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It’s Important to Understand Why Jawaharlal Nehru Felt the Way He Did About China

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Excerpted with permission from The Fractured Himalaya: India, Tibet, China 1949-62, published by Penguin.

What propelled Nehru’s vision of China? He saw China as this emergent nation ready to shake off the clutter of backwardness and foreign subjugation and the shackles of the past; a potential best friend and a geo-civilizational ‘equal’ to India. For Nehru, India and China could together be that mid-twentieth century definition of an independent force in world politics, unhitched to east or west. India, Nehru held, would bring China to the global stage so that it would become a responsible stakeholder in world politics. It was a lofty aspiration, and India would feel betrayed when she saw her goodwill as inadequately reciprocated—even spurned—by China, as the relationship unravelled.

There were weaknesses, oversights born of haphazard, ad hoc and careless policymaking during the period covered in this history. There is no intention to…

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