Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

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K Mehta
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Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 31 Oct 2011 22:12

This thread is meant to archive Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war in Indian express.
http://www.indianexpress.com/columnist/indermalhotra/
Not all articles are related to the 1962 war.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 31 Oct 2011 22:35

I would add R Parasnis articles in Rediff also to the collection as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Chinese aggression.

Please post link and the text for completeness as often the papers dont archive the material.

Thanks, ramana

Will add link to Surya's BRM article on Battle of Chusul.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 16:57

Rediff's special on Indo China war
http://www.rediff.com/news/indochin.htm

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby shiv » 01 Nov 2011 17:12

K Mehta wrote:This thread is meant to archive Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war in Indian express.
http://www.indianexpress.com/columnist/indermalhotra/
Not all articles are related to the 1962 war.


There are several dedicated threads for this topic
Defence websites watch
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=542&start=160

Army history thread
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2623&start=480

Please cross post
Last edited by shiv on 01 Nov 2011 17:57, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:15

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/nov/27chin.htm
Lest we forget-The Rediff Special/Wing Commander (retd) R V Parasnis

Looking back on our humiliation at the hands of the Chinese 40 years ago, my eyes go moist, the throat goes dry and a heavy, insane rage begins to build within me against those who caused it.

Many officers and men I looked up to, respected, and felt deep affection for perished in this war. Worse, the national humiliation suffered has left deep scars, which open up even today whenever the bitter memories return.

It saddens me, however, to notice the general lack of knowledge among the public, the distorted facts being presented by eminent writers and experts, and the misinformation/disinformation campaigns still being carried out by vested interests on this subject.

To begin with, there is a generally held view that in the 1962 India-China War, India's military was vanquished by the People's Liberation Army. It is not true. The nation was convulsed by fear, yes, because our top political leadership panicked, but our army was far from vanquished. Our deployed force level in 1962 against China was as follows:

The command centre was at the newly created HQ (headquarters) IV Corps (one corps consists of a minimum of three divisions + supporting forces + reserves) in Tezpur under Lieutenant General B M Kaul. The IV Corps had a force little less than four infantry brigades (most of them hastily collected and not in their complete form) deployed in the North-East Frontier Agency, ie just about one division looking after over 400km (30,000 square km in area) of frontier starting from Bhutan through Kameng, Subansiri, Siang and Lohit to Tirap division, which finally connects to the Burmese border and Nagaland in the absolute northeastern corner of our country.

A little more than one brigade force guarded our border against the Chinese in Ladakh, where our forces were scattered even more, and practically all the posts were in isolation of that inhospitable terrain. Thus, only 24,000 troops out of a total of the 4,00,000-strong Indian army of those days fought the Chinese in 1962. That amounts to less than 1/16th of our army's strength at that time.

Hence, even though our troops suffered a defeat, it can't be said that our army was vanquished. For that matter the entire army in the Northeast didn't suffer defeat either.

The Eastern Army HQ was at Lucknow and IV Corps, which suffered the defeat, was only one of its elements, and a weak one at that (hardly one division strong at that time). We couldn't have moved our forces from the Pakistan borders without endangering our defences there, while another division was locked against the Naga insurgency, which was also quite serious those days.

Besides, China didn't figure in the government's defence planning for the country. As per its written directive to the army, the latter's task was defence against Pakistan. In fact, the government had rebuffed the army every time this aspect was brought up for discussion.

Thus, we had no roads to take the army, its equipment, heavy guns, and supplies up to the border. There was no way we could have positioned and maintained a large army at the border in a short time.

Frankly, the 1962 war can't even be called a war in the real sense of the word, though everyone refers to it as such. It was at the most three or four battles in which we suffered a defeat in the Northeast.

A war is generally a long-drawn affair and demands almost the entire resources of a nation and commitment of most of its forces and goes far beyond a few battles. Our political leadership combined with a few inept/pliant generals of those days forced our army to conduct insane battles at ultra-high altitudes without acclimatising to the rarefied atmosphere and sub-zero temperatures. On difficult terrain, in tactically disadvantageous battle positions, without reserves for reinforcements, under conditions such as non-existent supply lines (troops were required to be entirely air-maintained in terrain unsuitable for air-dropping), without suitable/matching arms, criminally insufficient ammunition (only 50 rounds of .303 bullets per jawan in NEFA), insufficient food and clothing.

After the initial defeat at the positions around Dhola and along the Namkachu river at the base of the Thagla ridge, a few of our officers and troops were admittedly overwhelmed by panic and fear, floating rumours galore about the strength and ultra-superior weaponry of the Chinese and their dreaded "human wave" tactics, though many more were itching to have a go.

What we needed at this juncture was firm and cool leadership, but to our bad luck we were denied that, as I shall explain later. We lost Se La and Bomdi La without a fight in spite of well-prepared positions and sufficient ammunition as well as reasonable, if not strong, artillery support.

The Chinese, to their surprise, found the going very easy and reached the foothills of Assam within a couple of days. At this stage our cowardly leadership (both political and military) denied our forces a God-given chance to redeem their honour. We could have, entirely on our own, turned the tide at the Assam foothills, where the temperatures were tolerable, and used our air force to literally massacre the Chinese.

The Chinese knew well what our forces could have done after recovering from the initial shock, and that is why they withdrew, returning all the land they had conquered (including Tawang) irrespective of their much publicised claims praised as just and fair by authors like Neville Maxwell, Dr Gregory Clark, the Communists, et al.

Cleverly and hurriedly, the Chinese returned without giving us a chance to collect our wits and hit back, before the possible and likely foreign help, mainly from the US and its anti-communist allies, arrived and, of course, before the snowbound passes closed.

The logistical lines of the Chinese were stretched beyond limits and they couldn't have sustained warfare for long so far away from their homeland. They had practically no air force and only one or two usable airfields in Tibet at that time and were not prepared for the technical problems of operating aircraft at those heights and temperatures.

The Chinese hardly had any anti-aircraft guns. Their aircraft were inferior to ours. It was their weakest point, but we did not take advantage of it.

That a major Chinese invasion of India was afoot with nothing to stop them from knocking on the gates of Calcutta, where the highest concentration of ethnic Chinese lived in India, was the consequence of the entirely idiotic imagination of an absolutely gutless people, totally dominated by panic, without any military thought applied.

There was also talk among the civilians that once the Chinese tanks arrived at Tezpur, they only had to take off the brakes to use the gentle slope of the land to reach right down to Calcutta with the engines switched off. I am afraid I have seen no such slope in the landscape. That apart, how could the Chinese could have got their tanks across the Himalayas without the road network and through terrain unsuitable for armour movement crossing 16000 foot-high snowbound passes?

But despite this, even some of the military brass succumbed to this defeatist viewpoint. The disorderly military withdrawal from Se La and Bomdi La followed by panic evacuation of Tezpur after the civil administration top boss bolted to Calcutta, deserting the place of duty and the men under his charge, was nothing short of a disgrace.

Was it the age-old Hindu cowardice, a habit of leaving the battlefield and running in disarray when the king/general was killed in battle, coming into play yet again in a slightly different form? Maybe.

Nehru's broadcast to the nation, "My heart goes out to the people of Assam. I don't know what is in store for them," may have endeared him to the people of the state and given the Congress another win in the next election there, but at that time it caused an irrational panic reaction in and the evacuation of Tezpur.

Why Nehru's heart never went out to the poor jawans whom he ordered into suicidal battles is beyond comprehension.

Had we fought the Chinese at the foothills of Assam, we could have enforced a crushing defeat on the People's Liberation Army. Our army could have fought them on somewhat equal footing here, where high altitude problems are non-existent and temperatures are tolerable. Though the Chinese had the upper hand in their small arms, we could have brought our heavy weapon superiority into effect.

We could have used our superior armour against the Chinese infantry, which only had limited recoilless guns. Our infantry was well poised in the foothills of Assam to use the hook tactics, which the Chinese had used with telling effect in the higher reaches. While our troops were strangers to the high altitude terrain in the Thagla ridge area, here they were somewhat on home ground and the Chinese would have found themselves in foreign surroundings. It would have been easier for us to regroup for flexibility in tactics here, while for the Chinese it would have been impossible under pressure of our attacks from all unexpected directions.

We could have prevented and/or countered their every move, especially with the benefit of constant air surveillance, an advantage they lacked. Similarly, getting reinforcements would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them on account of the distances, lack of road network, the approaching winter with the consequent closing of the snowbound passes, and, above all, our marauding knights of the skies causing havoc from above.

Had they not decided to withdraw, we could have caused them to suffer unacceptable casualties. Their retreat would have been uphill and we could have literally played hell into them in pursuit, especially with the IAF raining fire from the skies. We could have blown their supply lines in Tibet to smithereens as the Tibetan plateau hardly provides any cover or natural camouflage.

In fact, eyewitnesses of those days recall seeing heaps of military stores, mortars, ammunition, and other supplies lying by the roadside all along in depot-like stores in the open near the border on the Tibetan side. These would have been ready fodder for our Hunters, Mysteres, Gnats, Vampires and Toofanis for strafing runs with front gun cannons and rockets. Major enemy concentrations would have proved excellent targets for carpet-bombing by our Liberators. Our Canberras were ultra-modern bombers then and could have caused havoc.

But that was not to be. Future generations will only read about the 'crushing defeat' of the Indian Army at the hands of the Chinese forces.

The 1962 India-China conflict was, in all probability, avoidable. It came about because of many a factor. The internal factors were our lack of understanding of the concept of sovereignty, made worse by political bungling, diplomatic blunders, personal arrogance of our top leader and his short-sightedness, intelligence failure, incorrect information dissemination by the government to Parliament and the media leading to the thoughtlessly jingoistic reaction by all concerned and the demand: 'not even an inch to the enemy'.

For the ignominious defeat that we suffered, we have to add 'politicisation of the army resulting in cowardly as well as stupid generalship' to the above factors.

Extraneous factors such as China's vital national interest to guard their strategic road through Aksai Chin, China's wish to be recognized and respected as the greatest Asian power, and therefore her desire to cut India down to size, as also to punish India so as to teach Nehru a lesson and puncture his balloon, played their part.

Yet careful analysis of the situation indicates that it was possible to have come to a mutually satisfactory understanding with China on the border adjustments, avoided active hostilities, and continued our then blossoming friendship with Beijing, which had tremendous potential for mutual benefit. That would have also discouraged the Pakistan-China friendship, which developed as an offshoot of the Sino-Indian conflict, and the eventual nuclearisation of Pakistan.

