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A Classic Example Of Betrayal

A Classic Example Of Betrayal


By John R. Smith

Churchill was a myth in Britain. Similarly, Nehru is still a myth in India. Several volumes have been written in praise of both of them. After all, both Churchill and Nehru were human beings. To err is human. True, they had also committed a lot of mistakes in their life. But there is a great difference between the mistakes made by them and the ones committed by ordinary people. Mistakes done by ordinary folks tend to affect only a small number of people. But the mistakes committed by great personalities like Churchill and Nehru could prove devastative. And they can have a disastrous impact on the world at large.

Former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, in one of her biographies, has described her father, Nehru, as a ‘political saint’. Her statement carries elements of truth. Nehru was credulous. Invariably, he used to take things at face value. He used to look upon most of the people who would come in contact with him, with unstained trust and confidence. But the latter, in many cases, are found to have taken an undue advantage out of his gullibility.

Chinese invasion of India in 1962 was one of the most egregious examples of how Nehru was duped. It never occurred to Nehru, not even in his wild imagination, that China would attack his country. Nehru was not a communist. Nor did he advocate the Maoist doctrine based on violent class struggle. But still, he harbored honor towards the communist revolution that, he believed, elevated the status of millions of Chinese to that of human beings. China, under the leadership of great helmsman Mao and Chou En Lai, had entered a new phase of history. Nehru, from the core of his heart, was highly appreciative of the new and exemplary direction taken by China. Nehru’s predisposition towards socialism and state protection should also have found some congruence in the Chinese leader’s policies and principles. To this can aptly be attributed his affinity towards the rising dragon.

The rise of communist China was a slap on the face of the West. Specially, the United States was completely bruised by what was known as the communist takeover of China in 1949. Once the communists came into power in China, US stakes were seriously jeopardized. The US support for Nationalist Chiang Kai Sek, who later fled to Formosa, further served to deepen the mistrust between Washington and Peking. Against this perspective, the US decided to throw its weight behind the Taipei regime created by Chiang Kai Sek as a ‘true representative of the Chinese people’. This sort of ominous development naturally led to the further deepening of crisis between the United States and communist China. China’s increasing closeness, during the initial period, with the Former Soviet Union was one of the major irritants for the US administration. All this prompted the US to preclude the newly emerged communist giant from entering the United Nations. But for the Chinese, it was a solemn gambit that would give them an opportunity to be a dignified member of the world community, notwithstanding the hatred and hostility of the so-called free world.

As a true humanist, Nehru understood China’s legitimate aspirations. He was passionately sympathetic towards the Chinese cause. He was so obsessed with the Chinese dream that his opponents, at one point of time, went to the extent of accusing him of being a spokesman for the communist regime. But Nehru would never relent. He had an extraordinary potential of adhering to anything that he thought was consistent with truth. Nehru’s ardent support for the Chinese initiative had seemingly paved the way for the strengthening of bonds between two Asian giants. Singularly because of Nehru’s meticulous nurturing, Indo-Chinese relationship was elevated to a high level of idealistic euphoria - Hind Chini Bhai Bhai. (India and China are brothers).

Educated from Harrow and Cambridge, Nehru was an agnostic. He was equally hedonistic when it came to gratifying carnal desires. That his life seems bedecked by numerous romantic escapades is a testimony to this fact. It is believed that he never went to the temple throughout his life. Yet, his temperament, attitude, and approach seem to have been profoundly underscored by the lofty and timeless ideals of Hinduism that believes in unity in diversity. It is primarily because of his idealistic orientation that he not only became so close to Mahatma Gandhi but also emerged as the latter’s political and moral heir in India’s civilizational landscape. It is an irony that the magnanimity and munificence he derived from the Indian religio-cultural heritage rendered him weak in the face of Machiavellian machinations that the totalitarian Chinese resorted to while promoting their sinister national interests. Nehru was not only stunned but also wrecked by the Chinese invasion of 1962. To him, the Chinese blitzkrieg represented a traitorous stabbing in his back. It was akin to somebody’s murderous attempt on the life of a bosom friend.

The Chinese betrayal seriously undermined the pride and prestige of India as a nation. It provided Nehru’s opponents with ample ammunition to attack his ‘naivety’. Especially, in the eyes of the so-called free world, the morale of free and independent India had irredeemably suffered a bruise. Nehru started to lose confidence in himself. It was probably the greatest setback Nehru had suffered in his life. It also precipitated a sharp decline in Nehru’s health. What the Mao-Chou combine delivered in return for India’s nobility will always be etched as a classic example of betrayal in the history of relations between neighbors.

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