ACROSS THE HIMALAYAN GAP
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at Qinghua University, Beijing
(DECEMBER 21, 1988)
am delight at this opportunity to visit this renowned university. It is a
symbol of what modern China has achieved, a symbol of the Chinese pursuit
four years ago, my grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, came to China as a
messenger of peace and goodwill and found here a spirit of both peace and
goodwill. Between India and China the spirit is now being rekindled.
coming together of India and China in the early fifties was a development
of historical international importance. Not only did it presage friendship
between the two most populous nations of the world, counting between them
a third of all humankind, it represented what was for the time an almost
unique example of two great nations, with two totally different economic
and social systems, coming together to give a practical demonstration of
peaceful coexistence among different systems. place in the context of the
epochal change brought about in the world by the independence of India and
the liberation of China, among the most important events of the mid-point
of the twentieth century, the friendship which Jawaharlal Nehru sought
with China was a friendship that could fundamentally affect the destiny of
from the for world peace and cooperation implicit in peace and cooperation
between India and China, there was also the imperative of facing together
the common problems with which both countries were confronted. We were
both ancient civilisations, with memories going back into the deepest
recesses of the distant past, who had both undergone a prolonged period of
national trauma caused by the strangling of our freedoms, the parceling
out of our economies, the stultification of our social and moral progress.
We both saw the liberation of our nations not so much as the culmination
of a struggle but as the beginning of an opportunity to serve our people,
build our economies, transform our societies and take our countries
the period of our struggle for freedom and your struggle for liberation,
India and China viewed developments in Each other’s countries with deep
sympathy and understanding. Our great national poet, Rabindranath Tagore,
started a Cheena-Bhavan (the
House of China) at his Universal University, Visva-Bharati, at
Santiniketan, of which I now have the honour to be Chancellor. Our
involvement in your liberation struggle found expression in the immortal
mission which Dr. Kotnis led to China. Jawaharlal Nehru envisaged
friendship between India and China as a major pillar of the post-colonial
and China worked together for peace in Asia and the world when they first
emerged from the thralldom of imperialism. Together we saw that the world
order was vitiated by confrontation, by a lack of respect for the
sovereign equality of nation, by intolerance of alternative national
systems for the organisation of political, economic and social life, We
saw that our newly won independence would be secure only in a world which
had liberated itself from the assumptions and prejudices of the past.
striking example of the persistence of past prejudice was the refusal to
recognise the People’s Republic of China, the culmination of the great
revolution which had swept China. India was among the first to recognise
the great and welcome change that had burst upon your country. Those who
refused to recognise that the China of the Opium Wars had been consigned
to the pages of history began menacing the new China from different
directions and in different ways. Through this period of tribulation.
India stood by China.
manifestation of the persistence of the old ways into the new era was the
attempt which was made to restore the colonialisms that had crumbled
during the Second World War. The attempt was doomed, but not before
hundreds of thousands had perished in this dangerously reactionary
endeavour. The agony was most long drawn out in indo-China. India and
China, representing the resurgent voice of resurgent Asia, worked towards
ending colonialism everywhere, taking the world from under the shadow of
the past into the sunlight of the new era.
india and China articulated a new philosophy summed up in the Panchsheel,
the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: respect for territorial
integrity and sovereignty; non-aggression; non-interference; equality and
mutual benefit; and peaceful coexistence.
have been many momentous events in the three and a half decades that have
gone by since we jointly adopted these principles. We have had serious
differences among ourselves, leading at one stage even to armed conflict.
We have not always been of one view of international issues.
contrast to warmth of our friendship and a shared sense of purpose which
marked our joint endeavours in the early years, the last thirty years or
so have been a period of estrangement. Contacts between us have been
sharply reduced. Information about each other has become the preserve of
scholars instead of being the knowledge of people. A sense of persisting
differences prevailed over the early sense of common perceptions and
common goals. Despite this, india and China held similar views on a number
of matters of international importance and India continued to support
China on such crucial issues as the restoration to China of its rightful
place in the United Nations system.
have seen vast progress in each of our countries. Where once there was
China of famines and shortages, now there is a China self-reliant in
feeding its people. Where once there was a China with bust nascent
industry, now there is a China looking with conviction and confidence
towards becoming one of the world’s major economic powers in the 21st
century. At one time, China suffered from low levels of literacy,
backward-looking social practices and rapid population growth. Now there
is a China respected the world over for what it has achieved in giving
education to its people, promoting social progress in different spheres of
human endeavour, and making a remarkable effort and population planning.
to has undergone a major structural transformation. We too have overcome
our vulnerability to famines and food shortages and are now
self-sufficient in food grains production.