Wing Commander R V Parasnis is probably the only air force pilot to have flown extensively as well as moved on foot in the NEFA area. He particularly remembers an exercise where he marched for 24 days in the Bomdila region on a man-pack basis with General (then brigadier) K Sundarji, whose unforgettable briefings and brilliant strategic theories at night revived the bitter memories of the 1962 war among the young officers, even as ice-cold winds threatened to blow their small tents away.
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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:16

shivji we have a dedicated Kargil war thread. lets have a dedicated 1962 war thread too!

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:17

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/dec/03chin.htm
How Nehru let us Down-The Rediff Special/Wing Commander (retd) R V Parasnis

By and large Indians have always lacked an understanding of the concept of sovereignty. Therein lie the roots of our slavery by foreign rulers for over 1,000 years. These foreigners all came for plunder or trade, but stayed on to rule and earned the right to call themselves Indians. All the while the local kingdoms squabbled between themselves and myopically called for foreign help to overcome their adversaries.

The concept of sovereignty calls for a thorough understanding of national interests and goals; developing means (especially economic strength) and infrastructure to achieve them; fair and just rule of law; and military muscle along with a willingness to use it when necessary. Care also has to be taken to ensure that pragmatism and practicality prevail in all national policies, or else sovereignty can never be sustained.

The great Shivaji understood the concept of sovereignty perfectly well and was therefore able to create an empire out of nothing, surrounded by enemies on all sides. The British creation of 'protectorates' and 'buffer states' for the defence of India too developed because of this concept, and the lack of resources, especially manpower, with Great Britain to conquer, control, and administer every small or big state bordering India. Economically and administratively, it was not viable to expand the borders of the empire thoughtlessly over unproductive terrain.

The India-China-Tibet treaties of the British days were thus created according to the British defence concept to guard and expand their empire, and deliberately kept vague. The British had the military muscle to remain flexible in philosophy and enforce whatever they thought was best in their interests at any given time.

But after Independence, in spite of the British understanding with Tibet and the willingness of the Tibetan authorities to expand that understanding to let India help them keep their country safe from external aggression (they only had China to fear), we did nothing.

On the other hand, a year after the People's Republic of China was declared in 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Tibet and made it a province of their country.

That is foresight and quick action. They acted when the time was ripe and before anyone else could react. They knew exactly what their country's goal was and secured it. Sadly, Tibet has become an abandoned land since, and its well-developed, proud culture is on the wane in full sight of the world due to deliberate design and effort, often accompanied with brutal repression.

Sardar Patel was constrained to state in writing to Nehru that the Tibetans had reposed their trust in and looked up to us to protect them, but we had let them down. India could have entered into a treaty with Tibet and taken over the defence - and, perhaps, foreign affairs -- of Tibet in return for expenses while the Communists under Mao Zedong were busy fighting the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek, whose defeat appeared imminent. The US of those days would have given any amount of military aid to contain the Russia-China Communist axis, so obsessive with pathological hatred for Communism were they at the time.

That would certainly have created conditions for a serious confrontation with the Chinese in future, but with American help we could have prepared for that eventuality.

As for our leaders then, only Sardar Patel had some understanding of the concept of sovereignty. Nehru always displayed an abject lack of it. Examples are galore, right from the time of Partition.

His refusal to accept the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on September 19, 1947, when it was originally offered by Maharaja Hari Singh, a good five weeks before the invasion of his state by Pakistan. Had the accession been accepted then, the entire state would have been ours. The Pakistan of those days would never have dared attack India, so superior was our military strength on account of the division of the armed forces on religious lines.
Later, Nehru practically surrendered our sovereignty when he invited Lord Louis Mountbatten, the governor general, to preside over and chair the meetings of his own Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Defence on matters regarding the accession and the military action after Pakistan invaded Jammu and Kashmir. Mountbatten, basically a servant of the British Crown, did his best to delay the decisions.
Worse, as India started winning the war and liberating parts of north Kashmir, Nehru inexplicably (most likely under the strong influence of Mountbatten and his wife, who shaped much of his thinking in those days) declared a 'ceasefire' and stopped our victorious army dead in its tracks before it could liberate the entire state. He declared the ceasefire arbitrarily, without consulting his full Cabinet, the Constituent Assembly (as Parliament was then known), his military commanders, or the maharaja/prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Nehru was the architect of Article 370, with which he burdened India to placate a hurt Sheikh Abdullah.
The Chinese occupation of Tibet should have forced a reassessment of the threat to India. After they enforced their suzerainty on Tibet in 1951, the threat deserved greater attention. But when General K M Cariappa met Nehru to discuss the defence of the North East Frontier Agency, he was bluntly told to mind only Kashmir and Pakistan as his concerns for defence and leave China to the politicians and the diplomats.

As Lieutenant General S P P Thorat recounts in his autobiography 'From Reveille to Retreat', "When [in 1959] I, as GoC-in-C Eastern Command, met Menon in Delhi, I opened the subject [of defence against the Chinese] with him. In his usually sarcastic style he said that there would be no war between India and China and [if there was] he was quite capable of fighting it himself at the diplomatic level."
Nehru learnt no lessons from the war in Kashmir. Practicality always took a back seat in his mind, which was dominated by idealism. He went on emotionally in his rhetoric of 'Hindi Chini bhai bhai', all the while considering himself a superior international statesman and India an elder brother of China.

He was proudly going around as the unchallenged leader of the Third World. He failed to realise that the Chinese leaders had begun to resent his approach and his manner of dealing with them, that as per them China was the natural leader of the Third World, that the initial bond of personal friendship he had formed with the Chinese leaders was not strong enough to withstand this strain, and that personal relations can never score over vital national interests in any case. Countries fight wars when their vital interests are threatened. Nehru and Krishna Menon failed to understand this.
Nehru's rigidity on the border issue, his insistence on Chinese withdrawal before border talks could begin, his grant of political asylum to the Dalai Lama and permission to him to establish a Tibetan government-in-exile (an act that created conditions for a future invasion of Tibet by India or outside powers through India to restore the Dalai Lama's rule, if desired), the hostile Indian press on the question of the occupation of Tibet, and Nehru's increasingly aggressive statements on the border made the Chinese believe he had become a tool in the hands of the Anglo-American imperialists.

Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was maintaining a friendly posture, but he had practically begun to hate Nehru, as is clear from the text of his conversations with US President Richard Nixon in 1972, now made public. There were possibly some outward signs of this and some hints were dropped, but Nehru was blind to them. The Chinese, basically secretive in nature, were also not very open about their ill feelings.

The Chinese also knew that India was unprepared for a high-altitude war, and there was no imperial power behind her with any ready plan to enter Tibet. Since the Indian threat was unreal, punishing Nehru must have been the only, or a major, motive for their attacks.
Nehru continued with his blind love for socialism and an oppressed sister nation. Zhou and his generals were invited for many military functions like the passing out parade of the National Defence Academy, firepower demonstration/exercises by the army, and even visits to the various military establishments like the Defence Services Staff College and the College of Combat, Mhow. Zhou embraced the young cadets passing out then with affection, but had no qualms in butchering them when they were guarding our borders in 1962 as young officers.

The Chinese premier and his generals went all round India visiting our industrial and military establishments, observing, learning and preparing for an eventuality (or planning for a showdown?), while we enjoyed our reverie. The example of one firepower demonstration in 1956 arranged by none other than General B M Kaul stands out.

"The firepower demonstration went off admirably well. It had to; we had practised it for months. A Chinese general who was sitting next to General B M Kaul found it a bit too difficult to swallow and asked General Kaul whether it would be possible to achieve in actual battle conditions, the kind of concentration of fire then observed during the demonstration.

"Instead of answering that question directly, General Kaul went into the mechanics of strategy and tactics vis-à-vis firepower concentration. The Chinese military delegation on their return journey said to the Burmese in Rangoon that the senior officers of the Indian Army were 'chair-borne' soldiers," says Captain C L Datta, who was ADC to Presidents Rajendra Prasad and S Radhakrishnan, in his book With Two Presidents.

When Gen Kaul evacuated his forces from NEFA in 1962, the opposing Chinese general was the same one who had sat next to him during the demonstration and asked him that question!

Nehru took it upon himself to prop up China and take up their cause at every possible international forum, at times without even any specific request from them. But that earned him little or no gratitude.

If China was a friendly country and its claim on Tibet was acceptable to us, where was the question of granting the Dalai Lama and his entourage asylum in India to establish and run a parallel government? We even posted a foreign ministry officer to Dharamsala to represent India in the durbar of the Dalai Lama. If we believed in the justness of the Chinese claim over Tibet, then the maximum we should have done was granted asylum to the Dalai Lama with a small entourage (not thousands of followers) on humanitarian grounds, but permitted no political activities.

Alternatively, we could have objected to the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, albeit in soft, diplomatic language, insisted on retaining our mission in Lhasa as per the 1906 convention with Tibet and agreed to and ratified by China; protested when they forced Tibet to surrender its sovereignty and permitted it to maintain only regional self-governance in 1951, and in 1956 when they began to deny them self-governance, eventually forcing the Dalai Lama to flee. Granting political asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959 would then have been justified. As a result, the Chinese would have certainly remained hostile to us on this point, but respected us for what we are.

Instead, in 1955, while relinquishing the rights and privileges India had enjoyed in Tibet from the times of Colonel Younghusband's expedition in 1904, Nehru declared: "Free India has no wish to continue with any imperialistic rights or privileges."

India as a nation itself was an imperialistic creation. India's borders, including the addition of the state of Greater Assam to the Union, were a British creation. If we rejected our rights in Tibet as an imperialistic creation, what rightful claim had we on the borders fixed in accordance with British expansionism? But without the military might to back it up, Nehru did exactly that.

India, under Nehru, was an antithesis of most of the theories he applied in governance. Taking advantage of the British imperial legacy when it suited us while otherwise denouncing it roundly, we managed to lose all the respect China had for us, to be replaced by contempt. Which made it easier for them to ambush and capture or kill our patrols and take punitive action against us in 1962.

In retrospect, it can be said that Nehru's greatness and his many sterling qualities eventually came to naught on account of his lack of understanding of the concept of sovereignty in general and national interest in particular. He failed to fix the national goal. His hatred of imperialism and love for democracy mixed with socialist leanings and the prime ministerial responsibility that demanded pragmatism and cold national interest left him confused and irresolute.

Nehru, therefore, knew not where our borders should be fixed, or why. Yet, after Independence, he went on to fix India's northern and northeastern borders, left undemarcated by the British, on his own, without consulting China, leave alone getting them to agree.

