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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 19 Mar 2014

Forward policy raised chances of conflict
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
Military circles in India often debate that the India-China conflict was caused due to wrong forward policy and its wrong implementation by India. The report uploaded by Neville Maxwell narrates how it all started on August 26, 1959, when the Chinese overran an Indian Army post at Longju in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) in October and in the same year, a post at Kongka la in Eastern Ladakh had been overrun. Both times China claimed the posts were in Chinese territory even though these were inside the Indian territory.

India responded to Chinese actions with a forward policy. The 3,488-km-long boundary is not demarcated and once China invaded Tibet in the late 1950s, a peaceful border had become live. The dispute of boundary demarcation is pending since 1846 when the British signed the Treaty of Amritsar with the Dogra rulers of Jammu and Kashmir and went about demarcating the eastern limits of Ladakh. The Tibetans, who were sometimes backed by the Chinese, stalled the demarcation in five separate attempts made by the British between 1846 and 1914.

India, in 1961, advocated a policy which entailed patrolling as far forward as possible from India’s present positions. This was to be done with a view to establishing additional posts that would then stop the Chinese and dominate the heights. The report raises the question if India was in a position to implement the ‘forward policy’ with the kind of resources and poor logistics it had. The report blames the Army headquarters of ‘deliberately’ carrying out the policy in a wrong manner without the government backing.

The policy did increase the chances of a conflict, says the report. Especially, for the Indians it was an ‘unequal race’ battling against the Chinese. The Army’s annual intelligence review China-Tibet 1959-1960 said Chinese strength grew three times between 1959 and 1961 whereas India’s was negligible due to lack of logistic support. The road between Srinagar and Leh got completed only in 1961. Places like Chusul in Ladakh were air maintained.
Contents of war report accurate: 1962 veterans
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The leak of the closely guarded Henderson Brooks report detailing the reasons for India’s defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 by an Australian journalist Neville Maxwell has kicked off an intense debate in military and security circles.

While eyebrows have been raised in some quarters over “timing” of the leak, close to the polls, many former officers who had fought on the ground during the war and matched their war experiences with the available version of the report, are of the opinion that it is an accurate account of what had then happened.

“The contents of the report are accurate, though its just a staff duties’ compilation and of little value,” Maj Gen K Khorana (retd), who had served as a captain with 1 Sikh at Twang during the war, said. Though there is nothing outstanding in the report, one aspect that needs to be noted is that when the Army had asked for written directions from the government, no political aims and objectives were conveyed and only a military objective to ‘throw out the Chinese’ was given. The same was passed down the chain of command and there was total disconnect on the ground,” he added.

Brig Behl, who was commissioned in 1961 and had spent seven months as a prisoner of war near Lhasa, recalled that while they were inducted to support an Indian offensive in that area, no one had expected China to launch an attack.” He, however, questioned the timing of the leak.
 India can’t encash Agusta bank guarantee, says Italian court 

New Delhi, March 18
An Italian court has barred it from encashing AgustaWestland’s bank guarantees worth over Rs 2,360 crore as part of the penalties imposed after scrapping of the scam-tainted Rs 3,600-crore VVIP helicopter deal.

India has decided to file an appeal against the decision of the Italian court, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said today, while asserting that the government "will vigorously pursue all options" for encashment of the bank guarantees.

India has already encashed bank guarantees of around Rs 240 crore deposited in banks in India, but it is yet to recover the bank guarantees deposited in banks of Italy. An Italian court in Milan had yesterday accepted a plea by AgustaWestland's parent company, Finmecannica, to stop India from encashing over Rs 2,360 crore (euro 278 million).

"With this measure, the court granted the requests made by the companies of the Finmeccanica Group, recognising the manifestly abusive enforcement of the guarantees made by the Indian Defense Ministry, given the vagueness of the complaints made in relation to alleged breaches of contract," Finmeccanica said in a statement.

"The Milan court confirmed the ruling made last January, prohibiting the payment of collateral of more than 278 million euros deposited in relation to the contract," it said.

India terminated the Rs 3,600 crore deal on January 1 for procuring 12 VVIP AW-101 choppers for the IAF on allegations of payment of kickbacks and involvement of middlemen in the acquisition process by the Anglo-Italian firm.

