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Against all odds: Babasaheb Ambedkar's prophetic warnings about communist China


Dr. Aniruddha Babar

aniruddha babarChinese ‘might be induced not to be hostile to us’. And why would that be? Because “I have some slight reputation with the leaders of Communist China because of the Medical Mission we had sent. I have corresponded with Mao Tse-Tung and other leaders in the past. This might help…”.[1]

 ~ Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

The 21st century is most certainly evolving in terms of global power politics and power structural dynamics. However, the very root and essence of Communism and China is likely to remain unchanged. Even though modern China has embraced an open economic policy, its governance, political structure, ruling culture, and mindset is still very much primitively ‘Communist’ where an ancient Latin Maxim “Rex non potest peccare” (The King can do no wrong) is literally ‘venerated’. Modern China has posed serious threats to the entire world due to its expansionist policies and atrocious military interference in different parts of the planet. Even though China has undergone a complex transformation in the last hundred years, the seeds that Mao Tse-Tung had sown have now caused a great dark vegetation to spread in China, where bitter, venomous fruits of Communism keep the Chinese population in a threatening ‘amnesia’.

Expansionism is a key characteristic of Communism. With the meteoric growth of economic might, China also started to flex its muscles to threaten a number of countries that were coming in its way to become a military superpower. The China-occupied regions of Tibet, East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia, and also the regions like Hongkong and Taiwan are being troubled and threatened by China’s racist, supremacist and expansionist policies. China, which has claimed to be a friend of Nepal has successfully captured a part of its region by means of “Salami Slicing”. China has also successfully penetrated and occupied land in seven border districts including Dolakha, Gorkha, Darchula, Humla, Sindhupalchowk, Sankhuwasabha, and Rasuwa of Nepal. China is also eyeing the land of Bhutan with a vision firmly set on South-China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The statesmen in Tokyo are shocked and surprised by Chinese attempts to claim and willingness to capture the disputed ‘Senkaku’, ‘Ryukyu’ islands. China also claims large parts of Vietnam on historical precedent (Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644). Also, Macclesfield Bank, Paracel Islands, parts of the South China Sea, and the Spratly Islands. 160,000 square kilometers area of Russia is still unilaterally claimed by China, despite China signing several agreements. Bhutanese enclaves in Tibet, namely Cherkip Gompa, Dho, Dungmar, Gesur, Gezon, Itse Gompa, Khochar, Nyanri, Ringung, Sanmar, Tarchen and Zuthulphuk. Also, Kula Kangri and mountainous areas to the west of this peak, plus the western Haa District of Bhutan have been strongly claimed by China. China also claimed parts of Laos, Brunei, Tajikistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and entire countries such as Mongolia, Taiwan, South Korea, and North Korea. Expansionist policies of China have formally claimed every region and country that has traditionally been inhabited by ‘people with typical East Asian or Mongoloid features’. This is the modern China which once was glowing in the light of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha for over twenty centuries.

Who would have thought at the beginning of 20th Century that this gigantic Asian country which followed the path of Buddha would ever become so blind in its expansionist desires? However, there was a man who was continuously keeping an eye on China and had already calculated and predicted China’s strategic moves with great accuracy much before any military or strategic expert of those days. The man who had foreseen the nefarious design of China was none other than Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, who was giving continuous warnings to India and the world about the intentions of China since 1940. His unequivocal opposition to China, or for that matter any communist country, is on record. While addressing the students of Lucknow University in 1951, BR Ambedkar had said, “India has failed to develop a strong foreign policy. Tibet has been garrisoned by China; it will have long-term threat to India.” This statement of Babasaheb is still relevant.

The major points of Dr. Ambedkar’s views on China could be primarily associated with the position of Kashmir and the Tibet issue. These factors were primarily responsible for increasing his dissent aganst the foreign policy adopted by India. The oppression that he encountered while growing up in a social structure that was divided on the basis of caste did not have any influence on Dr. Ambedkar’s perception of the significance of a nation. Therefore, he advocated for the notion of a country to be a formidable power which it wishes to be because it is the sole reason by which the country could present itself in world politics[2]. Dr. Ambedkar openly criticized the intervention of China in Himalayan states and this was primarily directed towards Tibet as he wanted it to be an independent country simply because Tibet has always been a single, unified, sovereign political-national-independent entity with its own currency and flag in the well documented recorded history.

This was profoundly in opposition to the Nehruvian foreign policy that emphasized on maintaining close ties with China. Dr. Ambedkar had the opinion that instead of developing collaboration with China, it would be beneficial for India to develop relations with the US. The rationale which Dr. Ambedkar had for supporting the development of Indo-US relations was primarily vested in the democratic nature of both nations. He believed that establishing relationships with democracies would enable the country to leverage opportunities for foreign assistance as well as reduce the national burden. The views of Dr. Ambedkar in this context were also reflective of the demand for a league of democracies within Asia as well as outside thereby presenting a contradictory stance to the communist country of China.

