Free Press Journal

1962: So, what has changed?

Do they ever learn? Within minutes of the top secret Henderson Brooks report into the 1962 Chinese debacle being put on a website, the government moved fast to block access. That was foolish. For, neither can the government block access to Neville Maxwell’s website outside the country, nor could it have ensured that in the brief while it was there on the web, some Indian had not already downloaded it.

Besides, nothing prevents one from accessing the report on the internet  outside the country. Maxwell, the London Times correspondent in New Delhi at the time of the India-China war, himself wrote a most critical book, ‘India’s China War’, which exposed the thorough incompetence of the country’s political and military leadership, leading up to its worst- ever humiliation.

If Kashmir was Nehru’s unforgivable blunder, the Chinese war was a national disgrace of Himalayan proportions. The country is still paying the price of those monumental follies. A bit of background. Lt. General T B Henderson Brooks, the Corps Commander posted in Jallandhar, Punjab, was tasked to inquire into India’s defeat by then Army Chief General J N Chaudhary, who took over after the Chinese war.

Another officer, Brigadier P S Bhagat, assisted in the inquiry. Their report was submitted to the defence ministry in April 1963. And since then, it has remained top secret, despite shrill demands for its release and the formation of four separate inquiries as to whether the whole, or parts of it can be made public.

For half-a-century, the excuse for keeping it under wraps has not changed. It is always that its release would demoralise the armed forces. However, Maxwell, in his book, seemed to have drawn upon the contents of the report. There is a near unanimity, as the title of Maxwell’s book suggests, that it was the ill-conceived `forward policy’ of Nehru, which provoked the Chinese to inflict a crushing defeat on India.

Nehru, while leaving for a conference in Colombo, told the waiting reporters at the Palam airport that he had ordered the army to clear the Chinese from the Indian soil. No homework, no assessment of the Chinese presence in the North East Frontier Agency (present Arunachal Pradesh), no preparedness of the Indian troops to operate in the mountainous terrain.

Nehru believed that throwing out the Chinese, who had been harassing the Indian border guards for several years by then, was child’s play. And his intelligence chief, B N Mullick and Gen B M Kaul, Chief of General Staff at Army HQ, were the other villains along with that evil incarnate V K Krishna Menon, defence minister and a Nehru protégé.

Army Chief General P N Thapar was too weak to assert himself before this cabal led by General Kaul, who also boasted a close relationship with Nehru. These guilty men of India saw to it that the Henderson report was never made public. But in spite of it remaining secret, the people at large knew that the Indian solider had been done in by the combined follies of these men.

Nehru, in fact, never recovered from his self-inflicted wound in 1962. His sentimental, even romantic notion of `Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai~ was followed by his emotional outburst, just like a rejected lover’s, to teach the Chinese a lesson for betraying his trust, a decision which exposed the thorough unreadiness of India to confront the hugely well-prepared and well-supplied Chinese troops.

Nehru had ordered the troops to vacate the Chinese aggression on the assurance of Mullick that the Chinese would not retaliate. Even the foreign office at the time had dittoed that assessment of the Intelligence Bureau Chief. That should give you an idea of what sort of top functionaries Nehru had surrounded himself with.

His blind spot for Menon, a man of monumental arrogance and conceit without any connect with the ground realities, was his abiding failing. As was his soft spot for General Kaul, who had earned undeserved promotions in the army through his close ties with the prime minister.

All this and more lay buried in the Henderson Brooks report, who soon after retirement, migrated to Australia. By sheer coincidence, a few years after Henderson,  Maxwell too settled in Australia. Henderson died some years ago. If Maxwell has now deemed it fit to lift the veil over the top secret report, he can only be commended.

More than half-a-century later, India is still not prepared to take on the Chinese dragon. And every now and then that dragon flexes its muscles, reminding India that the threat still persists, though our allocation for defence budget as a proportion of the GDP has actually come down.

As we said, half-a-century after that national humiliation, all that we seem to be capable of is to recite the Kavi Pradeep-Lata Mangeshkar ode to the fallen solider, ~Aiy Mere Watan Key Logo….

