News Brief

Jaishankar Criticises "Nehru's China First Policy, Romanticism", Says Narendra Modi's 'Realism' Comes From Sardar Patel

Nishtha Anushree

Jan 02, 2024, 01:18 PM | Updated 01:18 PM IST

S Jaishankar with Narendra Modi
S Jaishankar with Narendra Modi

On Tuesday (2 January), Dr S Jaishankar, the Minister of External Affairs, expressed his disapproval of the way Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, handled China with 'idealism' in the first 20 years following India's Independence, Hindustan Times reported.

In a conversation with ANI, Jaishankar compared Nehru's "romanticised" approach to China with the current government's "realistic" stance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also underscored the contrasting perspectives between Nehru and his deputy, Sardar Patel, on the strategy for dealing with China under Mao Zedong.

"If you look at the last 75 years of our foreign policy, we have had a strain of realism about China and we have had a strain of romanticism, non-realism about China. It begins from day one where there is a sharp difference of opinion on how to respond to China between Nehru and Sardar Patel... The Modi government is more in conformity with the strain of realism which originated from Sardar Patel in dealing with China…I argue for dealing with China on the basis of realism that extends all the way from Sardar Patel to Narendra Modi," he said.

Jaishankar additionally raised queries about Nehru's supposed action of conceding the Security Council seat to China. He elaborated on Nehru's 'China first' policy.

"This policy suggests that China should initially occupy the Security Council seat. This 'China first' policy eventually culminates into the 'Chindia' policy," he further explained.

He mentioned that India's firm position on China's hostility in eastern Ladakh does not signify a shift in the nation's policies.

"India has not shifted its stance on China. The aim has been to build a relationship rooted in mutual respect. However, if this reciprocity is not acknowledged, the relationship may struggle to advance. The issues we face stem from the disregard of agreements in 2020. The future direction of our relations largely depends on China's policy," he further stated.

The BJP frequently points to Nehru's management of issues during India's early years as the cause of the country's ongoing problems. The party recently held Nehru responsible for the challenges faced by Jammu and Kashmir last month.

"Under the guidance of Prime Minister Modi, India is currently influencing global affairs and receiving international support for its aspiration to secure a permanent seat on the UNSC, a position that Nehru reportedly conceded to China. The actions of the Gandhi family, deemed unpatriotic, continue to cast a shadow over our history", the party has previously stated on X.

India has been advocating for a permanent position with veto rights on the United Nations Security Council. However, China is the sole country opposing India's admission.

Last year, PM Modi asserted that in order to improve the world, there is a need for a comprehensive revamp of global systems to align with current realities.

"The United Nations Security Council today serves as a testament to this. The landscape of the world was vastly different when the UN was first established. Initially, the UN was composed of 51 founding members. Currently, the UN encompasses approximately 200 countries," he had stated.

The relationship between India and China has been strained since 2020, following China's attempt to cross the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. A clash in June 2020 resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers, as the Indian Army successfully thwarted their intrusion attempt.

Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.