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Realpolitic Tempered with a Nehruvian Touch

T.C.A. Rangachari

By V..P. Dutt
National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 247, Rs. 80.00

Edited by M.K. Rasgotra
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2002, pp. 307, Rs. 595.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 10 October 2007

India is commemorating 60 years of Independence. These 60 years have been eventful in the life of our nation and peoples as we have gone from an impoverished, colonial possession whose future, even survival as a nation, was a matter of continuing wonderment to a country that is hailed as the largest democracy and a rapidly growing economy that might be in the front ranks of the world before we commemorate our centenary.   The anniversary is an appropriate occasion to look back and assess how we have fared in these six decades as also to see whither we are headed. The two books under review address themselves to one and the other.   The author/editor of the two books have distinguished credentials. Professor Dutt has, for long, been an authority on foreign policy and, in particular, China and has trained many a practitioner in the last five decades of his teaching career. The book is the result of an initiative of Chairman NBT Professor Bipan Chandra—himself a historian of repute—who persuaded Dutt to take time off from his work on another book on the triangular relationship between India, US and China to write it. It has five chapters organized chronologically to deal with policy under successive Prime Ministers and, he notes in the Preface, is designed for the ‘educated layman’ who is interested in the ‘evolution and development’ of Independent India’s foreign policy. It has no bibliography or footnotes and just as one starts to wonder how authoritative it could be, the author cites successive Prime Ministers to validate his arguments! The book by M.K. Rasgotra, a distinguished diplomat, is an ORF initiative with a foreword by former Principal Secretary and National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and an Overview and Conclusions by former Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath. Its eleven chapters have been written by scholars and diplomats: four devoted to China and India-China relations, two to Sino-US relations, one each to Indo-US and US economic relations with India and China, to Japan and to US-Russia relations.   India’s foreign policy has been conditioned by its history and values and shaped by the ethos of the freedom struggle. It evolved with the changing times to meet the requirements of India’s interests. The democratic environment ensured freer flow of information and imposed upon the government the obligation to carry the public. Even as it imposed a limit on the ...

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