India and Her Neighbours
While there is a choice, though a limited one, in case of families to have a neighbour(s) of their liking, this is not available in the case of countries. India shares its borders with 7 neighbouring countries – Pakistan, China, Srilanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Burma.
The age-old maxim – a good neighbour is a blessing while a bad one is a curse – still holds good. The location of countries depends on history and geography and they determine the character, characteristics and composition of states. No state can alter the borders and frontiers of the neighboring country forcibly, however unpleasant and unfriendly attitude of that country may be. In such a situation, the best course available is to face the odds according to the situation that may arise from time to time.
The old principle – “There is neither a permanent friend nor a permanent enemy but only permanent interest” – generally determines the foreign policy of a country. Outside vested interests have recently tried to create a wrong impression in the minds of the small neighboring nations of India that India has become a super power in the region and a Big Brother. This has induced them to seek assistance, both military and monetary, from the Super Powers to face the so called Big Brother. Actually the problems of the countries of the third world have been the legacy of colonialism. India has also gone through such a situation.
India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan were one country before independence and were bound by historical, cultural and natural ties. The people of these two countries they have fought three wars. After every war, new agreement was signed between them but their relations have always remained abnormal and unfriendly. The main bone of contention has been the Jammu and Kashmir problem. Both the sides have their own reservations in this regard.
India and China
India and China are giants of Asia. Leaders of both these neighboring countries propounded the doctrine of “Panchsheel” and started off their relations on the best of terms and understanding. But this euphoria was short-lived and was rudely rattled by China who resorted to unprovoked aggression against India in 1962. India was caught napping. However, this armed conflict with China opened our eyes and India faced with full preparations the subsequent wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Since conflict with China, diplomatic relation between the two countries remained almost negligible. However, in the seventies, both countries realized the usefulness of diplomatic relations and started normalizing them steadily. As a furtherance of this process the Prime Minister of India visited China in 1988 followed by visits of Commerce Ministers of the each other country and resumption of trade activities.
India and Srilanka
India’s relations with Sri Lanka are based on respecting the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and protection of interests of the Tamils there in accordance with the 1987 agreement.
India and Nepal
The centuries-old cultural, religious and political ties of India with Nepal touched an all time low with the termination of trade and transit treaties in March 1989. Nepal’s overtures to China for purchase of arms also caused concern to India. Nepal tried to make the issue an international one. This resulted in further bitterness and misunderstanding. With the change in Government in India, status quo ante has been restored in respect of trade and transit. The visit of India’s Prime Minister to Nepal has also eased the situation.
India and Bangladesh
India’s hope of resolving long-standing problems with Bangladesh has brightened with the restoration of democracy there. These problems includes the sharing of Ganga waters.
India and Bhutan
Bhutan is another small hilly kingdom whose defense requirements are the responsibility of India. India has contributed generously to the economic development of Bhutan which is strategically located as far as India’s defense exigencies are concerned.
India and Burma
There are no basic issues or differences required to be resolved between India and Burma.
– Bipasha Mukherjee.