India’s debacle of 1962 : A stigma that we can not hush up.

The cover of American news magazine Time in 1962 featuring a dejected Neheru – photo from internet.

No country likes to record it’s gloom history.”

50 years ago when mankind was yet to experience the magic of information boom & zingoism was order of the day it was just a common principle.This is what our Statistic teacher in College Mr V K Tankha told us while discussing India-China war of 1962.He went on telling us that everyday the print media & All India Radio used to broadcast loads of false glory of Indian army where as in actual they were perishing in Ladhak & Arunachal Pradesh.

Cut to 2012 – we are now citizens of a world which has very minimum similarity with a world we saw in 1962. That why in last 3 months I saw a plethora of articles in various newspapers & magazines remembering the saddest saga of independent India that is Sino -India war of 1962 & it is nice to see that there is no attempt to glorify our failure. Reading  some of those articles I am convinced of few things.

One such thing is that China’s attack on India was a planned gambit to settle a long pending score & Neheru’s over confidence of his statesmanship skill as a world leader with his mental content created out of an insignificant military success to capture Goa in 1961 are main causes of India’s debacle in that 30 days long war.Over that a weak defence minister like Krishna Menon who was master of nepotism in military affairs contributed in this.

Let us accept it that the invasion of Chinese army up to the Tejpur town of Assam & sudden announcement of crease-fire on 20th November 1962 is a disgraceful fact.The war was a month long  & People Republic of China was convinced that it has taught India a tremendous lesson. So the moment the abominable side of India’s military power was exposed China found the war useless & left  Assam & Arunachal Pradesh.

Neheru & Mao : While Neheru blindly trusted China Mao was determined to give India a lesson by waging a limited war – photo from internet.

For knowing the background we have to walk back to the year 1914 & need to revisit Shimla the hill retreat of Punjab.The dispute of Mc Mohan line an unfinished project left by Brits is known as the mother of India – China conflict.Three countries India ( then under British rule ) China ( then yet to become a communist country ) & Tibet ( then an independent nation ) met in Shimla to settle their borders.It was conducted by British Foreign Secretary Sir Henry Mc Mohan. The demarcation of boundary with India & China was the main objective of this conference &  Tibet was an indispensable part of discussion.

After several attempt to invade Tibet British came to a conclusion that  China has no significant influence in Tibet & Tibet deserves a special status.Tibet was earlier an independent country but later on annexed to China when Mongols &  Manchu conquered it.Later on when Monchu rulers became weak in China Tibet again became almost independent with no impact of Chinese rule controlled from mainland.In 1914 they participated Shimla  conference as separate country.

Tibet made it very clear that they are only interested in full autonomy as a country & do not care for any special interest.On the other hand China was clear on it’s stand that Mongal under Genghis Khan conquered Tibet.So it is a part of China.To defend this logic Tibet furnished the fact that authentic China was limited only within the great wall made by Han dynasty.So a captured land where it has no influence now can  not be claimed by China.Rajindar Puri in his article published in The Statesman very logically supported this point.Mr Puri is of an opinion that if China can claim Tibet then can India claim Mayanmar or Burma as that land was also once  conquered & ruled by British East India Company the same ruler who ruled India till 1857.

1914 was the year when world was at the threshold of first world war & Britain was in a hurry to settle border dispute in Himalaya.After heavy brainstorming Tibet was parted into inner & outer Tibet.China accepted to exclude Tibet as it’s province & ready to give autonomy to outer Tibet. Dalai Lama the religious guru was assumed as head of Tibet. While Britain  &  Tibet signed the treaty the Chinese representative Ivan Chen opted out showing the reason that the boundary of inner & outer Tibet is not clear to China.Govt of India rejected this treaty as China did not sign this agreement & the project gone to cold store .In 1937 Olaf Caroe a British civil servant officer published a volume of Survey of India & in that he shown Mc Mohan line is the final boundary between India & China. Overnight new maps were drawn & all old volumes were replaced from various archives with new boundary marking.The volumes had a false date of publication as 1929.

In 1938 another British army officer Lt GS Lightfoot arrived  at Tawang an important centre in northeast  & announced that this is now a part of India.It created huge controversy in Tibet & the area was given back to Tibet soon. However in the entire  area British administration  did various military activities till 1947 & Tibet made no objection.British left India but border hotchpotch remained.

By the end of 1951 India almost captured full of Tawang  & renamed it North East Frontier Agency in 1955.