The Italian court had put a stay on India's effort to encash the bank guarantees in an earlier hearing on January 8. After the cancellation of the contract, India had also decided to go in for arbitration with the Anglo-Italian firm and the two sides have nominated their members in this regard.

The Anglo-Italian firm has already supplied three copters to India and the delivery of the remaining nine was put on hold after Defence Minister AK Antony ordered a CBI probe into the corruption allegations after the arrest of Finmecannica's former CEO Guiseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland's former head Bruno Spagnolini in Italy in connection with the probe going on there. — PTI

The VVIP copter scam

* A Rs 3,600-crore deal was signed in 2010 for India to buy 12 top-end copters for use by VVIPs, including the President

* Delhi cancelled the deal with Italian defence giant Finmeccanica in January over allegations of bribery and kickbacks

* An Italian court has rejected a request by India to recover more than Rs 2,360 crore in bank guarantees.
Another coup in Pakistan unlikely
The process of democratic governance is deepening
Kuldip Nayar
I WAS at Lahore when Pakistan defeated India in the Asia Cup cricket match. There were celebrations and firing in the air. This is understandable because a country which is one-seventh of India feels elated by vanquishing it in some field. Even otherwise, there is no love lost between the two. What surprised me was the running theme in the talks about victory that India has not accepted Pakistan. This is not true and politicians in Pakistan raise this slogan to frighten the voters for their candidature. But why Pakistan should seek recognition from India for its identity is beyond my comprehension.

When Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Lahore, he assured Pakistan that it did not have to look for recognition because the country was its own identity. Vajpayee, still the most popular Indian in Pakistan, also went to the Minar-e-Pakistan, the place where the 1940 resolution for the creation of a separate Muslim state was passed in a Muslim League session. I too went there and heard Vajpayee repeating the words that solidarity and integrity of India was dependent on the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan. It is regretful that some extremist groups washed the Minar-e-Pakistan to "purify" it after his visit.

Lahore has expanded eight times since independence. The city is prosperous and shops are full of goods and buyers. Still there are many beggars roaming around. The famous Mall Road is "down town." The defence area has expanded to accommodate the rich and the upper middle class people. Here the extreme disparities between the rich and the poor are visible like any metro in India.

Punjab-Lahore is its capital-remains the backbone of Pakistan. Sindh is disturbed, primarily because of the ever-quarrelling Shias and Sunnis. Baluchistan has a national liberation movement demanding autonomy. During my five-day stay, I saw pictures in newspapers and television channels of marchers from Queeta to Islamabad to voice their demand for independence. It had taken them three months to reach Islamabad. India is blamed for supplying money and weapons to sustain insurgency in Baluchistan. The North Western Frontier Province is too engaged in fighting the Taliban from the area adjoining Afghanistan to have respite for development.

I asked a leading lawyer what kept Pakistan together. He said straightaway: It was the military. This may well be true. Yet I do not think that there can ever be another coup. The process of democratic governance is deepening all the time and it looks impossible to undo it. People would come to the streets to resist a military dictator.

Nonetheless, the military counts in the affairs of Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's repeated calls for talks with India cannot be without the consultation of the military. I believe it has drawn a "Lakshman rekha" beyond which the government cannot go. In fact, if one were to follow the media in Pakistan, one would come to the conclusion that both newspapers and television channels stay away from any mention of the army. Otherwise bold and strident, the media would not cross the Taliban path too. Nawaz Sharif favours talks with them.

Pakistan's biggest problem is terrorism. What was created to harass India in Kashmir has become a Frankenstein to trouble the country. Both the civil and military authorities are harassed by the Taliban from Afghanistan. Adding to their attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan is the home-grown group called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). They can strike at anytime, anywhere and kill the ones they want. Fear of terrorists stalks the land. Lahore or, for that matter Punjab, is by and large safe.

It is said that state Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has entered into an understanding with the TTP and "rewards" it for sparing the province. But some Taliban are not bothered about a dialogue with the central government. The lower courts at Islamabad were attacked by suicide bombers even when both the government and the Taliban had declared a one-month ceasefire.

