It was about Nehru's rejection of a seat for India in the UN Security Council.
It occurred twice.
The first time in 1950, when the State Department made the offer and a few years later, when the Soviets were ready to sponsor India for a seat.
Both times, Nehru refused.
Since then, I got a copy of a letter from Nehru addressed to his sister, Vijaya Lakshi Pandit, then the Indian Ambassador in the United States, in which he justifies his refusal.
Here is Nehru's letter.
To Shrimati Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit,
Embassy of India,
Washington, D.C., USA.
August 30, 1950.I have your letter of August 24th. Also Einstein’s new letter.
As far as I can see at present, I shall not be going to Lake Success, But of course there is always a possibility of some new development which might induce me to go there. I am quite sure that my going there casually will do no good to anyone. Einstein and people like him, with their simplicity and good-heartedness, think that some magic might result by a personal intervention. We can hardly plan for magic. Frankly, I do not want to make myself cheap and to get entangled in the internal controversies and debates of Lake Success.
Living in the United States, you are naturally oppressed by the atmosphere there at the present moment. You dislike it and you criticize it. Nevertheless, your view of the world situation is necessarily influenced by your environment. That environment and what happens there is of very great importance because, as you put it, the issue of war and peace may depend upon it.
It is clear that the world outlook today of the British people is markably different from that of America, even though they might be functioning more or less as allies. Western Europe again is also different in its own way. If you travel further to Russia, you are of course in a new world entirely. With new fears, new apprehensions, new ambitions. Here in India though there may not be much intelligent thinking on international affairs, there is nevertheless an instinctive reaction to them which is not at all favourable to the US.
It is no easy matter to deal with this complicated situation where each group thinks differently and where perhaps the only common feature is some kind of fear. Only today I received a letter from Panikkar from Peking together with a report on the present-day China. Both the letter and the report are very interesting and I am therefore enclosing a copy of them for you. Here also you will see an entirely different world with its own way of thinking on problems. What a vast difference there is between this and the US view of China as a stooge of Moscow!
Panikkar is a man of extraordinarily acute intelligence and powers of observation. In fact, his mind is so keen that it over-shoots the mark and goes much further ahead than facts warrant. But his analyzing the situation, apart from the time factor, is usually good. What will happen to China during the next few years is anybody’s guess. But it is a complete misunderstanding of the China situation to imagine that they function like a satellite State of Russia. Only one thing will push them in that direction to some extent. And even then this cannot go far. That one thing is isolation from the rest of the world. The US policy is the one policy which will make China do what the US least want. That is the tragedy or comedy of the situation. We grow blindly to achieve something and get something entirely different.
There can be little doubt that the Chinese Government is trying its best to be friendly to us. Apart from present day conflicts and in the long run, I am sure that it is of great importance to Asia and to the world that India and China should be friendly. How far we shall succeed in this endeavour, I cannot say.
In your letter you mention that the State Department is trying to unseat China as a Permanent Member of the Security Council and to put India in her place. So far as we are concerned, we are not going to countenance it. That would be bad from every point of view. It would be a clear affront to China and it would mean some kind of a break between us and China. I suppose the State Department would not like that, but we have no intention of following that course. We shall go on pressing for China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council. I suppose that a crisis will come during the next sessions of the General Assembly of the UN on this issue. The Peoples’ Government of China is sending a full Delegation there. If they fail to get in there will be trouble which might even result in the USSR and some other countries finally quitting the UN. That may please the State Department, but it would mean the end of the UN as we have known it. That would also mean a further drift towards war.Pakistan is busy building up a big case against us. There is of course Kashmir. They are now demanding from us a reference to the International Court at The Hague of the canal water dispute. Obviously they are going to raise this matter in the UN and are likely to do so directly on the ground that this might involve a breach of peace between the two countries. They have also written to me after many months about my proposal for a “No War” declaration in the simple and general form which I have originally proposed and which Pakistan had not accepted them.
India, because of many factors, is certainly entitled to a permanent seat in the Security Council. But we are not going in at the cost of China.
Meanwhile, the continuance of the Kuomintang representative in the Security Council becomes more and more Gilbertian. Here is a Permanent Member of the Security Council with power of veto supposed to be a great power. In fact what we have is a Representative of the Government of Formosa having this authority and power at Lake Success. That Government of Formosa too is practically protected by a foreign power, the US.
As regards canal waters, I have not answered them yet, but I shall do so in the course of the next week. I do not propose to agree to The Hague tribunal. But we are prepared for arbitration, that is each party to nominate an arbitrator and a third to be chosen by them.
I am thinking of going to Assam for two or three days soon to confer with people there and to fly over the earthquake areas. We do not yet know the full extent of the earthquake and the damage it has caused. Many areas are completely isolated and people are marooned. It is said that the landscape of upper Assam has changed considerably. Some hills have disappeared and rivers are following new courses. Fortunately that area is not a heaily populated one, or else the damage would have been colossal.
Sd/- Jawaharlal Nehru.
China visit and after – Undoing Nehru’s folly
Here is the link of my May article....
A few months ago, a European diplomat confidentially told me, ‘in fact, the job of Modi is just to undo the knots in which the UPA tied up India in the past’. He was probably thinking of the complex Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) put in place by A.K. Antony, the UPA’s Defence Minister, who made the DPP so complicated that it became impossible for India to arm itself or even ‘make arms in India.’ This is the sad story of the Rafale deal; finally, during his recent visit to France, Prime Minister Modi had cut the MMRCA ‘bind’ and buy a few airplanes ‘off-the-shelf’.
