The Himalayan Adventure

Part 2

Convergence of interests of the ruling classes
of India, the USA and the USSR

Nehru went to war with China more for ideological and political reasons than for territory  –  the desolate, icy wastes of Aksai Chin. Speaking at a meeting of the Congress parliamentary party in New Delhi on 17 February 1963, Nehru stated: “These [matters connected with the fight with China] are long-range affairs and there are deep-seated issues behind them.” There is more to it than merely dispute over territory, he added. [101]

While on a visit to the USA in the second half of the sixties, Nehru’s worthy daughter, Indira Gandhi, repeated that the dispute was not territorial but ideological and political.

What were the “long-range affairs” and “deep-seated issues” that lay behind the conflict between India and China? How did China present a “challenge” to India as Nehru, while briefing the Indian cultural delegation to China in 1952, said?

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) had emerged in 1949 after bitter struggles of decades against both native ruling classes and against imperialist powers, especially Japanese and US imperialism. She quickly settled her borders with all her many neighbours except India and the USSR: she did not appear to covet anybody’s territory. Rather, she was engaged immediately in rebuilding her devastated economy. Moreover, Mao Tsetung had charted an ambitious course for the country which he said would bring her step by step to communism  –  the end of exploitation and oppression of man by man. As the first step China overturned the existing oppressive socioeconomic structure. She confiscated imperialist capital and what she defined as ‘comprador-bureaucrat capital’: the two together amounted to 90 per cent of China’s capital. Later, the industry of the national bourgeoisie, too, was gradually made the property of the people. Under the leadership of China’s poor and landless peasants, all farm land was distributed among the actual tillers of the soil, in the course of which 300 million peasants received about 45 per cent of the arable land. The rate of net investment to national income soared from 1-2 per cent in 1949 to around 20 per cent in l953. [102] Within a few years, China passed through early and later stages of cooperativization of land, abolished private property in land, and established communes, in which were combined both agriculture and industry  –  industry suitable for local conditions. The communes made most of their own economic decisions. Wilfred Burchett and Rewi Alley wrote that they “represent almost the ultimate in decentralization of state power  –  short of actual ‘withering away of the state’...” [103] China did not claim, unlike the US, that there was ‘democracy for all’; what she claimed was that while the small minority of elements which aspired to restore the earlier iniquitous social order were repressed, the overwhelming majority tasted genuine democracy. Burchett and Alley remarked that “One thing that strikes even a casual visitor [to the communes] is the absence of the normal attributes of state power. Although there is a People’s Militia, there is no army, no police and no courts or gaols.” [104]

Mao argued that the key to developing China was to release the immense, dormant creative enthusiasm of the people. Sweeping mass campaigns were waged, and the country achieved remarkable feats of construction. Gurley estimated at the end of the sixties that China’s real GNP growth since 1949 outpaced England’s, France’s and Japan’s industrial revolutions, and virtually all underdeveloped economies during the postwar period. [105] By 1972 the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress would say: “The People’s Republic of China has become an economically strong, unified nation. Its capability simultaneously to meet requirements of feeding its population, modernizing its military forces and expanding its civilian economic base must now be assumed from its record to date.... Thus China in the next decade or two join the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan and the Western European community in a pentagon of world powers.” [106] The country once referred to as the ‘sick man of the East’ had stood up.

George Kennan, who became director of the policy planning staff of the US state department in 1946, said that the Chinese problem was “not purely, or even primarily a military problem.” [107] The People’s Republic did not even seek to impose her ideology on Tibet, which was a part of China. She did not destroy the regime of the Dalai Lama, the regime of the serf-owners, which she could have done had she wanted to. Instead, she gave that regime a substantial measure of autonomy (which Nehru and company did not allow the constituent states of the Indian Union) and left it to the vast majority of the oppressed Tibetans themselves to resolve their contradictions with their rulers. What kind of problem was China then to the imperialists, especially the US imperialists and the regimes they nurtured in various other countries?

China was a threat by example. Her remarkable success in ensuring both rapid growth and betterment of conditions of life for her people stood as an example of what could be achieved by her model of development, in striking contrast to the rest of the third world. Gurley wrote:

“The basic, overriding economic fact about China is that for twenty years it has fed, clothed, and housed everyone, has kept them healthy, and has educated most. Millions have not starved; sidewalks and streets have not been covered with multitudes of sleeping, begging, hungry, and illiterate human beings; millions are not disease-ridden. To find such deplorable conditions, one does not look to China these days but, rather, to India, Pakistan, and almost anywhere else in the underdeveloped world.” [108]

In countries like India where such deplorable conditions prevailed, China’s very existence constituted an internal danger to the existing order. Her example suggested to the peoples of those countries that they needed to overthrow the existing power structure in order to change the conditions of their life; and that such change was possible. Thus if countries plagued with poverty and disease were not to fall like dominoes and drop out of the capitalist-imperialist system, it was necessary to destroy the positive example being set by China. That was the “long-range affair”, the “deep-seated issue” that Nehru had referred to. For the USSR the additional threat posed by China was that China’s genuine socialism contrasted starkly with what went under the name of socialism in the USSR, undermining the latter’s prestige and hold. Thus the USA and the USSR came to have a common aim  –  to ‘contain’ the People’s Republic of China, to form a ring around her and to work for her ultimate liquidation. As we shall see, their collusion for accomplishing this task was primary; whatever contradictions were there between themselves were secondary. They all realized that China was their main enemy and joined hands to destroy her.

US strategy of keeping China
under constant threat

On 26 January 1954, a member of the US house of representatives, Coudert, asked if it was “the heart of the present [US] policy towards China and Formosa [Taiwan]... that there is to be kept alive a constant threat of military action vis-a-vis Red China in the hope that at some point there will be an internal breakdown”. Robertson, the US assistant secretary of state for eastern affairs, replied: “Yes, sir. That is my conception.” Coudert again asked if that meant “a cold war waged under the leadership of the United States, with constant threat of attack against Red China, led by Formosa and other Far Eastern Groups, and militarily backed by the United States”. Coudert also asked if that meant fundamentally “that the United States is undertaking to maintain for an indefinite period of years American dominance in the Far East”. The assistant secretary of state answered: “Yes. Exactly.” [109]

In other words, the strategy of the US imperialists was to keep Socialist China under a constant threat of attack (after she had emerged from a very protracted civil war and a war of resistance against the most powerful imperialist powers  –  victorious but with a devastated economy), to rally behind themselves client states like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, India, etc., and to try either to defeat China militarily, if possible, or to derevolutionize her with the help of the enemy within. In implementing this strategy the USA, as we shall see, found a very valuable ally in the other superpower  –  the Soviet Union. The help was extremely valuable: first, the Soviet Union could close the ring from the north, north-east and north-west and threaten China with nuclear bombs as she actually did towards the end of the sixties; second, she could try more effectively to derevolutionize the centre of anti-imperialism with the help of Chinese revisionists and traitors. The Soviet strategy, which was complementary to US strategy, was to combine threat of attacks, including large-scale nuclear offensive, from the outside, and subversion from within.

