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Monday, 15 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 15 Oct 2012
Why India and China went to war in 1962
The scars of the 1962 war against China that resulted in a humiliating defeat for India still remain 50 years later. Starting today, The Tribune brings you a series of articles by experts on the genesis of the war, India’s political and military blunders and the lessons the country has learnt and should learn
Zorawar Daulet Singh

INDia-CHINA WAR 50 years later

Indian historian John Lall once observed, "Perhaps nowhere else in the world has such a long frontier been unmistakably delineated by nature itself". How then, did India and China defy topographical odds to lock into an impasse that was ultimately tested on the battlefield?

Areas (in red) claimed by China in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh
Areas (in red) claimed by China in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.

In retrospect, certain fundamental factors can be identified that framed the context of India-China interactions in the 1950s. Despite attaining a bloody independence in 1947, a truncated India viewed itself as the inheritor of the legacy of British India's frontiers. While the Nehru regime was acutely aware of the changed geopolitical context, its perception of the northern frontiers was based on the institutional memory of a century of frontier making by British strategists.

The bone of contention

The border with China runs 3488 km. It can be divided into three sectors:

Western Sector: This includes the border between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjiang and Tibet. India claims that China is occupying 43,000 sq km in this sector, including 5180 sq km illegally ceded to it by Pakistan.

Central Sector: This includes borders shared by Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand with Tibet. Shipki La and Kaurik areas in HP and areas around Pulam, Thag La, Barahori, Kungri Bingri La, Lapthal and Sangha are disputed.

Eastern Sector: China disputes India's sovereignty over 90,000 sq km, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang, Bum La, Asaphi La and Lo La are among the sensitive points in this sector. Strategically vital Tawang holds the key to the defence of the entire sub-Himalayan space in this sector.

Let's briefly deconstruct this legacy. It is now accepted that British India's frontier policies had failed to produce a single integrated and well-defined northern boundary separating the Indian subcontinent from Xinjiang and Tibet. The legacy, however, was more nuanced. In the eastern sector, the British had largely attained an ethnically and strategically viable alignment via the 1914 Simla conference of India, China and Tibet, even though the Chinese repudiated the agreement itself.

The underlying rationale for British policy was to carve a buffer around an autonomous 'Outer Tibet' not very dissimilar to the division of Mongolia in 1913 that Russia and China had agreed upon. While this policy of an attempted zonal division of Tibet never materialised, the fortuitous byproduct of this episode was the delimiting of a border alignment between India and Tibet that mirrors more or less the de facto position today. It is instructive to note that China's principal concern back then was not the precise boundary between Tibet and India but the borders and the political relationship between Tibet and China.

In contrast, the legacy of the western sector was more blurred. This sector, the crux of the dispute, was never formally delineated nor successfully resolved by British India. The fluid British approach in this sector was shaped by the geopolitical and geoeconomic goals of its empire, and was never designed to meet the basic requirements of a sovereign nation state.

New power equilibrium

There were almost a dozen attempts by the British to arrive at exactly where the boundaries should lie. Most, however, were exploratory surveys by frontier agents reflecting British expansion in the north-west frontiers rather than a concerted pursuit of an international border. And, they varied with the then geopolitical objectives of London, vis-à-vis the perceived Russian threat. For instance, when Russia threatened Xinjiang, some British strategists advocated an extreme northern Kashmiri border. At times, opinion favoured a relatively moderate border, with reliance even being placed on Chinese control of Xinjiang as a buffer against Russia.

The only serious, albeit futile, attempts by the British to map the border east of the Karakoram pass with China were made in 1899 and 1905. The Chinese never responded to these proposals. Interestingly, Alastair Lamb's 1973 study argues that the 1899 line when plotted on a modern map rather than on one relying on surveys done in the nineteenth century would place the eastern portion of Aksai Chin, including the area covering the Xinjiang-Tibet road, in China.

In 1947, no definite boundary line to the east of the Karakoram Pass existed. On the official 1950 India Map, Kashmir's boundary east of this pass was expressed as ‘Boundary Undefined’, while the 1914 McMahon Line was clearly shown as the boundary in the eastern sector. The only two points accepted by India and China was that the Karakoram Pass and Demchok, the western and eastern extremities of this sector, were in Indian territory. Opinion differed on how the line traversed between the two points. Thus, in effect, India and China were faced with a ‘no man's land’ in eastern Ladakh, where the contentious Aksai Chin lay.

