24. Our relations with neighbours

Like an individual the states also cannot live in isolation. No state can be absolutely self-reliant and self-sufficient. For many of its requirements, a state has to depend upon the cooperation of other states. Thus the state has to maintain friendly relations with others and cannot afford continuous conflicts with the other states, particularly with her neighbouring states. In spite of being sovereign and free in her territory, a state cannot act arbitrarily and has to keep in consideration the feelings and views of other states.
Every state is affected by the events taking place in other states. Thus it is desirable and essential that every state maintains friendly relations with other states. Peaceful co-existence is the principle of India’s foreign policy and she has always considered her neighbours as her friends and has also extended friendly and helping hand to all.
India-Bangladesh relations
Bangladesh is located in eastern wing of India. Prior to 1947 it was an integral part of India. But at the time of independence when the country was partitioned, the eastern part of India was separated and came to be called East Pakistan. Culturally East Pakistan was much closer to Indian state of West Bengal than to West Pakistan. The rulers of West Pakistan ruled like cruel autocrats over their eastern wing. The generated recessionist feelings in the people of East Pakistan. In December 1970, at the general election, Sheikh Mujib of Awami League secured secured absolute majority in East Pakistan but General Yahia Khan refused to hand over the rein of administration to Mujib. As a result East Pakistan declared itself an independent Bangla Desh, cut off completely from West Pakistan. The West Pakistan military rulers subjected Bangla Desh people to inhuman torture, but failed to break their spirit. In frustration Pakistan attacked India on December 3, 1971. The Pak army fared badly and the soldiers stationed in Bangla Desh laid down their arms and surrendered unconditionally before Indian army. In this way Bangla Desh came into existence on the map of the world with the active support of India’s armed forces. For this very reason during the life-time of Sheikh Mujib, Indo-Bangla Desh relations remained cordial, leading to signing of India-Bangla Desh treaty in 1974. The main components of this treaty were as given below.

  • Both the nations will respect each other’s territorial integrity and borders.
  • Both the nations will avoid interfering in each other’s internal affairs.
  • Both the nations will cooperate with one another in the economic, technological, scientific and cultural fields.
  • Both will work for the maintenance of world peace, keeping their faith in the ideals of the United Nations.
  • Neither of two will help any third nations hostile to them.
  • Both will oppose colonialism.

This treaty was for a duration of 25 years. But in 1975 Sheikh Mujib was assassinated. As a result cracks appeared in the smooth relationship between India and Bangla Desh. The new military in power in Bangla Desh leaned towards U.S.A. resultingly no final understanding evolved for a long time on the distribution of Ganga water. Although Farakka treaty came to be signed in 1977, it could not restore the earlier sweetness in the relationship between the two countries. This relationship has been soured further by the intrusion of Bangla Deshis into India. The problem in Assam is in fact, connected with the refugees from Bangla Desh. Barbed wire fencing was put up all along the borders in order to check the inflow of these refugees, but Bangla Desh objected to this measure.
In short Indo-Bangla Desh relations remained contrary to expectation. Nevertheless both the countries are encouraging regional cooperation through SAARC. A proposal to start Bus Service between Dhaka and Calcutta is likely to be implemented. But a very serious problem is being faced by India in respect of illegal immigrants from Bangla Desh.
India exports coal, textile, steel, machinery, minerals and transport machinery to Bangla Desh and imports paper, fertilisers, leather and bitumen from there.
Indo-Sri Lanka relations
India and Sri-Lanka are the two important nations of Indian sub-continent and their mutual relationship has a direct impact on international politics. Sri Lanka is India’s southern neighbour, joined by the Indian Ocean. Historically and culturally the two nations have very old ties. Gautam Buddha was an Indian but he got maximum followers in Sri Lanka. The citizens of that island are chiefly Buddhists. Both had been a part of the British empire once. Sri Lanka secured independence in 1948. Right from the beginning it adopted the policy of non-alignment, following India’s example. Hence in 1950 with Indian support, Colombo was chosen as the venue for the conference on non-aligned countries. From geographical point of view, both the nations are interdependent for their security. Since the competition between the big powers in the Indian Ocean intensified, both the nations started cooperating with each other. Both the countries are demanding that Indian Ocean be declared a zone of peace.
There have been tensions also in Indo-Sri Lankan relations. In the beginning the issue of citizenship for Indians living in Sri Lanka remained a point of tension which was ultimately solved by an agreement in 1964. There have been differences between the two countries on economic issues also because both the countries are main exporters of tea. But later on both agreed to cooperate on tea export competition and thus there was a marked improvement in Indo-Sri Lanka trade.
