Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar during Parliamentary debate Speech on International issue & Foreign Policy said ,” The question is: Can communism and free democracy work together ? Can they live together ? Is it possible to hope that there will not be a conflict between them ? The theory, at any rate, seems to me utterly absurd, for communism is like a forest fire; it goes on burning and consuming anything and everything that comes in its way. It is quite possible that countries which are far distant from the centre of communism may feel safe that the forest fire may be extinguished before it reaches them or it may be that the fire may never reach them.”
Here is complete Parliamentary debate Speech of Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar :
Mr. Chairman in this debate on foreign policy what one can do, at the most, is to discuss the principles on which the foreign policy of the Government is based. There is hardly time for doing anything more. Principles are undoubtedly very valuable, but I take it politicians have a great dislike for principles, particularly politicians who are dealing with foreign policy. They like to deal with things ad hoc, each transaction by itself, without any underlying principle.
I remember, that when after the first World War, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Clemenceau met in a hotel in Paris before the Versailles Treaty in order to settle, among themselves, where to draw the line of partition between certain territories belonging to Germany in order to hand them over to France for satisfying the strategic fears of France, they had a long map spread in a room which covered the whole of the room and Lloyd George and Mr. Clemenceau had fallen on their tummy to examine exactly; where the line should be drawn. After a long search they drew the line which was of course, most suitable to France. Afterwards Mr. Lloyd George called Mr. Nicholson, who had accompanied him as the expert from his Foreign Office and asked him to express his opinion about the line which they had drawn. Mr. Nicholson explained in horror saying, “Oh! this is too bad, too bad. Morally quite indefensible”. Both these statesmen immediately turned on their back and raised their legs in the air and said, “Well, Mr. Nicholson, can’t you give us a better reason ?”
I remember also about 1924 or so. Mr. Low, the great cartoonist, having drawn a cartoon in the Evening Standard in London showing the various Foreign Ministers of the different countries of Europe then searching for the settlement of European problems with their top hats, tail coats and striped trousers holding each other’s hands, dancing round and saying, “Oh ! give us peace without principles, give us peace without principles”. Of course, the world laughed at that.
I am glad that that cannot be said of our Prime Minister, He has certain principles on which he is proceeding. It is for the house to decide whether the principles on which he is proceeding are principles which can furnish us a safe guide and whether they are valid principles on which the destiny of this country could be staked. That is the only question that we can discuss and it is to these principles that I am going to confine myself.
The principles on which the Prime Minister is proceeding— and he has said so himself—are mainly three. One is peace : the second is co-existence between communism and free democracy; and the third is opposition to SEATO. These are the three main props on which his Foreign policy is based. Now, Sir, in order that one may be able to assess the validity and the adequacy of these principles, I think, it is necessary to have some knowledge of the background of the present day problems with which we are concerned and for which these principles are enunciated.
Now, the background, to my mind is nothing else but the expansion of communism in the world. It is quite impossible to follow the principle or to understand the validity and the nature of the principle unless one bears in mind the problem that the world has to face today—that part of the world which believes in parliamentary and free democracy, viz., the expansion of communism in the world. I propose to give some figures to the House which I have collected in this matter. I am not going back into the long past but I am going to start from May 1945 when the War came to an end. By May 1945, Russia had consumed ten European States
Now, Sir, I was saying that if we take stock of the situation from May 1945, and find out what has happened, this is the situation. Russia has consumed, as I said, ten European States: one is Finland; two, Estonia; three, Latvia; four, Lithuania; five, Poland; six, Czechoslovakia, seven; Hungary; eight, Rumania; nine, Bulgaria; and ten, Albania
In addition, Russia has taken possession of parts of Germany, Austria, Norway and the Danish Island of Bornholm. Of these ten European States, three have been straightway annexed by Russia and made part of her country. The rest seven are kept under Russian influence. This European conquest of Russia amounts to an absorption of a total of 85,000 square miles and 23 millions of people subjugated. In the Far East, Russia has annexed the Chinese territory of China (Tannu Tuva). Manchuria, and Korea, north of the 38th parallel, and Southern Sakhalin. This territory in the Far East represents against a total area of 20,000 square miles and 500,000 inhabitants
They have increased the number by further aggression in South Korea and Indo-China.
