Iran’s Crisis of Legitimacy
An Embattled Regime Faces Mass Protests—and an Ailing Supreme Leader
AFTER centuries of inertia, Asia today is wide awake and on the move. From Cairo to Manila, vast populations only recently emerged from colonialism are struggling to take shape as modern nations. Some Westerners find this new situation both bewildering and unpleasant. Some diplomats, indeed, confronted for the first time with the task of assessing the impact of their policies on Asia, find themselves yearning for the "good old days" when the European's word was law. But there are other Westerners--and I believe them to be a substantial majority in America--who look to this new Asia with hope and expectancy. They see developing there a democratic opportunity for hundreds of millions of their fellow human beings who have long been denied the right to choose their own governments and the means to achieve a better life.
The challenge to us is to reaffirm what is best in our long liberal tradition. By pursuing sympathetic, intelligent and patient policies the West will find it possible to work with most of the Asian nations on the basis of mutual respect and understanding in the building of a more stable world. By shirking the task of understanding Asia, and by refusing to recognize the realities of 1952, the West will surely alienate a vast continent and may eventually bring about its own downfall.
Even if we show the best of intentions we shall encounter many pitfalls. For years to come, fundamental differences in the cultural backgrounds of Asians and Americans and in their ways of life will make it difficult for each side to understand the other. Some Western visitors to India, for instance, still see only the Rudyard Kipling-Katherine Mayo land of tiger-hunting maharajas, sacred cows and cobras, against an endless backdrop of tradition-bound, poverty-stricken humanity. But for the visitor who looks below the surface there is a new and immensely exciting India--a five-year-old democracy of 360,000,000 people, working earnestly and with considerable success to solve their country's staggering problems. The outcome of this great Indian effort will profoundly affect the world in which we live. Indeed, the success or failure of the effort being made in India and other Asian countries to create an alternative to Communism in Asia may mark one of those historic turning points which determine the flow of events for many generations.
In China 500,000,000 people are working under a ruthless Communist dictatorship to increase Chinese food production, expand Chinese industry, strengthen the Chinese armed forces and indoctrinate Chinese youth with an aggressive Communist faith --all in the interest of an alien imperialism. A revolutionary challenge such as this cannot be met successfully with slogans, or with vituperation and threats. It can be met over the years only by the example of other Asians who are able to demonstrate in unmistakable terms that democracy not only guarantees the rights of the individuals, but also provides the most practical and quickest means to raise the living standards of the people.
Thus the future of Asia, and eventually the world balance of power, may rest on the competition between democratic India on the one hand and Communist China on the other. If democracy succeeds in India, regardless of what happens in China, millions of Asian doubters will develop new faith in themselves, in their ancient cultures, and in the ideals of the free world.
What, then, is the outlook for the future of democracy in India? What, to begin with, has the record been since India won her independence five years ago? An objective study of this record must convince any unprejudiced observer that the new Indian Republic is off to a remarkable start.
During the five-year period India has set up a democratic state which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion to all citizens and freedom to vote to all men and women over 21 years of age. The Indian Constituton has drawn generously from the Constitutions of the United States and of other Western countries. The Indian judiciary generally follows Anglo-Saxon systems of jurisprudence.
To organize the Indian Republic was in itself a tremendous task. When the country became independent, five years ago this past August, there were nine partially self-governing provinces and four small centrally-administered provinces. In addition, there were 584 princely states. Of these only Kashmir, Hyderabad and Mysore were of significant size, while 202 had areas of less than ten square miles. Although theoretically responsible to British officials, many of the petty autocrats who previously ruled these states held the power of life and death over their subjects. In most of them there was little to differentiate the ruler's private bank account from the public reserves.
These feudal relics are now gone. Mysore, Hyderabad and Kashmir were established as separate states in their entirety. All of the former princely territories, covering an area of 588,000 square miles with a total population of more than 100,000,000 people, have been merged with each other, or with the former provinces, or otherwise integrated into workable administrative units. India now consists of 28 states which have much the same relationship to the central government as the 48 states of our American Union. The maharajas have been paid off with lifetime pensions, which although sizable by ordinary standards amount to a small fraction of their original princely incomes. Democratic institutions have been broadly established.
