Sunday, 20 April 2014 |
G Parthasarathy |
India can bring itself to face the multi-faceted challenges posed by China across the border and across Asia if, apart from developing its own economic and military strength, it also attempts to understand the complexities of the Chinese mind
The disastrous 1962 conflict with China still haunts public memory in India, and painful memories of the conflict have been revived recently. Author Neville Maxwell, though known to carry an anti-Indian bias, has made public what are undoubtedly the authentic contents of the report prepared by the late General Henderson Brookes on the 1962 military/political debacle. Lt General Brookes and Lt General (then Brigadier) Bhagat were asked by the then Army Chief in 1963, to analyse the causes for the debacle that traumatised the nation. Their report is a direct indictment of both the political and military leadership of the time. It focuses on the follies of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Forward Policy” in the years and days preceding the conflict.
This ill-advised policy involved forward deployment of an inadequately armed and underequipped Indian army, with tenuous lines of communications, to face a treacherous enemy, which had posed as a friend. While the years since the disastrous conflict have witnessed an upgrading of our military capabilities, are we, even now, economically and psychologically, prepared to meet the multi-faceted challenges that China poses today? What exactly are these challenges? More importantly, have we at all studied Chinese behavioural patterns and what constitutes the basis of their strategic thinking? These are issues that have been comprehensively addressed in the book Uneasy Neighbours authored by Ram Madhav Varanasi, who is the Director of the Delhi-based Strategic Affairs Think Tank ‘India Foundation.’ He is also a member of the Central Executive of the RSS.
Dealing with Chinese strategy during and in the days preceding the 1962 conflict, the author draws attention to the plaintive statements by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that he had been “deceived” by the Chinese. The “Forward Policy” after all involved moving Indian forces into areas the Chinese had laid claim to and even held periodically. Mr Nehru often alluded to the assurance that Chinese Defence Minister Marshal Chen Yi gave to his Indian counterpart VK Krishna Menon in July 1962. Marshal Chen Yi had then averred that: “There may be skirmishes between the two countries along the border, but full scale hostilities were unthinkable”. The redoubtable Krishna Menon, in turn, told the media at the UN, that there was absolutely no trouble along the India-China border!!