industry has developed from its earlier fledgling stages. Today, we have a
broad industrial base with a highly diversified industrial structure. In
education, we have steadily increased our literacy rates and we aim at
universal elementary education by the beginning of the next decade.
progress has been evident in such areas as the removal of untouchability,
affirmative action in favour of disadvantaged sections of society,
education for girls and the integration of women into the mainstream of
the nation’s progress.
our contries have given priority to the development of science and
technology. Your achievements in space are truly remarkable and justly
admired. You are doing important work in frontier areas of
superconductivity, medicine and biotechnology. We in India are also
working in these areas. We are among the few countries which have
developed remote sensing satellite electronics and material sciences. In
telecommunications, we have developed our own digital switching system.
Both of us have significant capabilities in the field of software
development including work in the most sophisticated areas. There are
possibilities of India and China undertaking joi8nt research in critical
areas of electronics.
there is comparability and complementarily between that we have achieved,
it is interesting that we have achieved what we have in ways that are
remarkably different, one to the other.
three pillars of India’s modern nationhood are parliamentary democracy,
secularism and socialism.
have a multiplicity of political parties and elected legislatures at the
Central and State levels, in addition to elected local bodies. Government
are formed by the party or combination of parties constituting a majority
in the legislature and are, in turn, responsible to the legislature. At
periodic intervals, normally of five years, the electorate renews or
changes its mandate. Our system allows for different parties to come to
power at different levels at different times. It also allows for different
parties to rule at the Centre and in the States and in the local bodies at
the same time. Equal rights are guaranteed by our Constitution and assured
by our democratic process to all minorities, religious, ethnic,
linguistic. Our judiciary is independent of the executive. Our press is
free to report, comment and criticise. We believe that freedom of
expression and the free exchange of views are not only intrinsically
valuable but have also promoted stability in our society by furnishing
safely values which forestall social and economic pressures before these
trigger of an explosion. Democracy has enabled us to maintain a steady
course through four decades of rapid change.
The second pillar
of our State is secularism. It is a word with different connotations in
different languages, We mean by secularism that the State in India does
not interfere in the religious practices of its citizens, nor does it
encourage the mixing of religion with politics. The State has no religion.
At the same time, our State respects the religious sensibilities of our
people, values the spiritual and cultural strength which religion imparts,
and ensures full freedom of worship and propagation for all religions.
Nearly twenty per cent of our population belongs to various religious
minorities, the largest of these being the Muslims. All our religious
groupings have a high and honoured place in our society, with the
assurance that no section of our people will be discriminated against on
grounds of religion. Special programmes have been put in place to assist
minorities in need of special assistance.
in India is indigenous to our experience and our conditions. It is not a
dogma. It is responsive to changing circumstances. It has had the
resilience to develop with time. The focus of our socialism is the uplift
of the poor, succour to the weak, justice to the oppressed and balanced
regional development. To attain these ends, we believe the State must
control the commanding heights of the economy, and that self-reliance
should be the first principle of development. We stress that the pattern
of progress must be so designed as to give all parts of the country
equitable opportunities of growth and all sections of our people an
equitable share of the fruits of development. Our emphasis on balanced
regional growth and our accent on the reduction of social disparities have
meant leavening the imperatives of growth with considerations of equity.
Our socialism sees the thrust of the development effort as growth with
development strategy is one of planning for a mixed economy. The State
sector is predominant in core and heavy industry and also in much of
infrastructure, but most of light industry and all of agriculture is in
the private sector. Our development objective is the modernisation and
transformation of our economy with an overriding priority to the
elimination of poverty, Planning in a democratic framework necessarily
places great importance on evolving a consensus on goals and instruments,
At times, this imposes constraints in the larger interest of democratic
consensus and participation.
strategy has served us well. We have succeeded in setting our economy on
an accelerating growth path, Agricultural productivity and production have
increased steadily and the vulnerability of agriculture to the weather has
been reduced. Industry is now growing rapidly. We hope to accelerate our
growth further in the next decade. Fcodgrains output will be doubled over
the next ten to fifteen years. Our Perspective Plan envisages the
eradication of poverty and unemployment by the end of the century.
many problems remain. Our rate of growth of population remains too high.
While impressive increases in foodgrains production have been recorded in
many parts of our country, the task ahead is that of spreading this Green
Revolution to new areas and to new crops. We have to make our industry
more efficient and competitive, with better products and higher quality.