This extraordinary transition was accomplished largely by persuasion and with almost no violence. Kashmir, still torn between India and Pakistan, remains a sore spot. But it is a tribute to the wisdom of the princes and Congress leaders alike that there were not 50 Kashmirs.
Last winter India held her first nation-wide election. One hundred and six million citizens cast their votes. This is a higher percentage of those eligible to vote than is likely to go to the polls this year in our American elections. They came by bullock cart, by bus, by truck and on foot, and the women voters were as numerous as the men. There was free speech, and some of it very free indeed. Yet violence was rare, and there was no scandal.
Democratic assemblies based more or less on the British parliamentary system were elected in all of the states. A central government was chosen, made up of the House of the People, similar to the British House of Commons, elected by direct vote, and the Council of States, elected by indirect vote, mostly by the members of the state assemblies. Jawaharlal Nehru, as the leader of the majority party, was chosen Prime Minister. The President, whose powers are similar to those of the President of France, was elected by the combined vote of all members of the state and central assemblies.
India's success in unravelling a feudal-colonial complex involving 360,000,000 people, speaking a hundred different languages and with strong religious differences, and turning it into a united, effective democracy in five years' time will go down in history as a spectacular achievement. The bulk of the credit belongs to the Indian leaders and the Indian people. But most of them would be quick to grant a generous share to British public servants such as Lord Mountbatten, and to those many princes who peacefully turned over their power and authority to democratic governments.
The democratic organization of the new Indian Republic is only one chapter in the story. The record of parallel achievement in the economic field is all the more remarkable because it has been accomplished with only a moderate amount of foreign aid. Since 1947 the Indian Government has coped successfully with a refugee problem substantially greater than the one faced in Western Germany and involving five or six times more people than that which arose in the Near East. There has not been a penny of outside assistance. Today the great majority of the 8,000,000 refugees from areas which are now part of Pakistan are self-supporting. Only a relatively small minority are still receiving assistance from the Government and only 72,000 remain in camps --a figure which is being rapidly reduced.
The Indian rupee, valued at approximately 21 cents, is sound. During 1951 the Indian Government incurred new debts of $105,000,000; but in the same period it retired $180,000,000 of outstanding internal debt. Public works costing far more than this were paid for out of income. Future economic development will be guided by the new Five Year Plan, first presented in draft form a year ago. Because India's biggest problem is food, this plan properly places its primary emphasis on increased agricultural production.
India's huge and rapidly-growing population has often suffered from a shortage of food. Her history records many famines. In 1943, 3,000,000 people died of famine in a single province. The partition of colonial India between the Republic of India and Pakistan in 1947 involved the loss of extensive agricultural lands and made the food problem even more critical. Now, however, government officials are confident that by 1956 India can raise enough food to support the growing population, and at a higher dietary level. They point to the facts that the density of population is far less in India than in Italy and only a little more than half that in Great Britain, Germany and Japan; and that the annual population increase on a percentage basis is no greater than that in the United States, and substantially less than in Puerto Rico or Japan. Pilot studies have demonstrated that with India's year-round growing season, she can, if need be, double her food production once modern agricultural techniques and sufficient irrigation water are made available to the peasants.
And yet the hard, practical problems of the immediate future cannot be ignored. Some 50,000,000 tons of grain, in addition to other foods, are now required yearly to supply the average Indian daily diet of 1,800 calories. Last year India was able to produce only 45,000,000 tons because of the failure of the monsoon rains, and had to import 5,000,000 tons from abroad. More than half of this grain came from the United States, part of it paid for in cash, part by a loan. In the present year substantial imports again are necessary. This means that simply in order to maintain her present inadequate diet India must continue to spend some $600,000,000 in foreign exchange, which might otherwise be used to build up her steel industry, expand her transportation system and provide new factory jobs for Indian workers.
The Indian Five Year Plan boldly sets out to meet this challenge. The aim is to attain an annual production of 10,000,000 additional tons of food by 1956, and also a substantial increase in cotton. If these goals are reached, the average daily diet can be improved, food and cotton imports will no longer be necessary, and foreign exchange can flow at a much higher ratio into industrial expansion.
