There was a time when Nehru said `India second, China first’: Jaishankar

Ahmedabad: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday targeted Jawaharlal Nehru and claimed that past mistakes were responsible for the problems such as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and occupation of some parts of the Indian territory by China.

Referring to India’s stand when it was offered a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, he claimed there was a time when Nehru, the country’s first prime minister, said “India second, China first”.

Speaking at the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, Jaishankar was replying to the question whether India should reconcile itself to the status of POK and Indian territories occupied by China, or work to get them back.

Notably, in the last few days, BJP leaders have also been targeting past Congress governments under Nehru and Indira Gandhi over the ceding of the island of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka.

“In 1950, (then home minister) Sardar Patel had warned Nehru about China. Patel had told Nehru that today for the first time we are facing a situation on two fronts (Pakistan and China) which India had never faced earlier. Patel also told Nehru that he does not believe what the Chinese are saying as their intentions seem different and we should take precautions,” the minister said.

“Nehru replied to Patel that you are unnecessarily suspicious of the Chinese. Nehru also said it is impossible for anybody to attack us from the Himalayas. Nehru was totally dismissive (about Chinese threat),” Jaishankar said, adding that everyone knows what happened subsequently.

“Not only that, when the debate of a permanent seat of the UN (Security Council) came and it was being offered to us, Nehru’s position was we deserve the seat but first China should get it. We at present are following India first policy, but there was a time when Nehru said India second, China first,” he said.

Patel was not in favour of taking the Kashmir issue to the UN as he knew the “mentality” of a judge there, Jaishankar further said.

“If you know that the judge is partial, would you go to seek justice from him? But that’s what happened, the issue was taken to the UN and immediately a lot of pressure came to stop the military exercise (to reclaim POK),” he said, adding “today we have ended up in these situations due to mistakes of the past.”

“Today when we talk about our boundaries, some say rewrite our boundaries. Our boundaries are still our boundaries, we should never ever doubt that,” the External Affairs Minister said.

In the last ten years, the Union government has tried to deal with many issues inherited from the past, he said, adding that it has been successful in finding solutions to some of them while some issues will take more time.

“In the case of Kashmir we have a Parliament resolution (regarding POK) and everybody has to respect it,” Jaishankar said, adding that it was important to seek answers about our position today, but it was also important to look at the mistakes of the past.

Earlier, giving a lecture at GCCI on `International policy, catalyst of Viksit Bharat’, Jaishankar said for the development of any economy, five factors are crucial: production, consumption, technology, logistics and demography.

Foreign policy can play a crucial role in taking domestic industries to other countries, getting crucial technology, creating logistics and connectivity for business, he said.

Some of the takeaways of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last visit to the US were that after almost 40 years the US agreed to give India a jet engine technology, and three firms making semiconductor chips agreed to establish plants in India, Jaishankar noted.

“It was when the prime minister put these things forward to US President Joe Biden, it could materialize,” he said.

India was working with friendly countries to create new business corridors and the proposed India, UAE, Saudi Arabia to Europe corridor is one of them, the minister said.

India’s top priority was exports and Indian businesspersons can take help from the country’s embassies in foreign countries to increase exports, he said.

The minister also said that the Indian diaspora is the country’s greatest asset.