We have seen that the USA gave enormous support to the corrupt and tyrannical regime of Chiang Kai-shek. It has been correctly said that the Chinese “civil war was made in America”. [110] When asked by Anna Louise Strong in August 1946 if there was hope “for a political, a peaceful settlement of China’s problems in the near future,” Mao Tsetung replied: “That depends on the attitude of the U.S. government.” [111] When Chiang fled to Taiwan, “Washington”, to quote David Horowitz, “began its campaign by imposing the Seventh Fleet between the mainland and the defeated dictator Chiang, thereby violating its pledge not to interfere in China’s civil war. Following this, the US refused recognition to the new Chinese Government, characterizing it as ‘illegal’ (on what grounds was Chiang’s dictatorship ‘legal’?), barred China from international trade and from international institutions like the UN, branded her a ‘willful aggressor’ in Korea  –  after first provoking her entry into the war  –  refurbished Chiang’s defeated and discredited army, lent support to his bid to regain power, thereby encouraging internal opponents of the new Chinese regime to look for such a development, and guided the Kuomintang (through the CIA) in conducting espionage overflights of China with U-2s and making sabotage raids on the mainland. In addition, the United States occupied the strategic Pacific bases of China’s historic enemy Japan, having displaced Japan as a power in the area. From these bases nuclear bombers of the Strategic Air Command were targeted on mainland objectives long before China herself became a nuclear power. A Polaris submarine fleet was built up in the China Sea and US secretary of defence McNamara announced on several occasions prior to the Chinese nuclear test that in the event of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, the US had the nuclear capacity to destroy both Russia and China as national societies.” [112]

It may be noted that China has been under frequent threat of nuclear attack by the USA (and towards the end of the sixties by the erstwhile USSR). Here we may point out one instance. In 1954 when the French forces in Vietnam were besieged in Dienbienphu, US secretary of state Dulles went to Paris and offered the French “one or more bombs to be dropped on Communist Chinese territory near the Indochina border....” [113]

It is significant that, as Selig Harrison wrote, “Indian and American interests are complementary” and that “India has begun to give tacit recognition to the legitimacy of a U.S. nuclear presence in the Indian Ocean....” [114]

As early as April 1947, a former vice-president of the USA, Henry A. Wallace, warned that the ‘Truman Doctrine’, which US president Truman announced on 12 March 1947. was actually a commitment “to rush to aid every dictator who hoists the anti-Communist Skull and Bones”, and that the USA was being directed along a course of “ruthless imperialism” reaching “from China to the Mediterranean and from pole to pole.” [115] To quote David Horowitz, “Defending foreign aid in a speech on 8 November 1963, [president Kennedy] said it was a way of maintaining 3.5 million Allied troops in foreign countries. (In addition there were in 1963, one million American soldiers deployed overseas on more than 200 major US bases and over a thousand additional ‘installations’ in foreign countries).” [116] By 1970 the number of overseas US bases increased to 3,401  –  429 major and 2,972 minor military bases. [117]

In order to fulfil their ‘manifest destiny’ and dominate the world, the US ruling classes  –  the Morgans, Rockefellers, Fords and their kin  –  assumed from the forties of the last century the role of “the leader of a world-wide anti-revolutionary movement in defence of vested interests” (to quote the words of the British historian Arnold Toynbee). [118]

Nehru’s role in US strategy

Referring to senator (soon to be secretary of state) John Foster Dulles’ speech in New York, the New York Times reported on 21 October 1949:

“Lest efforts of the United States against Communism in China be misunderstood as imperialism... [Dulles] recommended that leadership in the battle to check Communist expansion in the Far East be furnished by those in the region who have a stake in the struggle. Mr Dulles suggested Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister now visiting in New York, as one who could fill the role of leadership.” [119]

Later, in September 1964, US vice-president Hubert Humphrey also declared:

“Although remaining in South Vietnam, the United States must realize that in the long run there is no real defence against Communism in South-East Asia without an Asian coalition of powers with India as its main force.”

As we shall see, Nehru was not unwilling to play the role for which US imperialism, the most predatory imperialism the world has ever seen, cast him. The conflict between the Nehrus and the China of Mao Tsetung’s time was ideological and political. Nehru’s ideology, shorn of rhetoric, was the ideology of the comprador par excellence, who had firm links with feudal elements. Of that later.

When the transfer of power in India from British hands to ‘friendly and reliable’ Indian hands on the basis of partition of India and dominion status was agreed to by the three parties  –  the British imperialists, the Congress and the Muslim League  –  on 3 June 1947, the “ American reaction has been especially enthusiastic” (just as there was “profound gratification among all Parties” of Britain  –  “Sense of unity and recognition of tremendous issues and possibilities involved... comparable only with most historic moments during war”). [120]

An important mouthpiece of the US ruling classes, the New York Times, hailed Nehru’s decision in 1949 to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (of which the British monarch is the head) as “a historic step, not only in the progress of the Commonwealth, but in setting a limit to Communist conquest and opening the prospect of a wider defence system than the Atlantic Pact“. [121]

When, before 1949, US imperialism and the Chiang regime in China were meeting with reverses, India became perhaps the chief target of its neo-colonial policy in Asia. On 7 December 1947 US ambassador to India, Henry F. Grady, declared: “It is tremendously important to keep India on our side in the world struggle.” [122]

In October 1949, when the founding of the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed, the New York Times wrote:

“For months, as Communist armies have swept across China. Washington’s hopes for a democratic[sic] rallying point in Asia have been pinned on India, the second biggest Asiatic nation, and on the man who determines India’s policy  –  Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.” [123]

Another organ of the US imperialists, the New York Post, wrote in a leading article in the same month that India was “America’s hope in Asia”. [124]

The New York Times wrote again in August 1950:

“He [Nehru] is in a sense the counter-weight on the democratic side [sic] to Mao Tsetung. To have Pandit Nehru as ally in the struggle for Asiatic support is worth many divisions.” [125]

US imperialism wanted the Indian ruling classes to serve them in two ways: first, to help in stemming the flood-tide of national liberation struggles and advance of Socialism; and second, to help in making India a part of the informal US empire. On 4 March 1947 the New York Daily News wrote in an editorial: “If we are to pick up the pieces of the British Empire, would it not be well to pick up the central pieces, as well as the various others? If we are to be the Empire’s receiver in bankruptcy, should we not insist on having the full receivership power and authority?” [126]

Winston Churchill insinuated then that the USA was “making sheep’s eyes not only at vital British oil reserves in the Middle East, but also India, “the jewel in the crown of the British Empire”.

Truly, as Selig Harrison wrote: “Indian and American interests [the interests of their ruling classes] are complementary” and there are “overlapping objectives” [127]

Nehru was not averse to performing as he was expected to do. Earlier, in 1942, echoing US imperialists, Nehru wrote:

“The next hundred years, it has been said, are going to be the century of America. America is undoubtedly going to play a very important role in the years and generations to come.” [128]

He was sure that “countless eyes from all over the world look up to it [the USA] for leadership in the paths of peace and freedom”, that on America “rests a vast burden of responsibility, and towards whom so many millions look for right leadership in this crisis in world history”. [129]

On 6 April 1942 Nehru told Col. Louis Johnson, then US president Roosevelt’s personal representative in India and afterwards US defence secretary, that “India wanted to hitch her wagon to America’s star ...” [130]

As we have noted, even before the transfer of power in 1947, Nehru and his associates aspired to become a great power, a power that would dominate the Indian Ocean region. How could the Nehrus’ India, economically impoverished and underdeveloped and militarily weak, fulfil this dream? The Nehrus expected that the USA and UK would equip them industrially and arm them militarily in order that they would be able as a zonal power to fight the Anglo-American powers’ war against national liberation struggles and Socialism.” [131]

Nehru and the ‘Commies’

It was Nehru’s mission in life to try to suppress national liberation struggles and fight the ‘commies’. In the early fifties he told Chester Bowles, then US ambassador to India, that “history had selected India as one of democracy’s [sic] chief testing grounds. This was a contest [with Communism] which he and [his] India welcomed, a challenge which must be met head-on.” The American ambassador added: “For nearly two hours we talked about the exciting possibilities.” [132]

Nehru never hesitated to adopt any ruthless measures to suppress Communists in India. In 1948, soon after the transfer of power, several provincial governments and then the central government enacted preventive detention acts, banned the Communist Party of India, put tens of thousands of Communists, peasant and labour leaders behind bars without trial and shot dead several thousands of them. On 27 April 1948 the Free Press Journal of Bombay reported: “An American news agency message has recently suggested that it was on the basis of information supplied by the US State Department that the Governments of India, Pakistan, Burma and other countries took action against Communist Parties.” [133]

Chester Bowles wrote in the early fifties: “These 500,000 villages [of India] are still the centres of caste, of feudalism and of poverty.” [134] He said:

“When the Communist rebellion broke out in Hyderabad in 1948 and 1949, Nehru did not hesitate a moment in sending the Indian army to the scene with instructions to stamp out the uprising and to arrest the Communist leaders. In the fighting that followed, hundreds were killed and thousands were imprisoned. His government then put through a Detention Act which permits it to imprison anyone charged with subversion for six months without trial.... Even though the Communist tactics had changed for the moment [by October 1951] to ‘peaceful co-operation’, Nehru insisted that this act [the P.D. Act] be renewed in 1952 for use in future emergencies.” [135]

