Analysing reasons behind 1962 war with China must: Natwar

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 20:52

New Delhi: Former External Affairs Minister
K Natwar Singh on Tuesday regretted that India has not yet
comprehensively analysed the reasons behind the 1962 war
with China, saying such an exercise was "really necessary."

Speaking at a discussion on his recent book `My China
Years -- 1956-88, he touched upon various phases of Sino-India
relationship in the last 60 years and felt things would have
been different had Rajiv Gandhi won the 1989 elections.

"Why 1962 happened. No serious analysis of it took place
on our side," Singh said indirectly criticising Government`s
secretive policy in revealing details of the war.

About the war with China, he said "Mao-tse Tung decided
to teach India a lesson after they felt that we were
encroaching on their land."

India missed an opportunity to resolve the issues with
China in 1960 as the country "did not understand the power
game", the former minister said, without elaborating on his

On the border dispute, he said Tawang did not figure
in the map of India in 1953.

Terming Rajiv Gandhi`s visit to China in 1988 as "ice
breaking", Singh, who had to quit the previous UPA Ministry as
External Affairs Minister following Volcker controversy, said
had the former premier won the general elections in 1989,
things would have been "very different".

"Rajiv Gandhi had told me to go ahead and open the door
to China. Rajiv had told me that he did not have any 1962 hang
up," he said.

Reminiscing his association with Gandhi, he said the
former premier wanted to go ahead with his visit to China even
though P V Narasimha Rao and several top MEA officials
including G Parthasarathi were not in favour of the trip.

"If he (Rajiv) had remained in office, things would have
been different...he was interested in action not reflection."

Noting that it would be in India`s interest to have good
ties with China, Singh said there is no possibility of war
between the two countries as bilateral trade is increasing.

He also criticised the Government for not making public
purported correspondence with the Indian mission in Moscow
over the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent in 1966.

On whether strong ties with the US is affecting relations
with China, he said India should not fall in the trap to be
used as catch-pole of China.

In this context, Singh said he did not think Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh is pro-American.

"He is taken seriously by the world community. His
stature has increased significantly," the former minister said
describing himself as persona non-grata with the ruling

Participating in the debate, noted expert on China V P
Dutt said the book contains several significant revelations
like Mao-tse Tung`s observation that partition between India
and Pakistan was "unnatural".

Noting that the Tibetan issue is linked to the border
dispute between the two countries, he felt the initiative to
normalise the relations was taken by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv
Gandhi followed on it.

"Rajiv Gandhi`s visit broke the ice. The Chinese have
resiled from their position," the former Pro-Vice Chancellor,
of Delhi University said praising Singh for the book.

Srikanth Kondapalli, Chairperson of Centre for East Asian
Studies in JNU, said a majority of younger generation of
Indian Foreign Service officials increasingly prefer the `soft
balancing` approach towards China which was propagated by

He also wondered whether the diplomacy in 50s and 60s
failed to capitalise on Mao-tse Tung`s comment that partition
between India and Pakistan was "unnatural".

`My China Diary 1956-88` recounts the events that
occurred during Singh`s tenure as a diplomat in Beijing,
including Chinese premier Chou En-lai`s visit to India in
April 1960.

Bureau Report

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First Published: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 20:52

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