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Hindi-Chini Bhai-Something

Posted by anandrr on September 7, 2008

One of the last remaining nice things about The Hindu (one day we’ll write about how everything else about it is nothing like it used to be), is that they still run their oh-so-wonderful “This Day That Age” section featuring news from the newspaper 50 years ago. Growing up, it allowed me to read about WWII and the independence struggle in “real time.” And now you get to read about Nehru’s missteps in real time. Take for instance a recent item about Parliament “approving” Panch Sheel. It includes this mind-blowing line:

In his reply to the debate Mr. Nehru said that neither the circumstances of the birth of the Panch Sheel nor the fact that it was not being observed by those who professed it detracted from the merits of the five principles of co-existence.

Let me see if I understand this. Even as we were “approving” Panch Sheel as an appropriate foreign policy to follow with the Chinese, Nehru knew that China had no intention of observing these friendship principles, and even so took pride in the principles, damn the consequences. And he was shocked when they attacked us four years later? How naive was this man? He thought we could overcome China’s non-observance of the Panch Sheel by walking around saying “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai?” I understand that Nehru had his back to the wall, and there was really no way for a very very young country to defend thousands of kilometres of China border along the Himalayas, but the appropriate response to that would have been to find ways to increase our leverage no? Instead he went to China and came back with the Panch Sheel that even he knew was already a joke within China.

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