We believe that much sharper domestic competition is necessary to ensure
this. It is also necessary, progressively, to open up our industry to the
pressures of international competition.
tackle these problems, we in India have taken, as you in China have done,
new steps and new initiatives in economic policy, while remaining true to
our basic principles. We have embarked on a process of planned
liberalisation giving much greater autonomy to our public sector
enterprises and greater flexibility to our private sector to invest,
expand and upgrade technology. Indian industry has reached a stage where
it must increasingly integrate with the world economy in terms of
technology, quality and cost competitiveness. We are encouraging foreign
investment where it can help our efforts to modernise. We are also trying
to decentralise planning and decision-making to secure better results,
This is especially important for our strategies of rural development. A
key element of this strategy is increasing people’s participation in the
this context, your own bold experiments in economic reform are of special
interest to us. They have already produced rich dividends for China. We
believe we have much to learn from your experience. Some of what we are
doing in India may also be of interest to you. No two developing countries
are more similarly placed than yours
and ours. Despite differences in philosophies of planning and methods
of management. India and China can give and take a great deal from each
other. We believe you share this view.
represent a new generation in India. I was but a boy in the heyday of
India-China friendship. I was still a young man when differences were
converted into conflict. I have grown in a world which has not benefited
but only been disadvantaged by estrangement between India and China. I
have come to office with the firm conviction that, between ourselves, we
must make a new beginning. I am heartened that the Chinese leadership is
more than prepared to put behind us past rancour and past prejudices. I am
heartened that we are both prepared not to be mired in the past. As we
enter the last decade of this century. India and China are called upon to
look forward, not behind, to reach out to new horizons, to seek new vistas
of friendship and cooperation, to explore new paths of benefit to each
other and of benefit to the world.
do not believe our joint advocacy of peaceful coexistence was either a
coincidence or a accident of history. It arose out of certain perceptions
which had grown out of our historical experience. I would like to dwell a
little on this.
distinguishing characteristic of the civilisations of India and China is
not so much their antiquity as their continuity Nevertheless, specific
interactions between our civilisations have not been continuous despite
the thousands of years that our respective civilisations have run a
prallel course of continuity. The exchanges were, perhaps, at their most
intense during the period of the Three Kingdoms in China when there was
much trade and travel between India and China, when Indian art influenced
Chinese art, when the artifacts and products and technology of China came
to India. For centuries, Indian ports were a regular point of call for
Chinese ships. The prosperity of the Chola empire in southern India was
largely based on their trade with China. Till today, the fishing nets of
kerala, on the south-west coast of India, are called Chinese nets and
designed on the Chinese pattern. This phase in our mutual exchanges was
bracketed by the accounts left behind by two of the greatest Chinese
travellers to India: Fa Xian in the 5th Century, who visited
our University at Nalanda, which housed a large Chinese community, and
Xuan Zang in the 7th Century A.D. who was a guest at the court
of our last great Buddhist Emperor, Harshavardhana.
was the message of the Buddha that led to an awakening of awareness and an
intensification of exchanges between our two great civilisation. It has
given us insights into the human condition which are more profound and
long-lasting than would be indicated by a mere cataloguing of when
Bodhidharma sailed to Canton or Yi Jing came to India. Drawing on these
insights, Jawaharlal Nehru declared here in Beijing thirty four years ago:
“Fear and hatred and violence have darkened
man’s horizon for many years. Violence breeds violence, hatred degrades
stultifies, and fear is a bad companion”.
is perhaps such insights which enabled our two contemporary systems, so
different from one another, to formulate common principle for the
sustenance of the new world order which, together, we sought.
characteristic of our civilisations which perhaps led us towards the
concept of peaceful coexistence was our millennial experience of
synthesis. It helped us recongnise that the modern world demanded
understanding and respect for the diversity of political and economic
systems the world over. While others sought to impose uniformity by
persuasion or force, India and China spoke up for coexistence among
different social and economic systems. It was an affirmation made by two
ancient civilisations, now turned into two modern states, but following
very different social and economic systems.
am conscious of the fact that, although India and China were the
architects of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, our own
relations have not always conformed to these principles. We have had
differences of perception and differences of opinion. Yet what must not be
forgotten in a listing of differences is a listing of commonalities in our
world outlook. There has been significant parallelism in the views
expressed by India and China on a wide range of issues relating to world
security, the international political order, the new international
economic order, global concerns in regard to the environment and space,
matters of momentous significance such as the Law of the Sea and the
Antarctic Treaty, information and communication, culture and art. There
are and have been differences but, considering the fact that India is a
member of the Non-aligned Movement and China is not, that India is a
member of the Group of 77 and China is not, that India is not a nuclear
weapon power and China is, it is significant that there is such a wide
area of commonality between our points of view and so much scope for
further dialogue for the attainment of shared objectives.
