Friday, September 3, 2010

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's appreciation of dangers from China

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on 7 November 1950 not only deploring Indian Ambassador KM Panikkar's action but also warning about dangers from China.
My dear Jawaharlal,
It is of course, impossible to be exhaustive in setting out all these problems. I am, however, giving below some of the problems which, in my opinion, require early solution and round which we have to build our administrative or military policies and measures to implement them.
  • A military and intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India both on the frontier and to internal security.
  • An examination of military position and such redisposition of our forces as might be necessary, particularly with the idea of guarding important routes or areas which are likely to be the subject of dispute.
  • An appraisement of the strength of our forces and, if necessary, reconsideration of our retrenchment plans for the Army in the light of the new threat.
  • A long-term consideration of our defence needs. My own feeling is that, unless we assure our supplies of arms, ammunition and armour, we would be making our defence perpetually weak and we would not be able to stand up to the double threat of difficulties both from the west and north-west and north and north-east.
  • The question of China's entry into the UN. In view of the rebuff which China has given us and the method which it has followed in dealing with Tibet, I am doubtful whether we can advocate its claim any longer. There would probably be a threat in the UN virtually to outlaw China, in view of its active participation in the Korean war. We must determine our attitude on this question also.
  • The political and administrative steps which we should take to strengthen our northern and north-eastern frontier. This would include the whole of the border, ie. Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal territory in Assam.
  • Measures of internal security in the border areas as well as the states flanking those areas such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Assam.
  • Improvement of our communication, road, rail, air and wireless, in these areas and with the frontier outposts.
  • The future of our mission at Lhasa and the trade posts at Gyangtse and Yatung and the forces which we have in operation in Tibet to guard the trade routes.
  • The policy in regard to the McMahon Line.

    These are some of the questions which occur to my mind. It is possible that a consideration of these matters may lead us into wider question of our relationship with China, Russia, America, Britain and Burma. This, however, would be of a general nature, though some might be basically very important, e.g., we might have to consider whether we should not enter into closer association with Burma in order to strengthen the latter in its dealings with China. I do not rule out the possibility that, before applying pressure on us, China might apply pressure on Burma. With Burma, the frontier is entirely undefined and the Chinese territorial claims are more substantial. In its present position, Burma might offer an easier problem to China, and therefore, might claim its first attention.

    I suggest that we meet early to have a general discussion on these problems and decide on such steps as we might think to be immediately necessary and direct, quick examination of other problems with a view to taking early measures to deal with them.
    Vallabhbhai Patel,
    7th November 1950
    To read the full appreciation contained in the letter click link in red:
    Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's letter to Jawaharlal Nehru wriiten 60 years ago is more relevant today

    Henderson Brooks–Bhagat Report of 1962 Indo China debacle
    The Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report, also referred to as the Henderson Brooks report, is the report of an analysis (Operations Review) of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Its authors are officers of the Indian armed forces. They are Lieutenant-General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat, commandant of the Indian Military Academy at the time.

    The report continues to be classified by the Indian Government, as of October 2006. In April 2010, India's Defence Minister A.K. Antony told Parliament that the report could not be declassified because its contents “are not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value."

    The report is said to be openly critical of the Indian political and military structure of the time, as well as of the execution of operations.

    Author Neville Maxwell has published what he claims are summaries of the report. While this has not been verified by comparisons with the (still classified) text, it has been accepted as a reasonable summary by the Indian media. Another extract of Indo-China war makes interesting reading.

    As of Feb 2008, MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has requested the report to be declassified in the National Security interest, This has been declined by the defense Minster A K Antony. He has quoted that the same would not be released "considering the sensitivity of information contained in the report and its security implications"
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