We know nowadays China has become very aggressive towards India. China wants world domination and it can be seen by observing China’s attitude during Covid-19. And we all know about India’s faceoff with China. So, is it a result of our past policies or new policies? Who is responsible for all these clashes with China. We are going to learn about India’s three mistakes against China. We are gonna focus on both historical and modern mistakes. There is a similarity between all three mistakes and the similarity is appeasement ( pacify or placate someone by acceding to their demands. India tried to appease China. India’s objective always was to cool down the temperament of China for now by agreeing to their conditions so we can focus on development in our country.
1951 – Prime minister – Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru
Starting from Tibet. Before 1951 Tibet was an independent country that was attacked by China and made it his part forcefully. Now, could India stopped the annexation of Tibet? Well, the possibility was very low. At that time our military was not very developed and advanced that we could deploy soldiers and stop the Chinese soldiers. One option was that we could provide weapons to the Tibetans but at that time India was not ready to do this because Indian soldiers also don’t have ammunition.
India was a very young country at that time. The only USA could stop the annexation of Tibet but the USA didn’t do anything. So the Tibet annexation it is more of a fault of the USA. But later to appease China, India s in 1954 agreement that Tibet is the autonomous part of the People’s Republic of China. Now India assumed that if we appease China then they will never show the aggression against India. This was a very huge mistake that India repeated again and again throughout history because you will know in 1962 China suddenly attacked India. At that time former Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not even in India. He came back in rush and saw a massive attack was happening on India near Ladakh border and Arunachal Pradesh border.
Based on the incident there is a book Himalayan Blunder. This book was an extremely controversial war memoir penned by Brigadier John Dalvi. He was a Brigadier in the Indian army. The first thing he wrote in his book is initially India didn’t even think that we should invest in defense. This was a huge mistake. According to Dalvi, the Indian army lacked leadership, equipment for mountain warfare, weaponry, and essentials like warm clothing, snow boots, and glasses. Despite gaining the territory, the Chinese army declared a unilateral ceasefire, while still maintaining the status quo. Brigadier Dalvi was taken as a prisoner of war along with the soldiers of his brigade. He was subsequently imprisoned for six months. Dalvi also records how china had meticulously planned the attack while officially it maintained a different posture. Indian top leadership never expected that China will launch a massive attack on India. Overall you can say as it was a mistake of judgment. We could not understand how China views India.
Now, before this war, there was one more important event where we should focus which was the refusal of American help. Before the war, US president John F Kennedy’s offer of helping India detonate a nuclear device in return India has to align with the US. It is now a historical fact.
Former foreign secretary Maharaja Krishna Rasgotra mentioned this in his book A Life in Diplomacy that it was an open offer from the US to take the nuclear weapon from the US in return to become a US aligned country. This nuclear weapon will prevent the war against China or Pakistan but Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru declined the US offer and said India is against the nuclear weapon.
India could not take decisions properly whether we should align or should remain non-aligned. At that time leadership was very sensitive regarding China. Fear was that if we align with the US in non-aligned a threat and attack India. But what we feared happened. China attacked India. If we would have taken help from the US then perhaps India my might had a better fighting chance against china in the 1962 war. Indian Air force wasn’t used during the war in the 1962 war. It was a mistake and a well-known fact.
You can read about it in various newspaper articles regarding strategic analysis, former army generals wrote them. With no sound operational assessment of the PLAAF by the IAF, the government relied on inputs from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The IB cautioned the government that the use of offensive airpower could result in the PLAAF attacking Indian cities like Calcutta and also deny India the ‘ moral high ground’ in case of a protracted conflict. No cognizance was taken of the fact that PLAAF aircraft could reach targets in India only if they operated from airfields in Tibet with the high altitudes imposing severe restrictions on their weapon-carrying capacity. On the other hand, IAF fighters would have had the advantage of operating with full weapon loads from airfields in the plains of Assam and Punjab.
So mistakes in Jawaharlal Nehru’s tenure was appeasement and the fact we could not judge how china was viewing India’s action.
India’s mistake in 2003 – Prime Minister – Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Let’s come to the 2003 Atal Bihari Vajpayee era. He was a successful prime minister but mistakes have been committed in his tenure too. One of the blunders was India officially accepted in 2003 that the Tibetan autonomous region is part of China. Let’s see what happened, the prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China.
During the visit, an agreement was signed where India recognized that the Tibetan autonomous region is part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. Don’t confuse it with 1954 when India recognized Tibet is an autonomous region in China well there is a difference between these two. After capturing the Tibet, China divided it into many parts. So before 2003 India never recognized that the Tibet autonomous region in Tibet. After the 2003 agreement, India accepted only Tibet’s autonomous region in Tibet.
Questions may arise in your mind if we didn’t recognize Tibet as part of China so what would have happened? Could we free Tibet? Do we have the capability to free Tibet? Then No, it is about leverage. Take Arunachal Pradesh as an example. China claims that Arunachal Pradesh is China’s part. Even though they claim it for many years now but still they cannot take Arunachal Pradesh because the Indian army is strong and India has a nuclear weapon. India itself is a strong country so for now, China doesn’t have the option to take Arunachal Pradesh from anyway.
China also never says that for now, Arunachal Pradesh is India’s part. Why? Because China is aware that it gives leverage to China. In the future, if any program is announced by World Bank in that it blocks funding of Arunachal Pradesh to send messages to India. So similar type of leverage India could have but India lost it twice in 1954 and 2003.
The modern era (2015 to 2020) – Prime Minister – Narender Modi
India’s mistake was that we did not take a lesson from our past mistake and our policy for China remained the same – appeasement. Appeasement of China reached new heights in this era before the Galwan valley faces off. Even though China kept supporting Pakistan based terrorists against India at the UN, India tried to pacific China through informal talks. These actions (saving Pakistan’s terrorists by veto power) should be the signal that china views India with very hostility and aggression. Other mistakes were when China took the Kashmir issue at UNSC multiple times at the behest of Pakistan but India didn’t say a word about Hong Kong. US and Australia openly blamed China of mishandling coronavirus but India stayed silent.
Only after the barbaric attack on Indian soldiers by the Chinese soldier did India realize that appeasement will simply not work with China. India must take sides either with the US or other power and move away from the year-old non-aligned status to balance China in the region. If we had taken the same step in 1954 when Kennedy offered an atomic bomb our history could be different.
So, now it’s time for India to change its foreign policies towards China. And India has to learn from his past. I think it’s time to stand with Taiwan and acknowledge Taiwan as a separate country. This can be India’s best masterstroke against China.