After observing that “one of the most important weaknesses in the Nehru government is the inadequacy in land reform”, the US ambassador wrote:

“In over a thousand [according to many, three thousand] villages of the Telengana district [an area comprising several districts] among a million people [estimated by many as three million], this [the seizure of the land of the landlords] happened... At this point the Indian army crossed the border, the Nizam agreed that the state of Hyderabad would become part of the Indian Union, and the Indian army moved against the Communists in Telengana. Despite firm Indian army occupation, newly built roads which for the first time permitted rapid patrolling by armoured cars, concentration camps filled with captured Communists, police outposts every few miles and in some places very ruthless suppression, guerrilla fighting continued spasmodically until the Communists themselves changed their program of violence two years later.... And for those who think that ruthless force alone will do the trick, Telengana of Hyderabad, the scene of the biggest Communist rebellion, testifies that all the troops and tanks of the Indian army could not wipe out the popular support of Communists who for the first time distributed land among those who had none.” [136]

On international issues Nehru was serving US imperialist interests faithfully. We shall cite only one instance here among many. The Korean war started in 1945, not in 1950, as is generally supposed. Korea had a long history of resistance against the Japanese. (It may be noted that the Korean communists were represented at the first congress of the Communist International held in 1919; and the theses on the Eastern Question, adopted by the fourth congress of the Communist International in 1922 noted that there was a “tempestuous growth of the national revolutionary movement” in Korea, among several other countries. [137]) “A nationwide resistance movement... had organized revolutionary committees throughout Korea upon Japan’s surrender” in mid-August 1945. These revolutionary committees represented all groups  –  Communists and others  –  who took part in the resistance. On 6 September the People’s Republic of Korea was formed and a national government was set up representing a large majority of the people. Two days later US troops landed in South Korea in the name of receiving the surrender of the Japanese forces. The US military government in Korea placed in key posts former Korean Quislings who had served the Japanese, and waged a brutal war against the national government and against the people in South Korea. They wanted to perpetuate the division of Korea into north and south and to use South Korea as a permanent military base against China, the Soviet Union and the Korean people (that base still remains). They perpetrated many horrors on the South Korean people. With the help of the UNO, which served as their tool, the US imperialists staged a fake separate election in South Korea, which was opposed by the overwhelming majority of the southerners. The UNO appointed a temporary commission to oversee the elections. At first the commission, of which K.P.S. Menon (the chief delegate from India) was the head, had its doubts about proceeding with the election in the south where fascist terror reigned. But Menon changed his mind and agreed to support the election. In the meantime Nehru had intervened under threat from the USA and “cabled orders to India’s commission delegation to refrain from criticizing American policies in South Korea and to vote with the US”. Though the commission had no access to many parts of South Korea, it certified that the results “were a valid expression of the will of the electorate in those parts of Korea which were accessible to the Commission”. Thus Nehru helped in perpetuating the division of Korea, as the US imperialists wanted. As a consequence, South Korea lay tortured under the administration of the US puppet Syngman Rhee. In 1950 the Korean war was extended into which the US warmongers provoked China to enter. Nehru lent his support to the US aggression against North Korea, which was sanctioned by the UNO, a US tool. US general MacArthur even wanted to invade China, and the US general O’Donnell, head of the US Bomber Command in the Far East, wanted to drop the atom bomb on the Chinese. Though the US warmongers were forced by circumstances to curb some of their criminal designs, they dropped napalm (jellied gasoline), one of the vilest weapons, on both the civilians and the military personnel who resisted. The US-led war ended by causing about 4,000,000 (forty lakh) casualties. And, to quote David Horowitz, “Korea itself lay in ruins from end to end, its fields a waste, its industrial centres smashed by American bombs, its villages burned, its people deeply scarred and [South Korea) once again left under the heel of military occupation and dictatorship, the nation more hopelessly divided than before.” [138]

Though Nehru was keen to serve and did serve US imperialist interests as their objectives were ‘overlapping’, there were minor disagreements on a few issues like recognition of the People’s Republic of China and a negotiated end to the Korean war (which all Arab and Asian countries wanted). But such differences roused the anger of the USA. His perceptions about how to fight Communism outside India’s borders somewhat differed from theirs. On 6 November 1951 he confided to Chester Bowles that he felt “disturbed over disagreements and irritation of [the] past two years” and “emphasized his total opposition to the commie idea which he said was diametrically opposed to his own philosophic beliefs...” [139]

Paul Hoffman, the first president (then called director) of the Ford Foundation, who was formerly administrator of the Marshall Plan in Europe visited India in August 1951 as a member of a small Ford Foundation team. During the visit he met Nehru, among others. He was convinced “that [Nehru] is anti-communist as you and I.... [However, he] does not believe, as I do, that Mao Tsetung is manipulated by Moscow.” [140]

Hoffman said that only “internationally immature” Americans “would like to make Indian school children salute the U.S.flag each day as the price of wheat to India.” [141]

To remove the “irritation”, Vijayalakshmi Pandit (Nehru’s sister, who was then ambassador to the USA) categorically declared in a statement in New York on 19 September 1951 that Indian foreign policy was “pro-U.N., pro-free nations”  –  ‘free nations’ the outstanding leader of which was the USA. She pleaded with the American imperialists: “In the recent sessions of the General Assembly [of the UNO], we voted as you did 38 times out of 51, abstaining 11 times and differing from you only twice.” She added: “Our experience over the years has naturally increased our antagonism to Communist aggression.” [142] (Words have different meanings for different classes. The ruling classes of imperialist countries and their client states claim that they alone are free, whether they have a democratic facade or are under corrupt dictatorships; and to them, the aggressor is the aggressed and the aggressed is the aggressor).

India’s economic and foreign policies

Speaking before the Constituent Assembly on 4 December 1947, Nehru said: “Ultimately the foreign policy is the outcome of economic policy, and until India has properly evolved her economic policy, her foreign policy will be rather vague, rather inchoate, and will be groping.” [143] It is true that the foreign policy of a country is the outcome of its economic policy. But it is not true that the fundamental principles of India’s economic policy had not been determined when Nehru said the above. One of the fundamental principles was whether Indian economy would remain, as during Britain’s direct rule, an appendage of the economy of imperialist countries. It had then no independent character of its own and was tied to the economy of the metropolitan country. With the transfer of power, this complementarity was not shattered. The only change that took place was that the Indian economy was tied not only to that of Britain but to that of the USA, too. On 7 July 1950 Nehru himself admitted that “our economy is obviously tied to England and other allied powers”, [144] chiefly the USA. This had been foreshadowed before the transfer of power. Even before 1947, Indian big capital was seeking and entering into collaboration agreements with British and US transnationals. The Indian big capitalists’ hunger for foreign capital and technology was very keen. [145] The dominance of imperialist capital on Indian economy remained. That is why the transfer of power was so smooth so far as Britain was concerned.

