Q. 12

Explain India’s relationship with the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Answer :

Critics have often criticized India’s non-alignment stance by stating that India was firmly in the Soviet camp based on her cordial relationship with erstwhile USSR during the Cold War era. The relationship between Soviet Union and India was indeed a friendly one and was multi-dimensional in nature.

• Economic facet – India was a new sovereignty during that period and needed both monetary and technical support for its new public sector companies. Soviet Union provided this backup and helped in the setting up of steel plants like Bhilai, Bokaro, Visakhapatnam, and machinery plants like Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., etc. During a period when India was short in foreign exchange, Soviet Union accepted Indian currency for trade purposes.

• Political facet – India’s claims regarding the Kashmir issue found support from Soviet Union at the UN. During the 1971 War against Pakistan, Soviet Union had supported India. Soviet Union found support from India on various foreign policies in an indirect but crucial manner.

• Military Facet – During the Cold War era, because of the ‘arms race’, few countries were willing to share their technologies with a new sovereignty like India. But, Soviet Union, not only aided India to develop its military technology, it also supplied majority of the required hardware.

• Cultural facet – there was high cultural exchange between Soviet Union and India during this period. It made Bollywood extremely popular in Soviet Union.

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