WHY INDIA LIKES IKE
By Douglas Hyde WHATEVER Red China's real motives may have been in creating incidents on the Indian border in recent weeks it is certain that these contributed to a very considerable extent in making President Eisenhower's tour through India the success that it was. Without the military menace to the north, it is doubtful whether the Indian masses would have turned out so enthusiastically in their millions to hail him as a friend and ally.
Neutralism seemed a sound enough policy when China's competition with India was a purely peaceful one. Now the Chinese Communist leaders have made it look very inadequate indeed and Indians have. it would seem, realised that in the event of an attack from China there would be no one to save them but the West.
In the circumstances, banners hearing the words " We distrust Mao " would no doubt have been as much to the point as those which greeted the President with " We like Ike'.
If President Eisenhower's repeated references to the identity of aim and purpose of the "greatest democracy of the West " and the " greatest democracy of the East' warmed the hearts of Indians it must have bewildered many Americans.
This is. indeed. a bewildering time for those who never thought beyond the limits of the cold war. Only a few years ago an American's career might be ended because he associated with a Communist " front" organisation in the 1930s. Today the President plays host to Mr. Khrushchev, the Lop leader of world Communism. and consorts with Nehru.
For many Americans Indian neutralism in the cold war was almost as perfidious as Communism itself. Mr Krishna Menon. representing India at United Nations was hated 'almost as much as the Soviet Union's Mr. Gromyko.
Now, in a fast changing political situation Mr. Eisenhower has told millions that both great nations want peace, co-operation and freedom. and respect loyalty to conscience. He has even invoked the spirit of Mahatma Ghandi in support of this.
The Eisenhower-the-war-monger of Communist propaganda has become the likeable Ike who appeared not long ago on the British television screens.
The President did not have to win Pakistan to his cause. There. he was assured of a very real welcome in any ease. Pakistan is not only a very loyal member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation but. as a strongly Muslim country, bases its very vigorous opposition to Communism upon firmly-held religious belief.
The official greeting he was given in Afghanistan served to emphasise the need for anything which will increase Free World influence in this strategically important area. The run-way on which his aircraft landed had been built by the Russians. Russian Mig jet fighters roared overhead. It is possible that even the guns used for the 21-gun salute bore the words " Made in Russia " A high proportion of the cars and tractors of Afghanistan come from the Soviet Union. By means of aid and trade Russia has penetrated deeply into the life of the nation.
If Ike's brief visit has served as a reminder to the rulers of Afghanistan that their country has traditionally looked to the West as well as to the East. and if his stay in India, combined with Mao's aggression, has stiffened resistance to Communism there. then his journey will not only have been necessary but very worthwhile, too.