Dr. Ambedkar also criticized the foreign policy of India towards China as being too idealistic that had non-alignment as the only respite. He called for the foreign policy to be specific by outlining clear lines of association either with democratic countries such as the US or communist nations such as China. It is also essential to cite the fact that he resented not being a part of the defense committee or foreign committee in the cabinet and was only vested with joint responsibility without any active privileges for policy formation. His perception of China was also accompanied by his regret for not being able to afford substantial time to attend to the foreign affairs of the country[3]. One of the prominent highlights that could be observed as clear evidence about the stance of Dr. Ambedkar on China is the international acclaim that he received for criticizing the ‘fractured’ foreign policy of Nehru and its relevance for China.

Time magazine stated that Dr. Ambedkar was the first significant Indian to openly criticize the foreign policy of Nehru on the grounds of being distant towards the US and ensuring too much friendliness with China. This is where he clearly emphasized the necessity for India to select between a communist form of dictatorship and a parliamentary democracy by focusing on the opportunities for developing close ties with democratic nations to alleviate national burden as compared to embracing the vice of communism.

The Tibet policy was also a major point of consideration in the views which Dr. Ambedkar had on China. He felt that the country should focus on solving its problems rather than trying to solve the problems of other countries such as China. The intervention of China in Tibet was abhorred by him and thus he relied on the most basic paradigm to approach this issue. According to him, the changes in foreign policy with a pragmatic view could be accounted as a prolific measure for ensuring the stability of the nation. This was observed in his suggestions for framing the foreign policy of India on the grounds of strategic and developmental alternatives as well as solving national problems rather than regional and global problems[4].

Dr. Ambedkar’s perception of China could be considered as that of a suspicious neighbor whose friendship would do more harm than good even though it appears unlikely. For example, the centre of power at one time i.e. Tibet has been reduced to a mere geographical entity. The intervention in Tibet was considered as the stepping stone for future incidents of the same kind by China and the position of Kashmir also drew considerable concerns regarding the security and stability of India. China had stated that with its invasion and occupation of Tibet, the people of Tibet and their culture have got the best opportunity to thrive. However, the interest of China in Tibet is mainly strategic and they have their specific interest in this area. This was the main reason that Dr. Ambedkar criticized the Indian foreign and defense policies made under the supervision of Nehru.

Another event that was also reflective of the involvement of Dr. Ambedkar in opposition against the foreign policy towards China was during his speech to students of Lucknow University in November 1951. A specific transcript of the speech could be evaluated to obtain evidence about Dr. Ambedkar’s views on China. The failure of the government’s foreign policy to make India stronger is the first aspect that is noted in the speech. The notion that is implied here clearly refers to establishing superiority in the region which India had failed to maintain by surrendering to the duress of China. The duress of China was found to be referred to in implicit terms in the next statement which inquired about the reasons for which India should not have a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Dr. Ambedkar’s references towards the pressure of China in the decision of India to refrain from a UN Security Council permanent seat could be inferred from these statements. Furthermore, the comparison of communism to a form of dictatorship was also a clear indicator of the perception of Dr. Ambedkar about China. This could be validated primarily based on his affinity towards the idea of developing a league of democracies and considering the association with democratic states as the most effective approach for maintaining the stability of the nation[5].

Since the Independence of the nation, India has faced military conflicts with Pakistan as well as witnessed complete brainwash of India’s first Prime Minister by China’s Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai propaganda that resulted in Dr. Ambedkar’s concerns regarding the security of the country. He believed that China is a direct military threat to India. Such thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar towards China have been proved, when China softened its stand on the issue related to Kashmir and also helped Pakistan in developing its nuclear weapon. This proved that the friendly foreign policy of Nehru towards China was not a correct decision. China also displayed its wrong intentions towards India by supplying arms to Myanmar and helping it in constructing the naval base that raised concerns regarding the security of India. Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar believed that developing friendship with China and supporting them to grow was a wrong decision[6]. He believed that defense policy of India should be based on the national security doctrine and must develop a friendship with a democratic nation like the United States. The 1962 Indo-China War proved Nehruvian policy to be wrong and that Indian foreign policy should be reassessed.