Pakistan had once declared Afghanistan to be part of its strategic depth. In a briefing, the army chief has reportedly told the media about the change in the policy. There is no strategic depth, he has conveyed. Maybe, this is because of Pakistan's inward-looking policy. The country faces a host of problems. The lengthening shadow of fundamentalism is only one of them, however important. What disappointed me most in Lahore was the absence of protests against human rights violations. Liberal voices are hardly heard. Nobody dares mentioning the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who voiced his opposition to the blasphemy laws.

Back home, as many as 69 Kashmiri students in Meerut's Vivekanand University were suspended for cheering the Pakistani cricket team. They were first booked for sedition. The suspension evoked so much criticism that the students had to be taken back. However, this indicates the mindset on Kashmiris as far as India is concerned.

The authorities which suspended the students were either a bigoted lot or a set of people who believed that they would be applauded for their anti-Pakistani step. Nothing like that happened. There was no reaction and even the media inured to sensationalise did nothing beyond reporting the university's step.

Both incidents, the celebration and the suspension, emphasise the narrative before partition-the Hindu India and the Muslim Pakistan-has not changed. Deep down it is the same thinking that religion identifies the nations.

Even after 67 years since Independence India has not been able to implant secularism as firmly as it has done in the case of democracy. Pakistan has little minority problem because the ethnic cleansing in the country has been substantial. Therefore, the quarrels are confined only to the Sunnis and the Shias. The Ahmedias, declared non-Muslims, bear the brunt and their graves are being dug to throw out the remains.

As for relations between India and Pakistan, the hostility has worn off, giving way to a desire to befriend India. Were there to be relaxation of visas, the visitors from Pakistan would come in thousands. This holds good for India as well. The problem at this end is that the extremist fringe represented by the Jammat-e-Islami and Hafeez Sayeed is taken as the prevalent mood in Pakistan.
Planning flaws cost ’62 war: Report
Top secret document that critiqued India’s preparedness in war against China leaked
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
More than 52 years after India’s humiliating military defeat at the hands of China in 1962, serious flaws in India’s planning of the war against its neighbour and the much-debated “forward policy” have been pointed out.

Australia-based journalist Neville Maxwell, who claims to have a copy of the Henderson-Brooks report classified as ‘top secret’ in India, has uploaded the 126-page document on his blog. However, pages 112 to 157 are missing and so is the chapter of conclusions.

Several references in the report uploaded by Maxwell match the report ‘History of the Conflict with China, 1962’ produced by the History Division of the Ministry of Defence in 1992. The book was never published, but is available online.

Flaws in the report cited by Maxwell include gaps in the thinking of the Army and the government. The assessment of Chinese reactions to the forward policy was flawed. The opinions of the Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence did not match. The troop strength of the Chinese was not assessed correctly and the incidents at Galwan in Ladakh and Dhola post in the North-East are highlighted. The Indian Army strength was also much less than desired.

The Tribune does not vouch for the veracity of Maxwell’s claims. Officials in India said it could very well be a draft report and not the final version of the Henderson-Brookes report authored by Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat, the then commandant of the Indian Military Academy (IMA).

The Ministry of Defence refused comment, saying: “Given the extremely sensitive nature of the contents of the report, which are of current operational value, it is reiterated that the Government of India has classified this report a ‘top secret’ document and, as such, it would not be appropriate to comment on the contents uploaded by Neville Maxwell.”

The report was submitted in April 1963. It has been under lock and key ever since and remains classified. There are only three known copies of the report, all in vaults in the South Block.

Citing lack of planning, the report on Maxwells’s blog says the last operational instruction was issued in February 1960 and, therefore, was considered current. The build-up to a war did not start till July 1962 and hostilities broke out in October the same year, meaning the assessment was more than two years old.

The Chinese had gradually consolidated, claims the report put out by Maxwell. It cites how the Western Command demanded a full division - some 15,000 troops - in Ladakh. In response, they were given only one-third of the requirement with no supporting arms such as artillery, mortars or MMGs. The land routes then were mule tracks. The situation was identical in the North-East. While local Army formations repeatedly asked for more troops, headquarters delayed it.

There may have been gaps as per the report uploaded by Maxwell. The then director of the Intelligence Bureau, BN Mullick, was of the opinion that the Chinese would not react to India establishing new posts and were not likely to use force against any of our posts even if they were in a position to do so. Military intelligence appreciation indicated that the Chinese would resist by force any attempt to take back territory. Mullick in his book ‘The Chinese Betrayal’, first published in 1971, had said, “Maxwell (in his book ‘India’s China War’) found justification for practically everything that the Chinese said and did during the period 1950 to 1962.”