One of the first steps in increasing Indian food production is to provide the farmers with greater incentives, and in this connection the first effort being made is to give millions of them ownership of the land they till and to free them from the grip of the money lenders. For several years land reforms were held up by court disputes over what constituted adequate compensation for the landlords. In April 1952 the Indian Supreme Court handed down its decision and now the state governments are free to move rapidly ahead. Intense opposition from strongly entrenched and politically powerful landlords will, however, continue. If the Congress Party is to retain the confidence of the peasants, this opposition will have to be squarely met.
New lands are also being rapidly opened up for cultivation. Several million acres, long unused because of deep-growing weeds, malarial conditions or for other reasons, will soon be adding substantially to India's food supply. But the major increase in food production is expected to come through better use of land which is already under cultivation, and here the opportunities are very great.
Indian farmers have always made much poorer use of fertilizers than have the Chinese; their seeds often are of low quality; and hundreds of billions of gallons of water which could vastly increase food production on parched lands are being wasted for lack of adequate irrigation systems. In many villages farming methods remain much as they were before the British occupation. These problems are being tackled by the new Indian Government to the limit of its resources, supplemented by American Point Four assistance. All over the country, teams of agricultural extension workers are demonstrating what spectacular increases in food production are possible through modern methods of tillage, adequate fertilizers, improved seeds and better use of water.
The village-to-village program which is now unfolding is said to represent the biggest combined attack ever attempted anywhere on low agricultural production, disease and illiteracy. On October 1, 1952, the central Indian Government, in coöperation with the states, is scheduled to open up 55 community development areas, each containing on the average 200,000 people, or a total of 11,000,000. If sufficient financing is available, the program will be expanded to cover one-third of all the villages in India in the next four years.
One hundred village workers are assigned to each of these development areas. This means an average of one worker for each three villages or for each 1,800 people. These village workers, 3,000 of whom are just completing their training, will work with the villagers to increase agricultural production, improve sanitation standards, eliminate malaria and establish schools and adult literacy classes. To each development area, in addition, there will be assigned 22 specialists in engineering, education, public health and the various phases of agriculture to back up the village workers in their respective fields. More than 50 American extension workers are now actively engaged throughout India as consultants in the planning and development of this huge program. One hundred thousand tons of fertilizer purchased with Point Four funds will soon be available. American jeeps, D. D. T. for malaria control and steel for the production of improved tools by village blacksmiths are being put to work.
As I write, the exact amount of American aid for the present fiscal year remains undetermined. It is hoped that 55 more development areas, including an additional 11,000,000 people, can be opened up early in the coming winter, and that sufficient American supplies and technicians will be available to help carry this great program forward. But no one can accuse the Indian Government of sitting back and letting Uncle Sam carry the load. For every dollar of American aid going into this community development program, there are eight dollars in Indian rupees.
Another major part of the Indian agricultural effort is to increase irrigation. Present plans call for 8,000,000 acres of newly-irrigated land from major river valley developments by late 1956, plus another 8,000,000 acres from tube wells, improvements of present irrigation systems, additional shallow wells, storage ponds and other sources.
Three groups of big dams modelled on our T. V. A. or Boulder Dam systems are now being built at Damodar, Hiarkud and Bakhra-Nangal--the last-named alone to irrigate 3,300,000 acres annually. This is 70 percent more than is serviced by Grand Coulee, at present the largest irrigation system in the world. Point Four funds will provide bulldozers, pumps and other essential equipment for many of these irrigation projects. They also will help with the tube well program; our 1952 budget provides for 2,000 such wells to be dug, mostly in the great Gangetic basin of north India, each of them to irrigate an average of some 400 acres. They will pay for themselves in six or seven years. As in the case of the Community Development Program, this American contribution will be a small but essential part of the total investment.
Additional United States funds are going into an all-out campaign against malaria. The Ministry of Health and the Rockefeller Foundation estimate that there are 80,000,000 cases of malaria in India and more than 1,000,000 deaths each year. According to the experts, almost all of this human misery, to say nothing of the drag on India's productive capacity, can be wiped out in four years. The cost will be $23,000,000 for D.D.T., jeeps, trucks and spray machines and an equal amount in rupees for Indian labor and materials.
