China, for the fourth time, refused to back an international effort to list Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. As cliched as it may sound, but we are once again forced to bear the fruits of Jawaharlal Nehru’s monumental blunders.
In the 1950s, India received an offer from both the United States and the Soviet Union to be included in the Security Council of the United Nations. Nehru, in his infinite wisdom, rejected both of them and prioritized China’s admission in the United Nations and the Security Council over India’s own.
Nehru loyalists have, of course, made an effort to make light of his decision to forfeit the United Council’s seat to China. A G Noorani, in his defence of Nehru, wrote, “Nehru showed sound judgment in rejecting it and in refusing to walk into the trap. It would have earned India the lasting hostility of China, contempt of the nations of the Third World and of the United States too, conceited, albeit, with perfect discretion; and eventually, a resounding snub from the Soviet Union. India would not, indeed could not, have got the seat; only the odium for immaturity and opportunism. Thanks to Nehru the country was spared that. It rose in everyone’s esteem. One shudders to think what the outcome would have been was Jaswant Singh ensconced then in Nehru’s seat.”
It’s rather absurd. Decades after allowing China to take the seat at the Security Council, India still suffers the “lasting hostility of China”. And thanks to Nehru’s famed intellect, they have more power to do so. This is one of the fundamental problems of harbouring a myopic view of history. It clearly shows that for intellectuals and even the then Prime Minister, their conception of India begins from the 20th Century. From a Civilizational perspective, it’s abundantly clear from history that China and India are rivals at the Civilizational level. We may not necessarily be enemies but rivals, we definitely are.
Nehru’s own words on the matter are even more absurd. He said in a Note, dated August 1, 1955, on his tour of the USSR and other countries, “Informally, suggestions have been made by the United States that China should be taken into the United Nations but not in the Security Council and that India should take her place in the Security Council. We cannot, of course, accept this as it means falling out with China and it would be very unfair for a great country like China not to be in the Security Council. We have, therefore, made it clear to those who suggested this that we cannot agree with this suggestion. We have even gone a little further and said that India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage, even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question of India might be considered separately.”
It reveals an utter lack of comprehension of history. China is a great country, however, they are our rivals and the best way to negotiate with a rival is not by advocating a position that advantages them over us. Peace can not be achieved from a position of weakness, it can only be realized from a position of strength. Under such circumstances, it was of paramount importance that we positioned ourselves at the same authority as China in the Global Order, if we could not manage to score one over them.
But here we had a Prime Minister who was advocating on behalf of a Civilizational rival. It was not the responsibility of India to tell the world that China ought to have a position in the Security Council. Then, to further assert that India’s inclusion in the Security Council can be “considered separately” only after China has been given its “rightful place” is utter stupidity. Arming your rival and hoping that it will be kind enough to not use the sword against you is sheer naivete and intellectual corruption of a unique sort not seen previously in history. But for Noorani, “This reflected sound judgment.”
Noorani says, “India would not, indeed could not, have got the seat.” Maybe we would have, maybe we wouldn’t. Unfortunately, we will never know. It also reveals a lack of farsightedness. Our foremost priority should have been to ensure that we remain in a level position as China. If we could not have that position, we should have tried hard to ensure that China did not get it either. Perhaps, we would have been successful in ensuring that, perhaps we wouldn’t have. Again, unfortunately for us, we had a Prime Minister who prioritized China’s concerns over India’s.
In an article for the Cold War History International Project, Anton Harder, a PhD candidate in the International History Department of the London School of Economics, wrote, “Nehru’s argument for rejecting the State Department’s plan was strongly influenced by his concern that it would undermine the integrity of the UN to the extent it would cease to exist “as we have known it” and marking, therefore, a “further drift towards war.” Nehru had strong hopes that the UN would prove to be a body that would, through dialogue, provide a forum for peaceful resolution of conflict and mitigate the growing tensions of the world.” He adds, “To Nehru’s mind the sound development of the UN required that it was truly representative of the world’s nation states. Hence it was logical that Chinese representation was held by the PRC and this was a key component of Nehru’s UN policy.”
To make it clear to our readers, Harder was writing in defence of Nehru and his decision. But even then, the utter intellectual bankruptcy of Nehru becomes evident as one reads the entirety of the text. In Nehru’s mind, India’s inclusion in the Security Council at the cost of China would “undermine the integrity” of the UN. As anyone with a sound mind knows, the UN has no integrity. It is a forum for countries to further their own national interest. Nehru, on the other hand, was more concerned with the “development of the UN” than India’s self-interests. It displays a remarkable intellectual decrepitude.
The political leaders of India have only one duty, to look after the interests and affairs of its citizens. The integrity of the UN should not be India’s concern nor should the concerns, however legitimate or otherwise, of rivals. It is the sacred duty of Indian rulers to further Indian interests in the international arena. In that, Nehru failed in epic proportions.
In its true sense, Nehru was a pure liberal. A liberal has little knowledge of history, a vague idealistic notion of the real world, mistakes what ought to be for what is and lays more emphasis on the perception the world has of him than securing his own interests. A liberal will often blame demons when the results of their grand ideas come to pass and not his own follies for ignoring the writing on the wall.
As the most famous dwarf in the world, Tyrion Lannister, once said, “eloquent men are right every bit as often as imbeciles.” And so was it with Nehru. As much as intellectuals try to mount a defence for his blunder, as they always have since he was one of their ilks, nothing can wash away the fact that the Indian Prime Minister was advocating for a rival country which only years later went to wage war against us, a war that we lost, again during the Prime Ministerial tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru. As Nehru learned the hard way, “it’s hard to put a leash on a dog when you have put a crown on its head.”
Of course, it was one of Nehru’s many blunders as the Prime Minister of the country. It only goes on to show how out of sync ‘intellectuals’ are with reality. It also confirms that the surest indication that a candidate is unfit to rule is that he has the support of the leading ‘intellectuals’ of the time.