Asia Society presents; 55
The usual society present this is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author around the world winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. As we know India and Pakistan do not get along very well with each other and perhaps some of you recall this sad division took place in 1947. When the two countries were created one separate from the other many problems arose. Those problems still exist and what we in this country worry about is whether we can be friendly with both. You may wonder why this is important and I think as we go along we will discover some of the reasons our guest on this program is the president of the Asia Society and a man with a great deal of experience concerning this part of the world. I just like to tell you a little bit more about him. His name is Philips Talbot. Dr. Talbot is president of
the age's society but before that he was assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs and served as ambassador to Greece Bassler Talbott from 1951 to nine hundred sixty one directed the American universities and field staff. He has taught courses at the University of Chicago Columbia University and the University of Hawaii. Earlier he was a newspaper correspondent in Asia. He edited South Asia in the world today and coauthored India and America. So Mr. Talbot I can say that without repeating what I said in the beginning your knowledge of that part of the world is obvious because if you're going to experience there. But before we get to that could I just ask you since this is your second time on the program the first time when you assume the presidency early 1970 beginning of 1970 the Asia Society spoke about some of the programs you had in mind since time has passed. I wondered. Are you satisfied with the
progress you've been making. Thank you Ali. Satisfied perhaps as a hard word but we are making some no program progress I think that could be quite interesting. We are opening now a new Asia Society Center in Washington. In New York we are expanding the programs of our various country councils and there are 12 of these with activities relating to particular countries of Asia. And then we have started preparations for a new Asian performing arts program with Asian troops coming beginning next autumn. But it takes years preparation almost to get going. So we're doing a number of things in addition to the regular programs with our gallery with our Asian literature program and our educational projects. How did you happen to spend so much time in Asia. Was it because of the assignments you received as a newspaperman or was it that you chose to go there.
I guess it was initially because of the dreams of a young cub reporter. I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. An opportunity came for a fellowship to go to India. And I reached for it. That was what 30 to 33 years ago now and I've been interested ever since. When these countries were broken that is when India lost the country that is now Pakistan which is East Pakistan and West Pakistan and with that thousand miles of India in between. When that happened. Will you present us ideas then. Yes I was there for that period and was covering it for the Chicago Daily News. I had been there before and had seen some of the tensions arising in that society at the time when British power was being reduced and the British rule was coming to an end. The partition occurred and I don't suppose that anybody at that moment felt that another solution could have been achieved
unless preparations had been started much earlier. But it did occur. And now of course since 1947 we have seen the two nations in the subcontinent. Would you say that the reason for this separation or severance was due primarily to religious reasons was it because Moslems were afraid to remain in India. This is they. So I say simple answer. It's not entirely simplistic but of course religious communities also express economic and social groupings and there was a division. There were rival appetites for power and desires which took political form finally so that. Pakistan was created as an Islamic republic and India was made independent with a heavy predominance of a Hindu is in its population. Although the Indian government and people have all has asserted that they are not
a parochial or religious state but rather as a secular state. But there are Muslims who do live in India and there are Hindus who do live in Pakistan. Is that true. Yes indeed get tens of millions of Muslims who live in India and quite a number of Hindus who live in Pakistan and especially in East Pakistan. Is there any trouble as far as that is the tensions of course between the two countries have. Been quite strong particularly at peak periods such as the war between them in 1965. And it has indeed been a difficulty for the friends of both countries to manage to get along with Pakistan and with India equally well. This applies to the United States it applies to Great Britain I'm sure it applies to other countries in the world as well as have been any improvement in relations between Pakistan and India in recent years. Certainly there has been at least a
recovery of civil relationships between the two countries. I think that neither in Pakistan nor in India is there a feeling of that our relationships are. Sufficient or that all the possible connections that could be made have been made of the tensions remain fairly high. In some respects this is a this is an even it's not necessarily fully in balance. The Pakistanis have great concerns about in power and they are uncertainties about Indian intentions that the Indians are very concerned about whether the Pakistan government will for example get more arms from one country or another. So that I think one has to say that the individual nationalisms of Pakistan and India do bring them into tension with each other. Although I would also add immediately that