The report goes on to cite an Army assessment of the forward policy that warned that any forward movement would be at the mercy of the Chinese Army.

It shows differences — the government was politically wanting to recover territory, hence advocated a cautious policy, whilst Army headquarters dictated a policy that was clearly militarily unsound. The forward movement was without the necessary wherewithal, says the report.

The forward policy, which had sought the raising of military outposts in areas claimed by the Chinese and the launch of aggressive patrols, increased the chances of conflict, the report said, suggesting that India was not militarily in a position to implement this.

As per the report, there are glaring lapses pointing at backroom remote-controlling from Delhi. Nobody knew who ordered the 2 Sikh Light Infantry to withdraw from Knoll area. India may have actually obliged China with its unbalanced military posture and indecisive military leadership. The Army Headquarters needed to be more responsive, says the report.

India’s response was to send troops with logistics. Kameng and Tawang in North East Frontier Agency (Arunachal Pradesh) that needed to be well-defended lacked troops. The rout of the 7 Infantry Brigade was a foregone conclusion, but it had a snowballing affect. It stopped only when the Chinese wanted it, says the report.

The report goes on to describe the withdrawal from Sela pass that eventually allowed the Chinese to reach Bomdilla, which is much closer to Assam. By the middle of November, Divisional Commanders were asking the IV Corps to withdraw their units. The pass was a formidable position, but it had no defences. It needed extra troops and logistics, but neither was provided.

The report doubts the veracity of the claims made by 1 Sikh of having thwarted an attack at Sela Pass.

The damning report

    The assessment of Chinese reaction to Forward Policy was flawed
    Opinions of the IB and the Military Intelligence didn’t match
    The troop strength of the Chinese was not assessed correctly
    The Indian Army strength was much less than desired
Fresh incursion attempt by Chinese soldiers in Ladakh area
Chinese troops made a fresh attempt to violate the border with India in Chumar area in Ladakh on Sunday and retreated only after ITBP and Army jawans formed a human wall to block their incursion bid.

Chumar, located 300 km east of Leh, has been an epicentre of heightened activities of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) who had been making increased attempts to enter through this region, official sources said today.

Giving details of the incursion bid, the sources said that nine PLA soldiers first reached the border area at 0700 hours on March 16 and were stopped by the jawans which was followed by the customary banner drill.

However, in no time 10 more PLA personnel arrived on the scene riding horses and joined their colleagues to make attempts to move ahead into the Indian territory.

Chinese troops made repeated assertions that it was their territory and they were headed towards to Tible area, five km deep into the Indian territory, the sources said.

Explaining their action, the troops told the Indian jawans that they were ordered by the PLA headquarters to conduct a reconnaissance in Tible area, the sources added.

However, more Indian troops joined in and Chinese troops made a retreat by 0900 hours the same day, the sources said.

During the onset of winter, Chumar has witnessed frequent incursion attempts by the Chinese troops who also have been adopting 'assertive posturing'. This area has a defined International Border with China.

On earlier occasions this year, Chinese troops had even attempted to break a human wall of Indian jawans during the banner drill.

Chumar has been an issue for China which claims it to be its own territory and have been frequenting it with helicopter incursions almost every year. In 2012, it dropped some of the soldiers of PLA in this region and dismantled the makeshift storage tents of the Army and ITBP.

The area is not accessible from the Chinese side whereas the Indian side has a road almost to the last point on which the Army can carry loads up to nine tonnes.

Chumar had become a flash point during the fortnight long stand-off last year in Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) last year as the Chinese side had objected to overhead bunkers erected by the Indian side. As part of an agreement reached at the flag meeting to end the stand-off from April-May 2013 at DBO, Indian side had to dismantle some overhead bunkers in Chumar.

Again, Chumar witnessed Chinese troops walking away with an Army surveillance camera on June 17 which was meant for keeping an eye on the PLA troops patrolling there. The same camera was returned after a few days.
Former Army chief VK Singh to be BJP's candidate from Ghaziabad in UP
Former Army chief, Gen (Retd) V K Singh was today named as the BJP's candidate from Ghaziabad, the Lok Sabha constituency bordering Delhi on the north-east. He replaces party president Rajnath Singh, who has been shifted to Lucknow.