If sufficient American aid is made available by Congress, and if India continues her own present intensive effort to solve her great problems, there is every reason to hope that the great goal of the Five Year Plan--agricultural self-sufficiency by 1956--will be achieved. If it is, the new India will also have taken a long forward step in the world-wide struggle of democracy against Communist totalitarianism.
Even so, there are many urgent problems which will still remain unsolved, and one of the most important of them is the course of India's future industrial development. As Indian agriculture moves forward toward the Five Year Plan goal, fewer people will be required to raise the food needed to feed India's huge population. These workers will then be free for roadbuilding, construction, village industries, mining, and factory work in Indian cities. The transition will call for most careful planning. Foreign exchange totalling some $600,000,000 annually, now being spent for foreign food, must be largely diverted to industrial development. New capital, domestic and foreign, must be coaxed into constructive investment. New industrial managers must be trained. Here again there is every reason to be hopeful.
In the eighteenth century, at the time of the British occupation, India possessed a textile industry, technical skills and a level of artisanship that placed her in many ways well ahead of Western Europe. In the nineteenth century, under pressure from British manufacturers, the industrial development of India was first curtailed and finally brought almost to a halt. One hundred years ago it was actually against the law for an Englishman to buy apparel made from Indian cloth. The basis for the modern Indian industrial plant was laid just before the First World War. Since then industrial development has moved forward gradually until today the statistics show that India is the eighth largest industrial country in the world. In view of her vast population, however, these particular statistics only emphasize how far she still has to go.
India is rich in natural resources. Her iron ore deposits are among the largest and purest in the world. She is one of the world's largest suppliers of manganese and mica. But her steel production is only a little more than 1,000,000 tons. Almost every major city in the country is short of industrial power. Her jute industry is her biggest dollar earner; but though it is the largest in the world, many of the plants need modernization.
Considerable progress is already being made in meeting these shortages. The many multi-purpose river valley projects now under construction should result in increasing hydroelectric capacity by two-thirds by 1957. Nearly one-fourth of the entire budget of the Indian central government is now being expended on these projects; and the total sum is expected to reach one billion dollars over the next five years, practically all of it to be coming from current revenue. Similar progress is in view in other fields. A plan is now under consideration by the World Bank which could increase India's steel production 70 percent by 1955, with the possibility of an additional 350,000 tons in that same period. The Indian railroads which were badly run down at the end of the war are being rehabilitated; and the program of modernization is being helped by a $33,000,000 loan from the International Bank. India's oil resources are at present very small, but there is some hope of future development. Meanwhile, one American oil company and one British group have completed contracts to build two large modern oil refineries in India, and a contract with another American company is under discussion.
Although the opportunity for future economic growth is great, once the present food deficits have been eliminated, the precise pattern of development is by no means clear. In theory, at least, most Indian leaders would prefer an economic system based on democratic Socialism. But in practice there are few who believe that Socialism could actually work in India except under the thumb of a dictatorial government, which would be no more welcome in India than in the United States. The preference of the average Indian leader for Socialism originates in the fact that the kind of capitalism which he considers as an alternative is not the incentive system which has been developed in the United States, but a European cartel monopoly concept based on high prices, wide profit margins and limited production. For this reason they believe themselves faced with a choice of evils, and this has resulted in a certain degree of confusion and contradiction in Indian industrial economic policy.
Fortunately, more and more Indian leaders are beginning to recognize that our American system of private enterprise is both far more efficient than Socialism and infinitely more socially conscious than the cartel capitalism which they have seen introduced from Europe. American businessmen who have visited in India in the last few months have seen tangible evidence of this new understanding. The three oil companies, which are now building refineries in India, for instance, were given 25-year guarantees against nationalization, and offered other inducements which would scarcely have been considered a year or two ago. Many observers believe that the Indian Government could afford to go further in offering practical inducements to new investors, domestic and foreign alike. Recently there has been considerable interest in the concepts introduced in Puerto Rico, where tax moratoriums on new investment and other inducements have resulted in rapid industrial development.
