Why has India historically been closer to Russia, than to the US, though it had been a founding member of the Non-Alignment Movement?

IR : Why-has-India-historically-been-closer-to-Russia-than-to-the-US-though-it-had-been-a-founding-member-of-the-Non-Alignment-Movement -balaji -1

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

India-US relationship was always a love-hate one where both sides often fumbled in understanding the other side. In 1947, both sides started right with the right rhetoric (democracies, freedom, liberation blah blah blah) but ended with real issues to face.

  1. Kashmir issue. US and UK wanted to mediate on the Kashmir issue, but India didn't want it, realizing what the final result would look like. This caused the first friction.

The commission's final gesture, an arbitration proposal backed by the U.S. and Britain, had been accepted by Pakistan, rejected by India. Abdullah's delegates passed a resolution denouncing the "arbitration offer sponsored by President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee" as "yet another device to deny freedom to the people of Kashmir."

INDIA: Marching Through Kashmir

2. China issue. US wanted India to not recognize the Mao Zedong's revolution. India lost no time in recognizing the legitimacy of the People's Republic of China [the West pretended that it didn't exist and dealt only with the rebel government in Taiwan]. India strongly argued for providing China's permanent seat to Mao's government and not to the rebel Chiang-kai Sheik's government. This pissed off the Americans. Indo-US Relations, 1947-71: Fractured friendship. However, India acted as the middleman between US and China during the Korean war, helping both sides come to ending the war.

3. Joining the Western bloc: As the Soviet Union became the biggest challenge for the US, the government there started an "Us. vs Them" campaign. India was forced to pick sides and we didn't. But, our neighbour Pakistan had no such compunctions and they did join the Western bloc in 1954 through Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and Central Treaty Organization. Although, Pakistan tried hard to use these two treaties to bring the West in war with India, US refused. However, the relationship was scary for India and we had no option but to look to the Soviets.

4. Soviet Vetos: As Pakistan entered the Western bloc, the group started ganging up on India in the Security council. One such resolution was this 1957 one: United Nations Official Document. During such occasions, India needed the Soviet veto. Search for "India" in this page and you will find on numerous occasions when the Soviets have come to India's rescue. Security Council – Veto List

5. Nixon and Kissinger: Until the late 60s, US was not as much against the Indians. Democrats like Kennedy and LBJ kept a more healthy relationship. However, the entry of Nixon would change this India-US relationship to a very hostile one with Nixon almost bringing a war on India. In the Bangladeshi war of independence, US fought badly to avoid a partition of its ally Pakistan and going very much against the self-determination of the Bengalis. He even instigated its new ally China to start a front on India. [As nemesis goes, such a guy got consumed by his own domestic politics and Watergate].

6. Afghanistan: The nixing of Nixon brought some respite to India. However, under Reagan a new war started in Afghanistan. Americans sought to drive away Soviet influence and used Pakistan to train "Mujahideen" – Islamic terrorists. India ended up on the wrong side and eventually ended with the highly anti-India Talibans coming to take power.

And now Obama. Read more on what he did: Has the Obama administration destroyed the relationship with India which was at its peak after the nuclear deal under the Bush administration?

In short, India-US relationship became a victim of a big Middle East game played through Pakistan as the pawn. For a long time, India tried hard to dehyphenate the relationship [making US see India beyond the lens of Pakistan]. Let's see how it goes. Modi will be here in 4 weeks and I'm attending his speech in the Madison Square garden. Let us see how he approaches the Indo-US relationships.

Why has India historically been closer to Russia, than to the US, though it had been a founding member of the Non-Alignment Movement?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s