Since 1947 the Indian ruling classes have been soliciting imperialist capital, which was supposed to play a catalytic role in India’s industrialization. Abject dependence on loans and ‘aid’ (which too is mostly a euphemism for loan), which is a kind of bondage to imperialism, on capital goods and technology on terms which strengthen the chains of slavery, and even on US food was the main ingredient of India’s economic policy. [146] Even in preparing economic plans, India depended on foreign economists, especially American ones. [147]

US president Truman’s Point Four programme of 1949 was hailed by Nehru and signed in December 1950. Mrs Pandit, the Indian ambassador to the USA, held that it would be an effective weapon for fighting communism. [148] Among its features were: it was a political programme, which, as Truman said, was a measure to halt the spread of ‘false doctrines’ (like communism). It was also intended to increase production of strategic raw materials needed by the USA and help in the export of American capital abroad. [149]

Early in November 1951 G.D. Birla proposed the formation of an Indo-American Development Corporation consisting of business magnates and officials of both the countries  –  a kind of “super-trust directing the future of Indian economy”. In January 1952 B.R. Sen, Indian ambassador to the USA, made a similar proposal, with US capital predominating. [150] Early in 1952 India also entered into the Indo-US Technical Co-operation Agreement, which was called a ‘slavery bond’ by a prominent Gandhian. [151]

“By 1953”, writes Michael Kidron, “it was generally recognized that the terms on which capital can be invested in India now match almost exactly the conditions laid down in the ‘Code’ published by the International Chamber of Commerce in the United States.” [152]

Militarily also, India was tied to the Anglo-American powers. Close military bonds between India and Britain continued to exist even after the transfer of power. Ties with the USA were also being forged. In March 1951 India entered into its first military agreement with the USA under the Mutual Defence Assistance Programme. They had another agreement under the US Mutual Security Act in January 1952. [153] To quote Natarajan, “The training of Indian officers in the United States and the dependence of India on American [military] equipment means that India cannot follow a fully independent policy on major issues. [154] On 19 January 1952 Chester Bowles declared that India was “definitely aligned on the side of the free [sic] nations”. [155]

Instead of dilating further on the nature of economic and political relations that developed between the Indian ruling classes and US imperialism, we would refer to some illuminating facts disclosed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, US ambassador to India in the early seventies. “In the face of a prospective Communist victory in a state election, once in Kerala and once in West Bengal” the Congress, the ruling party at the Centre, according to Moynihan, sought financial contribution from the US government through its embassy in New Delhi. The US ambassador added: “Once it [the money asked for by the Congress party] was given to Mrs Gandhi herself, who was then a party official” [156]  –  afterwards prime minister of India. The Kerala election to which Moynihan referred took place in the late fifties  –  in the hey-day of ‘non-alignment’.

Moynihan disclosed another illuminating fact. To quote him, “we [the USA and India] continued, jointly, to spy on the Chinese from the tops of the Himalayas. These were routine exercises.... In 1965 we had sent a climbing expedition to the top of Nanda Devi, a mountain of 26,645 ft. in the northeast, near the border with China, to put in place nuclear-powered instruments which would record Chinese rocket telemetry and atomic tests. A storm came, the instruments, including the power pack, were cached, and the party returned to base. The climbers returned in the spring to find that an avalanche had swept everything away, and the plutonium was lost in the snow pack at the headwaters of the holy Ganges. Our then-Ambassador Chester Bowles went back to Mrs Gandhi [then India’s prime minister], and the next year a second Indo-American expedition successfully put instruments in place atop Nanda Kot, the 22,400-foot mountain adjacent to Nandi Devi.... But in 1974 Mrs Gandhi was still making speeches about the ever present danger of subversion by the CIA, whilst I was meeting with the relevant officials about our common interest in China.” [157]

In 1978, after the American press had reported the “initial mishap, or disaster”, Morarji Desai, then India’s prime minister, made a statement in the Lok Sabha. It emerged from his statement that this kind of operation “was carried out with the knowledge, consent and co-operation of the Indian government at the ‘highest political level’ represented at different times by all the three former Prime Ministers” [158]  –  Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi.

The two main ingredients of the foreign policy of the new Indian state were anti-communism and subservience to the imperialist powers, especially to the USA. As we shall see, from the mid-fifties when it became evident to the Indian rulers that the erstwhile USSR regarded Socialist China as its main enemy, the policy of the Nehrus (which Nehru’s double-speak tried to cover up) was one of alignment with both the superpowers. And from the birth of New China in 1949, India’s foreign policy was one of overt friendliness for China and covert hostility towards her. One may remember the words of Frank Moraes, which we quoted before.

“Two poles in Asia”

As Chester Bowles said, “Secretary of State Dulles is certainly accurate when he reports that there are two poles in Asia. After his trip to Asia in the spring of 1953 he said of India and China, ‘There is occurring between these two countries a competition as to whether ways of freedom or police state methods can achieve better social progress. This competition affects directly 800 million people in these two countries. In the long rim, the outcome will affect all of humanity, including ourselves.“ [159] (It may be superfluous to add that to people like Dulles and Bowles freedom meant the freedom of a tiny minority of oppressors and exploiters to deprive the rest of the people of their freedom; and that by ‘police state methods’ they meant the methods of a state which ensured genuine freedom to the vast majority of the people and denied it to the tiny minority of oppressors and exploiters who longed to get back their lost possessions, privileges and power.)

Nehru shared Dulles’ view that a competition was going on between India and China. In a letter to chief ministers, dated 15 November 1954, Nehru wrote that “the most exciting countries for me today [are] India and China. We differ, of course, in our political and economic structures, yet the problems we face are essentially the same. The future will show which country and which structure of Government yields greater results in every way.” [160] The results no doubt were quite evident then and afterwards. Here we would like to quote D.D. Kosambi, who visited China after only a few brief years of her emergence and wrote from his personal experience. In this article “On the Revolution in China”, which appeared in Monthly Review (New York) in 1957, he stated:

“The material advances shown by the new system since so recent a year as 1952 leap to the eye. New factories, mines, oil fields, steel works, dams, co-operatives, roads, buses, hospitals, schools, cultural palaces, theatres have sprouted virtually overnight. Literacy is almost universal and the language is being reformed. The rise in the general standard of living is equally remarkable. The normal noonday meal even of the unskilled labourer now compares with his rare holiday feast in the old days. Conditions of work have improved out of all recognition. Coal mines in whose untimbered pits eight or ten famished peasant labourers dropped dead, or were killed by accident every day, have now death rates among the lowest in the world... The former, incredible stench and filth have disappeared from the workers’ slums, once the most dreadful in the whole world... But far more remarkable than all these are the changes among the people themselves. The current Chinese standard of honesty would have been astoundingly high in any country, even in pre-war Sweden.... After just two years of better living conditions, the children in the new workers’ tenements show what socialism can mean; they are healthier, more cheerful, and rush spontaneously to welcome the stranger without the least trace of shyness or rudeness. The unshakable calm, inner courtesy, love of culture, and fundamental good nature in all strata of Chinese society cannot be written off as ‘national character’ which has nothing to do with the revolution. The relaxed, well-adjusted Chinese of the People’s Republic are not to be found in Hong Kong or Formosa.... Under these circumstances [when arise serious new problems], why are the police so much less in evidence in new China than in most other countries, including the USA and the USSR? Why is there no witch-hunting in any form? ... People are now genuinely free to express any political opinion they like, including the belief that capitalism is superior to socialism.... The arts of genuine persuasion were mastered by the technique developed in the Yenan days, when not more than a third of the local councils and committees were allowed to consist of communist party members.”

Before he concluded, Kosambi said:

“The Indian state has absolute power and uses it to settle questions like the linguistic division of Bombay state by tear gas and bullets instead of the logical, democratic plebiscite and ballot. It is openly admitted that this all-powerful state is powerless to collect evaded taxes, to curb inflation, to control food prices, or to raise money by expropriation of the primitive accumulation of money-lender, landlord and profiteer, in place of sales and consumer taxes.... ” [161]

The question is: which country followed the “ways of freedom” and which country (or countries) practised “police state methods” and in whose interests?

It was India’s “political and economic structures” that perpetuated her abject political and economic dependence on imperialist countries, her state of underdevelopment had condemned her to be one of the world’s poorest countries inhabited by hungry, illiterate and ill-clad millions. And it was China’s “political and economic structures” which transformed her within a brief period from a backward country ravaged by war and hyperinflation into a strong, self-reliant, sovereign and advanced country, engaged in building a new life for all her toiling people.