The Tamil issue has also strained Indo-Sri Lankan relationship. There the minority Tamilians are asking for a separate and independent Tamil State. Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Tamil Liberation Army (TLA) and such other organisations are trying hard to achieve that goal through armed uprising. They say that is the only way to escape exploitation by the Sinhalis who are in majority. The government there on the one hand wished to resolve this ethnic problem with Indian mediation, but on the other hand it aired an unfounded charge that India was providing military training to these militant groups. At the same time it rained bullets from helicopters on the civilian population in the Tamil majority. This further strained India’s relations with that country.
Subsequently talks were held between the Prime Ministers of the two countries. India sent its soldiers there as Indian Peace Keeping Forces to restore peace. Indian contingent warned Tamil militants known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to lay down arms. A fierce fighting ensued in which a large number of Tamil militants lost their lives. So many Indian soldiers also fell dead. Indian took upon itself what was Sri Lankan headache and spent million on the operation which yielded no fruitful results.
Despite all tensions, both the nations give primary importance to cooperation. India is still trying to mediate and resolve Tamil problem. Both are actively trying to strengthen regional cooperation both are members of SAARC, and the security of both depends on their sweet relationship. This explains why overriding all tensions the two countries have always come to terms through peaceful negotiations. India exports to Sri Lanka medicines, heavy vehicles, textile, iron and steel and electric goods and imports spices and minerals from Sri Lanka.
Indo-Nepal relations
Nature has conjoined India and Nepal like the beads of a rosary. Nepal is a Himalayan state, enclosed by the Himalayas on three sides. Its contact with the world is possible only through India. Geographically the two countries are so closely linked that their interests in international politics are interdependent. Besides, there is cultural and social harmony between them. Nepal is the only Hindu nation in the world and India is a Hindu majority country. Historically also the two have had cordial relationship. The residents of Nepal called the Gorkhas have been contributing a lot to the security of India. Even today Indian Army has a Gorkha Regiment.
In the context of Sino-Indian disputes Indo-Nepal relations have become all the more important, especially because Nepal is like a buffer state between the two giants—India and China. This is why China has been counting Nepal ceaselessly. But Nepal has always given primacy to India. Nepal has been the biggest recipient of Indian aid. India constructed roads and setup power projects in Nepal. Nepal’s first airport was also a gift from India. If Nepal depends on India for its economic development, India also cannot afford to lose Nepal in view of her security reasons. Lately the mutual relationship between the two countries has not been harmonious.
On 24th December 1999 an Indian Airlines plane which was on flight from Kathmandu to Lucknow was hijacked by Pakistan militants when it was flying over Lucknow. This event bought some lull in Indo-Nepal relations and flights between the two countries remained suspended for a considerable period. Near the same situation arrived recently when king of Nepal suspended democracy there.
India-China relations
India’s ties with China are rooted in long past. Traders have been shuttling between the two countries since before the dawn of Christian era. The spread of Buddhism cemented these contacts still further. But those relations got a set back during the Mogul and the British rule in India.
Free India’s foreign policy towards China cannot be called much successful. China misconstrued Pt. Nehru’s idealism as his weakness and exploited it fully. India was the first country to give diplomatic recognition to China in 1949. In return the Communist China made a claim on Tibet. In October 1950, the Chinese forces marched into Tibet and Indian remained passive looker. The Government of India held on to the belief that in order to put international pressure on China, it was essential to give it the membership of the U.N.O. This moralistic and idealistic policy of India failed miserably in the context of China. In 1954 India forshook its claim on Tibet by signing a treaty with China. Pt. Nehru was anxious to maintain peaceful relationship with that neighbouring country.
China also accepted Panchsheel in principle, and thus began a brief spell of honey-mooning between India and China. But in 1962 China betrayed India and on October 20, 1962, Chinese forces intruded into our NEFA and Aksai Chin areas. All the nations of the world condemned the Chinese aggression and a world opinion was built against it. When the possibility of American intervention in favour of Indian territory captured by it. The relations between India and China remained embittered because of border issues.
China has always been hostile to India, During Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971. China sided with. Pakistan and is still providing military aid to Pakistan. In the last decade there had been some improvement in India’s relations with China.
Indo-Pak relations
India and Pakistan are the two major neighbouring nations of the subcontinent. Their relations are based more on hatered and hostility than on meaningful cooperation. In 1947, India got political freedom along with the partition of the country. Pakistan was created on two theory. As a result, thousands of innocent people were butchered and millions rendered homeless. Thus the Indo-Pak relations have their roots in hatred and enmity. These have worsened with the passing of time.
At first tension was built up between the two countries on the issue of Kashmir, Junagrh and Hyderabed. In 1947 Pakistan dispatched its well trained armed personnel as raiders into Kashmir. When the Indian forces were very near to victory, Pt. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, agreed to refer the case to the U.N. so as to strengthen the hands of the world body in maintaining peace. But the U.N. proved an utter failure to resolve Kashmir issue which is still hanging fire.
