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What has India learned from 1962?

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In 1962, India’s lofty claims to represent the third world countries, a country developing in the so-called Gandhian way of non-violence and democracy came to an abrupt end when the Chinese army started coming down from the high mountain like wave after wave and India had no defense apparently.

A careful analysis should say that India has learned nothing and India today is in a worse condition than in 1962 considering both the international and domestic situation.

Before 1962, India got at least 3 years to prepare for the war, when by 1959 it was known that China already took over Akshai Chin.  India in 1949-50 endorsed the Chinese occupation of Tibet, East Turkistan, East Mongolia and Manchuria. Not only that, in 1955 Bandung Conference of the non-aligned countries India has introduced China, then a pariah nation, to the international community. In subsequent years, both Rajib Gandhi and Vajpayee have accepted Chinese occupation of Tibet and other areas.  The non-aligned countries also never supported India in 1962. India’s position today is much worse as the Soviet Union the only country India could depend upon does not exist. Major non-aligned countries particularly in Africa are already purchased by the massive Chinese investments in those countries.

In 1957 when  China had started building roads in Jammu & Kashmir India was then under delusion of two important persons Jawaharlal Nehru and Morarji Desai; they thought there is no need for any army for India, as India had no enemy.

There was another reason.  Morarji Desai was staunch anti-Soviet and because of him the 2nd Five years plan, India’s most ambitious plan to industrialize the country, almost came to a halt. He also, due to his extreme opposition of India’s relationship with the Soviet Union, prevented India to have enough defense capability before the Chinese invasion.

In 1955 when the Soviet Union offered every kind of industries which would be repaid by 50 years interest free loans payable by Indian exports to the Soviet Union, Morarji Desai along with Pant, Rajendra Prasad, Kripalani, Tandon etc insisted that in order to main neutrality India must purchase industrial plants from the Western sources as well. As a result India has exhausted its foreign currency reserve by 1959. As there was not much money even for the economy, Morarji refused to finance the improvement of the defense services of India as well. HKrishna Menon for keeping the army in such a state, when soldiers did not have even proper clothing or boots to go to fight the Chinese on top of the Himalayan Mountain.

Even then without any cash India could have got MIG aircrafts from the USSR before the Chinese invasion, contracts for which was made in March 1962, but once again Morarji Desai stood on the way and refused to allow the imports of aircrafts from the Soviet Union. Soviet aircrafts started arriving in India in December 1962 onwards. Soviet Union also initiated the development of HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) to construct Soviet aircrafts in India, when Krishna Menon under pressure from the media was forced to resign and became the minister for defense production. Without the intervention of Morarji Desai, India could have got MIGs before the Chinese invasion and that could have altered the fate of the 1962 war.

Has India learned any lesson? The answer is no. In 1977, Morarji Desai, when he became the Prime Minister of India, asked the Soviet Union to revoke the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty, which has helped India to liberate East Bengal in 1971 by providing defense against possible attacks from China, USA and Iran during the Indo-Pak war. If the USSR, as it did to China in 1960, when Mao accused Khrushchev to organize to coup against him, would have withdrawn its support to India in 1977, India would at the mercy of Pakistan, when the joint CIA-Pakistan operation to create Muzzahidins terrorists to take over Afghanistan at the right moment has started already in 1974, with Nassarula Baber, a close friend of Julfiker Ali Bhutto in charge.  Morarji was ignorant about these developments or never cared.

In the same way, in 1996, India’s foreign minister Jaswant Singh started ignoring Russia by giving military contracts to Israel, France and Britain. All these countries, since 1960, have helped China to gain military technology. China also got nuclear weapons technology mainly from Germany and American companies, who already got very large contracts from India as well.  Jaswant Singh ignored the needs for India’s defense, nuclear research, space research, and missile and rocket developments. He also has ignored the basic fact that these countries have never helped India on any international conflicts or to support India’s industrialization process.

That is not all. Media reports suggest Israel has supplied defective weapons for the Indian army and air force. Boeing Aircraft Company is also accused of supplying defective parts `Made in China` for the Hercules military transport aircrafts, which came without proper avionics. France now has a massive contract worth nearly $20 Billion to supply its untested military aircrafts Rafael, when Russia is already developing a 5th generation military aircrafts jointly with India. Former Chief of Staff General Sankar Roy Choudhury rightly asked for the justification of this decision, but just like the Prime Minister MM Singh, the defense Minister of India is also in a silent mode always.