Interestingly, Winston Churchill, the arch-Tory, hailed Nehru as “the Light of Asia” more than once. [162] M.O. Mathai, who was head of Nehru’s personal secretariat until 1958, wrote: “The day before our leaving London after the conclusion of the [Commonwealth prime ministers’] conference [in June 1953], Churchill sent a brief handwritten letter to Nehru saying, ‘Remember what I told you  –  you are the Light of Asia’.... On 3 February 1955 Lord Moran asked Churchill about Nehru. Churchill said, ‘I get on well with him. I tell him he has a great role to play as leader of free [sic] Asia against communism.’ Asked how Nehru took it, Churchill replied, ‘Oh, he wants to do it, and I want him to do it’...” [163]

The Soviet Union, India and the USA

The Soviet policy towards Nehru’s India in the late forties and early fifties was somewhat ambivalent. In their assessment of Nehru’s politics, the Soviet authorities were bitterly critical. Yet during this period they made some friendly approach to India. S. Gopal writes: “There was a suggestion of a change of approach by the Soviet Union in September 1948 when its Ambassador informed a member of Nehru’s Cabinet that his Government would be willing to help, particularly as regards Hyderabad and Kashmir, but India had not sought such help.” [164]

S. Gopal adds: “The Soviet Government were not totally wrong in distrusting India; for it was clear that at this time Indian neutrality would be benevolent towards the Western Powers. Nehru himself recognized this and directed that Britain and the United States be informed that, in the world as it was, there was not the least chance of India lining up with the Soviet Union in war or peace.... Non-alignment was, therefore, very much a hypothetical concept. Nehru was, thanks to some extent to the Soviet attitude, leaning heavily towards the Western Powers.” [165]

The Soviet Union made another friendly gesture, when, in 1951, during India’s extreme food shortage, it made an offer of wheat in exchange for raw jute and cotton. [166]

Nehru’s note on China and Tibet, dated 18 November 1950, is also significant. Nehru wrote:

“It is interesting to note that both the UK and the USA appear to be anxious to add to the unfriendliness of India and China towards each other It is also interesting to find that the USSR does not view with favour any friendly relations between India and China.” [167]

By 1955 the ambivalence in the Soviet policy was gone. To quote S. Gopal,

“While in Moscow [in June 1955], Nehru received an invitation from Eden to visit London on his way home, and the Soviet leaders approved of his acceptance. ‘It would be’, said Bulganin, ‘a good thing for the world if the West would understand you as much as we did.’ Nehru now, on leaving the Soviet Union, saw his task as being that of conveying to the Western Powers his understanding that there had been a real change in Moscow.” [168]

In a letter dated 27 June 1955 Nehru wrote to US president Eisenhower:

“My general impression was that a marked change had come over Soviet policy and that this was not a mere temporary phase. This gave me hope for the future and indicated that more than at any time in the past, there was substantial reason for hoping for peaceful approaches and settlements.” [169]

During his visit to India in December 1955, Khrushchev, general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, told Nehru:

“We want to be friendly with you but not to separate you from your other friends. We want to be friendly with your friends.” [170]

T.N. Kaul, I.C.S., who served as India’s foreign secretary and as ambassador to Washington, Moscow, etc., at different times, wrote: “In one of his personal letters to me in December 1962 [Kaul was then ambassador to the Soviet Union], Nehru wrote of Khrushchev’s meeting with Vice-President Radhakrishnan in Delhi. In the course of the talk Khrushchev said much against the USA but he ended up by saying that in 10 years time the chief enemy would be China. This was said in 1956....” [171]

Chester Bowles wrote that “the possibility of a split [with China] must have been apparent to the Soviet leaders by the mid-1950s”. He also said:

“In February 1957, shortly before the Soviet-Chinese break became evident, I had a lengthy discussion with Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow, most of which centred on India and China. When I remarked that both the Soviet Union and US. might ultimately face a common problem in regard to China, he did not disagree.”

Bowles commented: “The motivation of the USSR in assisting India has since the mid-1950s been primarily based on the Soviet estimation of India’s geopolitical importance as a partial balance to the political influence and potential might of China.” [172]

Elsewhere, this shrewd representative of the US ruling class wrote:

In regard to the Indian subcontinent, certain fundamental interests of the US and USSR appear to coincide.” [173]

Addressing the editor, Radio Peace and Progress, Moscow, in mid-December 1967, Bowles wrote:

In regard to India, however, there is every reason why our legitimate national interests should closely coincide....” [174]

W.W. Rostow (who “worked regularly with John Kennedy from early 1958” and was chairman of the policy planning council at the US state department from December 1961 to 1 April 1966) was in Moscow attending a Pugwash meeting on arms control from 27 November to 7 December 1960. He wrote: “Russians talked in private with Americans with evident candor of their anxieties about the Chinese.” [175]

In order to have some idea of the US-Soviet relations vis-a-vis China and the world’s people, we shall briefly refer to some happenings of later years.

In 1968 Eugene Rostow, then US under-secretary of state, said:

“We and the Soviets are pursuing parallel courses, both helping India and Pakistan, and both advising the settlement of conflicts between them. We are both trying to build a stability to restrain Chinese ambitions. It is another case of tacit agreement. It has been said and I agree that the best agreements we have with the Soviets are tacit ones.” [176]

After a long talk with Kosygin, chairman of the council of ministers of the USSR, US vice-president Hubert Humphrey said in a television interview that the talk was “frank and candid”. He stated that “the Soviet Union is attempting to build a containment wall, so to speak, around communist China” and that “the government of the Soviet Union is much more concerned today about its relationships throughout the entire world vis-à-vis communist China than it is over anything that the United States may be doing in any part of the world.” [177] On 13 January 1966 the American paper, Christian Science Monitor, wrote: “Evidence is piling up that the Soviet Union and the United States are, in fact, moving in parallel tracks toward certain objectives they hold in common.” [178] The New York Times stated on 17 January 1966: “the fundament of present Soviet-American relations in this complex situation is that they must be tacit.... the conflict between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. must remain explicit, agreement must remain implicit.” They “are simultaneously thus both explicit enemies and implicit allies.” [179]

In his address to the United Nations on 12 June 1968, US president Johnson referred to an agreement with the Soviet Union concluded four years before and expressed the hope that “future generations will mark 1964 as the year the world turned for all time away from the horrors of war and constructed new bulwarks for peace.” [180] (No doubt, the world remembers 1964 as the year when the US imperialists invented the Tonkin Gulf incident, [181] started bombing north Vietnam more savagely than before, escalated the war in south Vietnam, ultimately to kill 2,500,000 men, women and children and burn the whole land with napalm and other bombs).

In his address at Glassboro State College, New Jersey, on 4 June 1968, Lyndon Johnson recalled Soviet premier Kosygin’s visit in the previous year and said that

“Hope and achievement are certainly there to see. And our relations with the Soviet Union offer an example.... what period in history has been more productive in promoting cooperation between our two countries?.... The road there [to peace] is far less rocky when the world’s two greatest powers  –  the United States and the Soviet Union  –  are willing to travel part way together.... But during the past year, the work of peace has been going on in many ways that do not make headlines.... I believe that the two great powers who met here last year have begun, however haltingly, to bridge the gulf that has separated them for a quarter of a century.” [182]

Indeed, no “period in history has been more productive in promoting cooperation between our two countries” (as Johnson said) than the sixties and the early seventies of the last century. The Soviet rulers were giving their direct or indirect support to the US-backed counter-revolutionary forces in Asia, Africa and Latin America and helping the USA to suppress the national liberation struggles. We would cite here one instance. In early October 1965 the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA and the US and British embassies in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, helped from behind a reactionary clique of Indonesian generals led by Suharto and Nasution to stage a coup and overthrew the established government which had some communists as ministers. In the six months following the coup, as Frederic F. Clairmont wrote, “around half a million communists and their sympathizers were butchered and another one million disappeared”. [183] This was called by the New York Times “one of the most savage mass slayings of modern political history”. (And the plunder of rich Indonesia by US multinational corporations started. To this was added the pillage by the Suharto clique. Recently, the dictator’s regime toppled down and he was thrown into jail and charged that he, his children and grandchildren had defrauded the Indonesian people of a mere $25 billion.) What was the role of the Soviet rulers in the Indonesian tragedy? They immediately recognized the Suharto fascist regime and rushed to help it economically as well as with arms and ammunition to massacre communists and other progressive Indonesians. They expelled from the Soviet Union the Indonesian communists who had been staying there.

In 1965 a book entitled The Motive Forces of U.S. Foreign Policy was published by the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. It proclaimed that “Soviet-American relations, the relations between the two greatest powers in the world, constitute the axis of world politics, the main foundation of international peace”. It emphasized that an “extremely important feature in Soviet-American relations” was the “community of national interests of the two countries.” [184] Addressing the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on 13 December 1962, A.A Gromyko, a leading member of the Soviet Government, said:

“....if there is agreement between N.S. Khrushchev, the head of the Soviet Government, and John Kennedy, the President of the United States, there will be a solution of international problems on which mankind’s destinies depend.” [185]

The question is, what “community of national interests” of the US imperialists and the Soviet rulers could exist? How could “agreement” between them provide “a solution of the international problems on which mankind’s destinies” depended? One may note that by making such a claim the Soviet rulers were negating openly the role of the different peoples of the world in shaping their own destinies.

