FIFTY years back, on October 20, 1962, our neighbouring country China launched a multi-pronged attack on India across the Himalayas. Our nation suffered a military setback, but the issues that led to that war have not been resolved till date and it continues to make an adverse impact on our national pride and Sino-India bilateral ties.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru-led Congress Government’s inability to defend the borders inflicted an immense psychological and political shock on the country. It was so mesmerised with Nehruji’s ambition of becoming an international icon of peace that many political and strategic blunders were committed. The government overlooked even the basic defence preparedness and substantially reduced Army’s strength that resulted into the 1962 debacle. The Congress government not only failed to safeguard India’s strategic interests in 1962, but also suffered massive territorial loss.
Fifty years later another Congress-led UPA Government continues to follow the same elusive and self-destructive course. Ever since the UPA Government has come to power China has been claiming the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh and certain parts of Ladakh region as its own.
Growing incidents of military incursions by Chinese troops on the Indian side of LAC (Line of Actual Control) have become a cause for grave concern. According to media reports instances of intrusion by the Chinese army have increased from 180 to more than 400 in 2012 till September alone. On many occasions direct engagement between Indian and Chinese forces has been averted at the last moment.
China’s hawkish posturing in the entire South Asian and Asia Pacific region should not be ignored by the Government. China has a massive military presence in Aksai Chin area. It seems that it has encircled India through many strategic installations. It has also tested India’s patience by issuing stapled visas to people living in J&K, repeatedly claiming the border lying territories and intervening in Gilgit-Baltistan region. The government’s feeble response to these violations has further emboldened China.
The Congress made similar mistakes fifty years ago when it misread China’s nefarious intentions. Pandit Nehru-led Congress government’s biggest diplomatic failure was its ambivalent China policy, which resulted into a big strategic imbalance across the Himalayan region. The UPA Government’s complacent China policy could turn out to be ‘another historic blunder’.
China’s aggressiveness and assertiveness along the LAC clearly indicate that the UPA government has not been able to assert India’s sovereignty. The Government claims that it has initiated number of confidence building measures that are supposed to be the guiding principles in any dispute with China but the government’s diplomatic endeavour has failed to yield anything substantial.
In independent India, the only government, which dealt with China on equal footing and successfully resolved any border dispute through diplomatic channels in our favour was the NDA government led by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. During NDA regime, China forfeited its claim over Sikkim and recognised it as India’s integral part in 2003 and several other steps like decision of opening of Nathula pass were taken to strengthen diplomatic and trade relations between both the countries.
The UPA government needs to adopt a firm stand with China on issues pertaining to border incursions and send a strong message through its diplomatic channels and international forums. The Government has also failed to come up with robust infrastructure in the north-eastern states. There is an urgent need to strengthen existing strategic infrastructure especially in the states bordering with China.
After the humiliating debacle of 1962 the army appointed a probe committee headed by Lt. General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat to examine the conduct of military operations leading up from the outbreak of hostilities till the ceasefire. The Committee had submitted its reports to the Government in April 1963 but even after five decades the Government has refused to make it public.
The Brooks-Bhagat Committee report is still a classified document and prevents the people of this country to get the facts pertaining to 1962 war. The people of India have the right to know why the Government could not protect India’s national pride and interest. The BJP demands that the Brooks-Bhagat Committee Report should be declassified and made public.
Under the UPA regime India’s defence expenditure has steadily fallen to below 2 per cent. In the current fiscal year India’s defence expenditure is a meagre 1.9 per cent of the GDP. Keeping visible external threats on both the sides of India’s international borders in mind our national defence expenditure should be increased substantially. If NDA government comes to power, we will not only increase India’s defence expenditure but also address the grievances of our ex-servicemen.
The present dispensation at the Centre has played a cruel joke by not giving ‘One Rank One Pension’ to the ex-servicemen. The NDA will certainly provide for ‘One Rank One Pension’ to all ex-servicemen within 100 days of coming to power.?