It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand Shri Nehru’s mind, particularly when he thinks aloud on Peking’s aggressive policy against this country on the northern borders. Answering a question in Rajya Sabha the other day, he adverted to the talks between the Indian and Chinese officials, now being held at Rangoon. He did not seem to worry too much whether the Chinese are consolidating their positions on the disputed border or not. Instead he made what seems to us a strange statement. He said: “It was at our instance that these talks were held and we are continuing with them.” This is only half the truth. The other half is that it was the Chinese who suggested talks at the official level and India was forced to accept it for fear of being dubbed intransigent comparison with Burma and Nepal which had agreed earlier to similar talks. When Mr. Chou En-lai came here last April, it was not with cap in hand but with the air of a schoolmaster who commended the example of Burma and Nepal which had accepted his proposals for talks at official level. The fact that dispute between India and China is vastly different from those China had with Burma and Nepal just did not seem to matter. And what is worse, there was not even any sign of realisation in New Delhi, that what was good enough for Burma and Nepal, as a basis for negotiations with China, was not quite good enough for us. This is not to say that we should not continue the talks. We must, but at the same time we must also keep a watchful eye on the north; for the consolidation of the Chinese on our Northern frontiers is no less prejudicial to the course of the Rangoon talks than, say, an act of aggression. In fact there have been instances of the Chinese making some unfriendly gestures against India. Shri Nehru gave the benefit of the doubt to Peking and put down those instances of the violation of status quo to the misbehavior of the local commanders. While that is a display of weakness, his afterthought (“I cannot say about consolidation, but that applies to both sides”) was a highly indiscreet statement which, far from reassuring the nation, feeds grist to the propaganda mills of Peking.
1st Dec, 1960.
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