The vision and thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar have proved to be significant in the present era as well, as the threat posed by China towards Indian security and trade has been well-known. The Chinese takeover of Tibet has been considered as a strategic policy rather than being ideological or historical. The 1962 war also strengthened the belief of the Chinese about the strategic importance of Tibet. China's actions in Tibet continue and the main aspects of such strategic development since 1950 till 1976 have been mainly military-oriented. China has also shifted its buffer zone from Tibet to Nepal and Bhutan, and that further shows that the analysis and perceptions presented by Dr. Ambedkar have been significant, as he could foresee the future issues that China could pose. Based on a reflection on the thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar about China, it can be concluded that his attitude was primarily based on dissent against communism and the vision for an inclusive, secure, developing and progressive nation.

It has been proven time and time again that China's Communist rulers are ambitious, dictatorial, and aggressive. Needless to say, the Chinese rulers are brutal and barbaric, having a history of crushing millions of peace-loving youth under the Armoured Tanks. Today, China's political arrogance and the dark market economic policies aligned clearly with military objectives caused trouble to other countries. Also, China's history of the usage of veto power in the United Nations makes it clear that China is an unreliable country that can do anything for power. However, the threat of China does not limit to China alone, in fact, the major problem also lies with the political entities and the ‘communists’ supporting and advocating China’s policy against India in India’s national political arena. In an article published in an edition of party mouthpiece, the CPI(M) has said that India is to blame for the flare-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “Whatever egregious actions by China, the positions adopted by the Government of India have also contributed to such a situation developing,” the editorial stated.[7] With such evidence, ‘warnings’ given by Babasaheb Ambedkar about China, Communism, and Indian Communists become more relevant to modern India.  

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s thoughts on China and India’s destructive Nehruvian Policies make us understand how the ego and stubbornness of one self-centered man can throw an entire nation into the dark. The epic failure of Jawaharlal Nehru caused a disastrous long term impact on India; consequently, it had to go into wars with Pakistan on Kashmir issue, and faced defeat in the 1962 war with China on border issues. The nation had to witness the fatal rise of various Communist political groups duly supported by China that gradually and constructively ‘influenced’ movements like ‘Naxalism’. And last but not the least, Nehru Ji also ‘compelled’ India to suffer for years of ‘Public Discontent’ in the northeast region of the country, and from all this chaos China periodically collected its ‘rightful’ dividends without fail. This all has happened because Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wilfully ignored regular indications and continuous warnings given by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar regarding the ‘Storms of Red Wind’- the policies of the People’s Republic of China towards India.     

Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was an expert in International Relations and Defence affairs as well. In 2021 India is now finally realizing the value of his thoughts on Foreign as well as Defence policies. Everything that Dr. Ambedkar predicted about China and the world has proved to be a reality.

However, the story of the struggles of India doesn’t end here. In the coming days, many more complex issues would rise where the principles laid down by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar can show us light. Studying his principles and their context in original and not through Communist appropriated interpretations, and then applying them to the contemporary scenario will be the best and final tribute to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Through his book the “Buddha or Karl Marx”; Dr. Ambedkar proved that in any time, space, and circumstances the universal wisdom of Buddha, eternal moral values, tolerance, compassion, and non-violence will outshine the violent, vengeful, bloody path of Karl Marx that influenced and shaped the character of countries like the People’s Republic of China. Babasaheb rejected any possibility of union between Buddha and Marx. Similarly, in the context of the political, social, and religious philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar; any attempt to unite him with Karl Marx and his ‘Dead’ ideology or ‘persona’ must be abhorred.   

~

References

[1] Jagannathan, R, “Nehru's China war: How his naivete led us to defeat”, https://www.firstpost.com/world/nehrus-china-war-how-his-naivete-led-us-to-defeat-1441135.html, Accessed on 1st May, 2021

[2] Williams, Brent. India and Pakistan Civil-Military Relations. US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States, 2015

[3] Roy, Arundhati. The Doctor and the Saint: Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste, the Debate Between BR Ambedkar and MK Gandhi. Haymarket Books, 2017

[4] McDermott, Rachel Fell, Leonard A. Gordon, Ainslie T. Embree, Frances W. Pritchett, and Dennis Dalton, eds. Sources of Indian Traditions: Modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Vol. 2. Columbia University Press, 2014

[5] Hoskote, Amitabh, and Vishakha A. Hoskote. "Jammu & Kashmir & The Politics Of Article 370: Seeking Legality For The Illegitimate." People: International Journal of Social Sciences 3, no. 1 (2017).

[6] Chaturvedi, Gyaneshwar. "Indian visions." Exile as challenge: the Tibetan diaspora (2003): 72.

[7] India China Conflict,  https://peoplesdemocracy.in/2020/0628_pd/india-china-conflict,  Dated June 24,2020, Published in “People’s Democracy”, Accessed on 4th May, 2021

~~~

 

Dr Aniruddha Babar is a Philosopher, Academician, Published Writer, Poet and a Lawyer.

 

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