One possibility recently under discussion is the closer integration of the Japanese and Indian economies. Japan has a steel industry producing 6,000,000 tons annually, but at present is now forced to purchase much of her iron ore in the United States, which of course makes costs extremely high. India would gladly sell Japan substantial amounts of iron ore and some pig iron; indeed, as much as 5,500,000 tons of iron ore could be exported to Japan annually. What is needed is a rail link from an important source of iron ore in Orissa to the seacoast, plus the development of port facilities to handle the loading.
One thing, at least, is certain about India's future economic development. Whatever the system which emerges during the next few years, it will not be an imported carbon copy from America, Russia or any other foreign country. Another prediction which seems safe is that if political stability continues, India will develop a mixed economy, which, while borrowing generously from our American experience, will involve considerably more planning and tighter controls over the flow of capital. Most Indian government leaders are convinced that this is necessary in an underdeveloped country struggling to put its feet on firm economic ground. But side by side with this conviction is a growing belief that increased incentives to foreign as well as Indian investors must be a basic part of the plans for future development.
India's new economic strength, however, is not to be based solely on new steel mills, new railroads and new power. Because transportation and housing are so inadequate, much of the industrial development must be decentralized and kept close to the villages. The need for small-scale industrial developments and cooperatives in rural areas will become increasingly apparent during the next two or three years as the effort to strengthen agriculture begins to pay dividends in the form of increasing food production.
Pilot studies in many parts of India have indicated that substantial increases in food production will be readily attainable within three or four years in those areas where more irrigation and commercial fertilizer can be provided, along with better seeds, better methods of planting and improved simple tools. Since most Indian villagers are not now getting enough to eat, some of this increased food production will be consumed by the cultivators and their families; but a major portion will be available to the cultivators in increased purchasing power, and in many areas this amount will be further increased through the new land reform programs which assure the cultivators a higher proportion of each crop. But this increase in food production will not be automatic. It can be assured only if the cultivators are given the incentives to produce the extra food made possible by modern techniques. If the incentives are lacking, the use of more modern techniques will merely reduce the number of hours spent by the cultivators in the fields.
This possibility has been clearly recognized. Studies are now under way in many villages, and as the community development program proceeds, knowledge of how to meet this challenge should rapidly increase. The answer lies largely in making more consumer goods available in the village bazaars at reasonable prices. There are tens of millions of Indians who have never owned a pair of shoes or a change of clothing. The market for new cooking equipment and simple comforts is almost unlimited.
Many students of the Indian economy believe that a sizable share of the increasing incomes of India's cultivators, and their energies during the off-seasons, can also be channelled into building roads, schools and hospitals. Those of us who are responsible for the Point Four program in India firmly believe that the labor and drive for this kind of local capital expansion must be provided by the villagers themselves. Every effort will also be made to build up local industry. Shoemakers and other village artisans and tradespeople will be urged to form cooperatives to handle their buying and selling. Small textile operations and cottage industries will be widely encouraged. To a large extent, the Indian Government is treading virgin soil, and answers to the problems that appear can be found only as the program proceeds. With this in view, plans for five of the 55 development areas which are opening this fall call for experimental work in local industries, cooperatives and the building of schools, hospitals and homes.
The principal responsibility for building the new India is clearly that of the Indian leaders and the Indian people, and this fact they fully accept. Indeed, it can be said that no people on earth have ever done more within limited resources than the Indian people have done since the birth of their new nation. The human material is here; the physical resources are here. The will to move ahead and to accept the challenge of Communism is also here. However, without a moderate amount of American aid each year for the next four years the objectives of the Five Year Plan are likely to prove unattainable.
We can be certain, I believe, that American resources spent in India will be used, not to perpetuate feudal institutions, but to build a modern democratic nation. This is vitally important, for if democracy is to survive in Asia, our efforts must start not at the top with the fortunate few but in the villages with the hungry millions. We must work in such a way that Asian people will come to look on democracy not just as a desirable but abstract goal, but as the most practical way to get things done.