This situation would have sufficed had Chinese power remained weak and relatively ambivalent to its southern periphery, as it had during most of the British colonial experience in India. But across the Himalayas, the restoration of Chinese power in 1949 and its thrust into Tibet in 1951, showed that Mao's China had awoken after its ‘century of humiliation’.

Adjustment to the new power equilibrium was unavoidable. Path dependence and institutional memory of previous British Indian frontier policies and its attendant impulse for a forward presence had to be reconciled with the reality of a rejuvenated China. The dilemma for India was to reconcile the colonial legacy that had produced the foundation for a strategically secure northern frontier and special relations with the smaller Himalayan states, with the post-colonial reality that obliged India to discard the symbols of the very policies that had bequeathed these privileges to India. A bit of hypocrisy was unavoidable if an independent but weaker India was to secure itself against a stronger China.

The essence of the Indian response was an uneasy combination of realism and accommodation of Chinese interests. And in the absence of military modernisation constrained by economic and institutional resources, diplomacy and soft external balancing via an attempt to leverage the superpower rivalry assumed the major burden of advancing India's diplomatic position and preventing conflict. Little effort was expended on internal balancing until after 1962.

Further, the spillover of the Cold War into South Asia, largely via an American decision in the early 1950s to buttress Pakistan as a regional client, reduced India's options of external balancing. It made an alignment with the West unappealing to the nationalist consensus among the Indian elites that had produced the philosophy of non-alignment.

Chinese fait accompli

Nehru's response to the 1954 US-Pakistan alliance exemplified this: "The United States imagines that by this policy they have completely outflanked India's so-called neutralism and will thus bring India to her knees. Whatever the future may hold, this is not going to happen". This explains much of India's early efforts to forge an accommodation with China, and the 1954 agreement over Tibet must be viewed in such a context rather than simply as an idealistic expression of Nehru's pan-Asian vision.

The 1954 agreement was essentially a Chinese fait accompli extracting a de jure Indian endorsement of China's sovereignty over Tibet and India relinquishing its special British-era privileges. The agreement was valid for eight years, till June 1962, and as relations turned sour, China would have to wait another five decades for a reiteration of the 1954 Indian position. This came in 2003 in a joint declaration at Beijing. Curiously, this important shift in the Indian position was once again undertaken without a reciprocal Chinese concession other than a tacit acknowledgment of India's sovereignty over Sikkim.

Returning to the April 1954 agreement, where India erred was in extracting a quid quo pro. Some have interpreted 1954 as an implicit trade-off that resolved the border issue. Indeed, the Nehru government seemed to believe it had addressed all Sino-Indian questions.

On 1 July 1954, shortly after the agreement, Nehru, through a note to the Secretary-General and Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, stated that, "All our old maps dealing with the frontier should be carefully examined, and where necessary, withdrawn. New maps should be printed showing our northern and northeastern frontier without any reference to any ‘line’. These new maps should also not state there is any undemarcated territory…Both as flowing from our policy and as a consequence of our Agreement with China, this frontier should be considered a firm and definite one which is not open to discussion with anybody". As it turned out, this was a significant decision because the new maps of 1954 publicly committed India to a cartographic position over territory in the western sector that was known to have been of ambiguous provenance.

Military confrontation

The central puzzle, of course, is why did India not bring up the border issue during the 1954 negotiations with the Chinese? Archival evidence reveals that Nehru's unwillingness to unilaterally raise the boundary issue at the time was based on an assumption that Beijing might respond by offering to negotiate a fresh boundary, which could have been disadvantageous to India. Nehru instructed his negotiators that if the Chinese raised the boundary issue "we should express our surprise and point out that this is a settled issue". By not explicitly linking China's ownership over Tibet with a reciprocal and wider agreement on the frontiers was an extraordinary error of judgment.

Further, India gave no expression to its revised 1954 maps showing a settled northern border. Unlike in the east, where India proactively extended its sovereignty over Tawang in 1951, which was not contested by China at the time, and reaffirmed close relations with Bhutan, Nepal, and Sikkim, India did little to alter the ground reality in the west. Though historical record did not support Chinese claims in Aksai Chin, the Chinese by virtue of their expanded presence in Tibet would henceforth view Aksai Chin as a strategically located area to maintain their supply lines to Tibet. That Delhi knew little of these remote eastern parts of Ladakh was evident in the subsequent course of events such as the discovery of the Xinjiang-Tibet road after it was written about in a Chinese magazine in 1957!