  • Chetan

    Well Said… nehru was the biggest blunder India ever produced.. He was one of those guys who used to discuss about his cabinet colleagues with lady Mountbatten after the English left Indian soil. The britishers did not require any mole at all. after all the prime minister was their mole…

    Fast forward to now. We still have the italian mafia running the country…

  • Rathiraj

    How can one imagine that the present or future Indian governments will ever unveil this report? The monumental follies will utterly discredit Congress party that that survives on Nehru/Gandhi names and the bureaucrats who play Tom & Jerry games in their offices.
    There are more forces within India that prefer “ostrich-syndrome” to prevail than learning from their past mistakes.
    The entire Indian media has been fed lies through a well orchestrated misinformation campaign by the Congress party since 1962. Data Mangeshkar’s song is used as a balm for the hurt national pride.
    The present generation must know what had happened and what is needed to be done to prevent future disasters.
    Its tragic that leaders like Khushid call ongoing Chinese adventures on the Indian borders as ” small acne”. Are we looking at a future “Khurshid-cancer” if not prepared well.
    In India, no one listens to the Armed Forces and in such case its only the soldiers die. Common citizens will wake up only when missiles and bombs start dropping on them.
    Lets hope the new government under BJP do something as they are still smarting under the 1999 double-cross.

  • Rathiraj

    Read Brig UP Dalvi’s book he wrote after his return from the Chinese POW camp. Gen Kaul committed mistakes that even the lowest military NCO won’t.
    In fact this proves that Kashmir is really a big problem for India. Nehru, a Kashmiri, gave us J&K problem. He also gave us another Kashmiri, Gen Kaul, his protege continue to hurt us.

  • Rathiraj

    Read Brig JP Dalvi’s book he wrote after his return from the Chinese POW camp. Gen Kaul committed mistakes that even the lowest military NCO won’t.
    In fact this proves that Kashmir is really a big problem for India. Nehru, a Kashmiri, gave us J&K problem. He also gave us another Kashmiri, Gen Kaul. Nehru’s protege continue to hurt us.

  • Anamitra Dasgupta

    Nothing has changed, and nothing shall ever change. Moreover, this “affaire” is only the tip of an iceberg composed of frozen detritus of the Indian Establishment’s misdeeds. This establishment has successfully stonewalled enquiry into all chronicles of its sordid existence – its decisions against its own people, country and nation; indeed, it has much to hide, as 67 years of history will testify. The establishment has habitually reflected, in very noisome examples, the same foul political mandates of its political masters, past and present; and the journey has only been downward into an abyss that knows no known depth. There is no argument in justification by apologists for India’s Chinese and subsequent Pakistani blunder. A thousand years will pass, but India will always be bound by chains of Jawaharlal’s folly; and the establishment’s venal stupidity. What else is there to say?

  • Gurbux SinghI

    Indian govt should make the Hanxerson Brooks report on 1962 India China war public.

  • ravindrak

    A bullshit man might be get you to the top(or bullshit person can go to the top by ax saver),but it won’t keep you there.

  • Inacio braganza

    India is following “ostrich ” therapy vis a vis Aggressive posture of China. Bring in all Black Money & upgrade naval/Airforce/army arms , Ammunitions & equipment

  • Suresh K

    General Thimmayya requested 24 hours to mpush back Pakis.Nehru went to U.N. See it remained west side problem 3 wars still not settled!Then 62 Chinese aggression and Nehru believed his cronies Kaul and that pimp called VK Menon. If at al there is unsettled border with neighbours you can say it is Nehru made,congress is much to answer . Stop this dyanasty and save further humiliation.

  • gda

    they are always ready to protect each & every leader for the mistake they have committed.since independence.if sardar would have made pm by bapu then we would not have paid & sill paying price for the blunder in kashmir & chaina matter

  • Sharad Kumar

    I fully endorse the conclusion that nothing really has changed.