Over coming a long history of slavery which starts ever since muslim invaders attacked & vanquished the last Hindu king of north India & got cemented with the victory of East India Company in 1757 India finally won her independence in 1947 with Jawaharlal Neheru as it’s prime minister.Within two years in 1949 China emerged as People Republic of China.,/p>

People Republic of China came into existence in 1949 & India was one of the first country of the world to recognise it – photo from internet.

It was when Chinese Communist Party made history by defeating ruling nationalist Kuomintang Government that  ruled China from 1911 to 1949.India was overjoyed to see this development & became 2nd country in the world to give recognition to the new Communist Govt of China.

Neheru with his overconfidence of statesmanship thought China will ever remain happy with the half baked cake that Brits left between two countries.With in few years he will see how wrongly he took China.

In 1950 China first attacked few posts in Ladakh. Not much is known about this event.It was the time when defence minister of India Ballabbhai Patel wrote a long letter to Neheru to warn him on China.As usual Neheru neglected that.

Neheru visited China in 1954 & an agreement was signed with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to start trade between Tibet part of China.Followed by a return visit of Zhou Enlai in the same year China and India signed the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or Panchsheel.The event made such a great feeling in Neheru’s heart that a road in Delhi was named as Panchasheel marg ! The iconic slogan ” Hindi – Chini bhai bhai ” was created.With a great surprise  Zhou Enlai again visited India 1956.Then suddenly in September 1958 India found a pictorial map released by China showing many parts of Assam & Arunachal Pradesh  within Chinese border.It also found a road in Karakoram region of Aksai Chin built by China. India put an official objection on this.In 1959 th same Zhou Enlai  clearly claimed that 40000 sq miles in Ladakh & Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.It was the first wake up call to for gory war.In April of the same year China invaded Tibet after a failed uprising by Tibetans under Dalai Lama who  escaped to India.With him came thousands of Tibetans refugees & India silently gave them shelter.

Dalai Lama refuge to India in 1959 & Neheru’s open arm welcome to him made things difficult between India & China – photo from internet.

Dalai Lama placed himself at Himachal Pradesh while his followers settled all across India. Neheru with an intention of showing his broad perspective of secularism gladly welcomed him & it was the time when Indian print media openly started supporting the autonomy of Tibet.It was observed by Beijing with a very disturbing mind.It was not the first time that Dalai Lama created problem for India. Before this in 1956 when he visited India on the of 2500th year celebration of Budha’s enlightenment  he refused to go back Tibet for many months. Situation was so bad that after few months Chinese Govt unofficially pressured India to push him back to Tibet.

From April to October 1959  again Chinese & Indian soldiers exchanged fires & many Indian jawans got killed.In September 1959 China officially ignored MacMohan line as official border & claimed another 50000 sq miles in Sikkim & Bhutan.Meanwhile in October China killed & abducted many Indian soldiers in Aksai Chin. The venom of dragon was engulfing the entire Himalayan belt in north.

China officially discarded the legibility of McMohan line & with this another blunder left by British came into existence.It established the fact  that China never accepted that disputed treaty.It was the time when China claimed additional 50000 square mile of land within Sikkim ( then not a part of India ) & Bhutan.The nemesis of China was by now a reality on India.In the same month China attacked Aksai Chin area of Ladakh killing 9 Indian soldiers. Another visit of Zhou Enlai with Jawaharlal Neheru in Delhi in April 1960 ended fruitless.China shown no sign of coming soft.By the end of 1961 India lost another

The mind blowing Tawang Lake of Arunachal Pradesh – photo from internet.

12000 sq miles of land to China in Ladakh.

Now both in Arunachal Pradesh & Ladakh Chinese soldiers often found marching on Indian soil.India tried to show some steel by placing some military personal in few border post but by April 1962 China issued an ultimatum to withdraw all such post from border.The relation came  to a lowest end in  September 1962 when suddenly Chinese troops crossed McMohan line in Thang La region in east & non stop firing were reported on Indian soldiers from other side of the border. 20th October 1962 – the war was official.

On that day China attacked both in Ladak & Arunachal Pradesh.Next one month almost everyday China invaded into India from both side.On 15th November Tawang & Walong both in Arunachal Pradesh were captured & Chinese army moved inside of Assam.On the same day Rezang La & Chusul airbase in Ladakh were badly bombed.