American aid in Asia or anywhere else will be so much more money down the drain unless the local conditions are such that the program of aid has a reasonable chance for success. It is sheer waste to aid a nation which fails to establish a fair and equitable tax system, or an underdeveloped agricultural country which lacks the courage to establish land reform which gives the cultivators the right to till their own land. American money which strengthened only the upper income groups of revolutionary Asia would be not only wasted but would have a positively dangerous effect, for it would destroy the faith of the people of Asia in our American democracy.
Moreover, aid money spent simply for anti-Communist objectives has a hollow ring in Asia, for it points logically to the conclusion that if the noisy Communist minorities did not exist the interest of the United States in the welfare of Asian people would disappear. Nor, again, should we give aid in the mistaken belief that lasting friendship can be bought with dollars. Our primary objective must not be to develop gratitude in Asia toward America, but to create confidence in democracy as a vital force, and confidence among the people that under democratic government they have the ability to meet and solve the huge problems which confront them.
For this reason the methods which are used to increase production in Asian countries are almost as important as the production itself. Many argue glibly that the elimination of hunger in Asia will automatically bring about the defeat of Communism. This gravely oversimplifies the problem. Most revolutions are led not by hungry peasants but by frustrated middle-class intellectuals who have never known hunger in their lives. Living standards in India must certainly be improved, and with all possible speed. Unless this primary objective is achieved, the present democratic government will sooner or later be swept aside and the stage set for another devastating Communist victory. But India must do more than feed her people better. If democracy is to survive and grow, tens of millions of Indians must also be inspired with a dynamic new faith in the future and a sense of personal participation in building that future. In Jawaharlal Nehru, fortunately, India has a leader extraordinarily well equipped to provide the vital spark.
University students present both an opportunity and a problem. At present, there are 250,000 students in 800 Indian universities and colleges. Most of them receive a strictly liberal arts education (a hand-me-down from British days), and leave their universities with little practical training for the great battle of life which is in progress all around them. Except for the small minority who have received technical training in engineering, agriculture and public health, they find good jobs almost impossible to obtain. Thousands of recent graduates earn no more than eight or ten dollars a month. This produces frustration and many new converts to the Communist faith.
The Indian Government, which is keenly aware of this separation of the young intellectuals from the people and their problems, is now making every effort to close the gap and to develop a broad sense of democratic participation. Volunteer groups are being organized for road building and other construction work during vacation periods. Within the next few years some 60,000 young men and women, mostly college graduates, will be recruited as village workers to carry on the rapidly expanding work of the community development areas. As the program develops, the need for public health experts, welfare workers, doctors, engineers and other specialists should be almost unlimited.
In spite of every effort, however, the social problems of India seem more likely to grow than diminish in the coming years. The gigantic shakeup of Indian life, Indian attitudes and Indian traditions which is taking place is unloosening powerful forces. Most of them are good, but some are inherently explosive. The very success of the development program will in itself create new conflicts and new difficulties. They must be met with practical good sense, cool judgment and courage if India is to emerge a mature, stable democratic nation from the growing pains of her present strenuous effort.
What America does or fails to do in her relationship with India is clearly of the utmost importance to the outcome which I have been describing. It is also clear that whatever program we develop in the United States must receive the understanding and support of Republicans and Democrats alike. We cannot afford the luxury of a separate Asian policy for each major political party. We must develop a policy on which the great bulk of our people agree.
In adopting that policy and putting it to work we must understand that we cannot determine by our own efforts what will happen in Asia in general or in India in particular. In the new Asia the tides of hope, fear and conviction run deep and strong. We cannot control these tides. Asia will develop in her own way and the final dominant influences will be Asian, not American and Western. What we can do, however, is to understand the forces which are at work, and to seek patiently and sympathetically to strengthen those which are moving in democratic channels.
Soviet propagandists are now intensifying their campaign to establish Russia and China as the logical leaders of revolutionary progress in Asia, and it would be foolish indeed to minimize the effectiveness of their effort. In the Listener, a publication of the B.B.C., for May 24, 1951, Arnold Toynbee described the Soviet appeal to Asia in the following terms:
Yesterday I [Russia] was an old-fashioned peasant much as you are today. Like you today, I yesterday lived depressed, ignorant, hopeless, and tame. I was lying then as you are still, under the heel of a privileged native minority which was itself the creature of the Western masters of the world. But look at me now! See how I have pulled myself up by my bootstraps. And what I did for myself and by myself yesterday, you can do yourselves tomorrow if only you will take my advice and follow my example.
