India and Europe: Perceptions and Misperceptions
This chapter argues that not only Europe helped India rediscover itself, but European political thoughts and philosophies had considerably influenced Indian intellectuals, thought processes and senior leaders of the freedom movement. India was misperceived in the postwar era because of its policy of non-alignment and its planned economy. The Europeans perceived India from their strategic perspective and found India ‘inconvenient, objectionable and not necessary’. The consequence of these misperceptions was that apart from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, Indian interaction with the European Continent was limited. India’s misperception was that it failed to realize the evolving regional identity of the European Community and was subject to the negativism of the Europeans. Most Europeans did not adequately appreciate the dichotomy and challenges that diverse India confronted in order to preserve democracy. Things have improved in the post-Cold War era largely because India is no longer subject to the pressures and influences of its relationship with the Soviet Union, because the European Community no longer looks at India through the lens of Cold War equations, and because India has become progressively economically more interesting. This chapter concludes by a discussion of the elements of convergence on values and divergence (on nuclear weaponization, missile weaponization, and transfer to dual-use technologies) and assesses future prospects.