Saturday, August 14, 2010

Indo-American Relations: A History

As part of an interesting discussion at BRF, RamaY and I challenged each other to provide a snapshot of what we thought was America's views towards India. My task was to provide a brief summary of sources of America's foreign policy decisions when it came to India.

What I did was browsed the internet & read articles plus 'Google Books' and provided a glimpse into the relations in zimple englipees. To put it crudely, I am just regurgitating, albeit in a form that hopefully is easy to understand for Ram, Robert and Rahim. After you have read it top to bottom, you should see a pattern and be able to explain the nuances to your parents, siblings, friends, offspring, relatives and enemies. If you are not able to do so, then it mean I have much more to learn about the art of writing - which is actually a lot. Or, that you might be lacking in certain areas. Give that a thought too :-)

If you want to spend more time away from your family, work and leisure, then the references should provide you plenty of hours to while away.

Here is what I summarized. Ensoy thangamani.

Prior to WWII
1. America’s disinterest towards India was primarily because the countries did not share history. However the American missionaries were interested in India. Missionaries were a prime source for uninformed information about India.
2. Katherine Mayo projected India as either opulent or having pervasive poverty. Mayo’s India resembled British and Missionaries’ India. {ref 14}. School textbooks, the media, and the academic writings depicted India as a backward society. Hence the public opinions were predominantly negative. Indian immigrants were considered undesirable. Read more under section ‘American images of India’.
3. A few New England philosophers admired and sought solace in some Indian sacred texts. They came to know about India from 18th century European missionaries and writers.
4. American Isolationism {ref 12}
a. America felt, by participating in the European wars, it would be weakened thereby reducing survival chances of America or that America would cease to exist as a free republic.
b. WWI had left a bad taste in America’s mouth – Europe, except Finland, did not pay America its war debts. The horrors of war had reduced the appetite to support European wars. In addition Americans perceived Britain & France did not nurture democracy in Europe at Munich. Some thought Britain and France to be the destroyers of democracy.
c. Isolationism did not mean America did not seek new territories or strong defense and seek economic spheres of influence. America would pursue all of them for the sake of the republic’s survival, and helping capitalism & corporations flourish. Geography & natural resources helped America to achieve isolationism.
d. Some scholars point out America was not isolationist but expansionist all the time. They point to the history of America.

1940s and 1950s
1. After 1946, America hoped India will emerge as the stabilizer in Asia. In order to do this America hoped India will open its commerce, investment and raw materials to America and the West. USA considered India and Nehru as an unofficial spokesman for most of South East Asia.
2. Jawaharlal Nehru had a different view of the World as he had just witnessed the birth of a new country – India, and understood the horrors of WWI and WWII. He chose to remain neutral and nationalistic. Nehru chose to see the World, rightly in my opinion, in terms of communism and anti-communism. Nehru’s nationalism butted India and America’s head in the Cold War. V.K.Krisna Menon saw America as attempting to be the next Great Britain in Asia.
3. The “tragic holocaust of Hindu-Muslim massacres” overshadowed a sympathetic image of Indians fighting for their freedom. India was a fanatic and violent mob.
4. Norman A. Graebner argues that until the defeat of Chinese Nationalism in 1949, India mattered little to Washington. Norman concludes Nehru was the winner as he understood the power of Nationalism in Asian affairs better than America.
5. American invited Nehru and attempted to convince him & India regarding the matters of Communism; Nehru visited but did not dance to the tunes of Washington. Nehru, who WAS India in those years, and America viewed the growing Communism in Asia differently.
6. Eisenhower rubbed India the wrong way by having Defense agreements with Pakistan. America embraced Pakistan and India tilted towards USSR. This made the American elite hostile and dismissive of India.
7. As years went by America became more stringent against Communism, leading to more criticism from India. Nehru was convinced that Communism did not pose a danger to India. India and America exchanged rhetoric, long story short America began to consider India to be anti-American.
8. In 1949, after deciding to make India central to its Asian plans, America disengaged from this strategy. Truman’s administration downplayed India and set the containment policy – emphasized military aid but no economic assistance. America, instead, decided to increase defense capabilities in Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, French Indo-China and the pacific.

