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The Debate Continues


T.C.A. Rangachari

THE INTERNATIONAL AMBITIONS OF MAO AND NEHRU: NATIONAL EFFICACY BELIEFS AND THE MAKING OF FOREIGN POLICY
By Andrew Bingham Kennedy
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 261, Rs.795.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 9 SEPTEMBER 2012

This is the 50th year of the war that China imposed on India in 1962. Was the war itself and the resulting consequences—the effects of which are still with us, not least, in the form of a ‘trust deficit’ in our relations with China—because of Mao’s ‘martial efficacy’ beliefs in contrast to Nehru’s ‘moral efficacy’ beliefs? The India-China war is one of the cases that the author who teaches international politics at the Australian National University has studied—the others being Korea and Vietnam in the case of Mao and J&K in the case of Nehru. This book is an effort to understand the effect that international structures and leaders have on each other in constraining or creating new realities. If international structures ‘shape and shove’ leaders,—the phrase used by Kenneth Waltz—they, in turn, have the possibility, the author says, of shoving back. His thesis is that ‘national efficacy beliefs’ are ‘convictions about the ability of one’s state to accomplish specific military and diplomatic tasks’ even in the face of adverse material power. He focuses on two twentieth century leaders—Nehru and Mao—because in ‘different ways, they made concerted efforts to remake their worlds rather than simply accepting them as they were.’ The author chose these two leaders also because they were dominant and thus apt for analysing efficacy beliefs in relation to foreign policy. Also, as an additional analytical tool, the author contrasts the two leaders with their close contemporaries and associates: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Liu Shao Chi respectively. The author situates the two leaders in a common conceptual framework to compare them and to scrutinize their choices to challenge the prevailing international trends affecting their countries. Nehru and Mao were both products of national liberation movements. India’s anti-colonial, nationalist movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi was nonviolent. The Chinese went through war—civil and anti-Japanese—for over two decades before the Communist Party was able to establish its sway and take control of the country. Mao’s worldview and ‘national efficacy beliefs’ were shaped in, and by, these years of armed struggle. In contrast, Nehru’s worldview was shaped by Gandhian philosophy with moral values at its core. Yet, both leaders were willing to test their worldviews against the prevailing international powers and norms. The portion on India and China including the war is rather brief, spanning ...


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