The principle he followed was arbitrary, perhaps not always unjustified or unfair, but possibly wrong in places, and certainly disputable in many places. That often led to vague and irrational diplomatic arguments during talks with China or postponement of negotiations. His vacillating mind didn't stand him well against energetic and radical leaders like Mao and Zhou, both of whom were very clear about the concept of sovereignty.
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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby shiv » 01 Nov 2011 17:20

K Mehta wrote:shivji we have a dedicated Kargil war thread. lets have a dedicated 1962 war thread too!


Ok But I think it should be in the other forum because that is where military history goes normally.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:21

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/dec/18chin.htm
You can scrap the army-The Rediff Special/Wing Commander (retd) R V Parasnis

"I remember many a time when our senior generals came to us, and wrote to the defence ministry saying that they wanted certain things... If we had had foresight, known exactly what would happen, we would have done something else... what India has learnt from the Chinese invasion is that in the world of today there is no place for weak nations... We have been living in an unreal world of our own creation."
Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajya Sabha, 1963

Instead of "I", Nehru used the collective "we", a clear indication of his reluctance to own up his own mistakes as a man.

"The fact of the matter is that Nehru felt a gnawing of conscience throughout this episode. He knew that the blame for the disaster was more his than that of his loyal friend [defence minister V K Krishna Menon]," says journalist and historian Durga Das.

"The decision-making system during 1959-62 was starkly ad hoc and designed primarily to suit the personality of the Prime Minister -- who preferred to deal with these matters personally -- even Krishna Menon seldom took a stand on any point or even made a contribution when the Prime Minister was in the chair... in the Army Headquarters, it was General Kaul who had caught the Prime Minister's eye... It was not Krishna Menon who was primarily culpable for the practice of General Officers establishing direct access to politicians... It was Nehru who, many years previously, first established this irregularity," says the then director general of military operations, Brigadier (later Major General) D K Palit, in his book War in High Himalayas.

After the 1962 war, Nehru wrote to General B M Kaul ('Untold Story by Kaul) lamenting about Kaul having been blamed and having had to resign from the army for no fault of his.

This indicates Nehru's poor sense of judgement even after the event. Practically all military experts agree that Kaul was responsible for the debacle in NEFA in many ways. He showed utter lack of the knowledge of the higher-level conduct of war. More often than not, he was found away from his HQ flying in a helicopter personally doing things best left to his staff, while crucial battles were in progress on the borders. Though he displayed personal courage and dash of very high degree, he fully justified the doubts about his efficiency then expressed by many senior officers on account of his lack of operational experience.

The roots of politicisation of the army are to be found in Nehru's hatred for the man in uniform. Soon after Independence the first commander-in-chief of the Indian armed forces, General Sir Robert Lockhart, presented a paper outlining a plan for the growth of the Indian Army to Prime Minister Nehru.

Nehru's reply: "We don't need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. You can scrap the army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs."

He didn't waste much time. On September 16, 1947, he directed that the army's then strength of 280,000 be brought down to 150,000. Even in fiscal 1950-51, when the Chinese threat had begun to loom large on the horizon, 50,000 army personnel were sent home as per his original plan to disband the armed forces.

After Independence, he once noticed a few men in uniform in a small office the army had in North Block, and angrily had them evicted.

It was only after the 1947-48 war in Jammu and Kashmir that he realised that the armed forces are an essential ingredient of any independent, sovereign nation. But he still wanted a compact army rather than great volume, whatever that meant. Defence requirements worked out after a careful assessment of threats carried no weight with him.

For some reason, he disliked Field Marshal K M Cariappa despite his excellent leadership during the 1947-48 war that saved Kashmir. But his attempts to supersede him and make General Rajendrasinhji the first commander-in-chief of India failed when Gen Rajendrasinhji declined.

Soon after Independence he separated the army, navy, and air force from a unified command and abolished the post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, thus bringing down the status of the seniormost military chief.

He continued to demote the status of the three service chiefs at irregular intervals in the order of precedence in the official government protocol, a practice loyally continued by successive governments to the benefit of politicians and bureaucrats.

During the 1947-48 war with Pakistan in Kashmir, Nehru interfered with purely military decisions at will, which delayed the war and changed the ultimate outcome in Pakistan's favour. He developed a precedent to violate channels and levels of communications at that time. His penchant for verbal orders to the various army commanders, of which he kept no records, violated the chain of command.

The army thereafter reversed this trend as there was no direct interference from any of the defence ministers in the army's job and Nehru was totally engrossed in his statecraft.

That is until V K Krishna Menon arrived on the scene.

Menon, along with Nehru, caused havoc in the army's working, disregarding professional opinion and advice, violating all channels and levels of communication and encouraging the same within the army hierarchy, which ended with disastrous results in the Sino-Indian conflict. Like his boss, Menon believed in giving verbal orders and disliked records.

When the prime minister and the defence minister give an ear to a junior general over the heads of other generals, including the army chief, and the junior boasts about this, the morale and effectiveness of the senior officers is bound to suffer, even as the army hierarchy begins to disintegrate.

This is just what happened progressively in 1961-62. The cancer eventually entered the mainstream services and though there are strong tendencies to counter such evils ingrained within the armed forces culture, it is slowly but surely spreading, thanks to the generally weak Indian character.

After the infamous 'Jeep scandal' (purchase of Jeeps for the use of the army, which the army rejected on account of their poor condition, but was forced to accept since the Jeeps were already paid for), it became necessary to remove Krishna Menon, who had fixed that deal, from the post of high commissioner to the United Kingdom because of political and media pressure.

But Prime Minister Nehru rewarded him by making him Minister for Defence with Cabinet rank. This tradition has been faithfully carried forward to date by the followers of Nehru and by politicians who vehemently opposed him and the policies of the Congress party, with equal vigour. In power and out of power, political compulsions seem to demand different ethics.

It is not out of place to mention here that the government dropped the case slapped on the nondescript company that had supplied the Jeeps soon after Krishna Menon took over as defence minister.

Krishna Menon was an extremely strong-willed, intelligent man with a caustic tongue. The credit for making the first efforts to make India self-sufficient in defence production goes to him. According to B K Nehru, he alone among the politicians, other than Jawaharlal Nehru, had any understanding of foreign affairs in those early years after Independence. (Among the bureaucrats the only knowledgeable person was Girija Shankar Bajpai.)

It stands to reason, therefore, that they depended only on each other for advice and everyone else, mainly the bureaucracy (as politicians hardly understood or took an interest in anything about foreign affairs, which were indeed very foreign to them), looked up to the Nehru-Menon combine for all foreign policy directives. Without any official position in the external affairs ministry, Menon was treated like royalty by sycophantic officials, mainly because Nehru looked on him with favour.

Menon thus wielded a lot more power than what his official position in the Cabinet permitted because of Nehru, and received far more importance than he deserved. Senior defence services officers, who should have been part of the government's foreign policy-making body, especially as regards the border problems, were never even consulted. In fact, those days apart from the ICS, they were the only ones with international exposure and possibly the only service that had had some training in international relations.

Keeping the defence services out resulted in a lame Indian foreign policy, without the backing of the required military muscle. Defence services officers are brought up to be straightforward and forthright. But having exercised their right to differ and express dissent, they will carry out the orders received to the best of their ability.

It must be said to Nehru's credit that he was at least open to differing points of view. Nevertheless, he would discard them easily after giving them a hearing. Menon, on the other hand, had no such generosity. He would mercilessly stamp down hard on any kind of dissent. Military men suffered severe insults from Menon and heavy snubs from Nehru, which virtually cut communications between the military high command and their civilian bosses.

Krishna Menon didn't possess an independent power base and drew his power from his proximity to Nehru. In fact the entire inner circle of Nehru, of which Krishna Menon was de facto whip, had no independent power base and drew its power from its proximity to Nehru. Naturally, its members guarded access to Nehru very carefully. Though politics was a lot more democratic and open those days and Nehru a lot more accessible and democratic than his daughter (who perfected the coterie politics) and those who followed her, the seeds of coterie politics were firmly sown under his stewardship, and in his days Menon was feared due to his sharp, swift and abrasive tongue as his chief whip.

Krishna Menon probably would have done better as foreign minister, but he proved to be a bad boss for defence. He disliked the set army procedures and tried to short-circuit them at every stage in every matter. He had a bad habit of treating his subordinates as if they were children. He took an immense pleasure in throwing files at the faces of senior officers. He often liked to summon his subordinates at odd times of the night to his residence for no work of importance. Insulting people came easily to him.

But the proud defence services officers refused to be cowed down. There were instances of the files getting thrown out of the office or back on the table. Some abruptly walked out on Menon without taking his permission.

So, to assert the civilian superiority over the military, Menon began to play favourites, tried to supersede capable commanders with pliant, weak-willed officers, and create protégés with, in all probability, Nehru's tacit approval. These officers naturally proved to be short on self-respect also and failed to stand up for their convictions when occasion demanded.

Major General Palit writes in Menon's defence: "In spite of his methods such as barbed tongue, biting criticism and blatant cajolery to subvert opposition, if any army officer stood his ground, he wouldn't overrule him. The trouble was that most of his [Menon's] directions to the army were ill-conceived, ill-informed and foolhardy."

But in a democracy, a majority of the government's directions, right or wrong, must prevail. Besides, Gen Palit is the only person to have defended Menon. Probably he saw his boss Kaul standing his ground before Menon, but then Kaul being Nehru's protégé could afford to do it.

Also, Gen Palit, though working in fairly close proximity to the defence ministry and minister, appears to have been surprisingly unaware of Menon's habit of threatening officers who dared to raise genuine questions with a court-martial. Lieutenant General S L Menezes recounts this habit of Menon in his book, Fidelity and Honour.

Generals Thapar, Sen and Kaul were literally forced by the Nehru-Menon combine to undertake actions that the military found unsound. But eventually trusting the judgement of intelligence chief B N Mullick and foreign affairs experts Nehru and Menon (in any case the highest decision-making body) that the Chinese were not serious about war and would not fight, these generals not only carried out their orders meekly but often with active co-operation.

Kaul, who got taken in by Mullick's philosophy after initially differing with it, probably was also responsible for giving some wrong ideas to Nehru and Menon and/or strengthening some of their wrong ideas. Gen Sen, sadly, displayed no mind of his own and vacillated greatly between two extremes right to the end of the war.

Finally, there came a time when these generals realised that 'an armed conflict with China was inevitable'. They also knew that our army was unprepared, ill-clothed and ill-armed and that the supply lines just didn't exist in that inaccessible terrain. If war broke out, our defeat was guaranteed. It must have also become clear to them that war meant sacrificing the officers and men under their command on their direct orders. They must have also clearly understood then that the battles they were getting forced into would bring disgrace to the nation and dishonour to the army.

