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– AFP (File Photo)

THE INTRODUCTION to the Henderson-Brooks report by Gen J.N. Choudhary, a former chief of the Indian army, exposes the failure of political leadership and the wrongly appointed army commanders that led to India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China.

It is claimed in the report that India had no shortage of arms and stores. But the report cannot deny that Indian soldiers without acclimatisation and adequate winter clothing were pushed into the mountain snows. Many researched and informative articles have been published in newspapers.

Recently Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne stated that the use of the Indian air force, proposed by the military and disallowed by the government, would have changed the course of the conflict. He is right.

(The Henderson Brooks report is an analysis (operations review) of the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Its authors, Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and Brig P. S. Bhagat, are former officers of the Indian army). The report has been kept classified by the Indian government because its contents “are not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value”).

The report is said to be openly critical of the Indian political and military structure of the time, as well as of the execution of operations.

The Chinese media have dismissed these claims by asserting that their air force was much too powerful then. Indian commentators have echoed the Chinese view. It is wrong. At that time even the US view was that due to logistics, the terrain and poor refueling facilities, the Chinese air force would have been ineffective.

The strident criticism in Indian parliament by Acharya Kripalani, Minoo Masani, Atal Behari Vajpayee and others has been recalled by commentators as the reason that forced the government into ill-prepared hostility to China. Implicitly a chauvinistic opposition is blamed for the government’s follies.

What the writers have omitted is the fact that there was also a sustained demand by critics to purchase arms from the West for immediate need and not to persist with the plodding, time-consuming official policy of building self-reliance in armaments inspired by the Soviet model.

The opposition leaders were not leading the charge against the government’s China policy. It was the media. The opposition was too weak at that time. Mainly it was Sri Mulgaokar, Frank Moraes and, later, Prem Bhatia who led the charge. These editors were not inspired by the politicians. The politicians were led by them.

Mulgaokar was my editor. I was around 25 and had returned after a two-year stint in Britain, dividing my time there between journalism and dish-washing in cafes. I think a flavour of those times based purely on memory would not be out of order for critics today.

The truth is that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Defence Minister Krishna Menon were not only woefully ignorant about strategy, about realpolitik and security, but were also besotted with misplaced notions about the Soviet Union. Both were mentored by liberal Brits.

For years while Nehru foolishly kept chanting Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai (India and China are brothers), the Chinese were steadily preparing for war. Nehru’s advisers in Britain were as silly as their Indian protégés that included an entire Indian intellectual class conditioned by the British.

VILIFICATION OF CRITICS: Those who rightly criticised India’s China policy were in those Cold War days described as CIA agents. The Economist of London in its intelligence report, restrictedly distributed to subscribers, wrote that Mulgaokar who was leading the charge against the government’s blind spot on China was inspired by the CIA.

Mulgaokar wrote a sharp letter of protest to the weekly’s editor, Donald Tyerman. The latter wrote a profuse letter of apology which I read. In those days my brother Rakshat Puri, very recently deceased, was the India correspondent of London’s New Statesman and Nation, which was a Bible for Indian intellectuals. He wrote an expose about the road being clandestinely built by the Chinese in disputed border territory.

The Indian government was aware of course, but kept parliament and the nation in the dark. The New Statesman editorially echoed the Nehru-Menon approach. After the 1962 war, the weekly’s legendary Editor, Kingsley Martin, visited India. He was god to most Indian intellectuals. He visited the India Coffee House on Delhi’s Janpath and shared a chat with a few of us. As a brash youngster I hauled him over the coals. I asked him whether or not he owed an apology to those of us in India who had been warning of the catastrophe India would suffer and had been rubbished by the likes of him.

I think he was not used to such criticism, particularly from an Indian. He mumbled, hummed and hawed and could give no reply. That was the mood of that time.

Now it is galling to read about chauvinistic critics who pushed Nehru into the Sino-Indian conflict and no recognition is given to those who accurately foresaw the defeat.

