During the Chinese revolution, progressive forces of the world lent every possible support to it. At that time, it was widely believed that most of the Chinese people consumed opium and were always in a stupor. Additionally the country’s economy lay totally shattered. It was said that the people in China went to the market with a bag full of currency note and returned with a pocketful of goods. It was the Communist party and its dynamic leader Mao-Tse-Tung who were trying to give a new life to the Chinese people. After the conclusion of the 30-year revolutionary march a new government assumed power. The progressive and liberal people all over the world celebrated the epoch making event. The Chinese revolution aroused great hopes among the people who were still struggling to free themselves from the clutches of imperialists. They expected (now People’s Republic of) China to help them if not materially, at least morally.
After China becoming a People’s Republic, Jawaharlal Nehru, among world’s eminent leaders, extended a warm welcome to the new nation and saw it as a symbol of resurgent Asia. In order to fortify our friendship with China, Nehru sent a goodwill mission to that country. The delegation was led by Tapasvi Sunder Lal and among others consisted of Shakir Ali Khan, who was popularly known as Sher-e-Bhopal and R. K. Karanjia, the editor of Blitz. While the people of China were struggling India sent a medical mission to China under the leadership of Dr. Kotnis. Later a film was made on the services rendered by Dr. Kotnis and his team members. The film titled “Doctor Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani” became very popular. Nehru did everything possible to consolidate our friendship with China. “Hindi Chini bhai-bhai” became a very popular slogan both in India and China. Nehru thought that both India and China can jointly work for the creation of new world. For many years, the US and other Western countries refused to recognise the existence of Communist China. Nehru did a lot to secure an appropriate position for China in the comity of nations.
He insisted that China should be invited to the historic Bandung conference. Both India and China agreed that ‘Panchsheel’ should guide the relations between the two nations. But various liberation movements of the world felt disappointed when the People’s Republic of China refused to play the role which Soviet Union had played after the establishment of socialist regime there. Soviet Union aided liberation movements, including the South African movement against apartheid and the Palestinian movement.
Besides liberation movements, the Soviet Union also helped newly liberated nations to build their economic base. Nehru continued to help China but issues relating to border disputes alienated the two countries. Not only with India,China also had border disputes with other countries including Vietnam. And the day came when China and India came face to face in 1962. It seems that China nearly abandoned Communist ideology and devoted its entire energy in turning the country into an economic power. In my opinion China’s war-like postures and the 1961 communal riots in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) shattered Nehru completely. Nehru might have lived longer but for the war with China and Jabalpur communal riots.
China established communist regime with great socio-economic ideals but it soon abandoned them and turned into ultra nationalist country. On the other hand Nehru continued to uphold high ideals. Gandhi, Patel and many other Indian and world leaders considered him a visionary. He always favoured peaceful solution of disputes between nations and was prepared to sacrifice narrow interests of the country for that. He was bitterly criticised by opposition parties after outbreak of violent clashes with China. One well-known Member of Parliament called him a traitor while participating in the Lok Sabha debate on the Chinese aggregation. I know the name of the MP but I am not mentioning his name because he is no more.
Not only did China betray us but it also joined hand with Pakistan which was an ally of the US and a totalitarian country. There is evidence that during the armed conflict between India and Pakistan in 1965 the Chinese leaders did everything possible to add fuel to fire and later even tried to sabotage the Tashkent meeting.
Like Nehru, Prime Minister Modi also tried to develop friendly relations with China and like Nehru he must be feeling betrayed. But let the opposition avoid using the unparliamentary language which they used against Nehru. At this hour let us collectively face the crisis and we can analyse pros and cons of the situation after normalcy returns.
L S Herdenia is a journalist by profession and a well-known activist & fighter for the cause of Secularism and Communal Harmony