Kashmir has always been a bone of contention between the two countries. The bitterness increased with the acquisition by Pakistan of war weapons much beyond its legitimate needs. It also encouraged communal riots in India. In January 1965 Pakistan organised an attack on Kutch, leading to a short-term Indo-Pak war. Britain intervend and persuaded the two parties to sign Kutch agreement. But the ink on the Kutch agreement had not even dried when Pakistan attacked India again on a big scale in September, Indian forces gave a crushing reply to Pak misadventrue and reached the outskirts of Lahore. India was on verge of a decisive vicotry, but again it declared a cease fire on 23rd September 1965 in response to an appeal made by the U.N. In January, 1966 with Soviet mediation, Indo-Pak treaty was signed at Tashkent and India aggred to return the occupied territory to Pakistan in order to ease tension in the sub-continent and in the interest of world peace.
In 1970. Pakistan went to to the polls. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman of Awami League won almost all the seats in East Pakistan. But the rulers of West Pakistan declined to accept the overlordship of Sheikh Mujib in its eastern wing. As a result, the people there started a movement for an independent Bangla Desh, and the Pak army started crushing it. The Pak rulers in their bid to distract the attention of the people attacked India on December 3, 1971. The Indian forces fought bravely. The Indian army secured the surrender of the Pak army stationed in Bangla Desh. Once again Indian declared cease fire unilaterally. Simla Agreement was signed in 1972, under which India agreed to release all war prisoners and both the countries agreed to resolve Kashmir isuse through mutual tallks.
After Simla agrreement the social and economic relations between the two countris showed signs of improvement.
Pakistan’s support and abetment to the demand for Khalistan, the political shelter given to the hijackers of the Indian planes, the raising of Kashmir issue on international platforms and finally the Siachin Glacier incident spoiled Indo-Pak relations. The primary reason for Pak intransigence has been the militry rule there. They had been playing up and fanning anti-India feelings in order to keep themselves in power. Pakistan was out to avenge its humiliating defeat in Bangla Desh. With this end in view it acquired ultra-modern weaponry and had made atom bomb. This caused worry to India because it knows that Pakistan would ultimately use its aresenal agianst India.
In January 1999 as bus service between New Delhi and Lahore was being introduced. But in May 1999 India detected a large number of Pakistani infiltrators in her Kargil area. A sort of war had to be fought to push them out. It lasted about two months.
Pakistan has been still encouraging terrorism and sending militants to Jammu and Kashmir who have murdered hundreds of innocent people in J&K and other parts of India.
But recently both the countries agreed to open Kokhrapar-Munabao rail route and a bus service between Srinagar and Muzzafarabad. India also demanded the status of most favored nation from Pakistan as she did to her.
Indo-Bhutan relations
Bhutan is a small country in north of India. It is in the Himalayas. Its territorial area is only 4.7 thousands kilometers. The Britishers had established their hold on it in 1865, but had assured Bhutan of her internal autonomy. In 1907 with the consent and cooperation of the Britishers, Ugyan Wangchuk established his independent monarchy in Bhutan and that dynasty still rules over there. It is a hereditary monarchy.
Free India had cordial relations with Bhutan. A treaty between the two neighbouring states was signed in Bhutan would act in her external affairs in consultation with India.
India has contributed a lot in the economic development of Bhutan. All her projects have been implemented with Indian aid. Though Bhutan has started after 1917, receiving aid from other nation also but Indian contribution is the largest. It is about 80% of the total aid Bhutan is getting. Today thousands of experts, officers and workers from India are working in developmental activities of Bhutan.
India-Bhutan relations have been cordial and sweet and would remain so in future also. Bhutan is member of SAARC and has declared her policy of friendly relation with all nations.
India-Maldives relations
Maldives consists of 1195 small islands, but most are uninhabited. Only 202 of these island have inhabitation, This state a member of SAARC, is situated in the Indian Ocean in the south-west of Indian cost, It is at a distance of about 700 km. from Indian coast. These Islands are spread in 800 km. in length and about 130 km. in breadth. This state has a population of about 2 lakh only. This state is in the south of Minicoy islands of India. Maldives was the least known in south Asian region. But when the big powers accelerated their activities in the Indian Ocean, for ocoupying some strategic island or terrtory in the event of war in this region, this island came to be known to the world becaues of its stategic sutuation. This island is about 380 km. from Diego Garcia island which has been acquired by United States because of its strategical importance and that can be used as air base for Amercian planes. This island is inhabited mainly by Muslims who are ethnically a mixture of South Indian and southern Arabian racial stands.
Previously Maldives was ruled by a Sultan and his was a theoretic administration. This island was under British influence from 1887 to 1965 and was used as Briish naval base. In 1965 Maldives was liberated from British rule and a presidential form of governmeny was adopted there. Main profession of the people is fishing. Maldives is the least developed country.
India was given financial aid to Maldives in almost all her development activities. India opened a branch of State Bank of India in Maldives and also started an air service with Maldives. India was the first to open an embassy here. This state depends upon India for her political and economic requirements. Relations between India and Maldives are cordial.

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