India officially claimed Aksai Chin in a note to the Chinese Ambassador in Delhi in October 1958. A few months later, a rebellion in Tibet led to the exodus of the Dalai Lama to India. The first armed clash with China occurred at Longju in the east on 25 August 1959. On 21 October 1959, at the Kongka Pass in the west, Chinese guards killed nine members of an Indian patrol team and took ten prisoners. The wheels of dispute were set in motion though it would still take an unfortunate international conjuncture to transform a political disagreement into a military confrontation.

The writer, a PhD candidate at King’s College, London, is also the author of Himalayan Stalemate: Understanding the India China Dispute

From genesis to nemesis

October 1950: Chinese troops cross the Sino-Tibetan boundary and move towards Lhasa.

April 1954: Sino-Indian Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between India and Tibet region of China signed by Jawaharlal Nehru and Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in Beijing.

May 1954: China and India sign the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or Panchsheel.

June 1954: Zhou Enlai visits India for the first time, stresses on the adherence to the five principles

March 1955: India objects to the inclusion of a portion of India's northern frontier on the official map of China, calling it a clear infringement of Panchsheel

November 1956: Zhou Enlai visits India for the second time on a goodwill mission.

September 1958: India officially objects to the inclusion of a big chunk of Northern Assam and NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) in China Pictorial.

January 1959: Zhou Enlai spells out for the first time China's claims to over 40,000 square miles of Indian territory both in Ladakh and NEFA.

April 1959: Dalai Lama escapes from Lhasa and crosses into Indian territory.

August 1959: Chinese troops open fire on an Indian picket near Migyitun in eastern Ladakh, killing an Indian soldier. They also overrun the Indian outpost at Longju in north-eastern Ladakh.

September 1959: China refuses to accept the McMahon Line. Beijing lays claims to 50,000 square miles of territory in Sikkim and Bhutan.

October 1959: Chinese troops fire on an Indian patrol in the Aksai Chin area killing nine soldiers and capturing ten.

April 1960: A meeting in New Delhi between Zhou Enlai and Nehru to address the boundary question ends in deadlock.

June 1960: Chinese troops violate the Indian border near Shipki village in the northeast

February 1961: China further occupies 12,000 sq miles in the western sector.

October 1961: Chinese start aggressive border patrolling and establishes new military formations which start moving into Indian territory.

December 1961: India adopts the Forward Policy to stem the advancing Chinese frontier line by establishing a few border outposts.

April 1962: China issues ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of the Indian frontier personnel from the border posts.

September 1962: Chinese forces cross the McMahon Line in the Thag La region in the east and open fire on an Indian post. Launch another intensified attack.

20 October 1962: China launches a massive multi-pronged attack all along the border from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east.

15 November 1962: A massive Chinese attack on the eastern front. Tawang and Walong in the eastern sector over run, Rezang La and the Chushul airport in the west shelled.

18 November 1962: Chinese troops capture Bomdi La in the NEFA region

21 November 1962: China declares a unilateral ceasefire along the entire border and announces withdrawal of its troops to 20 km behind the LAC.
Shinde: Can’t take risk of withdrawing AFSPA
M Aamir Khan/TNS

Srinagar, October 14
Even as Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde complimented the people of Kashmir for “fighting terrorism”, he said the Centre could not take the “risk” of withdrawing the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state right now.

“It (AFSPA) will gradually go… but we cannot take the risk now… we cannot withdraw it abruptly,” Shinde told reporters before concluding his three-day visit to the state.

He made the statement after addressing a gathering at the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) headquarters here.

Shinde appreciated the people of Kashmir for “fighting terrorism”.

“I salute and praise the courage of people in fighting terrorism….the people are responsible for restoring peace,” he added.

Shinde urged the local Congress workers and leaders to remain united for the betterment of the party.

He said he was ‘proud’ of the way UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was running the country.

“We wanted her (Sonia) to be the Prime Minister, but she wanted that the Prime Minister should be from a minority group,” Shinde added.

The Union Home Minister termed as “baseless” the corruption charges levelled by activist-turned-political Arvind Kejriwal against Congress leaders.

Expressing satisfaction over his visit to border areas of the state, he said he would soon visit the border near Myanmar and Bhutan to review the security situation.

Asserting that the Congress had emerged as a “great secular force” in Jammu and Kashmir despite facing “considerable difficulties” in the past, he promised the gathering that he would “lend a helping hand” to resolve the problems being faced by them.

