militarisation and against the Cold War that
     Stepping out of war had dramatic consequences for India. For one thing,
it meant that peace could row. As could democracy; for India’s democracy
‘as the direct result of this free space created by the first leaders of the
independent nation. Its existence drew puzzled responses from most
observers, who were astounded by this anomaly in the Third world and could
not explain it. Although there was shortage of criticism, both on the left and
right, of a democracy that could not provide everything for everybody—in
other words, one that was not sufficiently committed to either western or
Soviet models. But the fact that this democracy existed at all, however
imperfect or incomplete was because of India’s decision to stay genuinely
committed to non-alignment as a worldview. Had this vision not formed the
politics of independent India, the country would long have gone the way of
other South Asian Cold War participants where East and West nodded and
winked and even encouraged horrendous violence and military dictatorship,
all in the name of preventing the other side from winning.
     Most of all, non-alignment also meant that India escaped the social and
political militarisation of all CoId War participants. The militarisation could
be overtly political as in Pakistan and Bangladesh who, plunging themselves
into the Cold War on the side the United States, landed up with military
dictatorships as a result. Or it could be cultural and social, happened in the
western and Soviet blocs. Even the two chief protagonists did not escape the
conseences of their deeds. In the United States and the Soviet Union, society
paid a terrible price for leadership positions in opposing camps. Every single
intrusive law of the United States originates from after the First World War,
including the income tax. Society was purged of creativity in both countries,
leading to the persecution of countless intellectuals and artists in the name of
anti-communism or anti-capitalism. India, thanks to the much-maligned non-
alignment of its founding fathers, escaped this violent militarisation—the
emergency being a notable exception—precisely because it opted out of the
war game altogether.