The biggest humiliation came on  18thNov when an army of 15000 Chinese soldiers launched a massive attack various places of  Ladakh & a town in Arunachal named Bomdila. Weak Indian defence  was totally over run by Chinese.China was now just few km away of Tejpur city of Assam.When it was all over China was already 48 km inside of Assam, 92 km inside of Arunachal Pradesh & many of the strategic location of Ladakh was fully under their control.

When war was on & emotional mayhem was highest among mob it was interesting enough that Communist Party of India ( CPI ) was one of the political party in those days that supported China accusing Indian Govt for acting like imperialists.CPI then undivided communist party of India was one of the strongest opposition party.

EMS Namudripad the legendary communist leader along with Jyoti Basu & Harkisan Singh Surjeet found no reason to blame China in 1962 war – photo from internet

It had a strong national presence covering Bengal, Maharashtra,Punjab, Andhra Pradesh,UP,Kerala & Bihar.When the war broke CPI was a divided house & major group including leaders like H K Singh Surjeet,Puran Chand Joshi, Sundaraya, Jyoti Basu & Basavpunaiya openly took the side of Chinese describing this was as a conflict between a capItalist country & a communist country. EMS Nammudripad the legendary communist leader from Kerala even refused to blame China for this war. They were love of mark them as internationalist while a small group including Sripad Amrita Dange & A K Gopalan supported India.With the direct connection with China many CPI members played the role of spy to them & Kalimpong a small hilly toen in Darjeeling of Bengal became a hub for Indian communist from where many secret news about Indian army used to fly Beijing.

The unequal confrontation – India was no match to China in 1962 – photo from internet.

Seeing the abominable  situation Neheru was converted into a broken man,He begged military support from USA, USSR & United Kingdom.His letter to US president was simply pathetic in words.There was a special India meeting held at White House on 20th November 1962.However USA then too busy with Cubian issue & obligation to Pakistan on account of Kashmir helped very little.On 19th Novemenr after knowing China’s advancement into Bomdila Neheru addressed nation over All India Radio where he said ” my heart goes with Assam ” – it sounded like a voice of a vanquished king bidding farewell to his subjects.Till today people from North-East hate this speech of Nehru & blame him for his poor escapist attitude.

On 21st November 1962 China announced a unilateral crease fire & returned back only 20 km behind of actual line of control. Hilariously All India Radio was still broadcasting that Indian Jawans are fighting like tigers & pushing back Chinese to their country ! BG Verghese the war correspondence of The Times of India who was in Tejpur for a month covering this war gave a vivid account of this in his article published in Telehka.He correctly remarked that 1962 was a politically determined military disaster.

After India got it back from China North East Frontier Agency was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh in 1972.

Till now India has 3488 km of disputed border line with China  & there is very little chance of solution in  near future.India renamed North East Frontier Agency as Arunachal Pradesh in 1972 & China never accepted this.China marked the place as South Tibet & always shows it as it’s province.

50 years after 1962 still today we often look back to past & wonder why  did we conceive such a  humiliating defeat.

It is good to see that today Indian print & electronic media are no more the voice of Govt & scope of knowing truth is much more than what it was in 1962.In last six months enough analysis were published to understand india’s gargantuan failure.In one of such article published in The Pioneer Srikanth Kondapalli aptly classified  reasons for this.Those are mainly of failed leadership ( where China out score us badly ), poor intelligence,primitive military logistics etc. Out of all these Kondapalli was most attacking on Neheru’s wrong move to ignore Patel’s letter written in 1949.In a letter to Jawaharlal in 1949 Vallabbha Patel clearly told him to be active in settling border dispute with China.

Patel’s letter written in 1949 was ignored by Neheru & it was a blunder – photo from internet.

considering the future.Patel wrote ” we have to strengthen our position in Sikkim & Tibet.As soon as the Communist have established themselves in the rest of China, they will try ot destroy Tibet’s autonomous existence”. What an outlook Patle had !!!!!! Soon  China openly challenged Tibet’s autonomy.

Neheru as usual thanks to his ego just ignored this warning from his home minister & Patel died soon in 1950.It was not only Patel & Neheru but also defencne minister Krishna Menon & finance minister Morarjee Desai that affected proper funding of war when it was really needed.When India was a house divided China was just an united family.

Mao Se Tung was passing through his worst political crisis after his debacle of ” Great Leap Forward ” movement which ended with loss of many lives.He was just looking for another mayhem to create to save his political career.China’s defence minister Peng Dehuai was sent to Tibet in 1959 to improve the logistics infrastructure & he did a wonderful job.The moment Central Committee decided to wage a limited war against India Mao & his rival Liu Shaqi joined hand.The failure of Indian air force was another astonishing reason.IAF was not used in the begining of the war with a fear that in a counter attack China could bomb Calcutta, Guwahati or Dhanbad.