Yet they did not have the courage of their convictions to offer their resignations, preferring to be tools in the hands of their political bosses and carrying out a suicidal act. A mass resignation of the senior generals would have forced the government to back down and seek a diplomatic solution to the border problem while simultaneously strengthening the armed forces to take on China in high-altitude terrain.

The government would have certainly gone out of its way to keep the whole matter secret, and thus there was no chance of any other risk emerging out of the episode. There was not a ghost of a chance of the acceptance of their resignations by the government, which just couldn't have risked the facts about the border conditions, poor diplomacy, and hasty demarcation of the borders without ratification by China becoming public.

But these generals, indulging first in self-ambition and later in survival, forgetting that the men under their command, whom they were soon to order to their deaths, had no public voice and depended entirely on their superiors' good judgement and strong backbone for protection.

General K S Thimayya was an officer with a brilliant military career. The British had always avoided giving higher command to Indian officers as a matter of policy. In such circumstances Thimayya was the only Indian officer to be made a brigadier and given command of an operational brigade during the Second World War.

Later, during the 1947-48 war with Pakistan, Major General Thimayya gave an excellent account of himself. He was, without doubt, the most popular general, loved by one and all in the army. In due time he became chief of army staff. To his bad luck, that time happened to coincide with Krishna Menon's entry into the ministry of defence.

Krishna Menon was a master in the art of one-upmanship, with many tricks up his sleeve. The writer Khushwant Singh has narrated many a humorous anecdote about this habit of Menon's. To get one up on General Thimayya and the military top brass, Menon employed a unique trick. On ceremonial occasions, he would often go and sit in the front seat of the car next to the driver, putting the accompanying army chief in a dilemma. How could he sit at the back while his boss, the defence minister/chief guest, was sitting in the humble front seat?

General Thimayya found a diplomatic answer to this. He would ask the driver to sit behind and take the wheel of the car himself, and engage the defence minister in casual chat. Engrossed in his self-importance, Krishna Menon never grasped the essence of this tactic. Perhaps he felt elated that he was making the general drive him around, as he made a habit of it and extended this practice to all times, everywhere.

The differences between Menon, the defence minister, and General Thimayya, chief of army staff, grew over the former's interference in military matters and promotions and postings of officers, as Thimayya refused to be browbeaten. There came a time when he resigned in protest (possibly on the matter of promoting Gen Kaul out of turn). Nehru worked his charm and managed to get Thimayya to withdraw his resignation, but eventually spoke in Parliament criticising the general, contrary to what he had promised.

Thimayya, the soldier, who had no public voice, was greatly pained at having been let down in this manner. The episode also showed that Nehru was capable of doublespeak and could go back on his word. There were pro and contrary views on the resignation episode. Thimayya was a recipient of considerable criticism for his resignation as well as its retraction. In the bargain, the nation was the loser.

When the time came for Thimayya to retire, it was expected that the brilliant commander of proven ability, Gen S P P Thorat, would be made chief superseding Gen Thapar. But the government opted for the meek and submissive Thapar, much to the disappointment of almost the entire officer cadre in the army.

This animosity between the army and the civilians led to loss of interaction between the two. And in the long term, the armed forces began to get increasingly politicised, a process that continues.

Civilian interference in defence matters, particularly promotions and postings, came to be accepted. There entered a most un-soldierly tradition into the services (some, not all) -- a tendency to be subservient to the bosses like junior civil officials. A tendency to toe the official line rather than display independent thinking/courage of conviction became the rule rather than the exception. Senior officers approached politicians for postings/appointments and courts for redressing their grievances. The Admiral Nadkarni-Koppikar-Bhagwat episode and the Admiral Bhagwat-Sushil Kumar-Harinder Singh episode are all offshoots of this same malaise.

In the short term, pliant officers got promoted. The depressing effect of this on the previously highly promoted officer-like qualities, such as fearless expression of opinion and initiative and dash, was incalculable. The era of mediocrity was hastened in the defence services on account of the politicisation, which, to our good fortune, the services did make an honest effort to resist then and have continued resisting till date. With mixed results.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:27

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/nov/07china.htm
Military nonsense-The Rediff Special/Col (retd) Anil Athale

Col (retd) Anil Athale I think it was in 1988, at a talk at the IDSA (Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi) that Neville Maxwell peddled his thesis that it was India that was the aggressor in 1962, and claimed that China merely 'reacted'.

Maxwell is a self-confessed Maoist, and anybody who has had occasion to deal with the ideologically motivated scholars (?) of the pink variety knows how difficult it is to argue with them! Yet, having spent close to four years researching the subject, backed up by military experience/knowledge, field visits and hundreds of interviews, I was on sure ground.

The question I posed to Maxwell was simple... if it was merely reacting to provocations, how come the attack on October 20, 1962, took place at the same time in the Chip Chap valley in Ladakh and 1000km away on the Namkachu river? The precision and co-ordination speaks for a well thought-out plan and premeditation. To talk of these co-ordinated attacks over a wide front as 'reaction' is military nonsense.

The second and even more fundamental point is the huge resources in heavy artillery and mortars used by the Chinese during the operations, specially in the Ladakh sector. Tibet, in 1962, was a virtual desert, bereft of any local resources. Even a pin had to be brought all the way from the 'mainland', over a tortuous and single road from the railhead located nearly 2000km away. It is like the Indian Army fighting in Arunachal with the nearest railhead located at Kanyakumari.

In order to suppress the Tibetans, the Chinese indeed had a very large military presence in Tibet. But that was mainly infantry, not heavy weaponry. In fact, it was a journalist of The Hindustan Times who reported the rumours circulating in Kalimpong (Sikkim was then independent and heavily infested with Chinese spies) that heavy artillery from the Taiwan front had been moved to Tibet. The Chinese took a good six to eight months to gather all these resources. A reaction indeed!

Unfortunately for Indians, with no means to monitor Chinese movements, India was in the dark about these developments.

This does not mean that India, especially Nehru, did not make provocative statements. He did. The classic being the offhand remark while leaving for Colombo, when he told the waiting media that he had ordered the Indian Army to 'throw out the Chinese'! But there is a vast gulf between verbal and military provocations.

But the best-kept secret of the 1962 border war is that a large part of the non-military supplies needed by the Chinese reached them via Calcutta! Till the very last moment, border trade between Tibet and India went on though Nathu La in Sikkim. For the customs in Calcutta, it was business as usual and no one thought to pay any attention to increased trade as a battle indicator.

There is undeniable linkage between the Cuban missile crisis and the Chinese attack. This has been brought out in the official history and was also written about by me in the print media in 1992 (in The Sunday Observer).

The US ordered the call-up of reservists on September 11, 1962, when the Chinese attacked the Dhola post in the East. The naval blockade was ordered around October 16 and put in place by October 20, the exact time of the Chinese attack. Given the close Chinese relations with the erstwhile Soviet Union, it seems entirely plausible that the Chinese must have had prior information about the placement of missiles in Cuba. In December 1962, after the conflict was over, the Soviet Union charged China with 'adventurism' against India.

The unilateral Chinese ceasefire of November 21 and the quick withdrawal coincided with the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis. The Chinese were afraid of intervention by the US Air Force. They were not very wrong, for literally within days the massive American airlift of supplies for India began on November 23/24, 1962.

In international relations there is no room for coincidences. Certainly not four or five! It would not be an exaggeration to say that had the Cuban missile crisis not taken place the Chinese would not have attacked on such a massive scale. This also explains Nehru's confidence that China would not attack. All these years, the need to maintain its non-aligned 'virginity' prevented India from acknowledging that it was the implicit American support against China that was at the back of Nehru's confidence.

It is best to quote Professor Thomas C Schelling (Arms & Influence, Yale University Press, 1966, page 53): "Our commitment is not so much a policy as a prediction... In the Indian case, it turns out that we [the US] had a latent or implicit policy [to support India against China]. It was part of the effort to preserve the role of deterrence in the world and Asia. Military support to India would be a way of keeping an implicit pledge...." (paraphrased)

Schelling then goes on to say that Nehru possibly anticipated it for 10 years and that was why he was so contemptuous of the kind of treaties Pakistan signed with the US. Nehru felt that his own involvement with the West in emergencies would be as strong without any treaty.

The tragedy was that Nehru could not anticipate the Cuban crisis that took away the 'shield ' of implicit American support.

Colonel (retd) Anil Athale, former director of war history at the defence ministry and co-author of the official history of the 1962 war.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:28

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/nov/08chin.htm
Missed opportunities-The Rediff Special/Col (retd) Anil Athale

World history is full of 'ifs' and 'buts' when it is commonly assumed that if only a certain action had been taken, history would have been different.

In India it is almost an industry since we have surfeit of disasters that litter our 5,000-year history. The 1962 military disaster is no exception and has spawned works like the 'Guilty Men of 1962' or self-justificatory works like the 'Untold Story' by General B M Kaul, et al.

The first missed opportunity to avoid the conflict came in December 1960 when Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai made a brief stopover in Delhi. Under the so-called 'Krishna Menon Plan' it was mooted that India would lease the Aksai Chin area to China and in return the Chinese would lease the strategic (from the Indian point of view) Chumbi valley that is like a dagger pointed at the line of communication with Assam and the Northeast.

This would have been a very fair deal as the Aksai Chin area, besides being strategically useless to India, was also very difficult to defend.

But it is believed that under the pressure from the right wing of the Congress and fear of vociferous opposition, Nehru rejected it. A hint of this is available in Michael Breacher's 'India & World Politics: Krishna Menon's view of the world' (Oxford University Press, 1966, p 145-154) as well as an account of that visit in Swadhinta (January 26, 1966) by Pandit Sunderlal.

China at that time was no superpower and wary of American designs on it through Taiwan (then called Nationalist China, which occupied the Chinese seat in the UN Security Council). Indian friendship was of great value to China then.

But an obdurate Nehru missed the chance. In subsequent years this proposal was revived, but by now a confident China saw no merit in it.

From the professional military as well there were many warnings and suggestions that confrontation with China should be avoided till we build our strength. But these objections were summarily dismissed due to 'political considerations'. Once India embarked upon the disastrous, legalistic, and militarily foolish 'forward policy' (of establishing small posts in Chinese-dominated areas), the die was cast and like a Greek tragedy the events moved towards a disaster.

In the popular mind the 1962 conflict evokes memories of an unimaginable defeat. This is not strictly true. In the northern sector, on the Ladakh front, the Indian Army, despite heavy odds, gave a good account of itself and Chinese gains were small. The airfield at Chushul, one of the major prizes, remained in Indian hands.

