IT has been exactly fifty years since the India-China skirmish; it is an event from which the nation has yet to recover, so comprehensive and humiliating was our defeat. To debate the ramifications of this prickly issue, the Centre for Security & Strategy and Indian Foundation organized a seminar titled ‘India and China: After 5 Decades of the 1962 War’, which invited a trio of eminent speakers- Gen. V P Malik, the former Chief of Army Staff, the former Air Chief Marshal Anil Tipnis and the author and Tibetologist, Claude Arpi. The session was moderated by Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, chairman, Center for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Speaking on the rise of China, Gen. Malik said despite the scars of war, the two countries must focus more on human development in the current geo-political scenario. He lamented that the balance of power has now irreversibly shifted in favour of our bellicose neighbor, something which augurs ill for India. He went on to enumerate China’s enormous firepower, which includes stealth aircraft, advanced artillery, air-to-air missiles, AWACS, and the like. Enumerating on China’s integrated defence structure, he informed the audience of the common chain of command of their army, navy and air force, something which can ensure a lightning strike should their nation’s security ever be threatened.
China, he reminded us ominously, has not yet given up its claims over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which are an integral part of India. He called it shameful that even more than sixty years after independence, India still has to import 70 per cent of its defence equipment, despite the presence of DRDO; worse, there is absolutely no holistic planning in the core area of our defence needs. It was extremely disquieting that the security on our northern borders was practically non-existent; the need of the hour was to modernize our defence forces, so they can effectively combat the threat of an invasion.
Shri Anil Tipnis spoke about how the national ideal of ‘satyamev jayate’ has been betrayed by successive governments, and of Nehru’s grandiose plans of Asian domination, which came a cropper when the Chinese humiliated our troops.
In 1962, the Indian troops were ill-equipped to fight the Chinese soldiers; he wondered if the situation is any better today. He said we Indians have perfected the art of deflecting responsibility; the issue between two of Asia’s biggest emerging powers, was, and still remains, world hegemony. Shri Arpi rued our lack of Tibet policy, and said had we had an effective policy vis-à-vis Tibet, the war of 1962 may never have happened.