The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

                        But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep


–  Robert Frost


The Nehru era of first thirteen years after India’s Independence was a period of  challenges- Partition  and post-partition refuge rehabilitation; integration of princely states; adoption  of the constitution; linguistic reorganization of states Also , some success was achieved in conducting the General  Elections of 1952 and 1957; science and technology; formulation of foreign policy on the basis of Non Alignment were some of the acheivements of post-Independence India. When compared to that, the period from 1960 to 1964 may be described as Time of Troubles and Frustration.


In 1962, China and India engaged in the brief Sino-Indian War over the border in the Himalayas. In response to Prime Minister, Nehru’s invitation, Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai visited  India for the second time in April 1960. During his six-day stay in India, Chou  held discussions with Nehru on the questions of boundary between the two  countries. A serious attempt was made to settle the bilateral border issue was made. The discussion revealed that wide gap existed between the respective positions  adopted by China and India and the differences appeared to be irreconcilable and thus the Nehru-Chou talks failed.


The bone of contention

The border with China runs 3488 km. It can be divided into three sectors:

  • Western Sector: This includes the border between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjiang and Tibet. India claims that China is occupying 43,000 sq km in this sector, including 5180 sq km illegally ceded to it by Pakistan.
  • Central Sector: This includes borders shared by Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand with Tibet. Shipki La and Kaurik areas in HP and areas around Pulam, Thag La, Barahori, Kungri Bingri La, Lapthal and Sangha are disputed.
  • Eastern Sector: China disputes India’s sovereignty over 90,000 sq km, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang, Bum La, Asaphi La and Lo La are among the sensitive points in this sector. Strategically vital Tawang holds the key to the defence of the entire sub-Himalayan space in this sector.

Relation between china and India before war.

Relation was flourishing between China and India during early part of 1950’s. India gave recognition to china as a sovereign nation when whole world was alienating china. India also recognized china’s claim over Tibet. China and India signed Panchsheel agreement .India advocated China’s inclusion in united nation. India declined to attend a conference in San Francisco for the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan because China was not invited. Indian foreign policy was very friendly and cordial with china.

But, In October 1950 China established its military control over Tibet, in violation of the country’s autonomy. India was dismayed because  it had guaranteed Tibetan autonomy under an existing convention. Instead of  condemning the blatant Chinese invasion of Tibet, India considered the Chinese action as an internal matter. Tibetan autonomy was unceremoniously and “totally
disregarded”.’ With the annexation of Tibet, China shared India’s longest land
frontier, “Contiguity was not conducive to harmony”.’ Chinese invasion of
Tibet was a prelude to the invasion of India.


Factors responsible for India-China war

  • Mac-Mohan Line: – The McMahon Lineis a line agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the Shimla Accord, a treaty signed in 1914. It is the effective boundary between China and India. India see this line as actual line of control where as china don’t recognize it.

British India and China gained a common border in 1826, with British annexation of Assam in the Treaty of Yandaboat the conclusion of the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826). Subsequent annexations in further Anglo-Burmese Wars expanded China’s borders with British India eastwards, to include the border with what is now Myanmar.In 1913–14, representatives of Britain, China, and Tibet attended a conference in Simla, India and drew up an agreement concerning Tibet’s status and borders. The McMahon Line, a proposed boundary between Tibet and India for the eastern sector, was drawn by British negotiator Henry McMahon on a map attached to the agreement. The Mac Mahon Line of the Indian boundary was drawn by the British cartographers. The official note drafted by Mac Mahon demarcated the  boundary between Indian and Tibet. But China played the ‘game of map man- ship, cleverly and refused to recognize the Mac Mahon Line as it was arbitrarily  drawn during the colonial period. China was making historical claims of having had effective jurisdiction over areas of Ladakh, the central sections of the Indo- Tibatan border, and Arunchal Pradesh. China’s refusal to accept the Mac  Mahon Line posed a serious threat to India’s  Northern borders with China.


Recently McMahon line has completed 100 years in 2014. India is also planning to construct a road along the international. The boundary from Mago-Thingbu in Tawang to Vijaynagar in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said The McMahon Line marks boundary between Chinese-held and Indian- held territory in the eastern Himalayan region. The line was the focus of a brief war in 1962, when Indian and Chinese forces struggled to control a disputed area much of which is a high altitude wasteland. It runs from the eastern border of Bhutan along the crest of the Himalayas until it reaches the great bend in the Brahmaputra River where that river emerges from its Tibetan course into the Assam Valley.