The impression that it was an unmitigated disaster is fostered by the Indian rout at Sela. But for the Sela defeat and panic retreat, 1962 would have at worst been classed as a setback, not a disaster.

The discredit for this debacle belongs to Lieutenant General Brij Mohan Kaul and his catastrophic leadership. After the initial setback in Tawang district, in the last week of October, Kaul fell ill and Lt Gen Harbax Singh took over the command of 4 Corps.

Harbax consolidated the position at Sela and was quite confident of holding back the Chinese there. The order for withdrawal from Sela was a panic reaction by Kaul who had no fighting experience (he spent World War II in charge of a drama troupe for the entertainment of troops).

Harbax was a veteran and had faced the Japanese enveloping tactics in Burma. He was also confident that even if cut off from ground, Sela could be maintained by air. But to India's ill luck, as soon as Kaul felt that the situation had stabilised on the front, he hastened back to 4 Corps not wanting to miss on the 'credit'! The rest, as they say, is history. If instead of Kaul, Harbax had been in charge, the Sela disaster may not have happened at all.

But the biggest 'mystery' of 1962 is the non-use of offensive air power by India. The whole conflict was run as a personal show by Kaul and there was very little co-ordination with the air force. At that time the Chinese had barely two airfields in Tibet and their fighter aircraft were decidedly inferior to India's British-made Hunters.

The Indian Air Force was guaranteed virtual air superiority on the battlefield. With air power on its side, India could have overcome the tactical disadvantage of lack of artillery in Ladakh and could have intercepted the foot and mule columns of the Chinese in Tawang area (like it did during the Kargil conflict in 1999). But such was the irrational fear of Chinese retaliation against Indian cities that India did not use its air power.

This fear of danger to cities was a result of panic in Calcutta... The only long-range aircraft the Chinese had at that time was the Ilyushin 24, operating at extreme ranges. The Indian Air Force with its network of airfields in the East (thanks to World War II) was well capable of dealing with it.

Right till the end, Krishna Menon was in favour of use of air power, but was overruled by a leadership that had lost its nerve. Use of offensive air power could have tilted the balance on the ground and boosted the morale of our troops. The morale factor is of great importance as essentially even the Sela disaster was due to loss of morale.

The above analysis is not complete given the constraints of space. The full details will be before readers when the official history, of which I am the co-author, is released.

At the very basic level, the Indian Army was fighting a repeat of the 1947-48 Kashmir war, a campaign against tribal invaders, while the Chinese, veterans of the Korean War, were a well-oiled military machine.

The above analysis may seem unduly harsh, but that is the job of an analyst and it is time we face the truth, for in that lies the germ of future success.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 01 Nov 2011 17:31

http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/nov/09chin.htm
The silver lining-The Rediff Special/Col (retd) Anil Athale

November 20, 1962, was the darkest day in the history of independent India. The previous evening, a distraught Nehru addressed the nation. "Huge Chinese armies are marching into the Northeast of India... yesterday we lost Bomdila, a small town in Kameng division... my heart goes out to the people of Assam!"

4 Corps began preparations for withdrawal from Tezpur. That ill-considered move triggered a collapse not seen before or after. The civil administration in Tezpur collapsed. Prisons were opened and government officials began burning currency in the Tezpur treasury, as also other government records.

By evening a thick pall of smoke engulfed the city. Panic-stricken people used all means to get across the Brahmaputra. The airfield was clogged with foreigners (mostly working in tea plantations) clamouring to get a seat on the aircraft. Railway staff and civil officials had all left for Gauhati and safety. By evening Tezpur was a ghost town.

The whole nation was stunned by the reverses on the battlefront. Rightly or wrongly (from the military point of view at least) people perceived that the very existence of India was at stake. Nehru's loss of nerve and 'abandoning' of Assam had grave repercussions. Even 40 years after the event, ULFA extremists and common Assamese often cite that speech by Nehru and assert that at a time of peril India had abandoned Assam.

But in these otherwise dark winter days, there was a silver lining.

As if in a flash, all internal bickering and fights ceased. On October 23, the guard at Teen Murti House, the prime minister's official residence, was confronted by an elderly couple, obviously from a rural area near Delhi. When they demanded to see the PM, the sentry directed them to his officer, thinking they must have come with some petition. The officer was stunned into silence when the old man took out papers donating his land for the defence of the nation.

Women gave their jewellery, including their 'mangalsutra', to the National Defence Fund to buy guns to fight the Chinese. In Rajasthan, 250 families from Village Bardhana Khurd decided to send one son from each family into the army. All over the country people queued up to join defence forces. Trade unions all over India gave up their right to strike till the national emergency lasted. The donations in cash were more than $220 million, the total amount needed in the supplementary budget.

The DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam], a political party in the South that had been waging a political battle for secession, had to give up its plank owing to pressure from workers. The National Integration Council that met on November 1, 1962, decided that in view of the upsurge in national feelings it had no job left and decided to disband itself.

Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) S H F J Manekshaw replaced the clueless Gen B M Kaul in Tezpur as the new commander of 4 Corps. On taking over the corps he called a conference of all staff officers and commanders at Tezpur. As the assembled officers waited expectantly to hear the plans of their new commander, Manekshaw walked in and told the officers, "Gentlemen, there shall be no withdrawals!' and walked out.

The stunned officers were told that the conference was over. It was possibly the shortest military conference in the history of the Indian Army.

The new leadership did a wonderful job of restoring the shattered morale. Many in the army seriously believe that but for the shock administered by the Chinese and the subsequent build of India's military muscle, India would have lost Kashmir to Pakistan in 1965.

Russell Brines, a British author writing on the 1965 Indo-Pak war, mentions that Pakistanis seriously underestimated Indian nationalism while embarking on the 1965 adventure in Kashmir. 'The current of Indian Nationalism that was so strong in 1962 had merely gone underground, but was equally strong even in 1965.'

I myself was among the countless that joined the armed forces in the wake of the Chinese aggression. For many of my [post-1947] generation, that was our first brush with nationalism.

But at personal level, when I researched and wrote the official history of the 1962 war, the overwhelming feeling was that we have hidden the truth so long that we have failed to draw appropriate lessons from history. It was a major factor in my own personal decision to give up a bright armed forces career and plunge into an attempt to reform the Indian mindset on politico-military issues.

It would be wrong to suggest that we did not learn anything from 1962. At the tactical level, many changes came about in the army and it became a more thoroughly professional force.

After the disaster that was Kaul, politicians stopped interfering in the internal promotion policies of the armed forces. But Nehru, by confining the Henderson Brooks enquiry to merely military matters, sidestepped the issue of weakness at the political decision-making level on matters of security. India paid a heavy price for that folly in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

The sense of satisfaction for 'crusaders' like me is that through the establishment of the National Security Council and its attendant bodies, we have at last put our defence decision-making on sound institutional footing. There is as yet much work to be done, but the direction we have taken is right and through trial and error we will evolve a structure suited to our genius and needs.

One wishes to end this part with a basic thought on war and its nature. There has been some debate as to whether it is a science or an art, with the prevalent consensus being that it is an art. But unlike in other forms of art, be it literature, music, painting, et al, there have been only a handful of master strategists or military geniuses in the entire recorded history of mankind --- Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Shivaji, Napoleon, and maybe Rommel. So one must not judge the Nehrus or the Kauls of this world too harshly!

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 01 Nov 2011 19:57

The 1962 Chinese aggression had more strategic rather than tactical implications. Hence this is the right forum.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 03 Nov 2011 06:38

abhishek_sharma wrote:Defeated, not destroyed: Inder Malhotra

After the humiliating defeat in the border war with China in October-November 1962, the overwhelming prestige and authority of Jawaharlal Nehru inevitably declined. After all, he was the sole architect as well as implementer of Indian foreign policy since the dawn of Independence, and it was the stark failure of his China policy that had traumatised the nation.

Long before the Chinese troops had come rolling down the Himalayan slopes in both the northeast and the northwest, and indeed, since the Chinese intruders first drew blood at Kongka-la three years earlier, large sections of the opposition had been criticising him vehemently for refusing to fight the Chinese and seeking a peaceful settlement of the border issue instead. There were many on the Congress benches who silently shared the sentiment. Came the day when Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then of the Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP, went so far as to taunt the prime minister rather cruelly. “Wars between nations”, he said directly addressing Nehru, “take place for three reasons: Zar (wealth or cash), zewar (ornaments) and zameen (land). Land you’ve given away. What more will you give”?


Without any loss of temper, Nehru explained at some length why the policy of peaceful settlement of disputes was in the best interest of the country. However, “if this House thinks that the way our government has carried out this work in not satisfactory, it is open to this House to choose more competent men...”.

When the full-blown Chinese attack began and overran everything in its way, Nehru did admit that he and the country had been “out of touch with the reality in the modern world” and “living in an artificial atmosphere of our own our own creation”. This was as close as he could come to confessing that the fundamental flaw in his China policy was his conviction that there would be border skirmishes and patrol-level clashes but the Chinese would do “nothing big”.

This, according to Nehru’s critics, was because of his naivety, but that is far from, being the case. Dangerously wrong he certainly was, but naïve he wasn’t even though the republic’s then-president and his friend, S. Radhkrishnan, accused his government of “credulity and negligence”. Evidence to the contrary is compelling. As early 1954, briefing a goodwill delegation to China, Nehru had told them that India’s problems with China would be all along the “spine of Asia”. Two eminent editors, Frank Moraes and M. Chalapathi Rao, who were members of the delegation, put this in the public domain.

More importantly, in March 1958, on the night G. Parthasarthi was to leave for Beijing to take over as ambassador, Nehru advised him not to believe whatever the foreign office might have told him about the state of India-China relations. Then he gave him what was unquestionably the most forthright appraisal of the Chinese whom, he added, he “didn’t trust one bit”. “They are arrogant, deceitful, hegemonist, and a thoroughly unreliable lot. We just cannot trust them at all. They are totally inimical to us...” Nehru also told the ambassador-designate to be “extremely vigilant” in Beijing and not “fall for any blandishment the Chinese might offer. It is all deceit”. He then gave GP the rather unusual directive to send all his dispatches from China “marked only to me”.

In view of this the question is: why then did he err so grievously? Clearly, he was not a victim of naivety but had fallen between two stools: his knowledge that China was trouble all the way, and his belief that India was “too big a prize” and therefore neither China nor any other country could invade it without risking a wider war. It didn’t occur to him that China could launch a short, calibrated punitive strike. According to the British historian of the Himalayan frontiers, Dorothy Woodman, another reason for Nehru’s misreading of the situation was “an element of deceit” in all of Zhou Enlai’s negotiations with him.

