A CRITICAL HISTORY OF RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, 1947-1989

Open Access
Author:
Bernstein, Peter Jeremy
Area of Honors:
History
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Baruch Halpurn, Thesis Supervisor
  • Catherine Wanner, Honors Advisor
  • John Philip Jenkins, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • India
  • South Asia
Abstract:
A Critical History of Relations between the United States and the Republic of India, 1947-1989, is an attempt to answer two important questions concerning the US-Indo relationship during its first forty years. The first question asks why the relationship was so poor during the first three decades after Indian independence in 1947; The second question how the relationship improved during Ronald Reagan’s presidency (1981-1989). To answer these questions, this study examines the most important periods of interaction between the two countries. It is not an exhaustive study of all that occurred during the period, but rather a critical look at how both sides handled some of the most pressing issues that arose during the first four decades after 1947. The thesis that emerges from this investigation is that during the first three decades both sides displayed enormous failures of diplomatic competence. In some cases, the impetus for these failures was the elevation of ideological convictions above pragmatic necessity, while in others it was simply poor understanding of how best to further the relationship within the framework of each countries’ respective goals. Thus, it was not fundamental contradictions in each sides’ prospective goals that facilitated enmity, but rather poor diplomacy. The study then poses that both India—under several leaders—and the United States, under Reagan, were able to cast aside doctrinaire ideology in order to prioritize a working relationship. This in turn laid the framework for what has become today an important alliance and friendship between the world’s two largest democracies.