the nationalism of Pakistan and the nationalism of India also have domestic indigenous roots. And this nationalism in each country is a is a part of the force that gives it character and unity and drive to each country. Well Dr. Talbot as you pointed out in a monograph which Ive read that we have been making this effort in the United States for more than 20 years to develop a constructive posture towards both of these South Asian nations because it is valid and it is important. I dont know how successful we've been and I'm sure you will tell us more about it but many people perhaps do not understand why it is still important. Well one starts of course looking at a region itself. Let me say that a country in the position of the United States often has problems of trying to be in friendly relations with two or
more countries which have differences among themselves. While I was in Washington I was dealing with India and Pakistan but I was also dating with Greece and Turkey at the period of tension over Cyprus and I was dealing with a number of the Arab States and Israel as the United States is no stranger to the problem of trying to have affective relationships with other states who may have quarrels among themselves. Now so far as India and Pakistan go here we have a really very large nations. India has more than a half billion people Pakistan. More than 100 million by the nineteen eighties it could be that there be a billion people in that part of the world. There is no other human concentration to match it apart from China and the location the size and the interconnections among peoples around the
world are so great that I would think it a great pity indeed if out of frustration or for other reasons Americans should decide that there are really not much interested anymore in what happens in India and Pakistan. If we speak of the Soviet Union for a moment. Has that nation managed to keep on good terms with both these Asian countries or does it via more towards one than the other. Well we're talking here about general policies and I I think the the Soviets. I have. I found a little difficulty here too. They have been closer to the Indian government. Traditionally than to the Pakistan government. At the same time they did try to mediate the differences between India and Pakistan after the 1965 war and did bring a cease fire although no real peace has come out of that. Exercise and of late they have been interested in possibly supplying
some arms to Pakistan which has caused a negative reaction of course in Indian opinion. I think that one would have to say that as the Soviet interests increase in the area some of the same complexities will face its policy makers that have faced American policy makers. And this would be true also of other countries as the. Government of mainland China has had an interest in the area but since the Chinese Indian War of the early 1960s China and Pakistan have had certain links seen from the point of view of both of them perhaps in terms of their common attitudes toward India. Would you draw a comparison between India and Pakistan as do they have development economically. Let's begin with that point. Well of course of course they were one country before 1947. And in that country there were an even areas of the
vellum and since 1947 their development programs have moved separately but both from the same very low very low levels. One has to remember that in India and in Pakistan the average person still has to subsist on less than $2 a week and that the growth of and an economy from that base takes a long time and is very difficult. Both in India and in Pakistan there have been been development programs which have registered progress in the earliest period after 1947 it seemed that the Indians were moving faster than the Pakistanis. Later on the Pakistan development program seemed to be moving somewhat more effectively for the 1970s. Both India and Pakistan I think desperately need more development. Both have plans a great deal will depend on how well each is able to organize its
domestic resources but also how much assistance it can get from outside. Now in the subcontinent there has been a great deal of foreign assistance given in overall terms. At the same time there are so many people there that our economic assistance to India. On per capita basis is the lowest to any developing country in the world. And it's not much higher to Pakistan. So it isn't as if the economic assistance that we and others have given have provided. A great excess of resources for the development program. And indeed the needs have never been met by development assistance. Would you say that they. Need for a great assistance is so profound that no assistance could possibly be given to cope with their need. You know I think there is no I mean what I said is that frustration yes on the part of
some of the developed countries because they do see the vastness of these needs in the subcontinent. I don't think it's an answer to say that because there is great need will do nothing about it. This is not possible to be our answer to our own inner city problems. It's not possible to be the answer when there is a massive plague or something. Nor I think in the very close relationships that exist now in the world and increasingly so can we ignore the problems of an area like the India-Pakistan subcontinent just because its needs are great. I would say also that as one looks at particular parts of the economy and the social development of India and of Pakistan there has been substantial progress it's not just that money has gone down the drain. Just three or four years ago most of us watching the subcontinent for example wondered when if ever in our
