbouring countries are made to see the utilities of recalcitrance and to patch up their differences with India, this sub-continent will be a paradise of peace in no time.