Against this backdrop, the surprise is not that Nehru’s towering stature slipped but that the slippage was so limited and so short-lived. Soon enough, he had recovered his enviable hold on the Indian masses. Several historians have testified that no other leader in any country could have survived politically under similar circumstances. But in post-1962 India, according to Steven A. Hoffmann, an American analyst of the India-China crisis, Nehru remained “in command of the Indian political system and the national decision-making process... as always during the time of his prime ministership, he remained a legitimising symbol and, to many, the embodiment of the nation. The war with China had curtailed his role as an international statesman and champion of peace, but he had become the focal point of national and international sympathy”.

Almost immediately, Nehru buckled down to the onerous task of revitalising both the Congress and his administration. He was more active now than before the war. By August 1963, he had had two remarkable achievements to his credit. Through what is known as the Kamaraj Plan (named after the chief minister of Madras (now Tamil Nadu), K. Kamaraj) he cleared the way for Lal Bahadur Shastri’s succession to him, eliminating Morarji Desai. And he defeated, spectacularly, the first and only no-confidence motion against his government.

However, at no time is the Indian scene uni-dimensional or free from complexities. Around the same time, Nehru’s party badly lost three key parliamentary byelections in quick succession. These brought or brought back into the Lok Sabha three of his inveterate and eloquent critics — Acharya Kripalani, Minoo Masani and Ram Manohar Lohia. The victors and the opposition in general were jubilant.

C. Rajagopalachari, better known as Rajaji, a one-time close associate of Nehru turned bitter critic, immediately declared that the mandate the prime minister had won in February 1962 had been exhausted, and therefore he must resign and hold fresh elections. Other opposition leaders joined the chorus. Nehru hit back equally hard. He denounced them as “inept, irresponsible, lately becoming positively indecent”, and said that they were “reviving memories of fascism and Nazism”. Masani commented bitingly, if also helplessly: “Defeat seems to have gone to his head”.

The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 03 Nov 2011 09:46

The last article is odd. It portrays a contradictory image of JLN.

I will do a factors for surprise analysis based on Inder Malhotra's articles and see what turns up.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby svinayak » 03 Nov 2011 09:58

JLN decisions at various stages and 5 years before 1962 are still yet to be deciphered.

This must be state secret and has global international impact.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 04 Nov 2011 00:16

If you sort all his decisions into three buckets Plus, Minus and Interesting we can start to make sense of what happened.

At the outset it looks like he took steps to rile the PRC yet took little efforts to ensure adequate defence (bad generals were promoted and equipment wasnt purchased) and allowed himself to look gullible but didn't lose his panache.

To me it looks like a setup which went wrong due to Kaul's panic.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby rohitvats » 04 Nov 2011 00:25

There is something I have found really interesting - between 1947 and 1965, there seem to have been great overt interest in India and its geography and politics. Lot of books have been written on Kashmir and Sino_Indian issue by foreigners. There was sure lot of interest in India's development and conduct during those years.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby Stan_Savljevic » 04 Nov 2011 00:29

Rohit, this post may be of help:
viewtopic.php?p=1177446#p1177446

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 04 Nov 2011 00:31

And nuke program. Read atleast two books by John Beaton and Lester Maddox for sample.
By any measure it was matter of when and not if India would test. Yet India didn't till the NPT went into effect and a good six years after that.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby rohitvats » 04 Nov 2011 00:58

Stan_Savljevic wrote:Rohit, this post may be of help:
viewtopic.php?p=1177446#p1177446


Many thanx. Makes lot of sense.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby abhishek_sharma » 14 Nov 2011 04:27

The strange case of the air force in war time: Inder Malhotra

Since this country’s conduct of the 1962 border war with China was appalling, to say the least — in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru’s official biographer S. Gopal, the situation was “as bad as it could be in every way; had it not been true, it would be difficult to imagine” — it may seem unfair to pick on any single mistake of civilian and military decision-makers from an unending series. But our failure to use air power in combat cannot be ignored because it was a blunder too massive and too consequential.
To be sure, the Indian Air Force was used to the hilt, and it did its job as best it could. It dropped in the two battlefields, North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and Ladakh, no less than 8,000 tonnes of supplies for the army a day — though much of these were lost, especially in NEFA, because of the treacherous terrain. But the exclusion of the air force from combat was inexcusable. Some strategists have done good work on this egregious error and its ramifications, but this discussion remains incomplete even after half a century.


In all fairness, both political and military leaders are almost equally to blame for the huge bungle. The higher defence organisation, not wholly satisfactory even today, was in a far worse state then. It was virtually dysfunctional, at least partially because of the imperious ways of the highly controversial defence minister, Krishna Menon, which included playing favourites. But the three service chiefs were also remiss. Each ploughed his lonely furrow. There was hardly any coordination, leave alone joint thinking and planning.

Even so, surprisingly the IAF HQ, whether at the level of the chief of air staff or at the operational level, never even suggested to the government that it would be a good idea to use air power to interdict the Chinese and thus halt their advance. Curiously, even the army was not enthusiastic about the air force getting involved in combat. It feared that its supplies might be further jeopardised. As it happened, the idea of the air force giving “close support” to the ground troops, especially in the Kameng division of NEFA, was mooted. But it had to be given up because of the heavily forested mountains and hills in the area.

The political leadership was chary of aerial combat with China to such an extent that it did not want even to discuss the option. For it was almost certain that the Chinese would retaliate immediately by bombing Indian cities, while this country did not have bombers capable of reaching any Chinese city worth bombing. Some military commanders, though never consulted, shared this view. Moreover, the Congress leaders in power in West Bengal belonged to a generation that had witnessed the bombing of Calcutta by the Japanese during the Second World War and the panic and havoc this had caused. No wonder, then, that the prestigious chief minister of the state at that time, B.C. Roy, wrote to Nehru to avoid the risk of being bombed at all costs. Incidentally, the Japanese bombing of Madras (now Chennai) was even more destructive than that of Calcutta. But in 1962, no one in Tamil Nadu was losing sleep over the prospect of the Chinese bombers reaching his home.

The temptation to laugh at this kind of thinking should be resisted. Full three years later when, during the 1965 India-Pakistan War, the two countries were bombarding largely military targets in each other, the then prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was greatly worried over the danger of civilians in major cities also becoming targets. He constantly discussed this possibility with Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, who was then air chief.

To cap it all, the most powerful constraint on the use of air power against the Chinese came from the United States through its ambassador, John Kenneth Galbraith. He was highly respected in any case because of his stature as an economic guru and had become highly influential because of America’s immediate promise to give India all assistance in its hour of need. He constantly told Nehru, foreign secretary M. J. Desai and others that the use of air power would needlessly escalate the war and the situation might get completely out of hand.

It also says something about the chaotic state of affairs in the government that on November 19 when Nehru sent the letter to President Kennedy asking him for two squadrons of F-104s, along with their crews, to take on the Chinese, no one thought of consulting IAF HQ. The only military man H.C. Sarin, the defence ministry joint secretary, sent for, was the director of military operations, Brigadier D.K. Palit. When the latter protested that some air marshals should be consulted, he was told that there was no time. The letter had to be dispatched at once. Palit mulled this for some time and then said: “If Pakistan can operate F-104s in both its western and eastern wings, our air infrastructure should also suffice.”

Even this pales, however, compared with the crowning irony that, all the while the Americans were advising us not to use air power, the CIA knew that the Chinese were in no position to launch any air operations from their bases in Tibet. No air base had a runway long enough, and the Chinese were woefully short of aviation fuel and other essential supplies. Moreover, the Chinese fighter aircraft were concentrated on their eastern coast. They had received a categorical assurance from the US that it “would not unleash Taiwan against them” (Henry Kissinger’s words) yet they wanted to take no chances.

A Pentagon study immediately after the ceasefire concluded that if India had used its air power, “It would have made a significant difference to the war’s outcome”. (Emphasis added.)

Even at this distance of time it hurts that the Americans did not come clean and concealed from us what they knew. But then the question arises: What the hell was Indian Intelligence doing? Why didn’t it get even a whiff of what the Chinese situation was?

The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator
Last edited by abhishek_sharma on 14 Nov 2011 07:49, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 14 Nov 2011 04:55

X-post...
abhishek_sharma wrote:From Henry Kissinger's "On China"

By 1962, barely a decade after the establishment of the People's Republic of China, China had fought a war with United States in Korea and engaged in two military confrontations involving the United States over the offshore islands of Taiwan. It had restored Chinese authority to imperial China's historic frontiers (with the exception of Mongolia and Taiwan) by reoccupying Xinjiang and Tibet. The famine triggered by the Great Leap forward had barely been overcome. Nevertheless, Mao did not shrink from another military conflict when he considered China's definition of its historic borders was being challenged by India.

...

By the end of Qing Dynasty in 1912, with China's governance severely strained, the Chinese government's presence in Tibet had shrunk. Shortly after the collapse of the dynasty, British authorities in India convened a conference in the hill station of Simla with Chinese and Tibetan representatives, with the goal of demarcating the borders between India and Tibet. The Chinese government, having no effective force with which to contest these developments, objected on the principle to the cession of any territory to which China had a historic claim. Beijing's attitude to the conference was reflected by its representative in Calcutta -- then the seat of Britain's Indian administration -- Lu Hsing-chi: "Our country is at present in an enfeebled condition; our external relations are involved and difficult and our finances embarrassed. Nevertheless, Tibet is of paramount importance to both [Sinchuan and Yunnan, provinces in southwest China] and we must exert ourselves to the utmost during this conference." The Chinese delegate at the conference solved their dilemma by initialing but not signing, the resulting document. Tibetan and British delegates signed the document. In diplomatic practice, initialing freezes the text; it signifies that the negotiations have been concluded. Signing the document puts it into force. China maintained that the Tibetan representatives lacked the legal standing to sign the border agreement, since Tibet was part of China and not entitled to the exercise of sovereignty.



Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru claimed a cultural and sentimental interest in Tibet based on historical links between India’s classical Buddhist culture and Tibetan Buddhism. But he was prepared to acknowledge Chinese sovereignty in Tibet so long as substantial autonomy was maintained. In pursuit of this policy, Nehru declined to support petition to table the issue of Tibet’s political status at the U.N.



Indian commanders were given the authority to fire on Chinese forces at their discretion, on the theory that the Chinese were intruders on Indian territory. They were reinforced in that policy after the first clashes in 1959 when Mao, in order to avoid a crisis, ordered Chinese forces to withdraw some twenty kilometers. Indian planners drew the conclusion that Chinese forces would not resist a forward movement by India; rather they would use it as an excuse to disengage. Indian forces were ordered to, in the words of the official Indian historian of the war, “patrol as far forward as possible from our [India’s] present position toward the International Border as recognized by us …[and] prevent the Chinese from advancing further and also to dominate any Chinese posts already established on our territory.”

