Originally Published 2012-02-27 00:00:00 Published on Feb 27, 2012
The poem, one of numerous written in that period, expresses admiration for the spell Nehru had cast by his deft navigation of foreign policy between the two blocs not for India alone but a whole group.
When Arabs Followed The Leadership Of A Hindu They Adored
"Jap raha hai aaj maala ek Hindu ki Arab.
Barhaman-zaadey mein shaan-e-dilbari aisi to ho!"
(The Arab world is chanting the name of a Hindu!
A Brahmin with such ability to win hearts and minds?)

"Hikmat-e-Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru ki Qasam!
Mar mitey Islam jispe, kaafiri aisi to ho!"
(Consider the vision of Pandit Nehru!
A non believer and yet the world of Islam lies at his feet!)

I wonder what would the poet, Raees Amrohvi, (Amroha is in UP) say about India’s Arab policy today.

The poem, one of numerous written in that period, expresses admiration for the spell Nehru had cast by his deft navigation of foreign policy between the two blocs not for India alone but a whole group. A dignified detachment from the cold war was at the heart of this policy. His policy was not an invitation to an Ashram for the recluse. From Asian Relations conference in 1947 to the Afro-Asian bloc to the non-aligned was an evolution of a nation shuffling out of the colonial past.

The anti colonial rhetoric could have been shrill. Nehru kept the measure. While leading nations out of colonialism, he remained in the British Commonwealth. For this he was chastised by the Left whose values he otherwise shared.

Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote:
"Commonwealth ka das yeh Nehru,
Aur tabahi laaney na payee
Maar ley saathi, Jaaney na paaye!"
(Finish him, this Nehru, lackey of the Commonwealth, before he destroys our nation.)

India was then a poor country but it was in the hands of leaders who imparted to its conduct in world affairs a certain dignity, self respect, attracting universal admiration. Rejecting foreign advice without offending; accepting it without fawning.

After your flip flop votes in the Security Council and the General Assembly and now turning up in Tunisia, cap in hand, to join the Friends of Syria Group, (which like the Libyan Contact Group, will end up arming the rebels), do you think you come across to the rest of the world as a nation with a Central Nervous System?

Journalist all over the World must be pained at the death of two Western journalists in Baba Amro enclave of Homs near the Lebanon border. Journalists from the BBC are appealing for help. One of them is injured.

Ten Indian journalists with proper visas have finally reached Damascus. Reports are that six French, British and German military advisers (without visas) are either in detention or cornered in Baba Amro. This is in addition to the 49 Turkish soldiers whose release Ankara is trying to organize through Iran and Moscow.

The situation is not very different from what happened in Libya at about this time last year. Britain’s Defence Secretary Liam Fox confirmed in the House of Commons that British diplomats, intelligence officers and special forces had been held in Benghazi.

Are these small, negligible matters? Foreign diplomats, intelligence and special forces being caught with pants down first, in Libya, and now in Syria, and the world is supposed to look the other way?

Just imagine a scenario on these lines: Post 1989 cross border terrorism is at its peak in Kashmir. This is precisely the period when Sahibzada Yaqub Khan materializes at the Pakistan High Commissioner’s House on Tilak Marg. Veteran journalists like Pran Chopra, Inder Malhotra, K.K. Katyal are all there, listening to the Pakistan Foreign Minister teach us French Expressions which meant "the war of liberation is at an irreversible level". Do remember those days!

Supposing along with the terrorists, journalists, embedded with special forces and equipped with modern communication machines, were also to appear, what would New Delhi do?

Roll out the red carpet or knock the hell out of the cheeky adventurists, summoning the armed forces of which India has aplenty in Kashmir? Well, Syrians have thrown their army right into the foreigners holed up in Baba Amro. Can New Delhi complain?

But on this occasion we appear to be siding with the foreigners and calling them Friends of Syria.

Or has New Delhi fallen for Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau’s blandishments on strategy and energy. After all, in the Great Levant Basin, the US geological survey has confirmed 1.74 billion barrels of Recoverable oil and 122 billion cubic feet of Gas. Indian application for survey were being favourably considered by Damascus which, alas, is shackled by sanctions. Israel is much the more powerful player. Who knows we may have been very clever! I doubt if all this would inspire poetry about Arabs watching Indian statesmanship with breathless adoration!

(The writer is a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation)
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