Between 1950s and 1960s
1. “India became an experimental laboratory for American backed development” {ref 15}. America strove to indirectly control India’s future by making India a model for capitalistic economic growth.
2. After Indo-China war, and ambivalence from JFK, Indo-US ties improved. JFK objected to Dulles Doctrine, which was: ‘non-alignment was neutrality between right and wrong and a sign of anti-Americanism’. JFK engaged neutral countries more and American-Indian relations turned less hostile.
3. Lyndon Johnson thought Indians were weak and indecisive. {ref. 9}.John Lewis, a former AID official, describes majority of White House personnel, State Department and Congress to be anti-Indian, in the 60s. {ref. 9}
4. In 1965, INS reversed decades of discrimination and initiated preferred admission of skilled Asian workers. The ensuring impact was arrived only in 1980s.

1. Nixon had a long-standing dislike for India and Indians. Nixon’s tilt towards Pakistan in 1971 sent the relationship south. Cold-war fears and prejudices against India were key factors in dispatching the Enterprise in 1971. {ref. 9}
2. Carter accepted Asia’s version of nationalism, and the Indo-US relationship improved. Carter administration ratified the decision to treat India as the dominant state in South Asia, rather than build Pakistan’s military. Reagan continued the pleasant relationship but continue to also work with Pakistan.
3. America began to build strategic alliance with China against USSR. Though India disliked the alliance, India saw reasons in America’s actions.
4. Academic scholars still considered India to be backward {see prior to WWII section}.
5. “The Asia Society, in a review of some 300 school textbooks, found that the presentation of India was the most negative of all Asian countries”. American attitudes concerning India focused on disease, death, and illiteracy more than for any other place in the World. {ref. 9}
6. After the 1974 nuclear tests, India lost support from American activists and disillusioned the liberals.

1. With the collapse of Communism, American interests and outlook towards international order changed.
2. India was bothered by American and Chinese help to Pakistan in the context of Afghanistan. But India still saw a reason.

1. In 1993, Congressmen Frank Pallone (D) and Bill McCollum (R) created the Indian Caucus in the House of Representatives. 96-97 saw improved relations.
2. Cold-war habits hung over America even after the end of USSR. However, American businesses began to warm up; but the American elite nursed the cold-war ideologies – they still were dismissive or hostile towards India. India did not like the cold-war like behavior in the 90s – especially Clinton’s views on strategic alliance with China.
3. Indian Nuclear tests caused sanctions against India, but USA began to look at India more seriously. America began to think it terms of India’s security concerns and capabilities.
4. In ’99 USA blamed Pakistan for initiating the Kargil crisis.
5. Ayoob feels America courted China, in the post cold-war to counter Japan. America did not want East Asia to be under any one dominant or regional power. {ref 3}
6. China alone now stands in the American path to spread democracy across the World. China’s support to Pakistan emboldens Pakistan to defy American pressures.

Ideologies, beliefs, thoughts espoused by American Elite over centuries:
1. Open Door – a policy of commercial and political expansion to extend American influence in the World.
2. American Capitalism needed ever expanding markets to make the World more democratic.
3. Favored private enterprises over state owned enterprises to remedy social ills.
4. America provides benevolent leadership and international system to the World – representative democracy and market capitalism.
5. America could achieve economic hegemony by supporting IMF, World Bank and GATT; and political hegemony by becoming a great power in the UN.
6. “Free trade and the free flow of capital and, along with it, privatization and deregulation have become the order of the day. Policies consistent with this strategy are supported with varying degrees of enthusiasm, by most elite state and by nearly the entire political class, Democrat as well as Republican.” {ref. 6}
7. It is against American global interest for any one power to dominate Europe, hence America dropped its tradition of isolation to counter USSR.{Kissinger}.
8. Democrats and Republicans both have displayed ethnocentrism & appalling ignorance of “third world” countries. Superior & patronizing attitude and the insistence that America knows what is best for these countries. Liberalism or Conservatism might throw its weight little more than the other at times, but over a long period they have behaved the same.
9. America has power over the globe because of its power to move ships and aircraft. Michael Lind views that India could translate its economic power into naval, air and space power. India is expected to challenge America in South Asia in the years to come {ref. 11}
10. Michael Lind thinks India & China’s ascension will hurt Europe more than America. He also thinks the affluent Indian population offers a good market for America.
11. India’s poverty so repulsed many Americans that India represented to them the “living end” of mankind. {ref. 13}. India and Indians were viewed as deep and peculiarly concerned with religious life. India because associated with mysticism in Asia.
12. South Asian, that included India, was spoken in terms of potential value to America’s economic and security interests.
13. Olaf Caroe’s geo-strategic ideas found grounds to grow America’s role as an offshore balancer in South Asia. This act actually destabilized the region. Caroe worried about ‘wells of power’. Pakistan was used by America to balance Indian hegemony in South Asia. {ref 16}
Note: The American ideology has two components Economic and Political, as seen above.