  1. China Invasion of Tibet

China invaded Tibet, under the pretext of suppressing a revolt in the  Kampa region and the subsequent integration of Tibet with China, was a flagrant  violation of the land of Dalai Lama, which was guaranteed by India. India not  only acquiesced with the Chinese position in Tibet but also concluded the  Panch Shell Agreement with the invader in 1954. This had legitimized the Chinese  illegal occupation of Tibet besides encouraging it in hegemonic adventurism.


  1. Arrival of Dalai Lama:

Consequent on the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Dalai Lama with upto  100,000 Tibetans fled into India and sought political asylum in 1950. The  Government of India granted political asylum to them. Beijing was annoyed.  The infuriated China accused India for giving asylum to Tibetan refugees,  instigating rebellion in Tibet, and allowing a Tibetan government in exile. Relation between the two countries deteriorated when India allowed Dalai Lama to reside in India. China saw it as an interference of India.


  1. Covert intention of China: – When India was celebrating India-China flourishing relationship, china was covertly building infrastructure across border. They built road in Aksai chin area to have better control in the region.


China intruded into Indian territory because of its own political and  diplomatic compulsions. China was jealous of India’s growing influence among  the non-aligned nations. China could not get a U.N. seat nor could it establish  its leadership of Afro-Asia. China was not sure of social support on the nuclear issue. China felt isolated. By humiliating India, “it wanted to show that her  policy of peace and non-alignment was not feasible”.’ If India gave up its policy of peace under pressure, then China could easily replace India and lead  the countries of Asia and Africa.


  1. Chinese Intrusions


The Chinese troops started intruding into Indian territory and setting up camps as early as June 1955. In April 1956, they entered the Nilang area of  Uttar Pradesh. The Chinese started building the Sinkiang- Tibet road that crossed  the eastern Ladakh. By 1957, Chinese intrusions into Indian territory had become  a regular feature. In September 1958 a detachment of Chinese troops crossed  into Lohit division of NEFA. They had already laid the Aksai Chin road which crossed into the Indian territory. In 1959, there were a series of border incidents.  When the Chinese ambushed a party of 19 Indians in Ladakh and killed 16 of  them (6 Oct.1959) there was strong anti-China feelings in India. All these  intrusions culminated in the invasion in 1962. To attribute the Chinese invasion of India to a single cause of ‘China’s own compulsion’ will be an exercise in self defensive justification and rationalization.



  1. Forward Policy of India: – When relation between India and china was deteriorating, India sent its troops to NEFA region (current Arunachala Pradesh) to contain the deteriorating situation at border. Also India and China started surrounding each other post to cut supply line of each other in time of need/war .This increased tension at border. China claim this event as forward policy of India.


  1. Failure of foreign policy towards China: – Top leadership failed to recognize the covert intension of China. Reluctance of Political leadership from both side to talk and resolve border issue at early stage of growing relationship.


Reasons for defeat in war

  • Unpreparedness of Indian Army:-Indian army was not prepared at that time. Their Arms and ammunition were outdated. They were not trained for war at Mountains. Basic amenities were also not adequate.
  • Extreme cold condition: – Most of the soldiers fighting were from Plains. They were not habituated to extreme cold. It played havoc to the soldiers.
  • Un-Advantageous Position: – In some region Chinese were at height and Indians were at lower level. (Aksai chin area).
  • Number of battalion deployed: – From India side there were very less number of soldiers as compared to china.
  • Mismanagement at top level: – Top level officials were not able to effectively communicate to the army. Some time there were conflicting orders which resulted into confusion.
  • No use of IAF: – Some analyst believe that it was mistake not to have used the air force


Nehru’s pet policy of non-alignment received a severe set back. Nehru the champion of non-alignment found himself in a bad situation and leaning towards USA for military weapons . The war also exposed the military weakness of the  Indian army and driven home the dire need for modernizing the armed forces. There was also a serve set-back to the Indian plans for economic development,  since India was forced to increase defence spendings and thus diverting the economic resources away from social sector spending.

