Chapter 16
India and the World

AT THE time of the transfer of power, most of the members of the Indian Cabinet were almost wholly without experience in the conduct of foreign affairs. In the Provinces they had become familiar with the handling of public finance, the maintenance of law and order and the organisation of the nation-building departments, but they had neither participated in, nor co-operated with, the Central Government, which alone was concerned with external relations. The Indian delegates to the Peace Conference and other important international bodies, and the High Commissioners who represented India in several capitals, were necessarily chosen from outside the ranks of the Indian National Congress, and the members of that party had thus no opportunity of familiarising themselves with the mechanism of diplomacy. Most of them, indeed, had concentrated their attention so exclusively on the struggle for power that they were but faintly interested in world problems, except where, as in the case of South Africa, those problems had a direct bearing on Indian interests.

The outstanding exception to this general rule was Jawaharlal Nehru, who had pondered long and deeply on international affairs and who came to be regarded by the Party as the expert to whom such matters could safely be left. For most Indian politicians of that time the stock in trade of thought on world problems was fondness for China, respect for Russia, deep-seated suspicion of the old 'colonial powers' and disillusionment over America.

In 1947 and 1948, partly because of this lack of interest and partly on account of preoccupation with grave domestic troubles, the Government of India was manifestly uncertain of itself in the international sphere and not at all anxious to tie itself too definitely to any line of policy. Nehru himself had occasion to rebuke some of his followers for talking as though

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