For ages India has been respected by the world as the great aesthetic and spiritual teacher, spreading the message of peace and love to belligerent nations of the world that is thirsting for this nectar. A host of Western thinkers were drawn to India by the fundamental concepts of ‘Karma’ and ‘Re-incarnation’ as embodied in the Vedas and Vedanta. Thousands of men and women in the West have found the philosophy of the Vedanta to be the only philosophy that satisfies their spiritual thirst. Chief among the Westerners are George Russell, Eleanor Glyn, Max Muller, H. P. Blavotsky, H. S. Olcott, Mrs. Annie Beasant and O. W. Leadbeatir.
When India was a part of British Empire, she was tagged onto England and she could have no foreign policy of her own. All her message of peace and love and co-existence remained hushed and silenced. But free and Renaissant India expects to play a significant part in world affairs- Today, the world is sharply divided into two blocs engaged in ceaseless ‘cold war’. The two great Power blocs are looking for an opportunity for a final showdown and the present day tension may, at any moment, burst into a deadly clash of arms, It is in this critical situation, charged with all the potentialities of an actual war that Independent India occupies a definite position. India can, and docs, play the crucial role of a ‘Third Force’ and convey the soothing and emancipating message of Nehru’s Panch-sheel or Smt. Indira Gandhi’s ‘fair, firm and friendly’ regard to the seething mankind.
In international politics, of course, India’s voice may not as yet be very strong as she is still far from being a ‘Great Power’, strategically. But her traditional message of peace and harmony, revived and reinforced by Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, certainly exercises a sobering influence on the conflict of interests and ideologies. India has ever been a messenger of peace and goodwill. Gandhiji brought this message to the forefront of politics. He carried this message to the four corners of the world even when India was not free. Indeed, under his guidance, for the first time, politics was spiritualized. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Smt. Indira Gandhi, and now Rajiv Gandhi—the statesmen in whose hands the destiny of the nation has been lying from time to time, have been trained and trusted lieutenants of Gandhiji and their worthy descendants. It is no wonder, therefore, that India is now bringing the Gandhian message to bear upon the affairs of the tormented world. Everybody wants peace and so India’s message to the world must, in the long run, be heard and heeded.
India is certainly growing in strength and stature as years roll by. To begin with, her policy was not very much appreciated, but now India’s peaceful role has, earned vociferous appreciation. By far the most important single factor in this has been India’s ability to stay away from Power Blocs and to form an independent foreign policy. India has remained ‘neutral’, without aligning herself with either of the Power Blocs. This has helped in the creation of the Third World- including about 110 countries (‘the Group of 77’) that are members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)—that does not take sides in disputes. India, as the pioneer country in NAM is vitally active with a positive foreign policy. She judges issues on merits and gives a decision that may not satisfy this party or that, but that is always in keeping with the fundamental-policy of justice and fairplay, of peace and harmony, and thereby, she has been exerting a healthy and moderating influence on the policies of the Great Powers.
India has repeatedly emphasized that to have peace the methods adopted must be peaceful. The desire to fight and crush the opponent should be given up. The nature of modern warfare has changed so fundamentally-today it is nuclear, chemical and remote-controlled—that there shall be practically no difference between the victor and the vanquished. Obviously, the military approach to international problems is futile and suicidal. Hence, the only alternative is the one suggested by India the message of peace and tolerance and mutual understanding.
By not aligning ourselves with any Power Bloc, we have been taking an independent and impartial stand on international questions. As a result, India’s judgment on international questions is now respected. India has now assumed the distinctive role of a peacemaker in U. N. O. and other international conferences. India has contributed significantly to the solution of the Korea, In Jo-China, Egyptian, Congolose, Afghanese and other conflicts, and this has been acknowledged by all.
India’s importance in the world has been enhanced by the championship of the suppressed nationalities. India’s support for the freedom movements of colonial peoples all over the world has won her friends and camp-followers. North and South African countries have been seriously torn by troubles and struggles for freedom. India strongly advocates their cause and condemns the Apartheid and the Pretoria region. Some of the practical results of India’s persistent efforts at championing the urge and will to freedom of Asia and Africa are the coming into existence of the Asian-African group in the U. N. O. and the acceptance of peace, understanding and co-existence as the motto.
True, India is not powerful enough to exert a decisive influence on the policies of the Big Powers in any big way, but whatever her weight, she has always thrown it on the side of world peace and understanding. If India has to pull her weight in world affairs, she must grow strong, both economically and industrially, and also militarily. It is only f he strong nation that can make her voice heard. If India can be self-sufficient in production, if her exports can materially out-weigh her imports, and if she can assert her will by commanding a ‘real’ strong army and latest lethal weapons of war, then, and then only, will her message of peace be heard and heeded by the countries of the world.
India has fought her way to freedom and she is the friend of ail freedom-loving peoples and countries of the world. She is the champion of the under-dogs and suppressed nationalities. She has a cultural heritage of which she is legitimately proud. She has a message of peace, love, understanding and co-existence which has been acting as a soothing balm to the bruises and wounds of a seething world. But she will be able to exercise a decisive influence in world affairs only if her material prosperity is commensurate with ……………………….