BOOK REVIEWS: Tibet: More Heat Than Light

PANCHSHEELA AND AFTER, by Girilal Jain, (Asia, Rs. 12.75)

Reviewer name not stated

Mr Jain’s thesis is that the Government of India had acted unwisely in concluding an agreement with the Government of the People’s Republic of China over Tibet. Although in view of the great importance of India-China relations this topic bears repeated discussion, unfortunately a reference to the subject not infrequently results in more heat than light. Mr. Jain’s book is no exception, since he also writes as a politician rather than as a scholar, although in fairness it should be noted that he has collected an impressive volume of data and the book is a mine of information on an obscure but important area of our foreign policy.

To the author, a policy of anti-communism at home and abroad is the panacea for all evils. The “struggle against the Communist party at home and defence against aggression by China have to be achieved and organized as parts of one overall plan,” he writes. Those who believe in this thesis would have no difficulty in being persuaded by the arguments of the book. But that does not by itself dispose of the important question of what policy would serve India well.

Our dislike for the Chinese Government’s actions should not blind us to the realities. The thing to note is that on the India-China border there is near-unanimity between professed communists and avowed anti-communists. The Chinese aggression has yielded the remarkable spectacle of highly respected international communist party leaders denouncing Chinese Communists in public, whereas even countries generally reckoned to be friends have found it discreet to observe silence. How an anti-communist foreign policy can be helpful has, therefore, to be explained.

Chief Defect

The dangerous implications of a foreign policy based on a priori consideration of rights and wrongs were spelled out by the history of United States’ foreign policy during the post-war period. It would be unpardonable for the people in any newly independent country not to take note of the debacle suffered by the policies followed by one of the most powerful countries.

International relations involve a dynamic process and changed circumstances may call for changes in policies. That cannot mean that a policy which is not suitable now, was necessarily wrong ab initio. The chief defect of Mr Jain’s approach lies in the fact that he treats India-China relations largely in the abstract and does not view them in the broader context of the compulsions facing the foreign relations of the Government of India as a whole.

It is unfortunate that such an important book also should contain printing mistakes.

The Times of India, 16 June 1963

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