India Britain's Defence Diplomacy

India Britain's Defence Diplomacy

After Indian defeat in the 1962 war, India decided to go for defence modernisation. The British and the US saw it as an opportunity to make India lean towards the West. India's focus was on technical support so that suppliers could provide it arms under a licence, helping India to diversify its suppliers' range. 

The Russians offered what India demanded while the British linked supplies to the revival of Kashmir talks with Pakistan. India rejected the British conditionality and went ahead with its arrangement with the Russians, thereby costing the British a supply market.

The 1965 war was a game changer. When India witnessed Pakistani infiltration, it retaliated with an attack on Pakistan. The attack affected the Punjab region of Pakistan. The British branded India as an aggressor and began alienating India.

The period of 1960s was one of global decolonisation. The British lost a majority of its offshore territory. The British came to accept close relations with the US as being in their national interest

India perceived it as Britain's pro-West alliance. Any intervention by the British in South Asia was now perceived by India as Cold War politics and a deliberate design of the British to promote the Western cause. India thus became very concerned and cautious of the growing US-British axis.

However, the British and the US coming closer did not mean that the British became a power subservent to the US. In 1966, India faced economic crisis. The US took it as an opportunity to advice India undertake devaluation and adopt the IMF reforms package.

The Bank of England did not toe the US line on this and in fact declined IMF support. It also dissented with the World Bank when it advocated India to go for devaluation. The same disagreements on geopolitical issues began to emerge from late 1960s between India and the Changes and shifts to British. The Indo-British divergence was especially visible when India signed the Treaty of Friendship with USSR in 1971.

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