Shinde said he would always make it a point to visit the Pradesh Congress Committee offices of the states he visited.

JKPCC president Prof Saifuddin Soz thanked the Union Home Minister for accepting his invitation to visit the local Congress headquarters.

Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and Congress Cabinet ministers Peerzada Mohammad.Sayeed, Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla and RS Chib were also present on the occasion.
Russia won’t arm India’s enemies: Dy PM

New Delhi, October 14
Russia today assured India that it would not arm its "enemies". Visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin also indicated Moscow's willingness to expand cooperation in defence production by building a new transport aircraft and battle tanks.

"You must understand that we do not deal with your enemies. We don't deliver any arms to them.... If you see otherwise, you may spit on my face," Rogozin told reporters here when asked if Russia would supply arms to Pakistan.

He said Russia has no restrictions in delivering arms and weapons to India "because there are no conflicts and contradictions in our relations".

"We never created problems for India on its frontiers in difference from other countries. That is a political advantage (for Russia) as a friend of India," he said.

Rogozin, who will co-chair the Inter-Governmental Commission meeting on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna here tomorrow, said Russia was ready to cooperate with India in producing a transport plane with a payload of six tonnes as well as developing battle tanks.

Noting the success in producing BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles jointly, he said Russia was keen to cooperate with India and make it a top defence producer.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there were problems in handing over the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to India due to technical reasons. He said new technology always encountered some complaints and asserted India would be proud to have such a ship for its navy. — PTI

You must understand that we do not deal with your enemies. We don't deliver any arms to them.... If you see otherwise, you may spit on my face.
— Dmitry Rogozin, Dy PM of Russia
Army Commanders meet to suggest more avenues for ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 14
Top Army Commanders will assemble here tomorrow to discuss future strategies, promotion policies and issues pertaining to ex-servicemen, among other things. This is the first such meeting since General Bikram Singh took over as Army Chief on June 1.

The conference will conclude on October 19 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will jointly address Commanders of all three services - the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Sources said that one of the key proposals that the Army Commanders will make to the Ministry of Defence is on re-employing ex-servicemen in the government set-up and not just the existing available openings in the paramilitary and some state police forces.

The Army wants more avenues to be made available to Junior Commissioned Officers and other ranks. Most of them retire between the age of 36 and 42 years and are skilled in specialised tasks and have the tenacity required for high-security work.

The Commanders will seek lateral entry for jawans into public sector undertakings (PSU) and also the government sector. They will suggest that departments need to be identified in the government where lateral entry is possible.

A source — giving an example — said that one clear case is of optic fibre cable (OFC) management. With so much business in India riding on telephony and internet, jawans from the ‘signals’ regiment could be used to manage the OFCs running throughout the country.

These jawans are already trained in managing the dedicated OFCs of the forces and know its secrecy protocols and the necessary precautions.

Similarly, the Army trains its jawans in the engineers regiment to repair heavy equipment, machinery and even helicopters.

The government and PSUs can utilise these instead of opting for unskilled workers outside. Also, the men are highly skilled drivers in high altitudes.

Additional natural employment for the jawans are high-risk and skill jobs like working on oil rigs, gas pipelines, oil pipelines - all these are expected to form the proposal.

Besides this issue, the Army Commanders will deliberate on having an enduring human resource promotion policy from the level of Major Generals and above.
Defence ties with Russia
Unending wait for aircraft carrier

The recently concluded Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation, co-chaired by Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, was held against the backdrop of yet another delay in the delivery of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (rechristened INS Vikramaditya). Ever since India signed an agreement eight years ago in 2004 for the purchase of this 44,500-tonne aircraft carrier, the delivery schedule has been marked by slippages.

The delivery has now been pushed ahead by a year to December 2013. With the ageing INS Viraat soon heading for a phase-out and the construction of an indigenously designed aircraft carrier at least another six years away, the delay in the induction of the Russian aircraft carrier has meant that India will have to wait for some more time to fulfil its ambition to have two battle carrier groups. Disappointing as it is, the fact remains that bilateral defence relations otherwise remain on a firm footing. India has contracted to buy an additional 42 Sukhoi 30 MKI fighters to boost this fighter fleet to 272, an additional 59 Mi-17 V5 helicopters to raise this fleet to 139 and missiles for the P-5 submarines. In addition to remaining a major source of arms supplies, defence relations with Russia have expanded to include significant collaboration on high-end weapon systems – the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and the fifth generation fighter aircraft (T-50) being two significant examples. Having jointly developed the army and naval variants of the BrahMos, the two sides have now decided to build the air force variant of this deadly missile.

