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A lifetime observing India

A lifetime observing India
Published 23 Oct 2013 

Danielle Rajendram is a Lowy Institute research associate. Her work focuses on Indian foreign and domestic policy, India-China relations and Asian security.


Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow Ric Smith spoke last week at the Australia India Institute on his 50-year relationship with India.

Serving in the Australian High Commission in New Delhi from 1970-1973, Smith is well positioned to reflect on the geopolitical calculations of external powers involved in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, including the US (15:21), USSR (17: 01) and Australia (18:25).

Even more fascinating are his personal recollections of the time, including the story of his assistance to a family fleeing across the border into India from East Pakistan (9:22), and his characterisation of Nixon’s perception of Pakistani President Yahya Khan as 'this drunken general standing tall as a Lincoln-like figure in the midst of a civil war' (19:47).

Smith closes with some thoughts on India’s future, arguing that India will be strategically 'promiscuous' (45:11); that it will work out its relationships according to the issue at the time while always ensuring that it has the independent capability to make the big strategic decisions itself.

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