After the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nehru dropped benign internationalism for a robust military revival of the Indian state.
India recently commemorated its founding Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s 127th birth anniversary at a time when Nehru’s legacy is bitterly contested in the popular and academic domain in India, especially when contrasted with current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy. Spending much of the 1950s leavened by the solace of democracy, coupled with the benign spirited internationalism of Asianism and peace, the kindling fires of the Cold War remained a phantasmagoria for Nehru. A vast array of interconnected triggers imagined, then fabricated, in the mainspring of strategic board rooms of Washington and Kremlin shaped this era of ultimatums and show downs. The unintended accumulation of frontier fencing among Asian nations, accentuated by their simultaneous discovery of civilizational accents, initially shrouded the Cold War meta-doctrines of containment and encirclement. The contemporary era alchemy of modern industrial national strategy of war and diplomacy was still in the foundries of the newly independent India. The beginning by India was bold in intent with the Nehruvian order seeing India embracing the Cold War mined world with open arms. In hindsight, critics have cited lack of strategic due diligence as a hallmark of this era of Indian leadership. Nehru’s national interest assessments for India were contrarian at inception to the trending logic of balance of power theory of international politics. Like a wall of Doppler waves, PLA soldiers walking into Indian territory altered the military balance requirements in South Asia. The war emergency phase from October 1962 marked the beginning of Cold War drafts reaching New Delhi.