774th Plenary Meeting, 7th October, 1958
My delegation wishes to add its voice, Mr. President, to the many that
have been heard from this rostrum conveying to you their felicitations on
your election to the high office of the presidency of the General
Assembly. We should also like to take this occasion to recall the services
rendered by your predecessor, Sir Leslie Munro.
The general debate is usually an occasion for surveying the events of the
last year and dealing with the many problems which may strike a delegation
as being particularly important. Some seventy-two speakers have preceded
me, and they have taken about fifty hours of the Assembly's time. It is
therefore not to be expected that I shall have very much new to say. My
delegation has had the benefit of a survey of world affairs from the
different points of view of different continents and different so- called
ideologies and also of those who prefer to remain outside the conflict of
ideologies. In all these speeches, in addition to the
expression of great concern about the present state of the world, which is
not unusual in expressions of opinion from this platform, there has been
an emphasis on the outstanding importance of the problem of disarmament,
concern about the exclusion of China from the United Nations, and an
unusual but welcome stress on economic affairs.
It has been our privilege to benefit from these speeches that have
preceded ours, and we would like to take this opportunity of echoing what
has been said here by many delegations in the way of an affirmation of
their loyalty to the United Nations and to the Charter and its principles
and to the determination of our Government to implement those principles
to the best of our ability and understanding.
It is usual on these occasions to refer to conditions prevailing in one's
own country, and that is not done because of any national egoism. In the
case of a country like ours, in part representing the new resurgent Asia,
we do so not in the sense of having any priority of representation over
anyone else but merely by way of providing a fair example of that new
Asia. Therefore, if I take the time of the Assembly on a few matters of
detail, I feel sure that the Assembly will forgive me.
In this connexion, the statement made by our Prime Minister a few hours
ago in New Delhi, at a meeting of delegates of the International Monetary
Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the
International Finance Corporation, appears to us to be relevant, because
in this Assembly, especially having regard to the incidents of the last
two or three years, it would not be out of place at all to quote these
words which, in our humble view, are an expression of the sentiments of
the peoples of Asia. Our Prime Minister asked delegates to bear in mind
the fact that millions in Asia and other under-developed countries
"are no longer going to keep quiet, and they want the
better things of life". He went on to say: "Normally, you have
in the past been surrounded by Europe or America. It is good, therefore,
that for a change you should feel the environment of Asia and all other
things that pertain to a part of Asia.".
Mr. Nehru said that he did not mean to argue that Asia was one solid bloc.
He said that there were differences; that there were problems of West Asia
that there was great tension and danger at present in the Far East of
Asia, and that there were also the problems of South Asia. "They are
different", he said, "but the main connecting link is that there
is tremendous ferment in Asia, whether West, East or South. It is an
important factor to remember."
He said that there was now a vast difference in living standards, and all
that goes with it, between the highly industrialized countries and
communities and the non- industrialized ones. He went on to say:
"What is even more significant is that the gap is ever increasing -
it is not being bridged but it is ever increasing. The pace of progress,
through development of science and technology, is tremendous where they
have been developed, while other countries, like India, struggled hard
just to keep themselves going. For us -for all Asia and for Africa in part
- it is a struggle for survival. It is a life and death struggle for the
nation as whole, for the 400 million people. I want you to feel this human
element. We have to look upon it from the point of view of resources and
money and all that. But even more important is the tremendous
ferment going on in the minds of hundreds of millions of people in Asia.
"For Asia is and will continue to be in an explosive state because
the recent change during the last few years have unleashed a giant,
political changes and the like have unleashed a giant kept tied for 150
years or more. It has been unleashed not entirely, but considerably, and
naturally it does not propose to behave as if it were leashed either in
political domain or in an economic domain."
The Prime Minister pointed out that, if the Conference had met in New
Delhi 300 years ago, the terms of economic relations would have appeared
different. The thoughts of that vast continent are rooted in the
conditions of the people, and it is not easy for those who live outside or
who do not have intimate contact with it to realize the reactions and
responses to various appeals that are made here or to realize generally
how we function in the context of newly-liberated area.
Therefore, as I said a while ago, if one may refer briefly to conditions
that exist, it is also because we represent in many ways the conflicts of
ideas and ideologies that take place here. To us, it is not the conflict
of ideologies that seems to be real; it is the conflict between the
"haves" and the "have-nots". It is these economic
divisions that tend to drive the world into conflict, even though the day
of classic imperialism is proclaimed to have passed.
We live in conditions of a planned economy, and we make no apologies for
it. Without that planning, it would not have been possible for us to bend
our energies and our meagre resources and to keep our head above water in
this world. In that economy, a degree of balance between the old country,
with its hundreds and thousands of villages, and the needs of modern
production, including our defence, becomes important.