Since the days (6 and 9 August 1945) when the US imperialists dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killed more than 1,500,000 men, women and children, maimed still more people and caused immense devastation (though they knew that Japan was about to surrender), they have been raining death and destruction on various countries to fulfil their dream of world domination. We have already referred to the horrors they perpetuated in Korea where the war alone sent to death 4,000,000 people, and one does not know how many were murdered as a result of starvation and disease which followed in the wake of the war. When Gromyko was delivering his address the US imperialists were involved in the criminal war against Vietnam.

It may appear strange that the Soviet rulers were eager to join hands with the most predatory state in history and developed a ‘community” of interests with them. The worst tyrants and mass murderers in history pale into insignificance beside the US ruling classes who brought death and destruction to the lives of the tens of millions of people for the sake of the profits of their giant multinational corporations.

The fact is, there had been a retrogression, a reversal in the Soviet Union. During the Great Debate between the Soviet party and the Communist Party of China on ideological-political issues in the first half of the 1960s, the CPC stated that a bureaucratic bourgeois class had in the meantime seized the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party and state and restored capitalism. Neither internal reactionary forces nor the interventions of all the big imperialist states of the world, including the USA, could defeat the socialist state established by the working people and soldiers of Russia in November 1917. But gradually, peacefully, there occurred a reversal. A bureaucracy grew up and in course of time consolidated its powers and privileges. This new bourgeoisie, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie, infiltrated into the Communist Party and took over state power. Though the facade of socialist ownership of the means of production was preserved for some decades, this new bourgeoisie, a self-perpetuating class, became the collective owner of them, not in law but in actual practice.

China referred to this class as the ‘new tsars’. According to the Chinese, the new ruling class of the Soviet Union, though feigning to be enemies of the US rulers, were actually anxious to collaborate with the US imperialists for joint world domination. The new Soviet rulers argued that the invention of nuclear weapons had created a new situation and might wipe out all mankind; hence they tried to restrain or prevent revolutionary struggles and national liberation struggles with dire warnings that “a single spark might start a world conflagration”  –  that a struggle for national liberation might provoke the US imperialists into hurling atomic weapons and endangering the life of all mankind. Instead, oppressed nations should wait till the ‘Socialist camp’ had proved its superiority to the capitalist world in a ‘peaceful competition’ and brought about ‘peaceful transition’ to socialism. The Chinese in response pointed out that, by whipping up panic over the threat of nuclear war, the Soviet rulers were actually trying to scare oppressed nations into submitting to imperialism. They charged that, together with the US imperialists, the Soviet rulers wanted to be the arbiters of the destinies of all peoples of the world. In order to be able to do so, they needed to collude against truly socialist China.

The forces ranged against China were massive indeed. In 1965 the USA had some 200 military bases “armed with nuclear weapons, missiles and the ever-increasing range of new armaments” on the Japanese islands alone. [186] At the instance of the US imperialists Japanese militarism was revived (which violated the post-war constitution of Japan) and a treaty between Japan and South Korea was concluded.

Sharp conflict between
China and the Soviet Union

A sharp conflict between China and the Soviet Union started in 1956. It centred around ideological-political formulations made by the Soviet leadership in their report to the 20th congress of the Soviet Communist Party, held in 1956. The Chinese Communist Party sharply differed from the new theses  –  “peaceful co-existence, peaceful competition and peaceful transition”  –  presented by the Soviet leadership in order to derail the international communist movement.

In the second half of 1958 the Soviet leadership proposed to China a joint defence system which was “designed to bring China under Soviet military control”. A Chinese military delegation headed by Peng Teh-huai, then China’s defence minister, went on a protracted visit to the Soviet Union. The Chinese leadership was divided on the question. While Mao Tsetung and his followers were firmly opposed to the policy of giving up military independence, Peng Teh-huai, who had close links with Liu Shao-chi and his associates, supported the Soviet move. In June 1959 Peng Teh-huai was dismissed from office. On firm rejection of the Soviet demand, the Soviet leadership unilaterally cancelled “the agreement on new technology for national defence concluded between China and the Soviet Union in October 1957” and repudiated its commitment “to provide China with a sample of an atomic bomb and technical data concerning its manufacture”. In 1959 the Soviet government, ignoring Chinese requests, came out in open support of the Nehru government after there had been an incident on the Sino-Indian border. In 1960 the Soviet government violated the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance concluded in 1950, tore up all contracts and withdrew all Soviet experts, took away all technical designs and data, leaving many projects half-finished or unfinished. It is worth noting that China was at this time hit by natural disasters; the blow was well-timed. Besides, the Soviet Union demanded from China at the same time repayment for equipment and other supplies sent during the Korean war.

In April and May 1962 the Soviet leaders tried to stir up trouble on China’s western border. They used their organs and personnel in Sinkiang to carry out large-scale subversive activities in the Ili region. All this they undertook to do when China was threatened on several sides by the US imperialists.

In August 1962 the Soviet government informed China that it would enter into an agreement with the USA on the prevention of nuclear proliferation. It was a bid to establish joint US-Soviet monopoly of nuclear weapons and to prevent China from acquiring them, though China was under the threat of nuclear attacks.

The ‘deepening schism between Moscow and Peking’ and the growing ‘reconciliation’ between Moscow and Washington helped “to strengthen United States imperialism vis-a-vis both Vietnam and China  –  and, indeed, one of the initial benefits for the United States was to make possible the transfer of trained troops from Europe to South-east Asia”. [187] There were reports of ‘mounting tensions’ along the Sino-Soviet border. An Associated Press report of 10 December 1966 “quoted Chen Yi, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister of China, as saying, ‘The Soviet has 13 divisions on the Chinese border, moved there from Eastern Europe’. In addition to charging Soviet leaders with trying ‘to sell peace negotiations’ to the Vietnamese, Chen Yi reportedly said: ‘It is impossible to deny the abundant evidence which proves the anti-Chinese union between the United States and the USSR’.” [188]

Still later, according to an AFP report, Robert Haldeman, former US president Richard Nixon’s chief of staff, wrote in his book that the Soviet Union suggested to the USA in 1969 to join in a preventive nuclear attack on China. According to Haldeman, the Nixon administration, instead, of going along with the Soviets, got word to the Chinese that the US opposed the Russian attack plan. In his book the former top White House aide said that US intelligence had photographs showing 1,800 Soviet nuclear missiles set up along the Ussuri river only three kilometres from the Chinese border. [189] Though, according to the above report, Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state, denied Haldeman’s account of the episode there seems to be truth in it. Joseph Alsop, who was a prominent American journalist, corroborated Haldeman’s account. He wrote that the building of “Peking’s awesome underground city” was started in 1969 when the Russians came so close to launching a preventive nuclear attack on China.” He stated: “Nowadays, in fact, there were two complete cities of Peking, one above ground and another underground.... All this is pretty awesome and every other major city in China today, and almost all the smaller ones, too, have close to identical shelter systems.... No government in its senses could have ordered such enormous sacrifices and burdensome investments without a grimly serious, grimly urgent motive. There is no doubt at all about the motive, either. It was the fear of Soviet surprise attack which became acute when the Soviet government vainly asked for US support for such an attack in 1969. [190]

China’s slogans on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1969 included four which urged the people to remain prepared against war. One of them said: “People of all countries, unite and oppose any war of aggression launched by imperialism or social-imperialism [meaning the Soviet leadership], especially one in which atom bombs are used as weapons! ...” It was the possibility of nuclear attack that forced the Chinese government to spend its scarce resources on ‘digging tunnels deep’, building networks of underground roads and shelters and making such defensive preparations against nuclear attack. Second, the information passed on by the USA to Peking might have helped in the Chinese leaders agreeing to the visit, first of Kissinger and then of Nixon, to the Chinese capital and to having talks with them.

