India has always been known as a peace-loving country. She championed the cause of peace in the world. Being a large intry, India has a long border and many neighbours with whom has traditionally maintained friendly and good-neighbourly relatIons. In her relations with her neighbours, Indi? has been awing the five principles of the famous Panchsheel, which have Mid dividends. The keynote of India’s policy towards her neigh-DOUrs is further growth of mutually beneficial cooperation and Understanding in various fields, ensuring maximum harmonious and DOrdlal relations. Respect for each other’s territorial integrity, BOn-interference in each other’s internal affairs, peaceful co-existence,Afghanistan, ‘ Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Maldive, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and China are India’s neighbours. With the exception of China and Pakistan, India has very cordial and friendly relation with all her neighbours.
The relations between India and Afghanistan have been marked by increasingly friendly cooperation in the economic, technical and cultural fields. The visits of the Prime Minister and other ministers of Afghanistan to India in 1975 further widened the area of cooperation between the two neighbours in economic, political and developmental fields.
Indo-Bangladesh relations continued to be further strengthened and consolidated in all spheres in the spirit of close friendship, mutual confidence and cooperation. It was in the spirit of goodwill and cooperation that the land boundary question between the two countries was settled for the cause of peace, welfare and progress of the peoples of the two countries. The visit of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to India and that of Shri V.V. Giri to Bangladesh in 1974 provided an opportunity to the two nations to strengthen the growing ties of cooperation between them. After the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the policy of Bangladesh towards India witnessed a change. There are some points of disagreement which, according to India, can be settled by bilateral negotiations. Farakka accord on sharing of Ganga Waters signed in September 1977 is a historic agreement negotiated between India and Bang la Desh.
The bonds of traditional friendship which have consistently been the hall-mark of Indo-Bhutan relations were renewed and strengthened through high-level exchange of visits. In June 1974 the then President of India Shri V.V. Giri visited Bhutan. His Majesty King Jigme Singhye Wangchuck paid a state visit to India in December 1974. During these visits the two Heads of State reaffirmed their faith in the valued friendship and agreed to further intensification of contacts. India agreed to provide whatever assistance Bhutan needed for development aid.
India’s relations with Burma continue to be cordial and friendly. President U Ne Win of Burma paid a goodwill visit to India and had a friendly exchange of views with the President of India on a variety of subjects of mutual interest and dealing with international and bilateral issues.
The relations between India and the Republic of Maldive have been strengthened by growing co-operation between the two countries in economic, educational and technical fields. The Prime Minister of Maldive visited India in 1974 and the Prime Minister of India visited Maldive in 1975. These visits contributed signi-
flcuntly to the consolidation of close ties between the two nations on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.
India’s relations with Nepal have been characterised by warmth IBd friendship. In August/September 1974 there was some strain In mutual relations, but soon the relations normalised and both the countries agreed to continue to work for strengthening their bilatral relations in all fields, on the basis of sovereign equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
The Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan after the 1971 Indo-Pak war was the culmination of India’s efforts for restoration of peace and reconciliation in the sub-continent. But owing to fulse apprehensions Pakistan has failed to extend her cooperation towards normalisation of relations with India. Pakistan gave a negative twist to the peaceful nuclear explosion by India and levelled lome unwarranted and baseless allegations against India. Thus the progress towards restoration of friendly relations with this immediate neighbour of India has been rather slow. In July 197o the two countries agreed to resume rail, road and air communications. It was a further step towards normalisation of relations between the two neighbours. Visit of India’s External Affairs Minister to Pakistan in February 1978 gave a new turn to the relations between the two countries, when they agreed to improve their relations on tile basis of equality, non-interference and goodwill.
India’s friendly relations with Sri Lanka were further streng->• thened by exchange of visits and collaboration in political, Iklacbnological and economic fields. The long outstanding problem Hn* Kachchativu has been settled amicably. The sea zone dispute •Mtween India and Sri Lanka was peacefully resolved in March I?l976, and an agreement was reached between the two parties, Pfigarding their fishing rights in the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of ‘” Mannar. Despite India’s efforts to seek normalisation of relations with it China, there was no response from the Chinese side. Consequently wfiwre was no significant change in India’s relations with China. frBllides reiterating in public statements its desire to normalise P friatlons with China, the Government of India came forth with f* OtTtain positive gestures towards this end. It allowed the members i’ W Dr. Kotnis Memorial Committee to visit China in May 1974. * lUha also played host, inter alia, to a Chinese team of the World TlbU Tennis Championship held in Calcutta in February 1975. 1 Although Chinese leaders have gone on record to say that China l’Wady to develop good neighbourly relations with the countries tb0 sub-continent, Chinese actions vis-a-vis India did not match professions. The Chinese, publicity media have been carrying Oft afltl-India propaganda. China also decried India’s explosion of H nuclear device in 1974 and raised the bogey of nuclear black-Unit by India, in order to create suspicion and mistrust between and her neighbours. In spite of continuing unfriendly and rather hostile postures on the part of China, India’s policy towards this neighbour continued to be one of restraint and desire to normalise relations. This resulted in mutual exchange of ambassadors between the two countries. A Chinese goodwill mission visited India in March 1978. Earlier a Chinese trade delegation visited India in February 1978 and participated in cultural events. These events show that the process of normalisation was going ahead. India’s External Affairs Minister has received an invitation from China and he is to visit that country very soon. It is hoped that the relations between the two countries will improve.