Aug 23, 2012

Diplomatic failure led to India-China war

Times of India

KOCHI: The India-China war of 1962 could have been averted if the two Asian giants had sat down across the negotiation table and explored ways to revive the Panchsheel pact, which was to lapse that year.

But, difficult as it may sound, it was India which took an aggressive stand and turned down the Chinese proposal to resume talks on Panchsheel, claims a book.

The book, to be released here to on Wednesday, to coincide with the 50 years of the 1962 war - 'Dividing Lines', published by Platinum Press - exposes these and many other 'facts' which may run contrary to the popular perception in India that the 1962war was an act of treachery by China on a peace-loving and gullible India.

An equally interesting dimension is that the book, replete with similar views that contradict many official positions, has been authored by a senior serving government official K N Raghavan.

Raghavan, a post-graduate in physical medicine and rehabilitation, had joined the Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) in 1989 and is presently the Commissioner of Customs in Kochi, his hometown.

"The Sino-Indian boundary was never delineated, and India erred in unilaterally fixing her borders in 1954. But the dispute was not over just boundaries, as most Indians believe," says Raghavan. The book details the failure of Indian diplomacy, and the actions of the army and paramilitary forces, which the Chinese interpreted as unfriendly.

"It was the failure of Indian diplomacy that had led to the war. Talks would have acted as a venting valve for many of the distrusts that had developed between these two countries which had never fought each other till the fateful autumn of 1962," Raghavan says.

India had published a map in 1954 showing Aksai Chin - an alternative route from China to Tibet - as its part. This, along with India's decision to give asylum to the Dalai Lama, is some of the factors that made China suspicious of India, says Raghavan.

On what prompted him to write a book on the Indo-China conflict, he says: "Foreign policy was a strong point of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was my childhood hero. I was keen to find out where Nehru would have erred in going to war with China. This was probably the only blot in his career.''

"I could get some time to read on the conflict during my posting in Singapore from 2007 to 2011. I had jotted down the points then and those notes took the shape of the book," he clarifies.

On former defence minister late V K Krishna Menon's role in the war, Raghavan says, "Krishna Menon would have definitely known that it was one war which India could never have won considering the huge and alert war machine that China had then possessed. He did commit some diplomatic errors, like forming a core group in the Indian Army and asking them to take position in the frontline in 10 days. However, Krishna Menon had received enough brickbats for the setback in the war and he paid for it with his position."

Raghavan, who is passionate about cricket, is an accredited umpire. He has umpired one-day international matches, and authored World Cup Chronicle.

Courtesy: Times of India, August 22, 2012

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