Gen Singh, who joined the BJP on March 1, will be taking on the challenge from actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, who has been fielded by the Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party's Shazia Ilmi. In the 2009 general election, Mr Rajnath Singh had won the seat after trouncing Congress' Surendra Prakash Goel by a margin of over 90,000 votes.

Gen Singh, 63, retired from the Army Chief's post on May 31, 2012 after a very troubled stint. He entered into a confrontation with the Centre over a dispute over his age, and even dragged the government to the Supreme Court for a resolution of the matter, becoming the first Army Chief to do so. After his superannuation, he flirted for a bit with Gandhian Anna Hazare, but eventually joined the BJP.

Gen Singh, who apparently had been tipped off about his candidature by the BJP's central leadership, had a very hostile start to his campaign. He was allegedly roughed up by a group of party workers during his visit to the party office in Ghaziabad's Nehru Nagar yesterday. They were protesting against the party's decision to foist an outsider on them. Gen Singh hails from Haryana. The police had to be called in to bring things under control.
Army chief in Israel to discuss military ties
Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh is expected to discuss ongoing defence projects between India and Israel and ways of further strengthening military ties during his ongoing four-day visit to that country.

The issue of delays in the completion of the medium-range surface-to-air missile systems is expected to come up for discussion during the talks between the two sides, Army officials said here.

Israel is one of the major suppliers of weapon systems to the Indian armed forces including critical equipment such as assault rifles for the Special Forces.

Gen Singh's Israeli counterpart Maj Gen Guy Zur had visited India last year and discussed the security situation in and around the region with the top military and political leadership.

Israel has been building strong military-to-military relations with India in recent years and has emerged as the second largest defence supplier to India behind only Russia in the last decade-and-a-half.

Gen Bikram Singh's predecessor Gen V K Singh was supposed to visit Israel in 2012 but the visit was cancelled in view of the situation in West Asia at that time.
Why Brooks report on political mishandling of defence during China war matters today
In the five decades since the 1962 war with China and its aftermath, the report of the Brooks-Bhagat committee, which criticised the defence and intelligence establishment's handling of the border dispute, has become a red-taped, quasi-mythical object of tremendous political import. Any discussion about it is inevitably connected to the events it covers and also, more importantly, to those who discuss it today. The re-emergence of Neville Maxwell, the old South Asia hand, and his first-hand access to the classified report needs to be understood in this context.

The Sino-Indian conflict of 1962 is the least known and discussed of the wars fought by Independent India, and its origins are as shrouded in half-truths and insinuations as events during the actual conflict. After the Dalai Lama was granted asylum in India in 1959 and violence between Tibetans and the Chinese Army, relations between India and China had become strained.

In 1962, claiming that India had set up forward observation posts within Chinese territory, the Chinese army advanced and overran Indian positions in the then Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA), Arunachal Pradesh today, and Ladakh. After a series of retreats by the Indian army, which saw the Chinese reach the headquarters of the Indian Army's Eastern Command at Tezpur in Assam, the Chinese withdrew, although they held and continue to hold strategic positions within territory claimed by both countries in Arunachal and Ladakh. The periodic border disputes regarding Arunachal are connected to these events.
Following the war, the govnernment instituted an inquiry commission to look into the military debacle, headed by then Lt Gen. Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat. The report was submitted in 1963, but was never made public by the government. As recently at 2013, Defence Minister AK Anthony stated in Parliament that the subject of the report included material which was extremely sensitive regarding India's strategic and operational interests, a line which has been repeated by successive governments since 1963.

Neville Maxwell, the British journalist who covered the war and, subsequently, South Asia, researched the events of that period and obtained the report, which he has now published online, mentioning his disappointment that it has not yet been declassified, and lamenting what he terms his complicitness in not making it public earlier.

One might debate on the political implications of this development at this point just before the Lok Sabha elections. But it is quite certain, as experts observed when he made his research public in 1970, that Maxwell's sources and data are impeccable. In essence, what he concludes is the Indian political establishment, and in particular Nehru, were aware of events unfolding on the border, and the actions taken by the intelligence Bureau which might have provoked a Chinese response. This goes against the dominant narrative that evolved after the war, in which the Chinese action was termed wholly aggressive and unilateral.