Indian  intelligence was so week that it could not find out that China’s deep air penetration capacity was not strong in those days.It is just unpardonable that building of infrastructure like road & post inside of NEFA by China in `1956

Lal Bahadur Shastri visiting a camp of captivated Indian Chinese in Assam – photo from internet

was detected by India so late & that is also from a Chinese magazine !!!!!!!!! By that time war was half lost. India never developed any good logistics neither in Ladakh nor in NEFA but China did everything there.Mr B N Mullick the man who was head of Intelligence Bureau was more interested in interfering in all other subject except his own duty.His level of sycophancy was such that on 14th November 1962 on the birthday of Neheru he launched a new fighting squad in the name of Tibetan Army a frontier force whose contribution remained unacknowledged till date.He tried to sold this theory to Neheru that a force made of Tibetan refugees will be good to tame China & they ( the soldiers of this group) will liberate Tibet by their own.However Neheru had very little time to trust him becasue by that time China’s supremacy over India was almost evident. Krishna Menon whose love for nepotism is legendary.P N Thappar then army chief was a weak man & a doll in the hands of Menon.He even played timid to his juniors Kaul.Lt Gen B M Kaul was sick & hospitalised in Delhi but still he got the honor to command this was from his sick bed thanks to his mentor Mr  Menon. Menon the defecne minister of India since 1957 was an unimaginative, arrogant & man with no outlook.He was good in only in playing politics in army.No country can win a war when it’s top management act like this.

Today India  & China has a boundary of 3488 km one of the longest boundary  shared by two countries in the world.This long line is divided by three sectors viz West, Central & East.The west is connected through Jammu & Kashmir & Tibet.India still claims that China is  wrongly occupying 43000 sq km 7 out of that 5180 km Pakistan has gifted them.The central sector includes Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Tibet.Even in this zone places like Pulam, Thag La, Barahari , Sangha etc are disputed.The eastern sector is connected through Arunachal Pradesh where China claims 90000 sq km of land India wrongly occupying.The places include Tawang, Bum La, Lo La etc.Although 15 rounds of talks were conducted between two countries to solve the border issue it is still a big question mark.Very recently in their e-pass port China printed a map clearly showing Arunachal Pradesh & some parts of Ladakh are parts of China.India made an official protest but China had shown to interest of withdrawing it.

Today India & China are two top growing nation of the world & their spending on defence are also amazing.According to the report published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute China spent $ 160 billion in 2010 compare to only $ 30 billion in 2000

Western media felt the smell as soon as Dalai Lama took refuge in India – a cover from 1959 Time magazine – photo from internet

where as India’s defence budget in 2010 was only $ 41 billion compared to $ 17.5 billion in 2000.China’s army is world’s largest & it has finest capacity in cyber attack, missiles attack.It has already constructed a secret road till Mayanmar & places missile launchers at various place that can cover Indian cities like Chennai & Calcutta.China already installed a world class logistics infra in Tibet by connecting it through fastest rail & roads.China can even control the flow of river Bramhaputra to create man made flood in Assam.It is now exposed to the world that China secretly traders nuclear technology to Pakistan to create an indirect threat over India.Recently China sold two new 650 MW nuclear reactors named Chashma -3 & Chashma-4.

So it will be the right note to conclude it that China’s super performance in shaping it’s economy has given it so much of boost in military war fare that it will always try to dominate India & in future a limited war as it executed 50 years ago is highly possible.

So be aware of the himalayan dragon as it can throw venom at any day.

Reference :

The war we lost – BG Vergese ( Tehelka – 13th October 2012 )

India -China in e passpoer map row   (  report published in The Times of India  – 24th November 2012 )

Winter of 62 – Syed Nazakat ( The Week – 21st October 2012 )

The McMahon Line : Tibet will test Xi Jinping – Rajinder Puri ( The Statesman – 29th October 2012 )

1962 and after – Salman Haidar ( The Statesman – 30th October 2012 )

Walk the talk with Shekhar Gupta ( The Indian Express – 30th October 2012 )

Can 1962 be repeated – Vinod Saigal ( The Statesman – 15th November 2012 )

If Neheru had last laugh – Sunanda K Dutta Ray ( The Pioneer – 4th November 2012 )

Why India lost the war – Srikanth Kondapali (  The Pioneer – 4th November 2012 )

Dragon still remains a serious threat – Monika Chansoria  (The Pioneer – 4th November 2012 )

Bonding with Beijing – Patrick French ( The Week – 25th November 2012 )

Consigned to the dustbin of history – Claude Arpi ( The Pioneer – 22nd November  2012 )

Specially indebted to The Tribune online for various information.