as the spirit of the mid-fifties is rekindled, the time has come to end
our estrangement and make a new beginning. We must find an acceptable
solution to the boundary question within a realistic time-frame. This can
be achieved in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and mutual
confidence. The border issue is a complex one, touching as it does upon
the emotions and sentiments of our people. These aspects have salience in
China too. We need patience, wisdom and statesmanship to resolve the issue
to the mutual benefit of our peoples. The core of any solution that may
emer4ge is mutual acceptability. We should jointly endeavour to find such
a solution in order to put relations between India and China on a soled
basis. We are determined to move in this direction. It is important that
while we search for a solution, peace and tranquillity are maintained in
the border areas. I have every hope that during this visit we will,
together with our Chinese fiends, build a better political climate for the
solution of the border question.
between India and China should be expanded significantly. Trade between us
is far below the potential of our economies. Cooperation in science and
technology is still to take off. I believe that economic, scientific,
technological and cultural cooperation between the two countries will
greatly contribute to better understanding between our peoples and our
governments, and will indirectly help us in solving complex problems.
are at an important conjuncture in world affairs. There is a palpable
relaxation of dialogue replacing confrontation.
people of Namibia are at long last on the verge of securing their freedom.
Their struggle for independence has been a saga of courage and dignity.
However, in South Africa, the abomination of apartheid persists. We demand
comprehensive, mandatory sanctions against Pretoria under Chapter VII of
the United Nations Charter, failing Charter, failing which we apprehend an
unprecedented bloodbath in the struggle to end this iniquity.
has been a radical turn of events in West Asia. A Palestinian State has
been proclaimed. It has been recognised by both China and India and other
peace-loving countries the world over.
are glad that dialogue has begun between the United States and the
palestine Liberation Organisation. We extend our whole-hearted support to
the three-point Palestinian Peace Initiative put forward by our brother,
Chairman Yasser Arafat. The spirit of tolerance which he has evoked is in
keeping with the traditions of Asia and the aspirations of our continent.
Kampuchea, a solution appears to be emerging which could both end the
conflict and forestall the resurgence of the force of genocide. We would
welcome cooperation among all concerned in fostering a just and equitable
settlement in Kampuchea which will ensure the independence, sovereignty
and nonaligned status of that country, free of outside interference and
South Asia, a new dawn is breaking. South Asian regional cooperation has
made a good beginning. Recent changes in Pakistan, with the emergence of a
democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto,
have opened up encouraging prospects for enduring prospects for enduring
friendship and goodwill between our countries, reflecting the natural
affinities and affection which the people of India and Pakistan have for
each other. In Sri Lanka, the Accord which I signed with President
jayewardene guarantees the unity and territorial integrity of that country
and has brought respect, recognition and a meaningful devolution of powers
to the Tamil minority. In the Maldives, our immediate response to the cal
for assistance from a friendly neighbour in his hour of need has ensured
the triumph of the democratic will of the people of the Maldives against
the forces of subversion and destabilisation. In Afganistan, we are
persuaded that strict respect for the Geneva Accords will lead to the
emergence of a government based on national consensus, which can ensure
the independence, integrity and nonaligned status of the country, provided
only there is a complete cessation of all outside interference and
intervention in the affairs of the country.
this crucial turning point in contemporary history, we must assess afresh
the work that India and China can do, individually and together, in
fashioning the new world order which is emerging from the chrysalis of the
two major nuclear weapon powers have agreed in principle that a nuclear
war cannot be won and must not be fought. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal
Nehru recognised this in 1945, in the immediate aftermath of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. It augurs well for the future of our world that this perception
has now gained wider currency. We are encouraged that this principle has
received practical expression in the form of a dismantling of intermediate
nuclear forces and the initiation of a process designed to secure
strategic arms cuts.
moot question before us is whether these first ever steps of nuclear
disarmament presage movement towards the elimination of all nuclear
weapons. Or do these steps merely presage a marginal adjustment in global
strategic deployment, perhaps even the shifting of the nuclear arms race
into new and ever more dangerous dimensions?
answering these questions, the task before us is not just to wait upon
events but to influence them. India and China can together do a great deal
to ensure that the moves which have now been initiated proceed in the only
direction which promises sustained peace and sustainable development. To
this end, our first step must be to resuscitate and revitalise our
decades-old commitment to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
are two basic arguments which sustain nuclear weapons. The first is that
as such weapons have been invented, they cannot now be disinvented. The
second is the doctrine of deterrence which holds that it is only your
capacity to destroy your opponent which forestalls your opponent from
danger of universal destruction through the use of nuclear weapons arises
not so much from the fact of their invention as from an international
system which concedes their need and legitimises their possession and use.
