A Tribute to Nehru on 50 years of his death anniversary (27 May)
In his book The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “It is surprising how internationally minded we grew in spite of our intense nationalism. The international mindedness that grew in the Congress refers to the foreign policy and the international mindedness of India’s freedom struggle, the legacy of which independent India inherited. It is important to remember that the leading figure in the shaping of India’s foreign policy was Nehru.
One of his earliest speeches on foreign policy was delivered at the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities in Brussels on February 10, 1927. Nehru represented the Indian National Congress and his speech, published under the title ‘India’s Freedom a World Necessity’. Made a great impression. “Try to conceive for a moment what it would have been by now if Britain did not hold India. There would have been no British Empire. Naturally, therefore, from their capitalist and imperialist point of view they wanted to do everything in their power to hold on to India. All their foreign policy has been largely shaped with this object in view…On account of India, a large number of countries have suffered and are suffering . You have heard of the most recent example of British imperialism in regard to India - The sending of Indian troops to China…I must remind you that Indian troops. Unhappily to my shame I confess it, have been utilized many times by the British in oppressing other people.”
Nehru wrote brilliant and moving accounts of tragic happenings in Europe, many of them during his visits to Europe where he took part in anti-fascist and anti-Nazi protests and conveyed Indian people’s expression of solidarity with the victims of aggression. Nehru wrote about the coming war: “But this coming war was likely to be different from the one that had been envisaged before Hitler had arisen. Even so, British policy had been almost continuously pro-fascist and pro-nazi….
It can perhaps be argued that two dominating trends were reconciled by the Quit India resolution passed by the AICC, which stated ‘that the ending of British rule in India is an urgent necessity for the success of the United Nations’ and ‘A free India will assure the success by throwing all her great resources in the struggle against the aggression of Nazism, fascism and imperialism’. The Asian Relations Conference (March 23 to April 2, 1947) is important to the understanding of what was going to be the broad framework of independent India’s foreign policy. Nehru said in his inaugural speech: “We have no designs against anybody; ours is the great design of promoting peace and progress all over the world. Far too long have we of Asia been petitioners in western courts and chancelleries. That story must now belong to the past. We do not intend to be the playthings of others.
“ Asia stretches her hand out in friendship to Europe and America as well as to out suffering brethren in Africa. We in Asia have a special responsibility to the people of Africa. We must help them to their rightful place in the human family. Universal human freedom also cannot be based on the supremacy of any particular class.” Nehru, as Prime Minister, inherited the legacy of the foreign policy which India’s freedom struggle had developed. Basing himself on that rich legacy, he began shaping independent India’s role in world affairs. The main objectives of this role consisted of strengthening the independence of the country and her independent role in world affairs, elimination of all forms of imperialism, colonialism and racialism, preservation and strengthening of world peace through general and complete disarmament and creation of new international order based on mutual cooperation and equality between nations. The Nehruvian period was full of great achievements and a continuing source of pride and inspiration.
Extract of an article by Prof Arjun Dev, The Week May 18 2014.