India's Relations with USA and Russia

After the Second World War(1945), the United States of America (USA or US in short) emerged as one of the two superpowers, the other being the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR/ Soviet Union). These countries were militarily and economically so strong as compared to other states that they could project their power to every nook and corner of the world. When India attained independence in 1947, it wanted to have good relations with both the countries. It was widely believed that a natural tie would exist between India and the US since India seemed destined to emerge as the world's largest and Asia's first, fully democratic state. And the US was considered the most powerful and celebrated democracy of the world. So far as the relationship between India and the USSR was concerned, a number of commonalities were easily noticed. But the directions of India's relationships with these two countries took different courses.

Indo-US Relation:

Diplomatic contacts between India and the US were initiated in November 1941, six years before our independence. There was a wealth of goodwill for India's independence in the US. The decision to establish diplomatic relations with India reflected the American unhappiness with the British approach to the question of independence. The United States believed that Britain should promise self government to India after the War, in exchange for India's participation in the struggle against Hitler. The Atlantic Charter, spelt out by the US and Britain, had offered hope of a new dawn to the suppressed people of the world once the War had been successfully concluded. America got a lot of credit in Indian eyes for this. However, Britain subsequently declared that the Charter applied solely to fellow Europeans under Hitler's Nazi occupation.

The October 1962 war between India and China introduced a new element in the Indo-US relations. Within India, there were for the first time many voices strongly advocating an alliance with the US against China. Many also wanted a drastic modification of the non- alignment policy. There was perhaps an expectation in the US too that India could now be prepared to head an anti-Chinese and anti-Communist alliance.

When the Chinese invasion scaled up, the Government of India made an urgent appeal to Washington (US) for military supplies. In a speedy response, the US President John F. Kennedy provided India with small arms and equipment. The first batch of arms arrived even before the signing of a deal between the two countries. Further, the US agreed to payment for these arms in rupees.

However, the pro-American goodwill in India evaporated with the US reluctance to openly blame Pakistan for starting the 1965 war against India. In addition to US support to Pakistan, US war on Vietnam contributed to certain coldness in Indo-US relations in the 1960s. In the beginning of the 1970s, the US rapprochement with China (with Pakistan help) was an- other turning point.

The Bangladesh episode created a new crisis in Indo-US relationship too. The US administration (government) took the position that the East Pakistan's (present-day Bangladesh) revolt was a movement to break up Pakistan and that Pakistan's brutal attempts to suppress it were justified. During the Bangladesh War (1971) the US moved an anti India resolution in the Security Council and the USA froze its economic assistance to India.

The only assistance that continued was food distributed free by voluntary agencies. Not only that, Washington also made military moves. A part of the US Seventh Fleet was ordered into the Bay of Bengal. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise sailed to-wards the Bay of Bengal in a show of solidarity with Pakistan army which could be saved from defeat in Bangladesh. It took some time (a couple of years) for the US to recognize India as the major country in the South Asian region. It was in this spirit of reconciliation, India hosted President Carter's visit in 1977.

However, once again another blow struck. The soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1977. had thrown India and united States on opposite sides. Pakistan become the closest ally to facilitate military help to Afghan Mujaheddin. No doubt India's initial sympathies with the soviet action against Afghanistan harmed relations with America.