It is the old order which resulted in the invention of these terrible
weapons. We cannot disinvent these weapons but we can certainly alter the
world order which has given them legitimacy and tolerated their continued
regards the doctrines of deterrence, they have not worked in the past
because the balance of power is an inherently unstable balance, which all
the parties concerned are all the time attempting to upset in their favour
and to the disadvantage of others. For deterrence to be credible, there
must be commitment to the use of the instruments of deterrence. But, in
the era of nuclear weapons, the use of such weapons will only lead to
nuclear disarmament requires not only the dismantling of nuclear weapons
but, even more importantly, the dismantling of the mentalities which go
with these weapons. We need to evolve generally accepted principles of
international security to replace doctrines of deterrence. We need to
evolve systems of conflict-resolution which forestall the resort to arms.
We need to promote thinking about the world order required to sustain a
world beyond nuclear weapons. Advance thinking on these matters is
essential. Otherwise, even after nuclear weapons are eliminated, the
danger will remain of the world slipping back into the nuclear arms race.
That alternative process of thinking could best commence from the Five
Principles of Peaceful Coexistence which India and China were the first to
alternative process of thinking cannot limit itself to security and the
international political order alone. It must embrace economics, the
environment, space and our common heritage.
developing countries, India and China share common concerns about the
functioning of the international economic order. The world economy
continues to be charcterised by inadequacies and imbalances which hamper
development in the developing countries. India and China have been hurt
much less than many other developing countries but neither of us can
afford to be complacent. Both in the area of international finance and in
the areas of trade, there disturbing trends which weaken established
multialteral institutions and mechanisms. The world pays lip service to
interdependence and cooperation but commitment to these concepts in
practice is less evident. These trends are dangerous for the North as well
as the South. We must reconstruct a consensus on international economic
forums to bring about a new international political order would be of
little comfort, difficult to attain and impossible to sustain.
the last decade, political and economic changes have been leading to the
emergence of a multipolar world. The European community seems to be firmly
set on establishing an integrated European economy by 1992, though
unresolved questions still remain. Japan has emerged as a major economic
centre whose decisions influence the rest of the world. The inherent
strength and vitality of the American economy, and especially their
advanced technology, remain crucial to the international economy. The
Soviet Union is restructuring its economy with profound global
implications. How these power centres will act and react on each other and
how they will impact on the developing world are matters for serious
analysis. The intertwining of economic power and military strength could
create new security concerns. It is all the more important then that we
actively work for a new internationa order where questions of peace and
security are settled through non-violent means.
area of international action in which fruitful cooperation between India
and China is indicated could be in regard to the environment. We have both
suffered the consequences of environmental degradation. We have both
worked on programmes designed to make conservation an integral part of the
development process. We have both recognised that the cost of preserving
the environment is an essential component of the costs of development
because, if these costs are not recognised and paid for now, degradation
will exact a much higher price than conservation. There is much work we
can do together, many lessons we can learn from each other, and something
we can add to the world’s repository of knowledge by conscious
cooperation in the interests of sustainable development.
are both comitted to the peaceful uses of outer space. We have both
protested against attempts to misuse space for military applications. We
both believe that nothing could be more dangerous than the shifting of the
nuclear arms race into this new dimension. We are also both concerned at
space being converted at space being converted into a garbage dump for the
technology experiments of the advanced economies, Like the seas and the
seabed, space too is a common heritage of humankind. It is a heritage
us, we are the ‘repositories of some of the most significant treasures
of human inheritance. We believe in international cooperation to preserve
and promote the cultural heritage of humankind. When UNESCO came under
siege, India and chins were together on the same side in defending the
organisation and asserting its vital role.
that the world is beginning to explore the possibility of coexistence in
preference to deterrence, of cooperation in preference to rivalry, of
interdependence in preference to beggaring the neighbour, of nuclear
disarmament in preference to nuclear escalation, it behoves the original
advocates of the Panchsheel - India and China - to set themselves up as an
example to the world.
see optimism in both India and China today; optimism about the progress
our countries can make, optimism about realising our goals of development,
optimism about the levels of cooperation we can reach, optimism about the
work we can do together to restore our countries to their traditional
position in the vanguard of human civilisation, optimism about the
contribution we can make to rebuilding the world order nearer our
are summoned by our past to the tasks which the future holds. We have a
mutual obligation to a common humanity. India and China can together give
the world new perspectives on a new world order, which will ensure peace
among nations and justice among peoples, equity for each and prosperity
for all, freedom from fear and freedom from want, a world where we live
together in happiness and harmony.
©1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher.
Published in 1998 by
Gyan Publishing House
5, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj,
New Delhi - 110 002.