The Defence minister Krishna Menon’s credibility, honesty and integrity came under clouds and there was a general lack of confidence in him. In 31 October  1962, Nehru bowed to pressure and removed Menon from the defence portfolio.   The emboldened opposition blocked a constitutional amendment aimed at  strengthening land ceiling legislation. The Congress lost three Parliamentary by-election in succession. Finally, In August 1963 Nehru faced the first ever no  confidence motion of his life.

Evaluation of Policy of Non-Alignment
Ideals and Principles


Nehru’s foreign policy was based on the time tested Indian values like peace, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-violence, good neighbourliness as  against domination, aggression, expansionism, violence and power politics.

The ideals cherished by leaders of India’s freedom struggle had their impact on the country’s foreign policy. The underlying principles are: 1) Foreign policy based on national objectives and interests; 2) Non-alignment; Panch Sheel;  Opposition to imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and apartheid; 4) Solidarity with third-world countries; 5) Friendly relations with neighbouring  nations; 6) Support to disarmament; 7) Peaceful nuclear policy; 8) Purity of  means; and 9) Support to U.N.O. and world peace.


Meaning and Nature


For Jawaharlal Nehru neither Capitalism nor Communism has any attraction for him, but Nehru preferred a path for India that is built on Socialist principles.
Nehru also sees a unique role for India in world politics. He sees himself as a statesman. He sees an India which is no longer dependent on any external power; the impact of colonialism is fresh in the mind. He does not wish India to be tied into one camp or the other. He wants to be in a position to take advantage of both blocs so that India may benefit. He espouses the principle of non-alignment or rather issue based alignment.


The essential elements of non-alignment were: 1) independent foreign  policy; 2) opposition to colonialism of any kind; 3) rejection of bilateral military  alliance with any super power; 4) non-membership of power blocks; and 5) not  permitting military base on the territory of the state. So, non-alignment was an  important aspect of India’s foreign policy. It was “a policy, not an immutable  principle, and it was only one aspect of policy, not the whole of it”. It was a  cardinal principle, the comer-stone of India’s foreign policy. In short, “keep
above from power alignments and seek friendly cooperation will all” was the  essence of Nehru’s Non-alignment.


Working of Non-Alignment


India’s freedom coincided with the break down of war-time alliances  between the USA and the U.S.S.R. Europe had been divided into two distinct  were blocks. Western Europe was under the domination of America and  tern Europe under the control of Russia. Chinese revolution had altered the  relationship of forces on a global scale. Korea and Indo-China became the  USA  ground for cold war. In such a situation the newly independent India was  literally on the cross roads. Nehru’s Government decided to take the new road  of  Non-alignment. The history of Non-alignment during the Nehru Era may be divided  into three phases.


  1. First Phase: 1947-1950


The policy of non-alignment originated in the realization that the  struggle against colonial exploitation did not come to a close with the formal  withdrawal of alien powers. Infact, the policy of non alignment is a continuation  the struggle of the colonial world against imperialism. The policy of non- alignment as a basic principle of Indian foreign policy was formulated in the initial years of independence. Nehru firmly rejected UNO’s suggestion of a

fence pact between India, Burma, Ceylon and Pakistan lest it would be an  extension of Truman Doctrine to South East Asia.


During this formative period, India maintained strict neutrality and at  the same time never hesitated to openly criticize the forces of western  Imperialism, in Asia and Africa, boldly accorded recognition to communist China;  condemned American attempt to contain communism in Korea, and Indo-China; cognized West Germany instead of East Germany and declared North Korea  the aggressor. Thus, India had demonstrated that it could pursue an  Independent foreign policy based on non-alignment. It was a period of Indian
neutrality in Cold-War.


  1. Second Phase: 1950-1957


In the next seven years India conceptualized and codified its policy of  Non-alignment. It also enlarged and operationalised this policy during this  period. Nehru endeavoured to demonstrate that India was not pro-West and  dispel the suspicion of the Soviet Union about the credentials and credibility of  India. The demise of Stalin in 1953 led to the liberalization of the Soviet foreign  policy. India’s stand in the Korean War and Indo-China conflict, and her  recognition of China convinced Russia about the conviction of India to be
independent and non aligned.


