Nehru : A Founding Father II

As I promised in the last article I wrote (, here's the second article of my series on Jawaharlal Nehru which has been titled Nehru : A Founding Father. While the last one mainly dealt with Nehru's alleged role in fomenting Partition for personal gains, this one shall evaluate the foreign policy framework he established for India (still more or less in place now).

Nehru with the other flag-bearers of the Non-Aligned Movement
The biggest blot on his foreign policy track record among the public is his supposed rejection of a seat in the United Nations Security Council as a permanent member. This version of events goes on to state that Nehru instead suggested that the seat be given to China instead. Nehru detractors have never failed to tom-tom upon this point to illustrate how Nehru dashed and has effectively crippled Indian hopes of becoming a global superpower. But no one till date, has been able to validate this line of reasoning with a strong, solid foundation.

In fact, Nehru has categorically denied any offer, formal or informal, having been received about a seat for India in the UN Security Council. He made this statement in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on September 27 by Dr. J.N. Parekh. Nehru replied : "There has been no offer, formal or informal, of this kind. Some vague references have appeared in the press about it which have no foundation in fact. The composition of the Security Council is prescribed by the UN Charter, according to which certain specified nations have permanent seats. No change or addition can be made to this without an amendment of the Charter. There is, therefore, no question of a seat being offered and India declining it.''

Many also accuse Nehru of having fumbled over Kashmir, handing it over to Pakistan on a platter and of having caused, over the years, irreparable harm to the Indian cause there. Two things - Jawaharlal Nehru was a Kashmiri Pandit and his family was greatly fond of their homeland. Nehru and his friend V.K. Krishna Menon also championed the Indian cause in Kashmir. In fact, Menon also set an unbroken record by delivering a 8 hour long fiery speech on the reasons Kashmir was an integral part of India to the UNSC. 

In fact, Nehru also scored a major diplomatic victory at the UNSC. The UNSC's 47th resolution 
(which dealt with the Kashmir issue) contained two notable articles - one calling for withdrawal of Pakistani troops and tribesmen from the region and the other calling for a plebiscite under UN auspices for Kashmiris to determine themselves their future. The second is widely regarded, mistakenly, as a big blow to India. Here's why it was not.

The Hindu-dominated Jammu region and the Buddhist-populated Ladakh would have anyways voted for India. In the Muslim-dominated areas, Sheikh Abdullah held sway. The Sheikh had popular support among the Kashmiri Muslims and being a good friend of Nehru's and a great believer in secular India, had convinced majority of the Kashmiris that their future lay only in India. Had a plebiscite actually been held at that time, India would have definitely swept the region. The fact that both these articles of the UNSC resolution were not adhered to is a blot on the track record of the international community and entirely thanks to the presence of the veto in the UNSC.

Non-Alignment was a masterstroke of Nehruvian foreign policy, which allowed us to simultaneously avail help from both superpowers. While it's critics will give a plethora of reasons to validate their vehement opposition to the movement, the fact remains that it set the launchpad for India's foreign standing. For a country which had close to no economic might (after growing for 0.1% for a century or more), India acquired a say in international relations due to Nehru's personal stature and his foresight in setting up the Non-Aligned Movement. Even in our formative years, a number of underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa looked up to India as a sort of roll model.

His greatest failure however, lay in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The crushing defeat at the hands of the Chinese underlined our weakness. Nehru, throughout his life, has been a staunch believer in good ties between India and China and many even say that the mental toll the war extracted upon him eventually killed him. The only factor which saved us from further humiliation was the entry of the US in the scenario. Nehru's misplaced belief in China was the major factor which led to this disaster.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Nehru was a globally respected visionary who laid the fundamentals for India's dealings with the world. His efforts at the Non-Aligned Movement and his commitment to peace ensured that world leaders held him and consequently, India, in high respect. Regardless of the 1962 fiasco, his role in shaping India is undeniable and praiseworthy. It's high time that our political leaders respect his contribution to our nation.

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