Excerpts from Shri Ram Madhav’s address on ‘Uneasy Neighbours (India and China)’ in Bengaluru on March 23, 2014
“The book is an output of my discussions with learned experts like Sridhar Rao ji and many others. I have had the opportunity to visit China a couple of times. I have also had the privilege to visit Lhasa, a very rare opportunity and visit the ancestral home of His Holiness Dalai Lama.
This book is not a fiction and contains an idea. The whole purpose is to promote that idea. The central question of the China-India realtions has a long history. We are made to believe by our governments that India & China had relationships and cultural linkages for thousands of years. We have also been described by several historians that we are cultural cousins. Even to this day the general idea in majority of Indians is that of a friendly neighbourhood. When Hu Jintao visited India in 2010 he said India and China have been good friends in History for 2000 years and our relationship soured only after 1962. The is partly right and partly wrong.
When the Korean crisis escalated in 1949, China supported North Korea but US and other western countries supported South Korea. Nehru had convened a special session of the parliament to discuss the Korean crisis. When asked why not a session on Tibet he had said that the solution for Tibet is simple, meaning that we had to ignore the issue. When China marched ahead in Tibet and constructed road links across our border with Tibet, China technically became our neighbour.
I am trying to submit through this book that although things have changed, the mindsets continues to remain the same. We Indians are idealists, simple at heart and truly believe to have good relationships with all our neighbours. Owning to this we treat all neighbours as same when no two neighbours are the same. In many aspects of International relations we are guided by romanticism, sloganeering and far removed from reality. Unfortunately International relations are all about realism and pragmatism. We have to be guided by our interests. It is here that 1962 becomes relevant as I propose in this book that we still do no understand our neighbour. ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ has become a article of faith but not based on reality.
Despite several inputs from intelligence that China had intruded into our territoty, Nehru lied to the nation that there was no such information. We were hiding facts from our own people. If the talks fail, we should be ready to face any eventuality. But we were not even ready to face the consequences. Pannikar, the then ambassador to China, never gave any inputs about Chinese foray into Tibet to India and when asked why he failed he said he was pre-occupied with the issues in Formosa! We never accepted reality but when we faced the reality it gave us a big jolt, including Nehru.
The Henderson-Brooks report is event today locked up and kept. The commision consisting of two Indian Army officers, Lieutenant-General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier Premindra Singh Bhagat, was instituted in 1963 and their report was submitted in the same year. We are in 2014 and still the report is kept a secret for 51 years and the govt. of India refuses to declassify it. Some parts have been released by the journalist Neville Maxwell. Till 1961 November, India did not have a road to link Leh to Kargil. During August 1962, Krishna Menon, who was our then defence minister, was asked how is our defence preparedness, he replied back by saying, “Defence against whom?”. He had even said that China will not attack as it was promised so by the then Chinese premier. But in November 1962 Nehru sent a long list of arm requirements to US. When journalists in Chennai asked about the reports of Chinese incursions, Nehru said he has instructed the Army to push the Chinese back. This was a blunder as the Chinese took this as a statement of attack.
The idea to bring this book out is not to blame our past rulers but to highlight the fact ‘Know Thy Neighbour’, in which we have failed. Sun Tzu told the Chinese how to defeat the enemy without firing a bullet. Sun Tzu talks about containing the enemy through engagement. But we have never understood this strategy of the Chinese. Though Chinese are not expert in Chess, they play a game called ‘Wei Chi’ which is about encircling the enemy and stop any moves of the enemy. This is their mindset and approach.
Even today when the government in China is asked about the border we are told that there is peace on the borders. But the facts are otherwise. We are made to believe that the LAC is the actual international border while this is false. We are told that there are no maps to prove that this is false but our government believes otherwise. There are maps of Tibet but the Chinese refuse to accept it as they say they have nothing to do with earlier Tibet. Even Raja Ranjit Singh also had maps but we have never acknowledged. When in 1986, Rajiv Gandhi’s said that we can freeze the current borders and focus on other issues and during that year’s winter our Army vacated the border posts. But the Chinese in 1987 had occupied the posts that were vacated by the Indian army in 1986. But owing to the due diligence by the them Army Commander, the Indian troops moved back and stood eye-to-eye for six years and help on to their positions. Then it was agreed that both armies have to go back to their earlier positions and India deemed this as a victory.
As a famous joke goes, when god created the world he gave one quality/resource to each country but for India he gave a part of every quality to India. Narada told god that people will deem him to be partial to India to which god asked for an idea. Narada said create Pakistan on one side and China on the other side and they will compensate for the riches given to India.
As evident, we cannot choose our neighbours and that’s a reality. Though we know something about Pakistan we still do not know much about China. We need to know China to live with them and not to fight them and that is the idea behind writing this book.”