lifetimes there would be enough food grown within those countries to feed the people. Now with the green revolution the prospect of self-sufficiency in food has suddenly become a life possibility. This doesn't mean that the problems are gone because there are problems of distribution and otherwise even in the green revolution. But it does suggest that things are not static that things are not hopeless but rather that there are real prospects and opportunities for growth and modernization and development and certainly have suggests that for peoples elsewhere in the world there is a stake in seeing the poor countries including very much in Pakistan make some real progress. So one shouldn't presume what you frustration and defeat is easy but it never answers anything and it doesn't mean that a country cannot be helped to some degree and perhaps that small degree develops within it a spirit to go
much further. I suppose that is possible but you see a little light and then suddenly you have the strength to create much more light. Exactly and of course it's the it's a spirit at home in these countries that makes the big difference. One thing that's happened in these 20 odd years is that both in Pakistan and in India there are many more trained people than there were when independence came. It's just a plain fact that the Indians and Pakistanis do not need to depend on outsiders so much now as they did them for technical and technical assistance for various kinds of skills and so forth. They but they haven't solved all the problems. But I think it can be clearly pointed out to anyone going there that they have made substantial progress in a number of areas. Is there any common ground that India and Pakistan could develop. Could they see that there are certain matters which they have in common and that if they would cooperate they would get benefit each other as well as themselves.
There is common ground that many people in Pakistan and India hope could be developed jointly I believe certainly outsiders wish that that were possible. There are barriers there are difficulties and we understand something of these difficulties because we don't always have a fully rational program of cooperation with other developed countries. But for example in the utilization of water resources through the assistance of the World Bank a good deal was done in the 1950s 1960s to make sure that the waters of the Indus River Basin which had been divided between the two countries should at least be brought to a full utilization. In each of the countries one would like to say for the trade because there are some products are available in one country but not in the other. And I think there are areas where there could be much more cooperation than there is. Ambassador Talbot do you see though this almost irrational emotional
psychological barrier that people of different religions often develop towards one another I should say often but whenever they do it's to often develop it among themselves and so you cannot overcome this. Is it really Muslim versus Hindu to such an extent that these two countries cannot become truly friendly. It's proved difficult certainly in this first quarter century this first generation whether it will forever be impossible is another question I think Forever is a very long time. If you sign into me you ration it since I think it is that the moods go up and down certain areas of the milieu but not nearly in a general way what one would hope. I think the differences between the two countries do remain a problem for a country like our own which is trying to have friendly relations with both. I think the way in which outsiders like ourselves can perhaps be most helpful is
not to try to get into the merits of the disputes or differences between the two countries. These differences do run very deep. They were there before the Americans appeared on the world scene. They have deep and broad cultural roots. They touch on the lives of people in ways that an outside country like ourselves could not influence. And I think our interest. It cannot be best served by trying to sort out the differences between them even if they were to invite us to do so and they haven't done that lately. But rather there is so much to be done in each country in other ways that we've been speaking about development that's one of the ways. We could go on to talk about. World wide communications satellite education. All sorts of things we could talk about how populations like these can be helped to deal with the population
problem. There are a number of things in which I think we can develop constructive relationships with the government and people of Pakistan and with the government and people of India that do not necessarily involve us directly in the differences between those two countries. It's like a case of sibling rivalry though isn't it. And if we want to be nice to Pakistan India will become jealous and vice versa. How can the United States walk this tightrope. I think it's a very precarious position in which we find ourselves. Maybe we are succeeding more than we are aware of. Would you say we are. I'll be doing the belly Good job Mr. Speight. Well I would agree it's a precarious position as we suggested elsewhere in referring to such countries as the Arab countries and Israel to Greece and Turkey. It's it's a problem when we do face in a number of different parts of the world. I don't think that a frontal approach to it necessarily will bring the
immediate and satisfactory results. Do you think as I've suggested that there are enough areas of cooperation with each of these countries so that the United States can have constructive relationships with Pakistan and can have constructive relationships with India through this decade of the 1970s. I would also think that it is him Porton to try to have constructive relationships. We have a world that is exceedingly dangerous where there are many many stresses and strains. We will be moving one of these days surely into the post-Vietnam period in Asia. We and other nations will be concerned as to the future prospects of orderly growth and progress and stability in Asia. It's very hard for me to foresee. A future stable or progressive pattern in