It proved a miscalculation. Mao at once canceled the previous withdrawal orders. But he was still cautious, telling a meeting of the Central Military Commission in Beijing: “ Lack of forbearance in small matters upsets great plans. We must pay attention to the situation.” It was not yet an order for military confrontation; rather a kind of alert to prepare a strategic plan. A such it triggered the familiar Chinese style of dealing with strategic decisions: thorough analysis; careful preparation; attention to psychological and political factors; quest for surprise; and rapid conclusion.

In meetings of the Central Military Commission and of top leaders, Mao commented on Nehru’s Forward policy with one of his epigrams: “A person sleeping in a comfortable bed is not easily roused by someone else’s snoring.” In other words, Chinese forces in the Himalayas had been too passive in responding to the Indian Forward Policy—which, in the Chinese perception, was taking place on Chinese soil. …

The Central Military Commission ordered an end of Chinese withdrawals, declaring that any new Indian outposts should be resisted by building Chinese outposts near them, encircling them. Mao summed it up: “You wave a gun, and I’ll wave a gun. We’ll stand face to face and can each practice our courage.” Mao defined the policy as “armed coexistence”. It was, in effect, the exercise of wei qi in the Himalayas.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 14 Nov 2011 05:17

ACM SK Mehra was stationed in Punjab flying hunters. He said to BRF members he and his flight were all armed and gassed up flying loiter patrols but never got orders to engage the Chinese.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby svinayak » 14 Nov 2011 05:30

rohitvats wrote:There is something I have found really interesting - between 1947 and 1965, there seem to have been great overt interest in India and its geography and politics. Lot of books have been written on Kashmir and Sino_Indian issue by foreigners. There was sure lot of interest in India's development and conduct during those years.

This is the Nehru years and they were worried about India forming great alliances in Asia and other part of the world completely outside of the colonial powers. His acheivement in Bandung conference in 1955 shook the west.

His power due anti colonial history gave him huge influence in the international world. This made outsiders to study India and mould it and keep it within its boundaries.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 14 Nov 2011 09:52

"abhishek_sharma"

Continuing from above:

Precise instructions were issued. The goal was still declared to be avoid a larger conflict. Chinese troops were not authorized to fire unless Indian forces come closer than fifty meters to their positions. Beyond that, military actions could be initiated only on orders from higher authorities.

Indian planners noted that China had stopped withdrawing but also observed Chinese restraint in firing. They concluded that another probe would do the trick. Rather than contest empty land, the goal became “to push back the Chinese posts they already occupied.”

Since the two objectives of China’s stated policy – to prevent further Indian advances and to avoid bloodshed –were not being met, Chinese leaders began to consider whether a sudden blow might force India to the negotiating table and end the tit for tat.

In pursuit of that objective, Chinese leaders were concerned that the United States might use the looming Sino-Indian conflict to unleash Taiwan against the mainland. Another worry was that the American diplomacy seeking to block Hanoi’s effort to turn Laos into a base area for the war in Vietnam might be a forerunner of an eventual American attack on southern China via Laos. Chinese leaders could not believe that America would involve itself to the extent it did in Indochina (even then, before the major escalation had started) for local strategic stakes.

The Chinese leaders managed to obtain reassurance on both points, in the process demonstrating the comprehensive way in which Chinese policy was being planned. The Warsaw talks were the venue chosen to determine American intentions in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese ambassador to these talks was recalled from vacation and instructed to ask for a meeting. There he claimed that Beijing had noted preparations in Taiwan for a landing on the mainland. The American ambassador, who had not heard of any such preparations –since they were not, in fact, taking place –was instructed to reply that the United States desired peace and “under present circumstances” would not support a Nationalist offensive. The Chinese ambassador at these talks, Wang Bingman, noted in his memoirs that this information played a “very big role” in Beijing’s final decision to proceed with operations in the Himalayas. There is no evidence that the United States government asked itself what policy might have produced the request for a special meeting. It was the difference between a segmented and a comprehensive approach to policymaking.

The Laotian problem solved itself. At the Geneva Conference of 1962, the neutralization of Laos and withdrawal of American forces from it removed Chinese concerns.

With these reassurances in hand, Mao, in early 1962, assembled Chinese leaders to announce the final decision, which was for war:

“We fought a war with old Chiang [Kai-shek]. We fought a war with Japan, and with America. With none of these did we fear. And in each case we won. Now the Indians want to fight a war with us. Naturally, we don’t have fear. We cannot give ground, once we give ground it would be tantamount to letting them seize a big piece of land equivalent to Fujian province … Since Nehru sticks his head out and insists on us fighting him, for us not to fight with him would not be friendly enough. Courtesy emphasizes reciprocity.


On October 6, a decision in principle was taken. The strategic plan was for a massive assault to produce a shock that would impel a negotiation or at least an end to the Indian military probing for the foreseeable future.

Before the final decision to order the offensive , word was received from Khrushchev that, in case of war, the Soviet Union would back China under the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance of 1950.
It was a decision totally out of keeping with Soviet-Chinese relations in the previous years and the neutrality heretofore practiced by the Kremlin on the issue of Indian relations with China. A plausible explanation is that Khrushchev, aware of the imminence of a showdown over Soviet deployment of nuclear weapons to Cuba, wanted to assure himself of Chinese support in the Caribbean crisis. He never returned to the offer once the Cuban crisis was over.



At the end of the war, Mao had withstood –and in this case, prevailed in ---another major crisis, even while a famine was barely ended in China. It was in a way a replay of the American experience in the Korean War: an underestimation of China by its adversary; unchallenged intelligence estimates about Chinese capabilities; and coupled with grave errors in grasping how China interprets its security environments and how it reacts to military threats.

At the same time, the 1962 war added another formidable adversary for China at a moment when relations with the Soviet Union had gone beyond the point of no return. For the Soviet offer of support proved as fleeting as the Soviet nuclear presence in Cuba.

As soon as the military clashes in the Himalayas escalated, Moscow adopted a posture of neutrality. To rub salt into Chinese wounds, Khrushchev justified his neutrality with the proposition that he was promoting the loathed principle of peaceful coexistence. A December 1962 editorial in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, angrily noted that this marked the first time a Communist state had not sided with another Communist state against a “bourgeois” country: “For a communist the minimum requirement is that he should make a clear distinction between the enemy and ourselves, and he should be ruthless to the enemy and kind to his own comrades.” The editorial added a somewhat plaintive call for China’s allies to “examine their conscience and ask themselves what has become of their Marxism-Leninism and what has become of their proletarian internationalism.”

By 1964, the Soviets dropped even the pretense of neutrality. Referring to the Cuban missile crisis, Mikhail Suslov, a member of the Politburo and party ideologist, accused the Chinese of aggression against India at a moment of maximum difficult for the Soviet Union:

“It is a fact that precisely at the height of Caribbean crisis the Chinese People’s Republic extended the armed conflict on the Chinese-Indian border. No matter how the Chinese leaders have tried since then to justify their conduct at the time they cannot escape the responsibility for the fact that through their actions they in effect aided the most reactionary circles of imperialism.

China, having barely overcome a vast famine, now had declared adversaries on all frontiers.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 14 Nov 2011 09:53

JLN's actions, US actions, Soviet actions all look confusing unless one uses game theory.

India took a blow for something that eventually unraveled Communism 30 years later.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 14 Nov 2011 09:59

Can we go back in Indian MEA archives to see if India knew of the US-PRC meet in warsaw Pact talks in early 1962?

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 16 Nov 2011 22:00

X-Post...
vishvak wrote:
rohitvats wrote:
Theo_Fidel" <SNIP> IA- You read the old papers the question always was about resource diversion. Nehru made a bet that economic development should be priority over military and lost. The Army gave dire warnings all the time. Still does within limits. To be honest we are making the exact same bet today as well.
---------------------------------------------------------
<SNIP>
Sorry, it was more that the simple butter versus guns issue. It was the undermining of the Armed Forces as an institution which led to the debacle of 1962. It started in 1947-48 when Kashmir was ours for the taking and culminated in 1962. Thank god he was not there in 1965.

He dis-regarded the warning of IA on the 1962 - choosing to rely on Menon and then playing favorites in the selection process. IA had the might to stall chinese in 1962 - only 16% of IA's strength was used in 1962, think about that.

Without northern J&K, India is cut off from Central Asia and related mutually beneficial economic activities. What an economic blunder!

Another example of Nehru's worldly profile going nowhere in times of war:
From The strange case of the air force in wartime
Column of Inder Malhotra
To be sure, the Indian Air Force was used to the hilt, and it did its job as best it could. It dropped in the two battlefields, North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and Ladakh, no less than 8,000 tonnes of supplies for the army a day — though much of these were lost, especially in NEFA, because of the treacherous terrain. But the exclusion of the air force from combat was inexcusable...
..
To cap it all, the most powerful constraint on the use of air power against the Chinese came from the United States through its ambassador, John Kenneth Galbraith. He was highly respected in any case because of his stature as an economic guru and had become highly influential because of America’s immediate promise to give India all assistance in its hour of need. He constantly told Nehru, foreign secretary M. J. Desai and others that the use of air power would needlessly escalate the war and the situation might get completely out of hand.
...
Even this pales, however, compared with the crowning irony that, all the while the Americans were advising us not to use air power, the CIA knew that the Chinese were in no position to launch any air operations from their bases in Tibet. No air base had a runway long enough, and the Chinese were woefully short of aviation fuel and other essential supplies. Moreover, the Chinese fighter aircraft were concentrated on their eastern coast. They had received a categorical assurance from the US that it “would not unleash Taiwan against them” (Henry Kissinger’s words) yet they wanted to take no chances.

A Pentagon study immediately after the ceasefire concluded that if India had used its air power, “It would have made a significant difference to the war’s outcome”. (Emphasis added.)

Even at this distance of time it hurts that the Americans did not come clean and concealed from us what they knew.

All the secular outlook of Nehru in the world where secularism is a joke makes no sense. It was misused to make fools out of the civilized Indians again & again, thereby costing Indians international support while promise of 'unleashing Taiwan attack' to score against India; while seculars like Nehru behaved as if watching from sidelines.



