By Ashok Kapur
April 2007. Volume 10. Number 35. AAKROSH
China adopted a novel approach towards the subcontinent precisely when the American and Russian political classes were busy shaping their international rivalry by orchestrating an ideological conflict (capitalism and democracy versus socialism and a statist economy), by organizing world power through a pattern of militaristic policies and competitive co-existence and a damaging arms race, and by building a set of alliances on the opportunistic and temporary principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The two superpowers developed a bipolar East-West axis, and this became the dominant frame of reference for policymakers and it defined the mental map of the practitioners. Third-world leaders such as Nehru argued against the dangers of the Cold War, but their policies remained tied to the reality of a bipolar world. Unlike all other major powers, Nehru and the Indian Congress party propagated the virtue of the third world as a zone of peace, and rejected war and power as the basis of national and international relations, and instead sought a peaceful engagement with the major power centres of the world.