19th November 1962 was a day of shame for India and its people. Broadcasting to the nation that day, then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru lamented that in this hour of peril, our heart goes to the people of Assam!
As Jawaharlal Nehru spoke to the nation, the civil administration in Tezpur had begun to burn documents and currency in the government treasury, prison doors were thrown open, and everyone made a beeline to get across the Brahmaputra by whatever means.
The stage was being set for surrendering all territory north of the Brahmaputra to the Chinese.
Now, what are main reasons for such a horrific defeat of the Indians at the hands of younger Chinese. Here are some few points:
Just a year before that, in 1961, the then defence minister V K Krishna Menon had a scrap in public with the highly esteemed army chief, who resigned and then took back his resignation on the prime minister's advice.
The prime minister then went on to humiliate the general in Parliament. As a consequence, the morale of the army was badly affected.As someone who has studied that conflict, including the famed Henderson Brooks Report, one can say without any contradiction that 'loss of morale' was the single biggest cause of our debacle in 1962.
It is incredible that exactly after half a century we have a similar confrontation between the army chief and the defence ministry bureaucracy.Our army's modernisation is stuck in red tape of the deepest hue.
Import of the critical lightweight howitzer, so important to provide artillery support to infantry in the mountains, is stuck in the courts/CBI clearances and what not.
Anyone familiar with the armed forces remembers the phrase often used by superiors while giving orders, 'I do not care whether you beg, borrow or steal! I want this done!'
It is time to remind the defence minister that the country expects him to deliver security and efficiency.
t appears that China is carefully choreographing incidents with India. First, there were several instances of Chinese troops crossing the border, marking their presence. We have dismissed these as 'minor' incidents.
India would be making a grave error of judgment if it considers these incidents as non serious. There seems to be a design behind these orchestrated events, especially the forays by the PLA.
Then there was the verbal spat and exchange of notes over the Indian foray into oil exploration in Vietnam waters. The new year saw ill-treatment of an Indian diplomat. Earlier, there were cases of Indian diamond merchants being imprisoned in China. All these could well be dismissed as minor incidents that involve local officials.
One of the horror stories of the 1962 conflict with China was the way India made a frenzied effort to arm the soldiers with modern weapons. The insistence on 'indigenous' production of arms and inability of the local R&D/factories starved Indian soldiers of tools of war.
New rifles (the 7.62 SLR) were airdropped at Dirang Zong, of course without ammunition! As if the soldiers are robots who can instantly master new weapons and begin using it!
Beginning in 1956, the CIA used Indian territory to recruit Tibetan guerrillas to fight Chinese troops, with a base in Kalimpong, India. The Indian public was outraged when it learned in 1958 that China had built a road between Xinjiang and Tibet through Indian territory in Aksai Chin (historically a part of Indian state of Ladakh).
Nehru declined a US offer to India to take the permanent seat on the UNSC in 1953 & suggested that it be given to China. Situation could be different if Nehru accepted that proposal. India would got Veto power 59 years back which would be helpful in many ways.
Nehru called for a UN ceasefire at a time the Indian troops were going to win back J&K in 1948. Few more days and whole Kashmir (Including PoK and Gilgit Baltistan) would be part of India.
Years later, his India-Chini-bhai-bhai, was put to the sword by the same Chinese, who back-stabbed him and invaded and occupied a portion of Kashmir in 1962. It is said that 1962 Chinese invasion, was a brutal shock to Nehru, that he died of Heart Attack in May 1964.Again the foreign policy of Nehru failed. He could have taken American help to repulse China but he didn't.
Now is Indian military ready actually respond to a threat from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army? The government on its part has only concentrated on reactivation of the Advanced Landing Grounds in the northeastern region that would enable the use of air power against a Chinese military threat.But on the ground literally, road connectivity and telecommunication links along the Line of Actual Control to ensure swift mobility of troops, artillery and other equipment to the border areas to engage any manifestation of threat are not ready.It has been reported that only 12 out of the 73 roads earmarked for construction along the border with China are totally ready.
