Skip to main content

India’s Ukraine policy: Coping with dangers ahead if US, allies step up pressure?

By Bharat Dogra* 

The attention of the world is focused on Ukraine where a very serious crisis exists. This has understandably become the most serious concern of the foreign policy of all leading countries including India. 
It is no exaggeration to say that India’s foreign policy stalwarts are faced with one of the most complex and difficult situations. In such a situation it will be helpful if the Government makes a bigger effort to try to create a broad consensus on India’s Ukraine policy and the opposition responds favorably.
Let us look at the basic facts of the situation. Russia clearly made a mistake by invading Ukraine as invasions and wars should be treated more and more as outdated in a world faced by a serious survival crisis. With the kind of weapons that are used in modern wars, it takes very little for thousands to die and millions to be displaced within a few days.
Having said that the invasion was wrong, however, one must hasten to add that Russia has many legitimate grievances and its genuine security concerns as well as earlier assurances relating to these have been badly violated by the USA and NATO. Genuine concerns of Russia and their alarming neglect by the USA and NATO also have to be given due consideration in any balanced policy on Ukraine.
This would be true for the Ukraine policy and of any country but India has some additional concerns to take into account. Firstly, Russia has extended firm support to India in many difficult times. Its support was most invaluable during the 1971 crisis situation. 
The Pakistani army and its collaborators had been committing genocide in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), and the use of this word to describe the alarming situation had been approved by the chief USA Representative in Dacca.
Several hundred thousand had been killed, several million had been displaced. India was planning to send its armed forces to stop this genocide and assist in the liberation of Bangladesh, but this faced extreme and irrational opposition from the Nixon-Kissinger duo who regarded Yahya Khan the Pakistani President as their great friend who could not be annoyed.
In these circumstances it was the great support of the USSR which played a very crucial role in the ability of India to overcome US hostility as well as potential of Chinese threat to achieve a truly overwhelming victory over Pakistan, ensuring the end of genocide and the liberation of Bangladesh.
In addition over the years India has developed important security and trade links with Russia, not to mention cultural and other close people to people contacts, which must be protected.
Therefore, while the invasion was not correct and some of Putin’s statements were also irresponsible, nevertheless India has adopted basically a correct position by refusing to condemn Russia at the United Nations, abstaining instead at the time of crucial voting.
The ability of Indian government to withstand US pressures so far persists, it has won praise from an unexpected place, China
While the government and the foreign minister deserve credit for this policy in the middle of increasing pressure from the USA and its allies, problems can increase if the USA and its allies increase their pressures further on India, thereby harming India’s national interests at the level of the economy and security. 
This is why it is important to try to establish a broader consensus on India’s Ukraine policy. Any hasty criticism of this policy without understanding the tremendous pressures within which our diplomats are functioning at the moment would not be considered a sign of maturity.
The ability of the Indian government to withstand US pressures so far and persist with an independent foreign policy has won praise from an unexpected place -- China. If these lead to further openings and a new situation in which India can settle its border and other differences with China in friendly conditions this would be a great breakthrough.
These two countries have simply too much to gain from mutual cooperation but this tremendous potential has just not been realized. China has been more to blame for this sad situation and if it takes a sincere initiative now to make a new beginning this should be widely welcomed as long as there are sure signs of sincerity.
Overall India has everything to gain and nothing to lose from emerging again as a leader of the policy and movement of new-alignment at world level. Its further efforts should be in this direction.
*Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; recent books include “Planet in Peril” and “Protecting Earth for Children”



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.