In either event, a full disclosure of the report is even more necessary today than it was in the 1960s. While some of the structural flaws, such as appointment of senior military officials and the responsibility of civilian intelligence have never been fully addressed by the Centre, the repercussions of the conflict on the Northeast have been apparent for anyone who is familiar with the region.

The 1962 war left a bitter legacy for the then Nehru government and its political heirs, and also for players within the defence and intelligence establishment. It also sowed the seeds for a new wave of separatist movements in the Northeast, stemming from a perceived abrogation by the Centre of its strategic responsibilities to the people of the region. The reappearance of the report in public discourse during the runup to this year's elections is therefore of interest.

Unlike the wars that India has fought with its more militarily manageable western neighbour Pakistan, the 1962 conflict has never been satisfactorily interpreted in this country's public space. The term 'Chinese Aggression', which the Nehru government chose to go with during that period, carries the unarticulated but apparent implication that this was a Chinese misadventure which capitalised on Nehru's willingness to pursue closer ties with that country. Subsequent Indian historians and analysts had, for at least two decades after the war, broadly agreed to this.

The popular consensus about the war which then emerged was that China had taken advantage of Nehru's policies and willingness to compromise, and India's response to this 'aggression' was hampered by ínadequate men and materiél and made worse by direct interference from Prime Minister Nehru and Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon.

And yet divergent opinions were expressed. Maxwell, in his India's China War, published in 1970, attempted a reappraisal of the established narrative. As strategy expert K Subrahmanyam, then director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) observed in his review of Maxwell's book the same year, Maxwell concluded that far from having a war inflicted on an unaware Nehru, the Prime Minister was in fact constantly aware of events on the border. Subrahmanyam also did not doubt the level and quality of Maxwell's sources and data in arriving at this re-appraisal. And since Subrahmanyam was arguably India's best proponent of realpolitik of that period, one might not doubt his appraisal of Maxwell's work, although he did mention some 'bias and distortion'in the British author's work.

Maxwell's research brought up certain parts of the Henderson Brooks Report which are so highly classified that senior bureaucrats of the MEA and Defence Ministers have, even today, limited access to them. He also mentioned that the process of appointment of defence higher-ups was counterproductive to India's requirements. But even more than the nature of his access, the inquiry report is of increased relevance today. The dominant narrative which was created immediately after the war, including China's alleged perfidy, the Indian defence establishement's hobbling by the Cabinet and the much-protested innocence by Indian Intelligence and senior Army officials has never been fully discussed, despite repeated warnings by experts, including Subrahmanyam himself, that further obfuscations and secrecy would be counterproductive.

The war and the political blame-game that followed affected the people of the Northeast the most. When 80,000 Chinese troops breached the Bomdila defence line and reached the headquarters of the Army Eastern Command at Tezpur, and a force of 12,000 was patchily mobilised, causing an unprecedented humanitarian problem in NEFA and Assam, popular sentiment in these parts was about more immediate concerns and not about the faraway ideological imperatives of the New Delhi establishment. The apparent abandoning of the people of the region by the Centre left a lasting legacy of bitterness, particularly in Assam, and later events, including the rise of armed groups there has been well documented.

In contrast to the murky beginnings of the 1962 war and allegations of underhanded doings by the Intelligence Bureau which caused a Chinese reponse in the first place, the people of the Northeast could also compare the inadequate strategic response by the Indian defence machinery to the overwhelming display of military might against the Mizos, when the Indian Air Force bombed what is now the state of Mizoram in 1966, a mere four years after New Delhi chose not to use air power against the Chinese Army in NEFA and Ladakh. Even as the Brooks report continues to remain under wraps, this legacy of ill-will still festers and erupts in the region far away from mainstream discourse.

While the political angle behind the re-emergence of the Maxwell papers during a time when the Congress vice-president is visiting Arunachal Pradesh is apparent, it is certainly past time that the Henderson Brooks Report is laid bare in its entirety before the people. Even during those years, when virtually all the players in that great game (barring Nehru and Mao) were still alive, sane voices such as Subrahmanyam's had called for the report to be de-classified. More than the political establishment, felt Subrahmanyam, the bureaucrats and apparatchiks of the intelligence and defence establishment were really wary of the report's implications for their internal structure and manner of functioning, both of which needed a re-think for the future. And yet that future has come and gone, while the report continues to be secret. Maxwell, too, in subsequent years has continued to believe that no part of the report really negatively impacts India's strategic imperatives. Rather, uncovering the truth would help heal the remembered, half-remembered and mythical slights, scars and misconceptions which have festered for so long.