Unfortunately, it is not only in defence issues that the previous governments have entangled India into insolvable predicaments.
The case of a seat in the United Nations’ Security Council is a stark one.
After Modi’s meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, I was curious to see what the Joint Statement would say on this issue and if China’s position had moved. I thought that if Beijing is truly keen to enhance the trust between India and China, it should make a gesture and sponsor India’s candidature to the Security Council. Unfortunately, it did not happen.
The Joint Statement says: “The two sides support a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including recognizing the imperative of increased participation of developing countries in UN’s affairs and governance structures, so as to bring more effectiveness to the UN. China attaches great importance to India’s status in international affairs as a large developing country, and understands and supports India’s aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations including in the Security Council.”
It does not say that India should have a permanent seat with veto power, like China has. This is really ingratitude from China’s side.
One remembers the 1955 Soviet offer to sponsor India’s case for a permanent seat.
Sarvepalli Gopal wrote in his 3-volume biography of Nehru: “He [Jawaharlal Nehru] rejected the Soviet offer to propose India as the sixth permanent member of the Security Council and insisted that priority be given to China’s admission to the United Nations.”
Now some ‘experts’, like A.G. Noorani have argued that Nehru did the right thing as ‘the offer was unlikely to materialize’.
Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin had told the Indian Prime Minister: “We propose suggesting at a later stage India’s inclusion as the sixth member of the Security Council”; Nehru had replied: “This is to create trouble between us and China. We are, of course, wholly opposed to it. Further, we are opposed to pushing ourselves forward to occupy certain positions because that may itself create difficulties and India might itself become a subject to controversy.”
In another letter, Nehru elaborated about India’s position and the reasons to reject the ‘proposals’: “We have, therefore, made it clear to those who suggested this that we cannot agree to this suggestion. We have even gone a little further and said that India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage, even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question of India might be considered separately.”
But there is more. Recently, a young scholar, Anton Harder, working on his PhD at the London School of Economics, went through the Vijayalakshmi Pandit Papers kept at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library in Delhi.
Harder found that in August 1950, Mrs. Pandit, then posted as Ambassador to the US, wrote to her brother: “One matter that is being cooked up in the State Department should be known to you. This is the unseating of [Nationalist] China as a Permanent Member in the Security Council and of India being put in her place. …Last week I had interviews with [John Foster] Dulles and [Philip] Jessup, reports of which I have sent to Bajpai. Both brought up this question and Dulles seemed particularly anxious that a move in this direction should be started.”
Five years before the Soviet offer, Washington was ready to sponsor India for a seat in the Security. A few days later, Nehru answered to Pandit: “You mention that the State Department is trying to unseat China as a Permanent Member of the Security Council and to put India in her place. So far as we are concerned, we are not going to countenance it. That would be bad from every point of view. It would be a clear affront to China and it would mean some kind of a break between us and China.”
The Indian Prime Minister added: “We shall go on pressing for [Communist] China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council. …The people’s government of China is sending a full delegation there. If they fail to get in there will be trouble which might even result in the USSR and some other countries finally quitting the UN.”
Thus whole background is all the more shocking as at that particular time, China was preparing to invade Tibet; a position in the UN would have helped India’s prestige and influence. K.M. Panikkar, India’s Ambassador to China knew about the communists’ intention: on August 15, 1950, it had been reported from Hong Kong that Chinese troops had begun advancing towards Tibet’s borders. Nehru too was aware of the impending ‘liberation’: “This invasion of Tibet might well upset the present unstable equilibrium and let loose dangerous forces. Some of our border States will be affected. But I am more concerned with the larger issues which this involves,” he wrote.
What were the larger issues? One of them was the Chinese admission to the UN!
On October 25, when the news of the Chinese invasion became known, Nehru was unhappy, he frankly told Panikkar: “Our views regarding [the] threatening invasion of Tibet and its probable repercussion should have been communicated to them clearly and unequivocally. This has evidently not been done.”
One can still regret India’s inaction even today and though Modi can’t officially admit it, India has been suffering due to this ‘lapse’ for the past 65 years. But in October 1950, for the then Prime Minister: “The Chinese Government's action has jeopardised our persistent efforts to secure the recognition of China in the interests of world peace have suffered a serious setback.”
What to say? The rest is history, sad history.
As Prime Minister Modi arrived in Xi'an, the first leg of his high profile visit to China, I was wondering if he would speak with the Chinese leadership about Tibet. Apparently, he has not!
The ‘T’ word appears only once in the Joint Statement, when the Kailash yatra is mentioned: “The Indian side appreciated the support and cooperation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local government of Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China to Indian pilgrims for the Kailash Manasarover Yatra …the Chinese side would launch the route for the Yatra through Nathu La Pass in 2015.”
Note that Beijing always speaks of ‘Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China’! Delhi never speaks of ‘Tamil Nadu of the Republic of India’ or ‘West Bengal of India’. Perhaps it shows that Beijing is still unsure about the legal ground of its ‘presence’ in Tibet.
Apart from this reference, nothing on 'T'.
The fact remains that in the years to come. Narendra Modi will have a lot of work to untie the many knots left by Jawaharlal Nehru and his advisors like K.M. Panikar and V.K. Krishna Menon.
As for the Chinese, the least that one can say is that they have shown little gratitude towards India; Indian leaders should know that till today, Beijing has been unable to appreciate kindness and generosity.