The Indian Army calls the black-topped road Charlie 1, which is to be the primary road of Indian side in case of an war.. But after a five-hour drive from Leh when it skirts the breathtakingly beautiful 134 kilometres-long Pangong Tso lake, Charlie 1 ceases to be a road. It twists and dissolves into a dust trail as soon as it crosses the lake that is split down the centre between India and China. The gravel track races eastwards for a back-breaking 20 km until it meets the Line of Actual Control with China. Here, the difference across the border is stark: concrete all-weather roads which can be used to rush troops and equipment. The lack of infrastructure is evident in the military posture on either side. While the Indian Army actively mans the borders, the Chinese Army is deployed several kilometres away from it.
The two countries have maintained tranquil borders since 1993 as they discuss the contentious 3,350-km boundary dispute. If the PLA were to mount a repeat of the 1962 war, it would be in the vulnerable Demchok sector, 300 km from Leh. An army officer runs his finger over this sector south of Leh. "Chinese armoured and infantry columns can drive up to Leh in a day," he says. The situation is no different in Tawang, a border town in Arunachal Pradesh that China claims. Morale is high, but lack of infrastructure is a dampener. "We won't allow a repeat of 1962, but we need good roads. Look at China's development across the border," says a jawan posted at Yangtze, 53 km from Tawang. The PLA has built a two- lane highway for its military to drive up to the border. Long stretches of Tawang's sole link to India, a 320-km road from Chariduar town in Assam, remain a muddy track.
Recently the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) deliberated over a shocking presentation. An internal study by the Indian Army found critical shortages of Rs. 60,000 crore worth of ammunition, missiles and equipment. This is roughly 10 per cent of the army's total inventory of Rs. 9 lakh crore worth of equipment. "Forget modernisation or transformation, we are extremely low on our existing inventories and war wastage reserves," says a senior army officer. Years of accumulated neglect have hollowed out the core of the world's second largest army and rendered it unfit for war. Another senior officer mentions existing deficiencies of "between 20 and 30 per cent" in the three strike corps, the army's principal offensive formations. This means the army effectively has only two strike corps. It explains why former army chief General Deepak Kapoor told the CCS after the 26/11 Mumbai attack that the army "was not ready for war".
The last war the army fought, evicting intruders from the Kargil heights in 1999, was on its own soil. Eleven years on, the wars the army is now preparing to fight are gigantic. It envisages a simultaneous "two-and-a-half-front war": against Pakistan and China as well as an internal insurgency. It has a shopping list of $50 billion (Rs. 2.2 lakh crore) to meet these threats. However, the procedures for buying arms are so cumbersome that a classified army study says the force will be fully ready only a decade hence, by 2022.The army has bought less than half the equipment it planned to acquire during the 11th Five-Year Plan period running from 2007 to 2012. Weapons not bought include artillery worth Rs. 20,000 crore, and air defence missiles worth Rs. 10,000 crore. These have left gaping holes in its preparedness. Hence, a projected surge in its combat ratio to 1:1.5-or a one-and-a-half times superiority in troops and equipment over the Pakistan Army-by 2012 has not materialised. Despite the Indian Army's Rs. 83,000 crore spend accounting for over half the total defence budget, the fighting machine is bloated. The 1.1 million-strong force will add 30,000 soldiers to counter the China threat by 2015, its largest expansion in three decades.
The force carries a colonial legacy of over 50,000 drivers and sahayaks (orderlies). Yet, there are shortages where it matters. The army has 35,000 officers and is wrestling with a crippling shortage of between 22 and 24 per cent. Its 400-odd infantry battalions, each with 800 soldiers, currently function with less than half the sanctioned strength of 40 officers. It needs 12,000 young captains and majors to run this army efficiently.
At this moment we think that its finally time for Indian policy makers to wake up and preserve the honour of the country which is at stake.
God bless India!