The government’s silly approach on China provoked me to write an article in 1960, which as a whole-time cartoonist I did very infrequently those days, demanding Prime Minister Nehru’s resignation. I took the article to Mulgaokar of the Hindustan Times, where I was employed. Mulgaokar read it and said: “No, I can’t go as far as this!”

I guess it required a brash 25-year-old to say that the Emperor wore no clothes.

I subsequently had the article published in a small weekly, Thought, edited by Ram Singh. In that article I wrote: “This is therefore as good as a time as any for Nehru to resign from the prime ministership. Propriety demands it, wisdom counsels it and sympathy pleads for it.

Nehru should resign primarily because his China policy of high stakes has not succeeded. It has contained omissions which have facilitated an infringement of our sovereignty by the Chinese.

“This is no place to go into the whole depressing record of honest mistakes, dire circumstances, crass negligence and political naivete which has brought us to our present situation, where we have to sit round a table and argue with aggressors the legal validity of our claims matched against theirs on territory in their possession and control…that chunks of our territory were occupied by the Chinese and neither Parliament nor people were informed at Nehru’s sole instance, but instead led at that very time into the soporific bhai-bhainess of Panch Sheel, was an unpardonable lack of the sense of responsibility.

“The least that Nehru should offer, and the least that the nation should expect is his resignation… After Neville Chamberlain had appeased Hitler…Winston Churchill was entrusted the task of forging a policy to see Britain through the war…The moral applies to Nehru…Under no circumstances would the nation ask Nehru to resign. Nehru can resign only by a decision of his own making.”

