The Himalayas are the most forbidding and tallest mountain range in the world and for centuries formed a natural barrier between India and Tibet-China. This peace and tranquility changed when the Communists under Mao Tse Tung defeated the Nationalists and seized power in China. Mao was an expansionist and in no time he invaded Tibet, a buffer state for long between India and China. The Indian leader Nehru never realized the geopolitical compulsion of a strong army and fearing a military coup, let China annex Tibet.

Mao vs Nehru

The Chinese occupied vast tracts of barren land in Ladakh which was nominally part of India, but Nehru allowed matters to drift and had set up no administration or military presence. The entire area was like a no man's land and was occupied by China. Nehru learned about this the hard way when an Indian army patrol was ambushed in Aksai Chin, and many died.

Nehru and the military

This was the period when General Ayub Khan seized power in a military coup in Pakistan, and General Ne Win did the same in Burma.

Nehru was petrified with the idea of a coup in India especially as the then army chief General Thimmaya sent his resignation on a matter of promotion of General BM Kaul, a relative of Nehru. He decided not to modernize the army and at the same time reduced it's importance. He failed to understand the geopolitical role of military power in furthering the interest of a nation.

1962 Sino-Indian war

Simultaneously he gravely erred by asking the army to set up border posts on the frontier.

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Foreign Affairs

The chiefs protested as the troops were not battle ready and poorly armed. Wary of Nehru, the chairman of the Communist Party Mao Tse Tung ordered an attack. On 20 October 1962, the PLA struck all across the border, and the Sino-Indian war began.The Indian army faced them with first world war vintage rifles.

The Chinese overran the Eastern frontier in NEFA in no time, but in Ladakh, the Indian army put up a stiff fight, which was acknowledged by Radio Peking in a broadcast.

Numberswere with the Chinese and they prevailed.

John Kennedy was alarmed and at the request of Nehru started an airlift of arms to India. Nehru died a heartbroken man in 1964. Perhaps if he had shown some mettle and used the air force he could have turned the tables, but fear of Chinese reaction led to a momentous decision to not use the IAF, which was much superior to the Chinese air force.

A second round?

Over 50 years have passed, and now India finally has a leader in Narendra Modi who has realized the importance of military power.

He has firmly taken India into the American camp with a strategic alliance. The Indian military is also built up, and two strike corps have been formed to tackle China.

The Chinese are now wary as the Tibetan people long under the Chinese boots want freedom. They long for an intervention by India and America. China is now on a weak wicket with a hostile Tibetan population and a strengthened Indian strike corps.

The guns may boom again in the Himalayas, but it may well have a different ending from the last Indo- China war.

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