Asia. That will be strong unless in the subcontinent in India and in Pakistan there is similar progress and growth and stability. If we look at this pragmatically which I suppose is what our State Department does and the Pentagon does which country is more essential to our security. India-Pakistan Well you know if I had wanted it that way. I find it very difficult to make choices of this kind because of what we find especially now is that there is a tremendous interrelatedness of things. We send men into space. We can't deal with just one country. If there should be a reason to bring a man back somewhere we would like to have relationships with with all countries. We have global
communications of various kinds we have aircraft traveling back and forth civil aircraft. It's awfully hard to say that aircraft should. It's more important for aircraft to fly over one country than over the other country. When the natural route is over both countries in our trading patterns and in various other ways we have real interests in good relations with both Pakistan and India. And I would say it's. Would be a matter of. A loss to us and I think possibly to them as well. If we were ever forced forced to make a choice it wouldn't make so much difference which country we would choose at that point. Perhaps as that we had already had a severe setback in our effort to see a more constructive pattern of world relationships by having to choose so that short of a major crisis I would think that the United States the American people would be
concerned not so much to find out which is the more important as how it will be possible to work constructively with the with the peoples of both countries but occasionally there are the showdowns and then people out of the tension and anxiety make choices sometimes hysterically sometimes unwisely. I wondered in that respect don't you often find yourself both sad and amazed by the fact. That. India communication as Groome satellites travel around we go into space. Communication is better in every respect and with all of that. Nationalism is more fierce than ever nationalism is very strong indeed now. I meant number of my Asian friends. Use a different kind of argument in talking about whether nationalism is too strong. They say it's all right for you in the West to go beyond nationalism to try to get an international community in Europe because you've had centuries of experience in nation building.
But for us they say who have been independent now for just one generation. Nationalism serves a construct of role as well as a destructive role in that it gives our people a sense of being of our nation and of being a unity and working toward common goals instead of being fragmented into small local groups or otherwise. So a number of my Asian friends have said to me Be patient with us a little bit. On our nationalisms the other side of that coin of course is that nationalism running riot can infect people can stir them up to the point where they are really troublesome to their neighbors. We would hope to see moderate nationalisms in a number of these countries. And finally what form her then would you suggest for the United States to be friendly with both Pakistan and India since it's possible to do it although
very difficult. I suppose a formula would have quite a number of components to it. We are not the only external power interested in the subcontinent or in the Indian Ocean. As we mentioned a bit earlier. The Soviets are interested that the Chinese are interested. The Japanese are coming along too and I suspect that power relationships and security relationships the 1970s in the Indian Ocean area and in the subcontinent will take account of all of these different countries and that we will do well to be careful and realistic in working out our future role after the Vietnam War is over. I think also there are many reasons why we can have sympathetic interest and concern in what's going on in both Pakistan and India and I think we do have resources and some talents which could
usefully and constructively be committed to assist in the further economic development of both countries. And just briefly do you think the United States is overstepping its role if it attempts to make Pakistan and India friendly with each other. I don't think we can make them friendly with each other. I would hope that we could work with them in different dimensions so that the differences between them become less important to them. It's like trying to reconcile a husband and wife and not always easy although it has been done. That's right. I thank you very much for being on our program and I'd like to tell our audience you have had the pleasure and honor of listening to the president of the age's society Phillips Talbot. Thank you very much and goodbye. But concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. This series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs.
- Asia Society presents
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Other Description
- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
- Talk Show
- Media type
Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-55 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Asia Society presents; 55,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-416t2b8g.
- MLA: “Asia Society presents; 55.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-416t2b8g>.
- APA: Asia Society presents; 55. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-416t2b8g