dated December 2, 1955: PM allays West's fears

Prime Minister Nehru declared at a public meeting at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Calcutta on November 30: "No one should object to friendship and cooperation between others. It is hatred and violence and hostility that we should dislike and avoid." The Prime Minister, who was addressing over three million people who had gathered to witness the civic reception given to Mr. N.A. Bulganin and Mr. Nikita Khrushchev, was making an obvious reference to the Western comments on the welcome extended to the Russian leaders in India. He said the great welcome that the Russian guests have received in India "has alarmed some of our friends in other countries who cannot help thinking in terms of rival camps and military alliances. I have often said we do not propose to join any camp or alliance. This is our basic policy. But we wish to cooperate with all in quest of peace and security and human betterment." Mr. Nehru, who earlier arrived in Calcutta by air from Delhi to preside over the civic reception, said he was happy that India and the Soviet Union had come closer together as a result of this historic visit. "We look forward to fruitful cooperation in the cause of peace and human welfare. This friendship and cooperation is not aimed against any nation or any people. Peaceful coexistence is not a new idea in India. It has been our way of life and these are as old as our thought and our culture. King Asoka proclaimed it - the lesson of tolerance and peaceful co-existence and cooperation which India has believed in throughout the ages. In old days we talked of religions and philosophies. Now we talk more of economic and social systems. But the approach is the same now as before. This is the reason why we try to be friendly with all countries whether we agree with them or not. That is the reason why we refrain from criticising other countries even when we disagree with their policies, unless circumstances compel us to explain our viewpoint. From this it has naturally followed that we should keep ourselves free from military or like alliances and have not joined any of the great Powers or groups that dominate the world today. It is in no spirit of pride or arrogance that we pursue our own independent foreign policy. We could not do otherwise unless we are false to everything India has stood for in the past and stands for today. We welcome association and friendship with all and the flow of thought and ideas of all kinds, but we reserve the right to choose our own path. That is the essence of Panch Shila."