Thus, Jaswant Singh and subsequently every other defense ministers of India sacrificed the legitimate defense requirements of India because of their anti-Russian and pro-Western attitude, although The West have never supported India on any matter regarding the defense of India and never will in future given the present architecture of international relation of the world, where China, Pakistan and the Middle Eastern Muslim countries are always preferred and India is expendable.

In 1962 Krishna Menon and Nehru made another very serious mistake. They refused to listen to the military leaders of India, General Thimmaya and particularly Lieutenant General Sen, who were in charge of the Eastern sector. They have warned both Nehru and Krishna Menon several times that Indian army, with First World War weapons, inadequate preparations for a mountain warfare, without proper air or naval support could not stand up to a possible Chinese invasion. According to them, a sure defeat would be the result if India would try to drive out the Chinese from Akshai Chin without giving time and money to the defense services. However, Krishna Menon refused to listen to the wise advice. General Thimmaya said later that he regret that he has not resigned at that point rather than accepting the shame of the defeat.

This is the only thing India has learned from the defeat of 1962. In March 1971 Mrs. Indira Gandhi, after watching the massacre of the Bengalis, mainly Hindus, in East Pakistan, asked General Manek  Shaw to invade Pakistan, which he had refused saying India would be defeated for sure, because of inadequate resources and preparations. Mrs. Gandhi had to wait until December 1971 by which time Soviet weapons, aircrafts and equipment had arrived in India and a defense treaty with the USSR was signed as well. However, by that time at least 3 million people in East Pakistan, mainly Hindus, were slaughtered. These victims were the price for the victory of India over Pakistan in 1971.

India is now in a much worse situation than it was in 1962. In 1962, China was isolated from the rest of the world. It had then no friend. It was a poor country with poorly equipped army. Today China is rich. Western companies depend on it for their productions. Western countries particularly USA depend on it to support their budget deficits by borrowing from China. China is a strategic partner for them.  India on the other hand is still very poor, and without any friend who would defend it in case of war, as the Soviet Union did.

That is not all. In both 1962 and in 1971 Indian people were patriotic and with high moral and values to support the state. Today, after 20 years of privatization of public properties, by which a few individuals connected to the ruling parties became some of the richest persons of the World, Indian people are disillusioned. They have lost their faith on the government, police, administrations, judiciary, and even on the defense services, due to the scams after scams, scandals after scandals even in the Ministry of Defense involving important military officers.

More than 100 years ago Swami Vivekananda asked a very important question. Why is it that a few hundred foreigners always come and occupy India so easily when millions of us just watch? Robert Clive also wrote that after achieving victory in Plassey, when the British Army arrived at Murshidabad by boats, so many people gathered on the banks of the Ganges that if they would have thrown just a stone each, the entire British Army would be drowned; but they did nothing, only watched. It was not a matter of any interest to the Bengali speaking Hindus in 1757 that some Persian speaking Muslim was defeated in war by some English speaking Christians.

When the people are separated psychologically from the rulers, a country can be occupied by a handful of foreigners easily as none would care about the fate of the country for which they have no attachment. Unfortunately, India is this condition now, due to massive corruptions unleashed as a result of the privatization policy of the government for the last 20 years. The gap between the rulers, a few people with different religions or culture, who are richer than the wealthy Europeans, and the subordinates, who are poorer than the poor in Africa, is so vast today in India that the people cannot care less if the Chinese army come down from the north, as they are dispossessed and dispirited. The prediction of Winston Churchill, that after independence the scoundrels will rule India, is now proved to be correct. India has not learned anything from the defeats of 1962 or 1757 or 1192 and it never will.

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I am now Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University Japan. I did my PhD on model building for development planning in the University of Birmingham, UK. I was then Research Officer in Department of Applied Economics in Cambridge University and Lecturer in the Institute of Agricultural Economics in Oxford University. I have published 8 books and more than 70 papers in academic journals on economics.

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