  1. Third Phase: 1957-1964


Indian policy of Non-alignment faced new challenges during this period.  Foods crisis of 1957, increasing influence of native communists want of foreign  exchange and the threatened failure of the Five Year Plan and India-Chinn  border dispute placed India in a tight comer. The validity of the policy of Non- alignment was questioned. When the Chinese aggression took place in 1962,  USSR and a number of non-aligned countries did not extend timely support to  India. But Britain and America came forward to help India. There was demand  for abandoning the policy of non alignment. But Nehru refused to abandon hi
policy at the time of grave crisis. He was amply vindicated when in 1963 Russia  criticized Chinese aggression of India and accused her of attempting to drive  India into Western Camp. By mid-sixtures both the super powers started  accepting the relevance of India’s policy of non-alignment. There was, of  course, a severe set back to Nerhu’s policy of non-alignment but it was not a  fatal blow to its practice during the third phase.



An estimate of NAM can be done as follows

  1. High Ideals
    In a world racked by geopolitical muscle flexing, the NAM refreshingly provides a unique approach to disarmament and economic development. It frees us from a cluster-mind mentality that has plagued the foreign policy of many European nations (Eastern ones in particular).
    But, Idealistic approaches are only good for romantic novels and theoretical doctrines. The fact exists that one needs to have good relationship with countries who are ahead in terms of science and technology in order to stay relevant with the times.
  2. Superpower fantasy
    NAM dictates that India’s development and democratic success will take it towards a path of economic and sovereign betterment. But, it is akin to saying that we shall be moral in a world which is amoral, that despite this Hobbesian existentialism of the countries, we shall not behave like one of the superpowers, despite our constant urge (and insistence) that we are one of the big players and thus there is logical inconsistency highly tasteless and infantile.
  3. Equation with Sovereignty
    Sovereignty of one’s country’s ambitions and enforced neutrality will not compromise its internal stability. This gives us the ability to reject what the big players want happen, and judging the decisions of it’s own merit.
    But, why sovereignty and non-conformance to “the other’s” strategic policies have anything to do with each other.
  4. Internal workings
    The policy is of the belief that self-reliance and “resonance” can be achieved through rapid  development and growth potential evident in India.





‘Panch Sheel’ was first enunciated in the Sino-Indian Treaty on Tibet  in April 1954. The Sanskrit term Panch Sheel means ‘five codes of conduct.  It stands for the following five principles. 1) Mutual respect for each other’s  territorial integrity and sovereignty; 2) Non-aggression; 3) Non-interference in each others  internal affairs; 4) Equality and mutual benefit; and 5) Peaceful co- existence.


Guiding Star



Panch Sheel was formulated for conducting healthy relations among  nationalist. It was a natural extension of lndia’s policy of Non-alignment. Infact, it  was corrolary to and codification of that policy and a guiding star for  International relations. Non-alignment along with Panch Sheel formed the sheet- anchor of India’s foreign policy. Panch Sheel caught the attention of several  countries.  Vietnam-slavia, Burma, Laos, Nepal and Combodia were quick  to accept it. The Asian Relations Conference held in April 1955 in New Delhi  the first Afro-Asian conference  held at Bandung endorsed Panch Sheel.
Australia, Austria and Poland carne forward to accept it. In 1957, Soviet Premier  Khrushchev evinced interest in Panch Sheel.




Panch Sheel has been criticized as an idealistic formulation which can  work only under ideal conditions; ignores the reality of international relations;  impractical international relations; an apparel of appeasement and so on. India’s perception that China would honour Panch Sheel and stick to mutual  respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and mutual non- aggression proved to be “clutching at straws after the main opportunity had a deliberately discarded”.” It is a combination of “the rhetoric of Wilson and
ladstone with the practices of Disraeli and Theodore Roosevelt  governed by  abstract, superior morality”.” Nevertheless, the ideology and philosophy  hind Panch Sheel will ever remain un-assailable and the reality of international relations reinforce the need and necessity for the same.


Kamaraj Plan, 1963

The Chinese aggression, weakened Nehru’s control over the Congress party and thus Nehru wanted to review the party which looked beyond repair and reconstruction. Internal infightings, longing for power, pelf and patronage, loosing touch with the mass, ineffective  organization lack of leadership, creeping corruption, successive defeats in Lok Sabha by-elections in  l963 were some of the reasons responsible for the decline of the Congress.

