28 September, 2020

Nehru, Sinosceptic

His foreign policy and strategic motives laid bare, Nehru surprisingly emerges as an out-and-out realist

Nehru, Sinosceptic

For far too long, Jawaharlal Nehru has been condemned as a woolly-eyed idealist, whose worldview is held responsible for the festering Indo-Pak dispute and the unresolved boundary issue with China. While traditionalist historians have found him guilty of sacrificing India’s core interests in the pursuit of his ideals, revisionist scholars have viewed him as arrogant and blamed him for his propensity to use force at the slightest provocation to get his way.

Challenging these two schools is Srinath Raghavan’s book, War and Peace in Modern India, which presents the thesis that Nehru was an out-and-out realist. For instance, about India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China, for which Nehru continues to draw flak, Raghavan writes, “Contrary to received wisdom, the problem with Nehru’s China policy was not his idealism but his realism”.

It was Nehru’s belief, Raghavan shows, that the ussr wouldn’t allow China to attack India as that could compel India to move closer to the...



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