Millennium Post

Was Nehru’s China policy botched from the start?

Was Nehru’s China policy botched from the start?
But the leaked portion of the joint report of now deceased Lieutenant General TB Henderson-Brooks and his Indian colleague, retired brigadier, PS Bhagat, that kept the national capital agog for the day, held few surprises.

Neville Maxwell, the much vilified author of the book on the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, India’s China War, had actually used most of the information contained in the four chapters of the inquiry report that he put out on his website late night Monday.

While the UPA II government was quick to clamp-down on the website, making it inaccessible, many of the interested sections of the strategic and political community had already acquired copies of it.
From Washington to New Delhi, via Beijing the governments and authorities are witnessing a plethora of sudden and embarrassing revelations that bypass their well-ordered security systems in the digital age, which should impart those in power much needed lessons.

But leaving that aside for a moment, what does Maxwell’s (born in 1926) much-talked about feat of releasing a significant part of the Report, say? Predictably it talks about the ‘forward policy,’
originally touted by then director of the Intelligence Bureau, BN Mullick (possibly reflecting his boss, the prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s desire). It talks about the ham-handed way Lt Gen BM Kaul, the chief of general staff translated ‘forward policy’ in contravention of the directives of a meeting of principals Nehru chaired on 2 November, 1962. In that meeting, though Mullick had held that even if the Indian forces set-up posts closer to what is perceived by the Indian side to be the border, the Chinese would not attack, Nehru and others had held that the military action needed to cover three points. The third point was most crucial. It had held that the troops should be placed at ‘convenient points’ behind the forward posts where they could be maintained ‘logistically’ and from where  the troops can ‘restore a border situation at a short notice.’

Kaul set-up troops with little regard to the logistics train they would require. Though the report was also unsparing in attacking the ‘strategic intelligence’ of Mullick’s who had advocated that the Chinese would be inactive. Military intelligence’s reports were to the contrary. But it is not clear if Nehru was aware.
Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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