By arrangement with The Statesman/ANN

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Comments (30) Closed

Oct 18, 2012 03:39pm
Who is this Nehru? Please see that Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi themselves disowned him.
Oct 19, 2012 03:17pm
India is more focussed on services than manufacturing
Oct 19, 2012 04:46am
I think the greatest legacy of Nehru is Indian Democracy. Without this, India would have become another dictatorship.
Oct 19, 2012 04:24am
u have very higher rate of human rights violation 50000 child get killed / year in india because they are baby-girls, 25000 case reported every year of gang rape....... plz wake up and open eyes & accept the truth... hundred thousands of poor people still sleep in hunger on indian footpaths..... it is all unlike of Pakistan as comparison. u hide up urself on under shelter of high population but most of them are poor, ur country also need alot constructive work for human being. India is still used as soil for most of the conspiracy in the region, u have grooming Mafias specially child trafficking, drug, prostitution, ransom bla bla....... we both side must wake up!! Pakistan zindabad... Malala zindabad.... make your child like malala....
P N Eswaran
Oct 18, 2012 09:44am
For 17 years the face of Indian misfortune was Nehru. He has left a dark legacy which is persisting today as rampant poverty, dynastic rule and corruption. India will see the light of dawn only when his malevolent influence wanes possibly in 2014.
Oct 20, 2012 12:12am
yes, agree with you mate!
sab sale chor hai
Oct 20, 2012 12:10am
dictatorship would have been better than present democracy!
Nitin Pendse
Oct 19, 2012 08:23am
We in India are well aware of this fact that it was Neharu's wrong policies led to 1962 defeat. Nothing new in this news bulletin.
Ahmed Sultan (India)
Oct 19, 2012 12:58pm
Based upon one person you cant label entire community.
Oct 18, 2012 02:53pm
I agree with Mohammed Arif.
Oct 19, 2012 04:06am
It was our misfortune to have ideologues like Nehru. The china war was biggest and costliest mistake. Nehru'socialism put India behind by years and years.
Oct 18, 2012 12:46pm
Well said, well stated Yaar!
Oct 18, 2012 03:11pm
You have no idea what Nehru has done. He was a visinary that is beyond people like you to undertsand.
Oct 18, 2012 11:02pm
Back in the old days, they used to say, when the British came to Punjab, they found 3 different communities. Number one, the Hindus, who would plan for an important event 40 years, before it happened. Secondly, the Muslims, who would think at the eleventh hour what to do about an important event. Thirdly, the Sikhs, who would wonder, forty years after an important event, what happened? Well, as a Sikh prime minister in India, it was about time to rethink, what happened in Indo-China war.
Oct 19, 2012 09:37am
if that is the case, world would never know what is happening around the world
Oct 19, 2012 05:38am
Nehru was an visionary. And also an innocent. He wanted to give his best for the betterment for all indians. World order is something different at that times and even now. Pls read Mr. Mohammad Arif's about corruption. It is pulling us down.
Oct 19, 2012 10:23am
I feel china was far superior in the past and also superior in the future. If there is war between china and India now too china would win I feel India has not learnt lesson from the past. Present India is equal to past china
Oct 19, 2012 07:27am
why r u so sad of indian defeat.
Ahmed Sultan (India)
Oct 19, 2012 01:00pm
Because this newspaper is not lagging behind
Oct 19, 2012 10:29am
Forgive Nehru forget the China war. Mistakes happen to err is human, no one is perfect in this world. what we want is peace and hormone if possible between India and China Aman ki Asha With gods wishes let all be peaceful
Oct 19, 2012 06:35am
Nehru left legacies which could have resolved issues like kashmir and brought everlasting peace. but Nehru adamantly refused to allow kashmiri's their right to chose self determination-and look we where we are both poor countries and nucleur armed. Indian media are the face of the distorted history and education Indians are taught. So they see everything in the wrong light and cant understand when the truth is given to them.
Oct 18, 2012 05:39pm
It is very easy to criticize Nehru now. The challenges India faced at that time were monumental. It was Nehru's statesmanship that shut the mouth of those who didn't even want to recognise India as a country. He was a visionary who saw future of Atomic Energy and space sciences and established these departments and credit goes to him for India doing reasonably well in these two areas. IITs are his gift to India. Do not blame him for dynastic rule. Once he died, it was Lal Bahdur Shastri who became PM. Read his book 'Discovery of India' and letters from father to daughter that he wrote while he was in jail. He was a patriot and I will forgive him for being selfish and bit arrogant at times.
Mustafa Razavi
Oct 18, 2012 08:45pm
China is already the world leader in manufacturing. India can start whenever she wants.
Pranab Roy
Oct 19, 2012 08:01am
Mohammad Arif Sahab.. 100% correct.
Mohammad Arif
Oct 18, 2012 10:50am
Mr. Eswaran. Nehru was the main architect of the modern India. The basic infrastructures, e.g. Steel Sector, Fertilizer production, Educational Institutes, etc are at present the backbone of the Indian Economy. I don't say he was 100% right in every field, but most of the sectors he established from a zero level. If you compare with Pakistan, they couldn't develop or think about it and now as a result far far behind from us. Nehru took technologies from all over the world and tried his best to develop India. Corruption is the problem of everybody, every where.
saad ur rehman
Oct 19, 2012 07:40am
if we are left far far behind you guys than why do you come and read articles from a Pakistani website?
Oct 19, 2012 05:03pm
India is a leader in manufacturing though comparatively smaller then China.But Its growth is second only to China and within 4 years it will take over China in terms of growth. Both countries are different and are different in its way of doing business.Like India is a global power in IT and is superior then China though they are also catching up. But I have no doubt 21st century will be a century for India and China, and eventually both will become superpowers in its own terms.
Oct 18, 2012 09:14pm
One foot in our past and other foot in our future. Thats why we pee on our present. Lets concentrate on making life a little better today.
Oct 18, 2012 10:16am
Lets talk about manufacturing now.... lets get over the wars...
Oct 19, 2012 05:21pm
Do not forget that Pakistan also has sameproblems,even more Than India,Indian economy is not running on US help. Pakistani singers are singing and acting in indian film,we don't have problem,Pakistan currency's valu is almost half than India.india has given 10 billion US $ to Europian union in june 2012, whereas pakistani media was showing this news with joy about "US help of $ 1 billon. Be friends and our arms are open to hug you.