Nehru’s beliefs:
1. The key to eradicating differing standards of living was in economic development and industrialization.
2. American model was not the only one to follow, and that Socialism offered a viable model too (probably a better one per Nehru)
3. Wanted to avoid the errors of Capitalism and Communism. However, he criticized Capitalism harsher.
4. Sought American aid, but did not want India to become dependent on America.

Kissinger’s beliefs:
1. Hinduism is a religion of endurance and not a religion of personal salvation. Considers Islam and Christianity as egalitarian religions.
2. India maintained identity, for centuries, without a specific Indian state. Considers Britain to have brought homogeneous administration, law and government to India.
3. Thinks India survived because of its cultural imperviousness and psychological skill in dealing with foreigners.
4. Opines that India under Nehru, correctly, like the Founding Fathers of America, chose to stay aloof from quarrels not affecting its vital interests.
5. Considers India a major player in South East Asia and expects India to dominate from Singapore to Aden.

India underrated, unimportant, hostility and not taken seriously by America:
1. Ayoob feels it was because of two reasons: 1) USSR & China. All other policy concerns took back seat when it came to Cold War concerns. 2) India’s non-alignment policy. Ayoob feels the historical baggage is carried by both the countries. {ref. 3}
2. India did not have natural resources vital to American economy. Unlike Latin America, there was no serious American private investment. Geo-politics of India posed no danger to America. India did not have cultural or historic ties to America, unlike China. Unlike Western Europe, Israel, Greece no significant population of India settled in India {ref. 9}
3. Apart from lacking natural resources that interested West, India was not seen vital in terms of communication routes. America did not see any gains from large scale support of India’s development. India’s economic growth mattered little to America’s economy{ref 13}
4. America believed India was on the wrong side during WWII and Cold-War. Though millions of Indians fought in WWII, INC refused to support against the Axis. As far as Cold-war see Nehru and the 1940s-1950s section.

Role of race, ethnicity & religion
1. Benjamin Franklin wished the number of White people was more than the others; he termed his partiality as only natural to mankind. His racism, contributed to his opinion on acquisitions and opening of new lands.
2. In the 1800s, race still was a factor in “external affairs” especially to the people in the Southern USA. Race contributed to the feeling of “American Greatness” and reflected in American foreign policy.
3. The Southerners hated the “African Americans”, while the Frontier people hated the “Native Americans”.
4. In the early part of the 20th century all Indian immigrants were deemed Hindus and subjected to prejudice against Asia & India that existed in USA in those times. Supreme Court in 1923 ruled Indians, being Hindus were “not whites” and hence were ineligible for citizenship. India retaliated in 1924 {gone are those days, right when India had the spine to retaliate} passing the Indian Naturalization Act.
5. Apart from Indians considered as dark skinned, owing to white racist prejudice, Indians were always associated with caste system and untouchability. Indians were deemed to have strong color feeling and race prejudices and people who hated each other.

American images of India:
Types of Images: {ref 14}
1. Visual: “sacred cows roaming the streets; mobs of religious fanatics hurling themselves into the Ganges; naked ascetics, scrawny fakirs on nails; the multiarmed goddess; the burning ghats; the skull-laden figure of Kali; Benares; obscene Hindu sculpture, phallic symbols and erotic carvings on the temples…”
2. Judgment: “a debased, hopeless sort of religion; a complicated, alien mess; mystic nonsense; stupid taboos; horrible practices in a clutter of cultural dead weights; a benighted, superstitious, fatalistic philosophy; fanatical, barbarous religiosity; the elevation of animal life above the human…”
3. Social commentary: “caste system; untouchability; child marriage, purdah, suttee; religion as a dragging burden on growth and development; terrific waste from the animal cult, cows and monkeys sacrosanct amid starvation; oppression of ignorance, of religious and caste prejudice; a ridiculous idealization of poverty; religion as a sanction for barriers between people between clean and unclean, making for crippling social differences and divisions…”