Well, Sir, this is the background, I say against which the adequacy of the principles on which the foreign policy of this Government is based must be considered. I will take first the principle of peace. We want peace; nobody wants war. The only question is, what the price of this peace is going to be. At what price are we purchasing this peace ? Now, it is quite obvious that peace is being purchased by what might be called partitioning and dis-membering of countries. I can quite understand the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary where different nationalities with different languages, different cultures, different races, were kept together under one sovereign autocracy of the Austrian Empire. The first World War brought about the end of the Austrian Empire on the well-known principle of self-determination. But here what you are doing is this. There are countries which are culturally one, which are socially homogeneous, which have one language, one race, one destiny, desiring to live together. You go there, cut them up and divide the carcase, and hand over a part of the carcase to what ? To countries who are interested in spreading communism. From the figures which I have given there can be no doubt about it that communist countries today are as big as a giant—nobody has seen a giant—I have not seen anyhow ….
And he is supposed to be one of the biggest individuals or persons that can be imagined. Here you have a vast country endlessly occupied in destroying other people, absorbing them within its fold on the theory that it is liberating them. The Russian liberation, so far as I can understand, is liberation followed by servitude; it is not liberation followed by freedom. But the point is this—and it worries me considerably. You are, by this kind of a peace, doing nothing more but feeding the giant every time the giant opens his jaw and wants something to eat. When you are feeding the giant regularly and constantly, the question that I should ask myself is this. Is it not conceivable that this giant may one day turn to us and say: “I have now consumed everything that there was to be consumed : you are the only person that remains, and I want to consume you”.
This principle of feeding the giant seems to me a most obnoxious principle and how, for instance as I said can we expect to be relieved ? Will the Russians show any gratitude because the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian Parliament have supported the partition of Indo-China or supported the partition of Korea, and will they not turn to us ? I think this is a question which the Indians should bear in mind and not forget or overlook.
Now the other question, namely, co-existence. This coexistence to my mind is an astounding principle unless it is very strictly limited. The question is : Can communism and free democracy work together ? Can they live together ? Is it possible to hope that there will not be a conflict between them ? The theory, at any rate, seems to me utterly absurd, for communism is like a forest fire; it goes on burning and consuming anything and everything that comes in its way. It is quite possible that countries which are far distant from the centre of communism may feel safe that the forest fire may be extinguished before it reaches them or it may be that the fire may never reach them. But what about the countries which are living in the vicinity of this forest fire ? Can you expect that human habitation and this forest fire can long live together ? I have seen comments from Canadian statesmen and from European statesmen congratulating the policy of co-existence. Their praises and their encomiums do not move me in the least. I attach no value to their view and to their opinion. The statesmen of Canada can very easily say that co-existence is possible because Canada is separated from China and Russia by thousands and thousands of miles. Similarly, England after having pulled itself out from the great conflagration, now thinks that she is too exhausted to do anything and therefore likes to enunciate and support the principle of co-existence. But there again it is a matter of distance. One must not forget that in the foreign policy of a country the geographical factor is one of the most important factors. Each country’s foreign policy must vary with its geographical location in relation to the factor with which it is dealing. What is good for Canada may not be good for us. What is good for England may not be good for us. Therefore, this co-existence seems to me a principle which has been adopted without much thought on the part of the Prime Minister.
Then, Sir, I will say a few words with regard to the SEATO. I was very carefully listening to the Prime Minister’s observations with regard to the SEATO, and I was glad to find that he had not made up his mind about the SEATO. If I heard him correctly, he said that in view of the fact that this country has accepted the chairmanship of some commission in accordance with the Geneva decisions it may not be compatible for him and for this country to join the SEATO at the same time. The two things would undoubtedly be incompatible. But apart from that I think the merits of the SEATO must be considered.
The repugnance to SEATO appears to me to arise from two sources. I think I am not letting out any secret nor am I accusing the Prime Minister of anything of which he does not know, that the Prime Minister had a certain amount of hostility, or if he does not like that word, estrangement between himself and the United States. Somehow he and the U.S.A. do not see eye to eye together. That is one reason why I think he always had a certain amount of repugnance to anything that comes from the United States.
And secondly from the fear of what Russia will think if India joins the SEATO. Here again, I think, it is necessary to give the House some background against which the merits of the SEATO may be assessed. Now, Sir, what is the background of all this ? The background is this.
