This is the first of a two-volume collection of docu¬ments on India’s foreign policy and relations, covering the period from independence until 1972. As no intention is signified of bringing the documents up to date, in order to cover more immediate deve¬lopments over the last decade, the exercise appears to have been undertaken not so much for the benefit of those engag¬ed in the immediacy of Indian foreign relations and con¬temporary diplomatic chal¬lenges as for those interested in documents of a more dated period. However, compilation of key documents in any period is a most desirable service to the scholar, the stu¬dent or the merely curious, and this book is to be wel¬comed as a useful and neces¬sary reference work.
In the introduction the editor states that the documents have been grouped under five sections: foreign policy, foreign relations, foreign economic policy, promotion of interna¬tional peace and cooperation and diplomacy. Only the first section and one part of the second, covering a hefty 744 pages, appear in this volume. The focus of the material in¬cluded here is on the ideologi¬cal motivations behind Indian foreign policy, nonalignment and relations with China and Pakistan, upto the events sur¬rounding the emergence of Bangladesh.
Relations with these two neighbours represent major conflict situations for post-partition India and, therefore, justify a com¬prehensive coverage. However, the exercise of compressing the material in the second volume will be a Herculean one as documents relating to relations with other neigh¬bours, countries of the region and bigger powers do not appear here. The introduction states that the second volume will deal with relations with Afghanistan, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma and Ceylon (which, the editor might note, has been Sri Lanka for many years now), apart from the superpowers, East Europe, Britain and the Common¬wealth, South-East Asia, West Asia, Arab Africa and ‘other areas such as Japan and Latin America’. Apart from documents on bilateral rela¬tions with these countries, there will also be three sec¬tions dealing with foreign economic policy, promotion of international peace and co-operation and diplomacy in the second volume, which promises a rich fare indeed. The formidable task of com-pression would presumably be tackled in the light of the terse opening sentence of the editor’s introduction, namely, that ‘This book (in two volumes) is a companion of A. Appadorai and M.S. Rajan’s India’s Foreign Policy and Relations 1947-72 (being published by the Oxford Uni¬versity Press) containing more important documents of the period.’ However, as the exact nature of the relationship of the present volume to the other publication is not further clarified the reader is none the wiser.
The editor’s introduction, usually a key commentary on the documents selected, has the appearance of being casual¬ly written and could have been more instructive. At one point, talking of the Indo-Pakistan conflict, the editor states that
the resumption of economic and trade relations, envis¬aged in the Tashkent Decla¬ration, had not yet taken place by the end of 1968; mistrust continues to prevent the realization of all the hopes raised by that famous Declaration.
What relevance this phraseo¬logy, apparently dating from 1968, has in a publication appearing in 1982 and sup-posedly covering the period upto 1972 is mystifying.
It is imperative in a publica¬tion of this nature that the reference to documents should be impeccably precise. Lapses in this respect, which could have been avoided with careful cross-checking, are numerous. The consulting reader or scholar deserves more precise and comprehensive advice as to the nature of material he may be looking for than this work has to offer. The inexac¬titude is not a stray instance but a plague, from the intro¬duction to the end. Such lack of professionalism would be irritating in any publication: in a book which is useful only as a reference work such lapses should not have been allowed to occur.
Despite the weak introduction, textual inaccuracies and the fact that the area covered in the present volume is a restric¬ted one (the second volume, it is hoped, will mend the infirmi¬ties of the present edition), it is a crucial aid to a variety of students of international rela¬tions that a compilation of important documents and material is at hand. The editor is, therefore, to be commended for this service. In the areas covered, the selection of docu¬ments is by and large represen¬tative, and selectiveness is necessary to keep the publica¬tion within bounds. One can, however, have a view on the advisability of including one or the other document. For ins¬tance, on Panchsheel. (Docu¬ment 22), Nehru’s statement in the Lok Sabha on April; 30, 1955, drawing the connection between Panchsheel and the Declaration on World Peace and Cooperation adopted at the Bandung Conference, and thereby with the principles of the nonaligned movement, could have been included, to¬gether with his address before the Lok Sabha on the inter¬national significance of the Bandung Conference. It would also perhaps have been useful to consider inclusion of signifi¬cant declarations which have not emanated solely from Indian spokesmen, but to which India has been a signatory and which express the Indian world view, as part and parcel of the aspirations of the ‘third world’, such as the declaration of heads of states and govern¬ments of nonaligned nations adopted in Belgrade 1961 and important messages sent by the nonaligned to world leaders such as the message to Khruschev and Kennedy, also sent from Belgrade. The speeches of Indian Prime Ministers, on such occasions, beginning with Nehru’s speech at the Belgrade Conference (September 2, 1961), would also have been relevant additions to a compilation of this nature.
The editor has declared that the objective of this publica¬tion is to produce
a useful source of reference for students of international relations, Members of Parlia¬ment and politicians gene¬rally and for all those who take an interest in India’s foreign policy and relations.
Despite avoidable lapses, this objective has been served by Appadorai’s book.
Kamalesh Sharma is Member of the Indian Foreign Service.