Also, we are attached to a way of thinking where we like to make
experiments for ourselves and not take orders hereafter from any people
and to the method of trial and error even though often it becomes
expensive. Added to that is the necessity of being able to keep pace with
changes in the context of a parliamentary
democracy and by ways of consent. All this added together makes in our
country a set of circumstances which provides for the world a great deal
of opportunity for study and observation.
Each year we have drawn attention to the vast changes that occur in the
villages of India. There are some 600,000 of these, and today 272,000 of
them have come under village self-government - under what is called the
Community Projects Scheme, which I am glad to think has attracted the
attention of the technical side of the United Nations. By these
small-scale efforts of villages, somewhere about 2.72 million acres of
land have been reclaimed and another 4.9 million acres brought under small
irrigation schemes. These figures do not refer to the larger schemes at
all. I mention this in particular because in countries like ours, however
much one may read about great industrial advances and achievements, the
bulk of our people lives in these villages and is dependent upon
Equally, in the conditions of planned economy, where we are trying to
avoid the dangers and the diseases of a scramble for property and power
and at the same time of attempting to beat people all into the same
pattern, there lies a co-operation that has become very important.
Although we are rather late in the field in this particular matter, in the
last few months and years some 60,000 co-operative societies- of which
over a thousand are of the industrial type-have come into existence. Over
and above that, it is not possible in modern conditions, if we are to
maintain stability in our country, to do without the maintenance of
democracy to the lowest level.
A whole civil service has also come into existence - and I use this term
advisedly -because without it policies cannot be implemented by adequate
The Government of India today has in training over 400,000 men and women
who are functionaries in the villages, and they hope to reach the target
of one million trained men and women at the end of next year.
These planned efforts have to a certain extent required a great deal of
sacrifice from our people, and the main resources have come from our
country itself. We could not keep the pace of our efforts without
assistance from other countries. It would take us more time and
necessitate other methods. Therefore, I would like to take this
opportunity of expressing the appreciation of our country to countries
large and small that have come to our assistance, either technically or
with other resources. It is not necessary for me to go into the details
because they are always published in the Press and are available.
There has been a considerable amount of talk to the effect that a country
like ours, attempting to industrialise itself and to spread and implement
democratic institutions on a large scale, may fall by the wayside owing to
the pressure that these endeavours must impose on us. There have been
expressions of opinion outside India that our Five-Year Plan should be cut
down. The maintenance and success of our Plan, however, is of more than
national concern, because if, we, with our modest efforts, could not get
there, it is unlikely that other people, similarly placed, could do so.
Our targets have been modest. I am glad to be able to say that in the two
and a half years of the Second Five-Year plan, we have on an average
reached 62 per cent of our targets, and there is no reason why we
should not exceed them.
The Community Projects referred to the smaller and rural aspect of the
Indian social and economic revolution. But, at the same time, it is not
economic revolution. But, at the same time, it is not possible for a
country like ours to survive in this world without considerable industrial
development, and this industrial development has gone on - although not as
fast as we would like it to - and schemes on which the future of our
country, the production of good and our ability to survive depend, have
also gone on apace. Since it is not possible to give a detailed account, I
should just refer to one or two aspects.
One of the major items in this enterprise has been in relation to the
harnessing of the water of our country. The greater part of rain-water
flows into the sea, as may well be the case everywhere else. The famous
Bhakra Dam, however, which is 740 feet high and provides for 650 miles of
canals, is nearing completion and should produce for us nearly a million
tons of food. In the arid desert of Rajasthan canal irrigation has now
reached the position where this desert is going to be irrigated by nearly
200 miles of canals.
Now these facts are not submitted to the Assembly in any sense of national
egotism, or even with any feeling of satisfaction much less complacency.
But it is one of the main problems in this world where large numbers of
us, who but a few years ago where part of colonial empires, where our
economic and political processes have either been thwarted or stunted, or
at any rate have not made their full development have now come into other
contexts. That development is not possible in any country in isolation
from the rest of the world.
From there we come to the United Nations. It is our obligation on these
occasions to look both forward and backward. While looking to what has
happened in the past should be confined to seeking to avoid errors in the
future and, if we have had any successes, to draw inspiration from them,
looking in front of us we are faced with many difficulties and
obstructions which seem to project themselves from the past. Broadly
speaking, I think we can only say that the achievements of the last year
in the big political matters are largely of a character where we could
feel that it might have been worse. In other words, it would have been
possible, as I shall point out later on, to avert what could have been a
larger conflict by the operation of, not necessarily the machinery, but
the expression of the will of, the United Nations.
Speech in the United Nations General Assembly, New York, December 20,
Back to Shri V.K. Krishna Menon's statement