50 years Since the Indo-Sino War: Will We Let China Commemorate it With Another Successful War?

As a kid, the one song I remember which was frequently played on loud-speakers on streets on Independence and Republic Days was Md.Rafi’s Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaanotan Saathiyo from the Indo-Sino war movie Haqeeqat (1964). This song gave and still gives me goose bumps and rouses an irrepressible surge of patriotism…and yes anger, lots of it.

Anger at who? At what? Anger that after a millennium of servitude, even in the history of Modern Independent India, we have not learnt our lessons and have found ourselves incapable of protecting and preserving the territorial integrity of our Motherland.

Anger that national security is still not a priority for us, and that assembly elections take precedence over our dignity and pride as a nation.

Anger that we still let corrupt, spineless and incompetent nincompoops and dotards dictate the course of our foreign policy and national security.

 Anger that we let these fools lull us into a false sense of security. Anger that we as a people have shown utter apathy to the dangers looming large over the nation’s borders.

This anger is obviously not without reason. In the past few months, a few genuine voices on national security have been constantly warning the government and the public of the very real possibility of an attack by China.

As recently as January 9, 2012, Col.Anil Athale (retd.) warned of a Chinese attack by June/July of this year. He had written on similar lines in October last year. Research fellows from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) too had expressed similar views last October.

It is not my stand that these reports must be treated as Veda-speak (not Bible-speak), however, it is certainly my belief that we must stop mouthing inanities like “there’s too much at stake for China to attack India”.

The one key figure who has been constantly drilling into our heads that all is well with China is Shashi Tharoor. During his stint at the External Affairs Ministry, on almost every occasion when he has been quizzed on the Chinese threat, he has persistently played it down.

Our beloved Dr.Singh’s statement last December that the Government does not share the view that the Chinese could attack India, is consistent with his sterling reputation for pussy-footing on critical issues. Besides, assuming this was his personal view and not one tutored by Madam G, the fact is that his personal views have rarely counted for anything.

I understand that people in responsible positions cannot afford to shoot off their mouths on such complex and delicate issues. But why does the Indian establishment display a marked tendency to mute, subdue and sugar-coat everything that shows China in poor light vis-a-vis its behaviour with India?

The Indian Government has no qualms or shame about donning the mantle of being the de facto apologist for China’s suspicious behaviour and belligerent statements.

One innocuous example is the blurring of Pro-Tibet slogans in the song “Sadda Haq” in Rockstar. While the establishment bent backwards to pacify and mollify the wounded sentiments of China, it had no qualms letting go scenes in the same song which showed Kashmiris crooning “Sadda Haq” with obvious secessionist undertones. When I pointed this out to someone close to me, his reaction was “*coughIMTIAZALIcough*”…

Why does it take an outburst from the Chief Minister of J&K to draw attention to the constant pinpricks from China by way of incursions at will? We should probably stop calling them incursions, because for the Chinese they have become “excursions”/pleasure trips. Does the Government even realize the disastrous effect on the people of Kashmir when the Chief Minister of the State has to remind the Centre that national security is still the Centre’s responsibility, in fact Supreme Duty?

Indian troops during a military trainning drill in Assam - Indo-China War 1962 (C) OldIndianPhotos.Com

How on earth do we expect Kashmiris to root for India when we let the State be mauled and molested at will by Pakistan and China in turns? Funnily, we react with relative speed if the situation involves Pakistan despite the fact that in quite a few situations, it is non-State actors who take pleasure in giving India hell. On the contrary, anything and everything which involves any arm of the Chinese State necessarily has the blessings of the Highest authority in the Chinese establishment for obvious reasons.

Doesn’t this mean that we ought to pay more attention to incidents involving China and must learn to connect the dots and chart patterns in order to prepare a suitable long-term response?

Like most other issues, the Government simply does not have clarity in its head as to where do our interests lie and what must be our approach towards China to best protect our interests. A holistic approach is necessary because the solution to a potential military threat cannot be purely military, more so when we are not in a state of war, nor has China been officially declared an enemy State. But inaction and perpetual inertia with eleventh-hour hare brained schemes simply cannot pass off as foreign policy, certainly not with China.

Since this is an issue that must and does form part of the centre right discourse, we will discuss China in greater detail in future posts, with the fervent hope that our readers will engage us in purposeful discussions, which will at some point translate into concrete action or formal representation.

On a parting note, if China does attack India, I will hold none but the Congress singularly responsible for the attack. The Congress has to its credit major military defeats- the occupation of Kashmir (PoK) by Pakistan in the first Kashmir War (and subsequent internationalization of the issue, foolishly by Nehru) and the ignominious defeat at the hands of China in 1962. These are but culminations of a sustained policy of neglect and apathy on the part of the Government in power then.

This time too, the Congress has been in power for close to 8 years and it will have none to blame but itself if India finds itself on the brink of war with yet again a better prepared, determined and ruthless foe…

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J. Sai Deepak

Engineer-turned-Advocate, High Court of Delhi. Founder of the "blawg" "The Demanding Mistress" (http://thedemandingmistress.blogspot.in/).