I have given a list of countries which have gone under the Russian regime. I think it is well known that this happened largely because, if I may say so, of the foolishness of the Americans during the last Great War. The Russians got possession of these territories with the consent of Mr. Roosevelt and with the reluctant willingness of Mr. Churchill. Mr. Churchill expressed, when the war ended that they had done a great mistake, and a great wrong, in sacrificing the liberty of so many nations for the sake of winning victory against Hitler. And the same feeling, I think, is expressed by him in his last volume which he called “Triumph and Tragedy”. It is because of this that he named his last volume “Triumph and Tragedy”. Now, Sir, what the Americans are doing. If I understand, their policy correctly, is this. Their point of view is that Russia should be satisfied with what she has got during the war, the ten countries. As a matter of fact. I should have thought that it should have been the duty of the Americans and the Britishers to extricate these countries, to liberate them, to make them free. But neither country has the will, nor the moral stamina, nor the desire to engage itself in such a stupendous task. They are therefore following, what may be called a second line of defence, and that second line of defence is that Russia should not be allowed, or China should not be allowed to occupy any further part of the free world. I think that is the principle to which all freedom-loving people would agree. There could be no objection to it. And it is to prevent Russia from making further aggression that they are planning the SEATO. The SEATO is not an organisation for committing aggression on any country. The SEATO is an organisation for the purpose of preventing agression on free countries. I wonder whether the Prime Minister will not be prepared to accept this principle, that at any rate, such part of the free world as has, by accident, remained free should be allowed to remain free and not to be subjugated . Is India not exposed to aggression ? I should have thought that it is very much exposed to aggression. I have no time. Otherwise, I was going to point the House how this country has been completely encircled on one side by Pakistan and the other Muslim countries. I do not know what is going to happen, but now that the barrier between Egypt and England has been removed by the handing over of the Suez Canal, I think, there may be very little difficulty in the Muslim countries joining with Pakistan and forming a block on that side. On this side by allowing the Chinese to take possession of Lhasa, the Prime Minister has practically helped the Chinese to bring their border down to the Indian border. Looking at all these things, it seems to me that it would be an act of levity not to believe that India, if it is not exposed to aggression right now, is exposed to aggression and that—aggression might well be committed by people who always are in the habit of committing aggression.
Now, I come to the other question. What will Russia say if we join SEATO ? And the question that I like to ask is this. What is the key-note of Russian foreign policy ? What is it ? The key note of our foreign policy is to solve the problems of the other countries, and not to solve the problems of our own. We have here the problem of Kashmir. We have never succeeded in solving it. Everybody seems to have forgotten that it is a problem. But I suppose, some day, we may wake up and find that the ghost is there. And I find that the Prime Minister has launched upon the project of digging a tunnel connecting Kashmir to India. Sir, I think, it is one of the most dangerous things that a Prime Minister could do. We have been hearing of a tunnel under the English Channel to connect France with England. We have been hearing it for 50 years, I think someone has been proposing, and yet the English have never done anything to carry out the project, because it is a double-edged weapon. The enemy, if he conquers France, can use the tunnel and rush troops into England and conquer England. That might also happen. The Prime Minister, in digging the tunnel, thinks that he alone would be able to use it. He does not realise that it can always be a two-way traffic, and that a conqueror who comes on the other side and captures Kashmir, can come away straight to Pathankot, and probably come into the Prime Minister’s house—I do not know
Yes. The Prime Minister has been depending upon what may be called the Panchsheel taken by Mr. Mao and recorded in the Tibet Treaty of non-aggression. Well, I am somewhat surprised that the Prime Minister should take this Panchsheel seriously. The Panchsheel, as you, Sir, know it well, is the essential part of the Buddhist religion, and if Mr. Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhists in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics and secondly, not in the politics of a communist country. The communist countries have two well-known principles on which they always act. One is that morality is always in a flux. There is no morality. Today’s morality is not tomorrow’s morality.
You can keep your word in accordance with the morality of today and you can break your word with equal justification tomorrow because tomorrow’s morality will be different. The second thing is that when the Russian Communist State is dealing with the other States, each transaction is a unit by itself. When we deal with somebody, we begin with goodwill and end with gratitude. When the Russians deal with somebody, they do not begin with goodwill, nor do they end with any gratitude. Each transaction begins and ends by itself, and this is what I am sure the Prime Minister will find at the end when the situation ripens. The Prime Minister has always been saying that there is such a thing as the principle, “Asia for Asiatics”. Yes, in so far as colonialism is concerned, that principle is perfectly true. Asia must be for Asiatics, but we are dealing with a situation like this ? Is Asia one today ? In what sense ? Asia is divided now, it is a divided house now. More than half of Asia is communist. It has adopted a different principle of life and a different principle of Government. The rest of Asia follows a different life and a different principle of Government. What unity can there be among Asiatics ? What is the use of talking about Asia for Asiatics ? There can be no such thing at all. Asia is already becoming the cockpit of war and strife among Asians themselves. Therefore, it is better to align ourselves with what we call free nations if we believe in freedom.
Disclaimer :Parliamentary Speech of Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar extracted from Writing and Speeches of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Volume 15