Inderji asks very good questions on the state of govt policy making setup.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby rohitvats » 16 Nov 2011 22:20

I really don't believe the bening qualities attributed to the Chairman Mao...as if the Chinese were pushed into the war. For a country which built the road in 1957 through Aksai-Chin and started the land claim with Barahoti in Uttarakhand in 1956, it is hard to fathom all the 'peacefull' attributes of China....this is BS on the lines of Maxwell's book about 1962 war.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 17 Nov 2011 01:59

Inderji is not saying that. Its HKbaba and he is still on the opeing China rush!

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby rohitvats » 17 Nov 2011 12:00

Sirji, who is HK baba?

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 17 Nov 2011 18:16

henry kissinger

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 17 Nov 2011 18:21

I have a request. If we are posting whole articles, can we post it without the quote tags? it reduces the size and is not easily readable on mobile devices.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 17 Nov 2011 20:59

Agreed for this thread...

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 17 Nov 2011 22:02

The slide towards sundown - Inder Malhotra

Quoting relevant portions

Understandably, China did not like this at all, and this is as good a place as any for me to record that although the deterioration in India-China relations was the basic cause of the onset of the Nehru era’s decline, all through 1958, there was hardly any public mention of it. Both sides were keeping under wraps the increasingly acrimonious notes they were exchanging and even border violations and skirmishes. The first protest note against China’s construction of the Sinkiang-Tibet road through Aksai Chin was also sent to Beijing during that year. But, like all others, before and after, it was neither published nor presented to Parliament.

At that time China was having a major internal crisis in the wake of the Hundred Flowers period. The respected defence minister, Peng Dehuai and others became victims of Mao’s purge that followed. In India, Nehru’s rationale for keeping his responses to China’s unfriendly utterances and actions in low key, was that while India “must protect its dignity and defend its borders”, it should not allow the problem to spin out of hand. He was also convinced, wrongly as it turned out, that China would not attack India, and took care to add, “nor would Russia.”

The one India-China incident that played out in public but did not cause much of a stir related to a planned visit by Nehru to Tibet at the invitation of the Dalai Lama. In January 1958, forwarding the Dalai Lama’s invitation to Nehru, Zhou Enlai had added that he would happily accompany the Indian prime minister. Nehru had replied that he would like to go to Lhasa in September.

When nothing further was heard until August, he asked the Chinese to fix a date. Beijing replied that he should postpone the visit. Nehru’s reaction was to go to Bhutan instead, briefly passing through Yatung in Tibet. The journey on horseback was tough, but the result of the Bhutan visit was a much stronger relationship between India and the Himalayan kingdom. The Chinese were not amused.

On the last day of 1958, in his letter to chief ministers, Nehru reassured them about India-China relations and advised them not to believe rumours. This was a grievous mistake, and grievous were its consequences.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby K Mehta » 17 Nov 2011 22:21

The above article is the first one which shows the major signs of disturbance in Sino-Indian relations. Its interesting to note that Kashmir played a major distraction when the need was to focus on the eastern side. The Chinese had already built the road through Aksai Chin by this time.

All three commentators have now covered the non-use of IAF in the 1962 war.

The other interesting part is complete lack of intelligence, political or military. This is especially surprising considering the Tibetan refugees could have helped with the military part atleast.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 18 Nov 2011 01:58

We should start a systematic study the event and chronicle a timeline from 1955 Bandung Conference onwards.

IMji's new article linked above:


Slide to sundown:

Call it high noon or summer solstice (‘High noon of the Nehru era’, IE, April 25), the problem with it is that afterwards, the sun has nowhere to go except down. So it was with Jawaharlal Nehru, as 1958 drew to a close. That year marked both the peak, and the start of the downhill trend in the iconic prime minister’s illustrious career. No wonder that many years later, Lord Louis Mountbatten told Nehru’s official biographer, S. Gopal, that, “if Nehru had died in 1958, history would have remembered him as the greatest statesman of the 20th century.” At the same time, the last British viceroy and independent India’s first governor-general also stated that despite his subsequent errors and failings, Nehru remained “one of the greatest statesmen of the generation after Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.”


Two international episodes of that period, now forgotten but then looming large, show the world’s high esteem for Nehru and India. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were busy testing their nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. The rest of the world demanded that these be suspended, and nuclear powers embark on serious talks for disarmament. The two superpowers and the UN secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjold, appreciated Nehru’s strenuous efforts in support of that cause. To be sure, nothing much was achieved, yet each side continued to request Nehru to persuade the other to “be reasonable.” A letter from Eisenhower to Nehru, dated November 27, 1958, speaks for itself: “Universally you are recognised as one of the most powerful influences for peace and conciliation in the world. I believe that because you are a world leader for peace in your individual capacity, as well as a representative of the largest neutral nation...”


Luckily, the Soviet Union agreed to a temporary suspension of its tests and the US promised to follow suit. But just when progress towards disarmament seemed possible, a major crisis erupted in West Asia. In the midst of a civil war in Lebanon, Brigadier Qasim staged a coup against the Iraqi monarchy. The US immediately landed Marines in Lebanon and Britain dispatched its troops to Jordan. Tension mounted and the fears of a wider armed conflict grew. One again, Nehru played a stellar role in bringing the situation under control. This time around, Nikita Khrushchev suggested a conference of the heads of government of the Soviet Union, Britain, France, the United States and India.

The conference never took place, but the international community took note of India’s inclusion and China’s exclusion in the Soviet leader’s proposal, which underscored Nehru’s international standing as well as the growing cordiality between India and the USSR. Most, significantly this was the first public acknowledgement by Moscow of the ongoing Sino-Soviet split.

Understandably, China did not like this at all, and this is as good a place as any for me to record that although the deterioration in India-China relations was the basic cause of the onset of the Nehru era’s decline, all through 1958, there was hardly any public mention of it. Both sides were keeping under wraps the increasingly acrimonious notes they were exchanging and even border violations and skirmishes. The first protest note against China’s construction of the Sinkiang-Tibet road through Aksai Chin was also sent to Beijing during that year. But, like all others, before and after, it was neither published nor presented to Parliament.


At that time China was having a major internal crisis in the wake of the Hundred Flowers period. The respected defence minister, Peng Dehuai and others became victims of Mao’s purge that followed. In India, Nehru’s rationale for keeping his responses to China’s unfriendly utterances and actions in low key, was that while India “must protect its dignity and defend its borders”, it should not allow the problem to spin out of hand. He was also convinced, wrongly as it turned out, that China would not attack India, and took care to add, “nor would Russia.”

The one India-China incident that played out in public but did not cause much of a stir related to a planned visit by Nehru to Tibet at the invitation of the Dalai Lama. In January 1958, forwarding the Dalai Lama’s invitation to Nehru, Zhou Enlai had added that he would happily accompany the Indian prime minister. Nehru had replied that he would like to go to Lhasa in September.

When nothing further was heard until August, he asked the Chinese to fix a date. Beijing replied that he should postpone the visit. Nehru’s reaction was to go to Bhutan instead, briefly passing through Yatung in Tibet. The journey on horseback was tough, but the result of the Bhutan visit was a much stronger relationship between India and the Himalayan kingdom. The Chinese were not amused.

One of the problems that weighed heavily on Nehru’s mind around that time was the need to re-arrest Sheikh Abdullah, Kashmir’s towering leader, following his release after a five-year imprisonment that began in 1953. At both junctures, Nehru regretfully saw no other alternative. Combined with this was worry about Pakistan. American military aid was pouring into that country which used it to ratchet up the Kashmir “dispute”. And then, in October, the Pakistan army, under Ayub Khan, took over.

On a cold December evening, Nehru’s son-in-law and MP, Feroze Gandhi :!: started a devastating debate in the Lok Sabha on the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation’s “questionable” investments in the dubious companies of a tainted industrialist named Haridas Mundhra (‘The Mundra affair’, IE, December 12, 2008). An amount of only a few lakhs of rupees was involved, but Nehru’s response was in refreshing contrast to what happens these days. He spoke of the “majesty of Parliament” and instantly ordered a judicial inquiry by one of the most eminent judges, M. C. Chagla. The inquiry’s findings led to the resignation of finance minister T. T. Krishnamachari and an outstanding civil servant H. M. Patel.

On the last day of 1958, in his letter to chief ministers, Nehru reassured them about India-China relations and advised them not to believe rumours. This was a grievous mistake, and grievous were its consequences.

The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator

ramana
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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby ramana » 18 Nov 2011 22:07

Nightwatch 17 Nov 2011

Australia-US: Comment. China has complained since the term of Bush 41 that the US was attempting to encircle China. The announced basing of US Marines at Darwin, Northern Territory, confirms the Chinese interpretation of US policy.

This new base will fill a gap in the line that runs from South Korean to India. Almost all the states within that arc are potentially hostile to China. Four have US bases or facilities - South Korea, Japan, Philippines, and Australia. Taiwan is supplied by the US. Others look to the US to lead the anti-China consortium, including Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia. India does not need US bases because it is building its own, for all three armed services.

The American basing plan for Australia punctuates the worst Chinese fears for seaward containment. Looking seaward from Beijing, potentially hostile forces exist in every direction.

As for Australia, the memories of the fall of Singapore while Australian divisions served the British Empire in Africa and the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese remain fresh. Since World War II, the US has been the only English-speaking ally that has the power to defend Australia, with Australian help. The US with Australia will stand against and contain Chinese military assertiveness. This is a good deal for Australia, particularly for the town of Darwin, and for the US. This is tonight's good news.



It was the PRC aggression against India in 1962 that has led to this ring of opposition to it almost 50 years later to the date. All India had to do was stay together for the world to come around to its point of view.

By staying out of the NPT, which legitimised the PRC nuke status, India has shown the hollowness of that regime as PRC proliferated to TSP with the NPT powers doing nothing about it and deluding themselves it was to further their geo-political interests, and TSP further proliferated to the other rogue states.


Something started by 1962 aggression is now getting completed.

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Re: Inder Malhotra's series on 1962 war

Postby RamaY » 19 Nov 2011 01:39

I have a question:

I hear so many sages tell us that economic integration is the way to avoid conflict when it comes Pakistan. They tell us deep integration with Pakistan will create paki equivalent of INFYs and Wipros who run to TSPA (ironically it would be some corps commandus running to other corps commandus as Pakistan is a Military Ink) and stop any preparations for nuke (haaa i am scared) exchanges.

My question is why this logic not applied when it comes to China. Our trade with PRC is many many times more than our trade with Pakis and there is much potential for further economic integration. Imagine our trade with PRC reaches ~$250B. Wouldn't it automatically make Sinopec, ICBC, China Mobile etc run to CPC in the event of Chino-Indian hostilities?

In what way an ideology-centric Pakistan can be more amenable to trade dependencies than a materialistic China?

TIA


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