– by Gaurav Tyagi
New Delhi, August 19, 2017: Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a confrontation, since mid-June on a piece of territory claimed by both China and Bhutan.
This dispute is a tripartite one, involving India, China and Bhutan. The aforesaid terrain is claimed by Bhutan, which has no diplomatic ties with Beijing.
India and Bhutan have a treaty of friendship dating back to 1949. This gives India complete influence over Thimphu’s defense and foreign policy.
The stand-off appears irresolvable with India refusing to withdraw its troops back to its side of the international border and China insisting that diplomacy would only be possible once, Indian troops move back.
India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on 27th July. It was the first high-level meeting between India and China since, the aforementioned military stand-off between these two nations, which started on 16th June.
Unfortunately, this meeting also failed to resolve the deadlock.
The Chinese accuse India of trespassing into the Chinese territory while the Indian side maintains that it just responded to Bhutan’s request for help.
India suffered a defeat at the hands of China in the 1962 war between both these countries. This bitter memory still continues to haunt the Indian policy makers.
It’s therefore imperative to analyze the situation leading to the Indo-China battle during 1962 because one cannot face the future with confidence/clarity unless the ghosts of the past are buried.
Australian journalist, Neville Maxwell made portions of the Henderson Brooks report public by putting it on his blog in March 2014.
This report was an internal Indian army enquiry into its loss to China in the 1962 war. Maxwell was the New Delhi correspondent for ‘The Times’, London during that period.
The report was compiled by Lt. General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P.S. Bhagat.
Successive Indian governments have refused to make the report public because it rightly proves that Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India instigated the 1962 war with China.
Indians grow up with the narrative that China attacked India in 1962. This was a trick used by Nehru to enrage public attitude in India against China.
The so called ‘McMahon line’ on the border between China and India is just an Indian claim from the legacy of British imperialism.
Britishers deceptively ensured that India, post-independence inherit a border dispute with China. They did it by moving into the Chinese territory in the Northeast during the 1940’s in spite of repeated complaints by the Chinese government in this regard.
The Chinese wanted to settle the matter of McMahon line. Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China visited India in 1960 asking for an agreement on the McMahon line but due to Nehru’s rigid and illogical stand, no agreement on this issue could take place.
Nehru refused to negotiate with the Chinese. His adamant stand was; “We will decide where the boundary is. It’s not negotiable. Chinese have to accept”.
The Henderson Brooks report clearly mentions that the absurd ‘forward policy’ of Nehru, directing Indian troops to patrol; ‘show the Indian flag’ and establish posts as ‘far forward as possible’ from the existing positions resulted in the Indo-China war of 1962.
BJP also blamed Nehru for the 1962 fiasco. A prominent leader of BJP, Ravi Shankar Prasad in March 2014 asked for the Henderson Brooks report to be made public. BJP under the leadership of Modi won the 2014 parliamentary elections with overwhelming majority.
Modi government is not dependent on any other political party for its survival in the Indian Parliament. Modi must therefore, take decisions, which are in national interest rather than trying to preserve the falsely created lofty image of Nehru.
Past Congress governments in India didn’t do anything in this regard since, Congress party comprises of only sycophants of Nehru clan. They do not have the guts to criticize Nehru and his failed policies.
Modi should make the Henderson Brooks report public and lift the ban imposed on Neville Maxwell’s book; ‘India’s China War’ imposed by the erstwhile Congress government to safeguard the reputation of Nehru in the eyes of the Indian public.
This would go a long way in initiating a meaningful dialogue between India and China resulting in the final resolution of the border dispute to the satisfaction of both nations.
National boundary negotiations are easy, if both sides meet with an open-minded ‘give and take’ attitude. It’s an historical opportunity for Modi to leave his mark on the ‘sands of time’ as the boldest Indian PM, who courageously corrected the blunder committed by Nehru.
– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.