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3 Responses to India’s debacle of 1962 : A stigma that we can not hush up.

  1. Sidhartha Chatterjee says:

    Sir, it is true that after working with you and reading ur blogs we always found very much updated with our unknown histories of india.

  2. Tarakeswar Biswal says:

    Brilliant naration Sir and thanks to you, I have an clear insight of Sino- India war. I was aware of China’s military suprimacy and competancy, but didnot knew about the extent of Neheru’s arrogance and poor forcasting skills. Really felt ashamed of his reactions for Assam on testing times. Looking forward for next article with mind boggling facts.

  3. Alok kumar says:

    Dear sir,
    Your essay is highly informative but to my mind there are some unanswered questions
    1.Why china suddenly announced ceasefire onesided on 21st Nov. 1962 ? Why china had not taken any major offensive step against India even after 52 yrs ?
    2. What Indians have actually gained from this refugee Dalai Lama and his one lakh other friends.?
    3.Communists were always a fool and very rarely shown maturity? If they’ve so much pain to the cause of peasants and labourers and if they ‘ve any assess to freedom and democracy then why they are not opposing the chinese stand regarding execution and policy of chinese to throw away the workers from factory as and when required?
    4.Was it not true that Nehru and Menon were good diplomats?By that time Nehru had assistance of great think tank and scholars like Dr.Rajendra Pd.,Dr. Radha Krishnan,Morarjee Desai,MenonIndira Gandhi,Lal Bahadur Shastri &,Even patriots like Lohiya J.P.Vajpayee Indira Gandhi could be consulted?
    5.This is hard fact to digest that Indian army lost war in 1962.By that time the same army was undefeated under British Royal command.Indian army had great role even in 1st world ar and 2nd world war.The sameIndian army which has lost around 1.5 lakh odd soldiers in 1st world war and 2.68 lakh soldier in 2nd world war.The same army had defeated Japanese in 2nd world war.The chinese who are claiming this and that part after communist came in powerafter 1949 could not protect even their 80000 and odd ladies and teenagers when Japanese army have done mass gangrape in 1937 just 28 km ahead of Beijing also known as crisis of Yegtzee river.The japanese have massacred around 3lakh chinese army and almost captured Beijing.Chinese army could not succeeded even in vietnam war?
    6.Whether china was atall afraid to indian gameplan in collusion with NATO countries?
    7.India was better placed in Tejpur and if china could march ahead any longer they could have faced serious casualties?
    8.Why India had not deployed its navy and airforce?.Even today if Indian navy could take major offensive step around strait of Malacca,Gulf of kra nd its 200 nautical miles SEZ around Andaman and Nicobar island and from navy base around portblair and Indira point.We can stop chinese ship to pass smoothly through this heaviest traffic zone.
    9.In my opinion chinese have just tested their own strength after humiliating defeat from japan.
    10.In my opinion this person Dalai Lama is a burden of India.He alongwith Tibbetians refugees should be thrown away from India.Why these Tibbetians and Dalai Lama have not self immolated before U.N.headquarter during 1962 war and afterwards.For the sake of this person thousands of indian military and officers have lost lives in this war.
    11.Even though I could not blame Nehru alone for this defeat Soviet Union has not atall supported India Even though today India is hiring its MIG 21 and technologies of Sindhurakshak.Outdated technologies in thermal plants.If Russia hadbeen atall our riend why it couldnot have provided technologies to India by its ships are operating in Baring sea Baltic sea and how its planes are operating in siberia,How Its Engineers have made drilling operations in siberia and Tundra area .How its Trans siberian Rly is operational since last 70 yrs in difficult livelihood conditions.Today after 52 yrs of this war we’ve not converted ourselves as major manufacturer of ammunitions rather we are major importer of ammunitions from Russia America and European nations.
    12.Even though Don’t be afraid Indian Army In joint operation is still undefeated untill we’ve brave patriots like Major shaitan singh,Subaidar Jiginder singh,Albert Ekka,Major som nath sharma and other stalwarts.
    Alok kumar SDJM koderma

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