In his search for a solution to these problems, Nehru stumbled on the Kamaraj  Plan. K.Kamaraj,the Chief Minister of Madras State, discussed the plan with  Nehru in early August 1963. Then they broached the subject with the Congress  President D.Sanjivaya. The Kamaraj plan was that senior congressmen-both  cabinet ministers and chief ministers- would resign their positions in order to  take up full-time organizational work for the party. The Kamaraj Plan was at  first mooted at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and then the CWC  resolution on the subject was discussed at the All India Congress Committee  (AICC) on  10 August 1963 and was approved.

Consequent on the AlCC Resolution, the Kamaraj Plan was implemented  on 24 August 1963. The plan was widely acclaimed as all the cabinet ministers  and chief ministers resigned their posts. Nehru chose six cabinet ministers  Morarji Desai, Jagjeevan Ram, Lal Bahadur Shastri, S.K.Patil, B.Gopala Reddy and K.L.Srimali – and six Chief Ministers – K.Kamaraj (Madras), Biju Patnaik  (Orissa), Binodanand Jha (Bihar), C.B.Gupta (U.P), B.A.Mandloi (M.P) and Bakshi  Gulam Muhammad (Kashmir) – to resign.

The Kamaraj Plan was a drastic step. It created lot of bitterness and   heart-burning. None of those who resigned, except K.Kamaraj, the author of  the plan, was happy about their resignations. S.K.Patil who seconded the motion moved by Kamaraj, later accused Nehru of bias. Desai maintained that the so-called Kamaraj Plan was nothing but Nehru’s plot to install Indira Gandhi as his successor.

Its immediate effect was to ease out less desirable ministers, like Desai,
who were not enthusiastic about the socialistic strategy pursued by Nehru.
However, the Kamaraj Plan received a setback because of the delay in Kamaraj
taking charge of Congress Presidentship, the retried leaders had not been allotted
any party work. Shastri, was brought back to the government. When Shastri became Prime Minister he took back S.K.Patil as minister and invited Desai to join his cabinet. Finally, the plan became unsuccessful.

After the Bhubaneshwar Congress session in 1963, there was growing concern  about Nehru’s health and a general feeling that he might not continue as Prime  Minister for long. Therefore, the question of succession was discussed by  senior congressmen. A group of 6 leading congressmen .K..Kamaraj,  K.Nijalingappa, S.K.Patil, Atulya Ghosh, Sanjeeva Reddy and C.B.Gupta -met  at Tirupati in the summer of 1963, discussed the prevailing situation and decided to form themselves into a group so that they could guide the Congress more  effectively. The idea was to take charge of the Congress organization, so that  when the time came for the next Prime Minister to be chosen, they would have  decisive voice in the matter. This group came to be called as the “Syndicate” . The Syndicate was a self appointed steering committee of the Congress. This  historic meeting of what later came to be called the Syndicate, possibly gave a  pivotal turn to the course of history of the Congress and brought the Prime  Ministership of India to Shastri.”


Nehru’s last days

The Chinese unprovoked attack of 1962 was an outright attack on  Nehru’s dreams, hopes and aspirations. He was tired and wanted to retire. But  he was persuaded to pursue his path of socialistic pattern of society. On 29 August 1962, Nehru expressed his satisfaction that the Kamaraj Plan had proved  that the Congress had no lust for power. Despite the Chinese betrayal and  deteriorating health Nehru kept himself busy rallying the nation to realize his  cherished goal of Democratic Socialism. On 14 November 1963, the nation celebrated his 74th birth day. Five days later (19 November), the union cabinet  was reshuffled. On 1 December Nehru inaugurated the new state of Nagai and.  On 26 December, addressing a public meeting, he talked about the take-off
stage of the next five year plan.


On 7 January 1964, Nehru developed high blood pressure and was  advised rest. Nehru participated in the celebrations of the Republic Day (26  Jan)  and sat through for three hours till the parade was over. He involved  himself in the task of nation building till he was forced to ‘retreat’ to Dehra Dun on 23 May for a three-day rest. On 26 May he returned to Delhi. On 27 May 1964, Nehru woke up, felt uneasy, read a book and after a brief bed rest, breathed his last. The nation was grief stricken, C.Subramanian, the Central Minister, informed the Parliament: “The Prime Minister is no more. The light is out”. In a fitting tribute to the departed leader, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan observed “Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the greatest figures of our generation. As a fighter for freedom he was illustrious, as a maker of modern India his services were unparalled … An epoch in our country’s history has come to a close”.