India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has been called many things by his detractors—and he still is called many things by his detractors—who blame him for most of India’s ills. But, on top of all that, was Nehru a “naive and romantic statesman” too?
Recently declassified documents of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offer a snapshot of how American policy makers and intelligence officials perceived Nehru, especially in the light of the border dispute with China, and the adjectives are not very flattering.
“Hindi Chini, bhai bhai,” may have been the slogan on the lips, but the documents show that the Americans felt Nehru was being taken for a ride—and that he was either unable to see he was being taken for a ride or unwilling to concede that was being taken for a ride.
The documents make two chief points:
# That Nehru kept disgreements on the border dispute out of the public realm to maintain his friendship with China and its premier Zhou-en-Lai.
# That Zhou played on Nehru’s “Asian, anti-imperialist mental attitude, his proclivity to temporize.”