Some of the entities involved in shaping Indian image in America
1. Missionaries
2. Katherine Mayo
3. Time magazine
4. Ripley’s cartoons (was seen by millions)
5. National Geographic
6. Sunday supplements
7. Rudyard Kipling
8. Olaf Caroe’s ideas

Between 1947 and 1956: {ref 13}
1. “Geographically remote, culturally exotic, psychologically unfathomable, lacking in religious or philosophical exactitude, socially disunified, economically inefficient, oppressive in physical environment, its people poor, non-aggressive, oppressed, keen-minded but in large numbers uneducated, morally sensitive but difficult to deal with personally.”
2. Hollywood propagated several stereotypes, notably highlighted tribesman rising against British forces.
3. America was perceived as the richest country, India the poorest. India was filled with poverty and spiritualism was a panacea. India was a land of contrast, ethnic differences and POVERTY.
4. The term “Indian Mind” equated to “Hindu Mind” and this was perceived as a reason for the non-aligned movement. The term ‘Muslim’ was associated with Pakistan (after 1947).
5. India was perceived as a country that did not ask the right questions to solve problems, and hence reached wrong conclusions. “Hindu Mind” was attributed the cause.
6. American humanitarianism, liberal internationalists create a new ‘love affair’ that ended in 1960s. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru made favorable impressions among the American Liberals. They looked upon Nehru and the liberated Indian upper class upon which Asian democracy would rest.

In 1960s: {ref 13}
1. Under Kennedy administration, image of India as a permanent friend grew.
2. In the minds of the public, America was still a generous patron and India was a needy client. India was the petitioner calling upon American charity. Indians were depicted as destitute, sleeping on the city streets or starving in the villages. After self-interest American sense of humanitarianism led to the aid. Indian representatives nurture this sentiment.
3. India’s poverty was a key in policy making, but there was still a sense of an enlightened democracy struggling out of poverty; and India could be won over to the West my massive economic support.
4. Popular writers and editors in America sought sensational formats to sell their products, and Katherine Mayo’s grisly portrayal of India still lingered in the publishing field.
5. Some Americans spread the image of India awakening and controllable in the future and thus portrayed India eligible for American support.

Between 1960s and 1970s {ref 13}
1. India was still exotic, but now a land of despair, political institutions were faltering, economic growth stagnating, and social tensions leading straight towards chaos.
2. Doubts began to creep in about the effectiveness of the earlier aids to India; an image of complacent India entered into the minds.
3. India, Nehru & NAM began to increase the negative image.
4. The image of India being a non-ally caused Nixon to perceive the 1971 crisis from Pakistan’s point of view. He saw a friendly nation being dismembered; and ordered Kissinger to tilt policies towards Pakistan.
5. Americans saw India as ungovernable force and ‘biological multiplication’ beyond American capacity to influence; India became an enemy from a “threat to human survival” perspective.


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At August 17, 2010 at 9:14 AM , Anonymous Al said...

The mot@$R@#%^ing turds in the Parliament who rob the country blind give themselves a 300% pay raise.

Leading this campaign is none other than the lowly piece of human garbage that need to crapped on, the human parasite Lalu Prasad Yadav, who wants more money because...

"We work 24 hours a day and serve as MPs for five years. We have to serve tea and feed a lot of people. Our houses are like ashrams where several hundreds come and stay, and we have to take care of all of them. The number of phone calls we have to make and the number of letters we have to write everyday for official purposes too is huge," he said.

So these shitheads want more money to do political campaigns for public funds even as these scumbags have very poor attendance in the Parliament.

Jai Hind my foot.

At October 28, 2010 at 7:53 PM , Anonymous M Chandra Sekhar said...

I dont think you are correct when you say India retaliated by passing the Indian naturalization Act in 1924. India never passed such an act in that time. It was the US which passed that act, and its provisions referred to the native Americans


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