24 Feb 2012
5 Feb 2012
In his controversial war memoirs, Himalayan Blunder – a curtain raiser to the Sino-Indian war of 1962 (1969), Brigadier John Dalvi, a POW during that war, narrates an incident from his days as an instructor at the National Defence Academy, Pune.
A guest faculty, a retired British official, after hearing that Nehru had signed the Panchsheel agreement with China and had decided to give up the post in Tibet that the British had maintained to check Chinese advances, interrupted his class and warned that India and China would soon be at war and that people in the class would be fighting it. Brig. Dalvi remembers how he was very angry with this gentleman and how he questioned his authority to criticize the leader of his country.
In stark contrast, he describes his return to India on being repatriated by China, in a highly sceptic manner - "We landed in Dum Dum airport in Calcutta on May 4, 1963. We were received cordially, appropriately. But the silence there was disquieting. I realized later. We had to prove we weren’t brainwashed by Chinese ideology. We had to prove we were still loyal to India. My own army maintained a suspicious distance. The irony cannot be harsher: this treatment from a country, which for more than a decade had brainwashed itself into holding the Chinese baton wherever it went [emphasis added]."
It’s 2012, exactly half a century since that Chinese ‘blitzkrieg’ against India, but such scepticism about the Indian government’s myopic view of China’s intentions, going back to the Nehruvian era, reigns high in sections of our defence establishment, and time and again given voice by a section of the Indian media.