As far as the political legatees of the then ruling party and Prime Minister are concerned, they should perhaps be aware that we now live in an age when not discussing sensitive matters only increases the likelihood of newer conspiracy theories emerging. And, on the other side of the political spectrum, if the hyper-patriots are antsy that any perceived original sin by India might actually come to light in the report, perhaps they should realise that great powers are not born out of selective amnesia about wars that are lost.

In either event, now that Maxwell has chosen to publish the report online, blocking access to it from this country is not a sign of confidence from the Centre, nor is it going to lay the ghosts of 1962 to rest.
The Henderson-Brooks Report is out by Neville Maxwell

Neville Maxwell, the author of  India’s China War has posted the famous Report on his website. Here are his explanations.
My Henderson Brooks Albatross

Published 7th February, 2014

Those who gave me access to the Henderson Brooks Report when I was researching my study of the Sino-Indian border dispute laid down no conditions as to how I should use it.  That they would remain anonymous went without saying, an implicit condition I will always observe, otherwise how the material was used was left to my judgement.  I decided that while I would quote freelyfrom the Report, thus revealing that I had had access to it (and indeed had a copy), I would neither proclaim nor deny that fact; and my assumption was that the gist of the report having been published in 1970 in the detailed account of the Army’s debacle given in my India’s China War, the Indian government would release it after a decent interval.
The passing of years showed that assumption to have been mistaken and left me in a quandary.  I did not have to rely on memory to tell the falsity of the government’s assertion that keeping the Report secret was necessary for reasons of national security, I had taken a copy and the text nowhere touches on issues that could have current strategic or tactical relevance.  The reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed probably partisan, perhaps even familial.  While I kept the Report to myself I was therefore complicit in a continuing cover-up.

I marked the new century by publishing as an “Introduction to the Henderson Brooks Report” a detailed description, and account of the circumstances in which it was written, explaining its political and military context and summarising its findings (EPW, April 14, 2001): there was no public reaction in the Indian press or even among the chauvinist ranks of the academic security establishment.  My first attempt to put the Report itself on the public record was indirect and low-key: after I retired from the University I donated my copy to Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where, I thought, it could be studied in a setting of scholarly calm.  The Library initially welcomed it as a valuable contribution in that “grey area” between actions and printed books, in which I had given them material previously.  But after some months the librarian to whom I had entrusted it warned me that, under a new regulation, before the Report was put on to the shelves and opened to the public it would have to be cleared by the British government with the government which might be adversely interested!  Shocked by that admission of a secret process of censorship to which the Bodleian had supinely acceded I protested to the head Librarian, then an American, but received no response.  Fortunately I was able to retrieve my donation before the Indian High Commission in London was alerted in the Bodleian’s procedures and was perhaps given the Report.

In 1962, noting that all attempts in India to make the government release the Report had failed, I decided on a more direct approach and made the text available to the editors of three of India’s leading publications, asking that they observe the usual journalistic practice of keeping their source to themselves. (I thought that would be clear enough to those who had long studied the border dispute and saw no need to depart from my long-standing “no comment” position)  To my surprise the editors concerned decided, unanimously, not to publish.  They explained that, while “there is no question that the report should be made public”, if it were leaked rather than released officially the result would be a hubbub over national security, with most attention focused on the leak itself, and little or no productive analysis of the text.  The opposition parties would savage the government for laxity in allowing the Report to get out, the government would turn in rage upon those who had published it.

Although surprised by this reaction, unusual in the age of Wikileaks, I could not argue with their reasoning.  Later I gave the text to a fourth editor and offered it to a fifth, with the same nil result. So my dilemma continued – although with the albatross hung, so to speak, on Indian necks as well as my own.

As I see it now I have no option but, rather than leave the dilemma to my heirs, to put the Report on the internet myself.  So here is the text (there are two lacunae, accidental in the copying process).

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