Bangalore International Centre had a book launch event on Thursday, the 19th May in the evening. The book on recent Indian Foreign Policy, titled “Does the Elephant Dance?” was written by Dr. David Malone, President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre and former High Commissioner of Canada to India. The event was chaired and moderated by the eminent historian and writer, Dr. Ramachandra Guha, who also released the book.
In a scintillating, free- wheeling speech Dr. Malone traced the evolution of foreign policy of India even before Independence and highlighted how the cruel exploitation of Indian economy by the British had shaped the anti-imperialistic approach of the national leaders, and more particularly Jawaharlal Nehru, right from 1920. This approach got consolidated after Independence under the guidance of Nehru who was a liberal democrat; he admired several western values, but detested imperialism in all its manifestation. Dr. Malone analysed the stance taken by India vis-à-vis the western powers and its neighbours to show that it was basically trying to protect its self-interest, both economic and political, and the love-hate relationship it has had with those countries over the years. He was clear that Indian diplomacy has gradually shed its what was often perceived as an arrogant and patronisingly superior attitude and is now understood and appreciated much better around the world.
Dr. Ramachandra Guha pointed out in his observations the very perceptive analysis of the Indian Foreign Policy made by Dr. Malone in his book and stated that his lack of bias was apparent throughout. The interactive session saw Dr. Malone responding to several issues on the bilateral relations between India and China, India and USA, India and Pakistan, India and Nepal and many other countries. The depth of Dr. Malone’s scholarship and understanding of the Indian psyche was clear from those responses. It was an intellectual feast for the packed audience which had braved the rain and peak-hour traffic of Bangalore to listen to Dr. Malone.