    Even today, our leadership (irrespective of political affiliation)is besieged by the people not conversant with strategic and military issues. One only has to look at the state of vintage hardware (forget training, morale, salary, planning etc)with which we ask our soldiers to do the required job :

    Army – Tanks with armours of yore, No fresh guns/ howitzers, infantry soldiers not having the very basics of a modern day foot soldier.
    Airforce – multiple aircraft of multiple technology leading to multiple chaos, barring Sukhois no credible platform for a modern day war.
    Navy – It takes decades of advance planning for the induction and replacement of ships. The Navy is left with some rusted boats – mostly in ports for servicing instead of in service.

    Add to above, the apathy of civilian bureaucracy, pathetic back up infrastructure, world class (pun intended) ports, road and rail network.

    What you get is a perfect recipe of another disaster in waiting…..

  • kishore

    Our defense spending should be increased according to our neighbors…China has significantly increased its military spending last few yrs…and our govts. are decreasing the budget n deviating it for the freebies of UPA govt……… India govt are run not strategically but only for vote bank……n nepotism….if a person wants a job in pharma companies he need to hav MLA MP recommendations as if they are the scientists….same thing happening in every sector…….jobs are earned not genuinely on merit but through backdoor negotiations and money….even most of the govt one……..

  • Deepak Tiwari

    Such a great article. Every person has to read the this to know the reality of India regarding preparedness for WAR against Chaina.

  • OP Verma

    It is quite evident from the above piece that politicians and beaurocratic combine along with one or 2 weak generals put India to shame and demoralised the Armed Forces. Air Force was never used during the 1962 war.Even today War policy if any is dictated by beaurocrats who are not accountable to anything.Sole purpose of the Babu’s is to keep amassing authority and wealth in connivance with politicians. Professionals from Defence are never involved in decision and policy making. A strong General is never made Army Chief as fear of an coup is put into the ears of politicians by these cunning beaurocrats.Nehru is praised endlessly despite his monumental blunders, be it Kashmir or 1962 war. What good has been done by Nehru is still not known to me. His socialistic economic policies has only brought inefficiencies and corruption to a level that 2014 elections are being fought on this issue alone.
    Congress Govt will not like any report to come out in the open which brings infamy to it.

  • JK

    It is no use crying over spilt milk.
    Our politicians now Gear up to face fresh challange & divert funds to sfety of our Borders ,RATHER THAN POCKETING MONEY IN THEIR COFFERS

  • Sid

    I guess, it has rightly been said: “attack is the best defense”. The one who defends always has to modulate its strategies according to the moves made by the aggressor. Similar is the situation here. The filthy Chinese government always had their eyes on Aksai Chin area, so much so that they just marched towards it the moment they attained freedom. Ofcourse they managed to later booby-trap Nehru through Panchsheel, and the cosmetic solidarity n all that, but from Indian perspective I believe, the battle was lost the very day the leaders chose to give away Tibet. Otherwise although they might not have managed to stop the Chinese incursion into Tibet at a later date.
    Point is, I don’t think India could have ever managed to resist Chinese “terrorism”, or for the matter Pakistan’s (unless ofcourse they are wiped out of the map) because, these are the countries of some ambitious warmongers.
    For India, well nothing much has changed, and 60 years ago it was lack of technology that haunted us, not hi-tech “corruption” is.

    The Nation still remains at mercy of the Lords alone…

  • Rajat Misra

    There was no difference between Hitler’s policy and Nehru to be forward looking in an endevour to grab land from the Chinese. Nehru and the many Generals who forced the war on India should have been tried for genocide. They caused loss of both civilian and military life for there own personal satisfaction as this policy had detrimental impact on India – China relations for which people of NE and military of India is still suffering. Some day when historians will look back they will see these acts in there true colour. Nehru did to China what Hitler did to Russia in the WW II.Ill informed politicians and enthusiastic generals are a deadly combinations which have resulted in many a wars to be fought without reason and at the expense of a few. Finally will these people be taken to the gallows who misrepresented facts and are actually nothing more than murders of the innocent troops who went out to fulfill some people personal dream.

  • Jayvs

    Amazing article. Heart touching.
    Every single word in this article is written in gold.

    It is irony of this nation that a man whose deeds should be tried in a court of law and whose name must be erased from every single history book of India is revered and fondly called as Nehru Chacha.
    His soul must be burning in Hell.