The special relationship is reflected in other ways as well. Russia has leased India a nuclear-powered submarine and steadfastly continues to desist from selling defence hardware to Pakistan. Yet the fact remains that Russia is not the same as the Soviet Union and India needs Russia so long as it is unable to build a strong military-industrial base to become sufficiently self-reliant. To its credit, India has diversified its source of weapons to both Israel and the United States. The delay in the induction of the aircraft carrier only underlines the need for India to step up its efforts to achieve self-reliance in key defence technologies.
Probe into Army's controversial TSD unit in final stages
Press Trust of India / New Delhi October 14, 2012, 19:05

A high-level committee tasked to look into the proposed winding up of a controversial unit set up by Gen V K Singh is in "final stages" of completing its inquiry and is expected to submit its report to the Army headquarters soon.

The Committee formed under Director General Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia was formed by the Army headquarters after allegations of snooping were levelled against the unit, Technical Support Division (TSD).

"The investigations are in its final stages and it is expected to submit its report to the Army headquarters very soon," senior-level Army sources told PTI here.
The TSD was formed during the tenure of Gen V K Singh and its existence came to light in March this year when it was alleged that the unit had tapped the phones of Defence Ministry officials at the height of the controversy over the Army Chief's date of birth.

The process to disband the TSD was initiated recently after the new Army Chief took over.

The TSD was reporting directly to the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh and it was alleged that the unit may have snooped into the conversations of people even outside the Defence Ministry using its off-the-air interceptor equipment.

Recent reports suggested that the Committee is also looking into the alleged misuse of Military Intelligence funds to file court cases during Gen V K Singh's tenure against senior officers.
Retd armymen may face ban on access to MoD: UK Defence Secy
Retired senior military officers in the UK could see their access to Ministry of Defence “shut down” if the system is found to have been abused, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said, amid reports of lobbying by former army personnel on behalf of arms firms.

Hammonds comments came after several retired military leaders were secretly filmed by The Sunday Times offering to influence MPs on behalf of arms companies.

But Hammond said he was satisfied that the current system was “robust”. The paper said all the officers involved have denied any wrongdoing.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it was probing whether it was possible for anyone to secure “privileged access” and whether any rules had been broken. On standing down, former members of the MoD have to serve a two-year period of “purdah”, when they are not allowed to work in the private sector.

Reporters for the newspaper posed as lobbyists for a defence manufacturer and approached senior retired officers to ask if they would help them secure contracts. They alleged two retired officers, former Defence Academy head Lt Gen John Kiszely and ex-MoD procurement chief Lt Gen Richard Applegate, admitted they had lobbied on multi-million pound deals while they were in purdah.

Hammond was quoted by the BBC as saying, “I’m satisfied that the system we have is completely robust.” However, Hammon said, “If they’re abusing that access for commercial purposes, then we will have to tighten it up or maybe even shut it down.”
Army to buy copter-borne early warning systems

In a first that will give a major boost to the Army’s aviation wing, India is planning to procure helicopter-borne early warning systems for the land force. The final specifications for the system are being chalked out, following which a tender process will be initiated this year.

The new system could be fitted on board the Army’s existing Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and will give formation commanders an insight into enemy territory while serving as warning systems for approaching aircraft and armoured units.

Sources said the Army is in the final stages of ordering the new system and is considering involving the Indian private sector in the programme. The other option is to rope in Defence Public Sector Unit, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), to design and develop the system.

The project, which would involve developing a new system in collaboration with a foreign partner, can be lucrative for the Indian defence industry, as the final order would be for a large number of the early warning systems.

The new systems would give a fillip to the Army’s aviation wing that has seen a steady growth in the past few years. Starting with the small Chetak/Cheetah single-engine choppers, Army aviation is now operating the ALH and is set to order a new fleet of light attack helicopters that are being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The early warning systems would be integrated with attack helicopter squadrons that the Army plans to induct in coming years and will act as valuable force multipliers.

While the Air Force does operate early warning systems, it does not have any such helicopter-borne systems that are vital for close-in, ground combat situations where enemy armour and rotary wing aircraft operate.

Meanwhile, the Army recently won a tussle with the Air Force on control over attack helicopter squadrons. Traditionally operated by the Air Force, the Army has them under its operational control and has now been selected for operating them also as is the norm world over.

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