For those many Asians who are sophisticated enough to challenge the sincerity of the Russian interest in Asia's welfare, the propaganda spotlight is centered on China--which, it is claimed, "is now moving rapidly forward toward the dawn of a new day after centuries of exploitation by Western oppressors." In most of the Asian countries the Soviet Government works closely with local Communist party groups which are already well organized, particularly among the depressed classes and in the universities and colleges. The Communist purpose is first to discredit and then to undermine and destroy any government which seeks to develop an independent policy.
When Soviet strategy demands it, the local Communist Party will embark on open rebellion, as it did in many parts of India in 1948. But the Communist leaders are also familiar with Lenin's advice: "A tough, disciplined Communist minority needs no more than 10 percent of the popular vote to bring about the downfall of any democratic government. If there are five parties, you should work side by side with four to destroy the fifth. When there are four, ally yourself with three and destroy the fourth. When there are three, combine with two to destroy the third. And when there are only two, victory is in your hands."
India is a special target for the Communist effort because of her strategic position, her rich natural resources and the size of her poverty-stricken population. The Communist Party in India is well organized and amply financed, largely through the sale of Soviet literature. In the recent all-India elections, by far the largest in the history of the democratic world, it polled 6 percent of the total vote and established itself as the strongest opposition party in terms of elected representatives. Today, with Lenin's advice in mind, these Communist representatives for the time being are assuming a benign and patriotic look and are generously offering to work with "other democratic forces in pursuit of the ideals of the common man." Side by side with this the Communist cultural offensive continues, as does the attack on American "warmongers" and "imperialists." Every instance of racial prejudice in America, every Western failure to solve the problems and conflicts of colonialism, is exploited to the full.
The importance of this new and intensified Soviet effort in Asia should not be underestimated. Communist propaganda is particularly effective because in their hearts most Asians, non-Communists as well as Communists, still mistrust the West; and like many others before them, Asian nations are more conscious of the familiar dangers of the past than the yet-to-be experienced dangers of the future. There is, in consequence, a continuing bitter fear of the rapidly dying nineteenth century imperialism and a tendency to underestimate and to rationalize the danger of Soviet twentieth century imperialism--the real threat to their independence. But this is the situation with which we must deal, and we must approach it with imagination and realism.
The Soviet Union seems much more clearly aware than we have been so far that for Asia to become Communist would mean not only a drastic shift in physical power between the Soviet bloc and the Western democracies, but the broad deterioration of democratic morale in all parts of the world. Lenin made the blunt prophecy: "For World Communism, the road to Paris lies through Peking and Calcutta." His successors show the same belief that if they can overrun Asia they can build what Stalin has called "the road to victory in the West."
There is no reason why the challenge should not be met with confidence. If India's great democratic effort succeeds, if similar efforts suited to the needs of each country are pressed vigorously by the leaders of Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Ceylon, Burma and the Philippines, and if these efforts are supported by patient, understanding policies on the part of the West, the next few years may see the emergence of a non-Communist Asia that will be both dynamic and democratic. That can swing the preponderance of world power in the direction of peace and freedom.
The road for American policy-makers working toward this goal will often be a rocky one. Many Americans who are deeply conscious of the crisis which confronts the free world are irritated by Asia's talk of "neutralism" and by the rebuffs which occasionally come our way from uncertain new governments which are still hopeful that Communism may turn out to be not as dangerous as we know it to be. But impatient criticism will only lead to equally impatient retorts. The situation calls, as I said at the beginning of this article, for a display of some of the best qualities in the American tradition: understanding and respect for the rights of others; humility in the face of strange ways and new problems; courage to remember that, in spite of the cynics, a little idealism mixed with the practical represents not weakness but strength; willingness to persevere in the face of difficulties. With these qualities, and with intelligence and imagination, we can, I feel sure, contribute to building an Asia that will have confidence in democracy and that will practise democracy.