The editorial departments of the Chinese journals, Renmin Ribao, Hongqi and Jiefangjun Bao stated in an important article in early 1970:

“The Soviet revisionist renegade clique has occupied Czechoslovakia by surprise attacks, encroached upon Chinese territories such as Chenpao Island and the Tiehliekti area and made nuclear threats against our country.” [191]

Writing in the London Times, Neville Maxwell observed: “They [the Soviet rulers] know that China is growing stronger, and can foresee the point, not remote, when China’s military power will equal, then exceed their own.... It is the reality of the slowly shifting power balance between the U.S.S.R. and China which must add great force to arguments of the Kremlin’s hawks for a pre-emptive blow and which makes 1970 such a dangerous year for the world as well as for China.” “Some Kremlinologists (notably Mr Victor Zorza)”, Maxwell added, “are convinced the U.S.S.R. has already taken the decision to attack China and is methodically preparing for war on both the military and political planes.” Victor Zorza himself observed: “Within a generation or so, a technologically mature China could dwarf the Soviet Union.... They [the Soviet rulers] will want to act before it is too late.” [192]

Writing in the Red Army’ journal Krasnaya Zvezda, Marshal Krylov, Soviet deputy defence minister and commander-in-chief of the Soviet missile forces, said that preparedness for strategic missile corps was readiness to strike a ‘retaliatory blow’ with its entire might to attain resolute aims in armed struggle. “Such retaliatory blow may exert decisive influence on the entire progress of war.” He added: “Only a few seconds are necessary for an order from the supreme command to be brought to the knowledge of literally every missile crew of the missile weapon system and they will all immediately fulfil it.” [193]

The following report by Harrison Salisbury appeared in the London Times of 25 May 1969:

“Heavy troop movements have reinforced all elements of the Soviet Far Eastern Command. Between 100,000 and 200,000 Soviet, soldiers, including elements equipped with rockets, have been introduced into Mongolia.... Estimates of the size of the Soviet forces range as high as 1,500,000 men, from Irkutsk eastward.” [194]

As part of their preparations for launching a nuclear war against China, the Soviet rulers were negotiating a bilateral non-aggression treaty with the West German ruling classes and concluded economic agreements with West German monopolists and the Japanese.

Speaking at the tenth plenum of the eighth central committee of the Chinese Communist Party in September 1962, Mao Tsetung said:

“From the second half of 1958 he [Khrushchev] wanted to blockade the Chinese coastline. He wanted to set up a joint fleet so as to have control over our coastline and blockade us. It was because of this question that Khrushchev came to our country. After this, in September 1959 during the Sino-Indian border dispute, Khrushchev supported Nehru in attacking us and Tass issued a communique. Then Khrushchev came to China and at our Tenth Anniversary Celebration banquet in October he attacked us on our own rostrum. At the Bucharest Conference in 1960 they tried to encircle and annihilate us.” [195]

Collusion overshadows contention

“Almost from its inception”, Maxwell wrote, “the Sino-Indian boundary dispute became enmeshed with the great falling out of China and Russia, and the two quarrels interacted and exacerbated each other. As the Chinese were to say later, ‘one of the important differences of principle between the Soviet leaders and ourselves turns on Sino-Indian boundary question’, and they traced the development of Russian policy from ‘feigning neutrality while actually favouring India’ to openly supporting her in alignment with the United States.” [196]

India, the second most populous country in the world neighbouring China, had an important role to play in the US-Soviet strategy of ‘containment’ and ultimate destruction or derevolutionization of China. That was the strategy which also received warm support of the British imperialists. The British prime minister Harold Wilson in his London Guildhall speech in November 1965 described “the struggle for the soul of Asia” as “a struggle for economic success between democratic methods [i.e. capitalist methods, Ed. Broadsheet] of which India, with her 400 million, is an outstanding example, and the Communist way represented by China and those whom she seeks to subvert [by force of the very example she set  –  S.K.G]. And in this war there can be no neutrals. Or if there could, Britain cannot be amongst them.... Britain’s frontier is on the Himalayas.” [197]

All the imperialists and reactionaries were keenly interested in the struggle between India and China “for economic success”, “for the soul of Asia”. The US imperialists and the Soviet rulers, in particular, and the World Bank and the IMF (tools of US imperialism) tried to prop up the Indian ruling classes with financial and military ‘aid’ and, in the course of doing so, to fleece the Indian people and impoverish them still more. While China, surrounded by hostile powers, raced ahead, India lagged further and further behind as her chronic economic crisis became more and more intensified with the passing of days.

As noted before, the People’s Republic of China had removed the mountains  –  the domination of imperialists, compradors and feudals  –  that stood on the path of her growth. Though starting in 1949 from an economic base more backward than India’s in 1947 and with a devastated economy, her liberated men and women took giant leaps forward and, placing the interests of society before the interests of self, they were building step by step a Socialist society, the dream of ages.

The Nehrus, on the other hand, preserved all the legacies of colonial rule. The socio-economic structure that was continually breeding underdevelopment and impoverishing the people remained with very few changes. The imperialist capital that dominated Indian economy and drained away its wealth was not confiscated; rather, the Indian ruling classes had (and have) an insatiable hunger for more imperialist capital  –  direct investment and loan capital. To quote Nehru again, “our economy is obviously tied to England and other allied powers.” Feudalism was not abolished: there were only some cosmetic changes. To quote Nehru’s friend, Chester Bowles, again: “these 500,000 villages [of India] are still the centres of caste, of feudalism and of poverty” (our emphasis). True to their character, the ruling classes of India and their front men have been guided by the ‘development’ theory which serves their interests as well as those of imperialist capital  –  the theory that sustained inflows of foreign capital are a necessary condition for raising poor, underdeveloped countries from the state of ‘stagnant backwardness’. Their ‘development’ theory and practice swelled the profits of imperialist capital and of its Indian underlings and condemned the people to destitution and misery.

So the US and other imperialists were both happy and worried. Since the transfer of power the US imperialists were providing India with some of its surplus food at exorbitant prices to help her to cope with extreme food shortage. They were exporting capital, too  –  investment and loan capital  –,  to India to enable the Nehru regime to maintain itself.

From about the mid-fifties the Soviet rulers also became eager to collaborate with the US imperialists in nurturing the Nehru regime as a counterweight to the China of Mao’s days as well as in exploiting the Indian people and bind her with economic and military chains. In February 1955 the Soviet Union signed an agreement with India to set up the Bhilai steel plant. During the visit of Bulganin and Khruschev in November-December 1955, Khrushchev announced the Soviet Union’s full support to India’s stand on Kashmir. In the wake of that visit followed several ‘aid’ and trade agreements between the two countries. Khrushchev was frank enough to admit that Soviet ‘aid’ was intended to supplement US ‘aid’ to India. He told India’s finance minister Morarji Desai in June 1960: “We help you in order that the Americans might give you more aid. They will give you more aid as soon as we give you aid.” [198]

Speaking in the United States in September 1959, Khrushchev said:

“Your and our economic successes will be hailed by the whole world, which expects our two Great Powers to help the peoples who are centuries behind in their economic development to get on their feet more quickly.” [199]

What is this ‘help’ or ‘aid’ of which Khrushchev so eloquently spoke? An imperialist country provides ‘aid’ to have a stranglehold  –  economic, political and military  –  on a debtor country. Economically, it not only squeezes out of the indebted country several times more than what it gives but also distorts her development. Politically and militarily, it is a neo-colonialist fetter. Like their US counterparts, the Soviet rulers sought by means of ‘aid’ to penetrate our country economically, politically and militarily, to make our economy into an appendage of their economy, to control and manipulate the ruling clique and plunder and enslave the people. Instead of dilating on the virtues of ‘aid’, I would quote Andre Gunder Frank. Speaking of Latin America, he wrote:

“As Foreign Minister Valdes [of Chile] told President Nixon, and as the U.S. Department of Commerce and E.C.L.A [Economic Commission for Latin America] have documented extensively, it is precisely the foreign investment and aid or external assistance which has generated not only Latin America‘s contemporary colonial structure, commercial and balance of payments crises, but also the underdevelopment-generating domestic economic and class structural aberrations.... The more ‘external assistance’ from the imperialist metropolis, the more underdevelopment for Latin America.” [200]

What is true of Latin America is also true of other ‘aid’-recipient countries like India.

Khrushchev came to India in February 1960. A few months earlier, ignoring Chinese requests, the Soviet government had issued a statement which feigned neutrality but expressed tacit support for India on the Longju incident. At the Bucharest conference of the representatives of some Communist and Workers’ parties, held in June 1960, when the Sino-Soviet rift became open, Khrushchev’s criticism of China on the boundary question was quite shrill. While Soviet economic ‘aid’ to India was considerably enhanced, Soviet military ‘aid’ started pouring in from the autumn of 1960. Besides equipment for building roads in the mountainous regions, the Soviet rulers provided India with heavy transport planes and helicopters suitable for operation at the altitudes of 16-17,000 feet. These were just the things that the Nehru regime needed for implementing its forward policy and for preparing to confront China. And, as Maxwell writes, “At first Russian airmen flew both the transports and the helicopters in Ladakh training Indian co-pilots...” [201] In 1960 India was also negotiating with the Soviet Union for the purchase of MIG jet fighters. The deal was finalized in the summer of 1962. It was also agreed that the Soviet Union would set up a plant in India for the manufacture of MIG-21. [202]

After the Indian rulers had ordered the army to attack China, the Soviet Union stepped up their economic and military ‘aid’ to India. A Reuters report, dated 4 December 1962, from Washington stated: “The [US] State Department spokesman was asked at his press conference whether the expected delivery of Soviet MIG fighters to India would have any effect on U.S. military aid to India. He replied: ‘No, our talks with the Indians on their needs are continuing’.” [203] So, too, did Averell Harriman, then US president’s roving ambassador, say “No, none at all”, when asked if the United States had any objection to India’s receiving military ‘aid’ from the Soviet Union. Referring to the split between the Soviet Union and Socialist China, Harriman said that “We ought to be careful not to do things which would tend to force them together. It is very much to our interests as well as India’s interests for them [the Indians] to maintain as friendly relations as they can with Moscow.” [204] The Soviet rulers’ plan to use India as a base for aggression against China was complementary to the US imperialists’ plan: on this issue collusion overshadowed contention.

In early May 1959 was held in Washington an important conference which “brought together for the first time eighty-eight of the two countries’ [the USA and India’s] most distinguished authorities on internal Indian affairs and on the major issues of Indo-United States relations”. It was sponsored and co-sponsored by several big American institutions, and some big US multinationals were its ‘contributing sponsors’. The immediate object of the conference was to help the Indian government to overcome the crisis that had gripped her economy.

Addressing the conference US vice-president Nixon said: “To take one example, I would not underestimate the importance of the Berlin crisis; but I will say that in my own mind what happens to India, insofar as its economic progress is concerned in the next few years, could be as important, or could be even more important in the long run, than what happens in the negotiations with regard to Berlin.” He stressed how India’s economic future deeply affected US interests. [205]

Senator John F. Kennedy (who soon became US president) said:

“No struggle in the world today deserves more of our thought and attention than the struggle between India and China for leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.... It should be obvious that the outcome of this competition will vitally affect the security and standing of this nation.... Unless India is able to demonstrate an ability at least equal to that of China to make the transition from economic stagnation to growth, so that it can get ahead of its exploding population, the entire Free [sic] World will suffer a serious reverse. India herself will be gripped by frustration and political instability  –  its role as a counter to the Red Chinese will be lost  –  and communism will have won its greatest bloodless victory. So let there be no mistake about the nature of the crisis  –  both the danger and the opportunity. And let there be no mistake about the urgency of our participation in this struggle.” [206]

Many other American policy-makers spoke in the same vein and stressed the necessity of helping the Indian rulers with billions of dollars (which, according to some, would pave the way for private US investment). As the Indian problem appeared to them to be a stupendous one, they felt the necessity of mobilizing European powers and Japan, even the Soviet Union, to provide ‘aid’ to the Indian rulers. Eugene Stanley, the Stanford Research Institute’s senior economist, said: “why should not the United States take the initiative on this matter and why should not the President of the United States send a letter to Mr Khrushchev  –  this time we should initiate the correspondence.” [207] The US policy-makers were keen to form a united front to enable India to win in the ‘contest’ with Socialist China “for economic success”. Selig Harrison, who edited the book, wrote in his introduction that the Soviet Union would be “an actual if unacknowledged ally”. The importance of joint US-USSR efforts was stressed by other members of the US elite (as Charles de Gaulle of France did, according to Harrison). [208]

The purpose of the missionaries of ‘aid’ was to sabotage the liberation struggles of the underdeveloped countries, strengthen their neo-colonialist fetters and mobilize them in the holy war against Socialist China. The meaning of such ‘aid’ has been frankly stated by imperialist spokesmen like Max Millikan (a former deputy director of the US Central Intelligence Agency) and W.W.Rostow. [209] After US president Eisenhower’s visit to India in December 1959. “More material expression of America’s backing was given in a sudden multiplication of economic aid.” [210]

We have noted before that on 29 October 1962, the Nehru government appealed to the USA for military help and handed to the Americans a long list of its military needs. And the flow of US military assistance started soon after. [211] On 20 November Nehru “made an urgent, open appeal for the intervention of the United States with bomber and fighter squadrons to go into action against the Chinese.... The appeal was detailed, even specifying the number of squadrons required  –  fifteen”. [212] Immediately. Kennedy sent Averell Harriman “with a team of high-level State Department and Pentagon advisers and General Paul Adams, commander of the mobile strike force” to India. They were joined by a mission from Britain led by Duncan Sandys. They together “laid the groundwork for substantial military assistance for India over the next three years”. [213]

While making hectic appeals to the USA and Britain for military help, Nehru took care to inform the Soviet authorities in advance. [214] Later, Nehru said to Averell Harriman: “The Soviets had replied that they understood both the request [to the West for military help] and the need for it.” [215]

Sudhir Ghosh, who had been ‘Gandhi’s emissary’ and enjoyed Nehru’s trust, paid visits to Moscow and Washington in 1963-4. He had discussions with Kennedy, his secretary of state Rusk, secretary for defence McNamara and leading members of the US Congress. At Moscow he saw Soviet deputy foreign minister Firyubin. Ghosh wrote:

“There is growing realization on the part of the Soviet Union, the United States as well as India that the crux of the whole situation is the power of Communist China and how to contain it.” [216]

It may be noted that, unlike the USA, China had no military base in any foreign country nor did she conduct military aggression or intervention in the affairs of any country. ‘Containing China’ was a euphemism for encircling China from all sides and liquidating her.

When Ghosh saw Kennedy in March 1963, Ghosh told him that he “was impressed to see the extraordinary identity of interest between the Russians and the Americans in the India-China situation.“ [217]

The reversal in China

The two superpowers and their client states encircled the People’s Republic of China on all sides. Discretion is said to the better part of valour: they chose not to invade China, which, relying on the masses, had defeated imperialist powers with only ‘millet and rifles’. When the external enemies menaced China from all sides and from sea, air and land, the internal enemies  –  the ‘capitalist-roaders’, a powerful section within the Chinese Communist Party, who had been active for a long time  –  succeeded in derevolutionizing China, in extinguishing the hope of mankind that was Socialist China. The internal factor, no doubt, played the decisive role; but it could play this role only under the circumstances created by the external factor. (We propose to elaborate this elsewhere.) The forces of change and revolution in the world had a tragic setback for the time being, about the middle of the seventies: it was this great reversal, more than the collapse of the Soviet Union, that has made US imperialism more arrogant, more aggressive and more brazen-faced than before.

Mao Tsetung had warned people of such reversal times without number. Speaking at the tenth plenum of the eighth central committee of the Chinese Communist Party in September 1962, he said:

“The bourgeois revolutions in Europe in such countries as England and France had many ups and downs. After the overthrow of feudalism, there were several restorations and reversals of fortune. This kind of reversal is also possible in socialist countries.” [218]

In May 1963 Mao said:

“In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later.” [219]

Last updated on 26 January 2021